Let’s build something together: Ex-Lowe’s CFO to join Pfizer while Moderna’s David Meline retires; The CEO-partner party rolls on at Flagship
→ The two major Covid-19 vaccine competitors, Pfizer and Moderna, will both have new finance chiefs within a week of each other: At Pfizer, David Denton will succeed 15-year vet Frank D’Amelio as CFO on May 2 after three years in charge of finances at home improvement chain Lowe’s. With Pfizer’s M&A wheels always spinning, Denton left as CFO of CVS Health shortly after playing an integral role in the acquisition of Aetna in late 2017.
Meanwhile, David Meline is calling it quits at Moderna, heading back into retirement nearly two years into his tenure as CFO and yielding the stage to Jorge Gomez on May 9. Before taking the CFO job at dental products manufacturer Dentsply Sirona in 2019, Gomez was also finance chief during a 13-year run at Cardinal Health. Meline had retired as Amgen’s CFO until the Moderna position opened up.
→ On the heels of Margo Georgiadis’ appointment, Flagship Pioneering has lined up two more CEO-partners, and Michelle Werner kicked things off as the new chief executive of tRNA-focused Alltrna. Since the summer of 2020, Werner was Novartis Oncology’s worldwide franchise head, solid tumors, and her Big Pharma credentials also extend to Bristol Myers Squibb and to AstraZeneca, where she rose to global franchise head in hematology. Shortly after she decamped for Novartis, Calquence won approval in the EU for adult patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, a year after the FDA gave it the go-ahead in the same indication.
Then, the biotech incubator made a splash on Wednesday by enticing AbbVie president and vice chairman Michael Severino into a CEO-partner job for a company to be named later. Before his arrival at AbbVie in 2014, Severino closed out his 10 years at Amgen as SVP, global development and corporate CMO. Our Kyle LaHucik has more on each new CEO-partner.
→ The white-hot radiopharma space picked up another challenger in October 2021 with Radionetics Oncology, and the Crinetics spinout — backed by 5AM Ventures and Frazier Healthcare Partners — has found a CEO. Nishan de Silva, the president and COO at Poseida from 2015-18, had helmed AFYX Therapeutics and is currently a board member at Selecta Biosciences. He will also sit on the board at Radionetics while leading a team that is projected “to more than double over the coming year,” according to a release.
→ Paulash Mohsen is getting his first opportunity as a CEO at Vesigen Therapeutics, a Harvard spinout whose platform tech is dubbed ARMMs (ARRDC1 Mediated Microvesicles). Mohsen spent the last seven years as CBO of Yumanity, a neuro biotech that’s hanging on for dear life after laying off 60% of the workforce. Yumanity’s pipeline fortunes have soured because of a partial clinical hold on its lead Parkinson’s candidate, and while the company explores its options to stay afloat, Mohsen has jumped ship to a company that launched in July 2020 with help from Leaps by Bayer and Morningside Ventures.
→ Mario David Saltarelli is stepping into atai Life Sciences platform company GABA Therapeutics as CEO and CMO, succeeding co-founder Ian Massey. Saltarelli takes over the helm — as the company is entering Phase II studies in anxiety, depression and other neurological indications for its lead compound — with a wealth of experience from exec roles at Neuron23 (CEO), Entrada Therapeutics (CMO), Sytimmune (CMO), Annexon Biosciences (CMO) and Mallinckrodt (CSO). This is all on top of other stints at Pfizer, Shire, Vertex, Alexion and Abbott.
→ The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center will welcome Ranna Parekh as chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer on May 31. Parekh comes from the American College of Cardiology in Washington, where she was the organiza1tion’s first chief diversity and inclusion officer, and she’s also held DEI leadership posts at the American Psychiatric Association.
→ Joerg Hornstein has bolted from AC Immune to become CFO and head of corporate functions for Lundbeck, which provided a foretaste of the industry-wide staff cuts we’re seeing today by slashing 300 jobs and shuttering its facility in India. Hornstein had handled finances at AC Immune since 2017 and also spent 12 years in multiple locations at Merck KGaA.
As for Hornstein’s replacement at the Swiss neuro biotech, Chris Roberts will pinch-hit as interim CFO and has been promoted to VP, finance. Roberts joined Andrea Pfeifer’s crew as an associate VP in 2017 after more than a decade at Ernst & Young.
AC Immune also made two other leadership moves with Howard Donovan as chief HR officer and the promotion of Julian Snow to VP, US finance & corporate development. Donovan pivots here from the World Economic Forum, where he was head of people and culture partners, people services and global reward. As with Roberts, Snow started at AC Immune five years ago, filling the role of associate VP, financial reporting.
→ Gina Consylman has landed at Cyrus Mozayeni-led Vedere Bio II from bluebird bio as CFO. Consylman starts anew quickly at the ocular gene therapy player, which debuted in May 2021 with a $77 million Series A, after a dire quarterly filing coincided with her departure from bluebird bio. Consylman joined bluebird just eight months ago after seven years as CFO of Ironwood, which has had its own set of obstacles with its pipeline and saw CEO Mark Mallon leave for NeoGenomics last year.
→ DNA sequencing powerhouse Illumina has poached John Frank from Microsoft, naming him chief public affairs officer. Frank, whose first day will be April 18, wraps up a 28-year career with the tech giant, starting out as a senior attorney and ascending to deputy general counsel & chief of staff. Since March 2020, Frank has taken on the role of VP, United Nations affairs and international organizations.
→ Sitting pretty with a $100 million financing round just a couple weeks ago and targeting LRRK2 and TYK2, CNS-focused Neuron23 has tapped Sam Jackson as CMO. Jackson hails from another neuro player, Alector, where he held the same position and where former Passage Bio exec Gary Romano will soon replace him. Jackson is a Genentech and Amgen vet who was also the CMO of Alkahest.
→ Raffaele Baffa has signed on to be CMO at CARsgen, which is attempting to wedge its way into the BCMA CAR-T space with CT053 for multiple myeloma. Baffa pivots to CARSgen from Ziopharm Oncology (now known as Alaunos after the activist attack dust has settled), where he was CMO and EVP of R&D. The Sanofi and Pfizer vet has also been CMO of Servier and VP, therapeutic area head of oncology, global clinical development at Shire.
→ Jan Pinkas has been elevated to CSO of Pyxis Oncology as Ronald Herbst parts ways with the Pfizer ADC spinout. Last August, Pinkas joined Pyxis — which hit Nasdaq the following October on the strength of a $168 million IPO — as SVP, preclinical R&D after a two-year stint at Magenta Therapeutics as SVP, translational sciences. He also had a number of responsibilities over a 12-year period at ImmunoGen, namely VP, translational R&D.
→ Eli Lilly immunometabolism partner Sitryx Therapeutics out of Oxford has selected Ravi Rao as CMO. Rao — a former GlaxoSmithKline exec in immunology and specialty medicines who was also a group medical director, immunology clinical development with Roche — was head of R&D and CMO at Sobi before choosing a different path here at GSK-backed Sitryx. Anders Ullman has since taken over Rao’s old posts at Sobi.
→ Helmed by Stanford’s Amit Etkin, psychiatry startup Alto Neuroscience has looked toward Genentech/Roche to appoint Mikael Eliasson as COO. Eliasson, who was previously Genentech/Roche’s global head of innovation in neuroscience product development, has also been global head of new products at Novartis. Christian Angermayer and the folks at Apeiron Investment Group led Alto Neuroscience’s Series A round last October, bringing the total raised to $40 million.
→ Jotin Marango has left Aptose to tackle the dual roles of CFO and head of corporate development with Ikena Oncology, which is partnering with Bristol Myers on its oral AHR inhibitor IK-175. Marango had been CFO and CBO at Aptose, prompting a leadership shuffle in which CEO William Rice is picking up the slack as chief accounting officer and VP of finance Janet Clennett “will assume financial responsibilities until a permanent CFO is announced.”
→ Co-founded by Feng Zhang and padding its war chest with an $80 million Series B last month, CRISPR diagnostic player Sherlock Biosciences has trained a magnifying glass on Karen Davies as chief development officer. For the past decade, Davies has held a series of posts at fellow diagnostic developer Quidel — from 2017-20 she was VP of instrument systems, and since 2020 she served as VP of business transformation.
→ Amanda Murphy has resigned from her role as CFO at cell engineering player MaxCyte, effective April 15. Ron Holtz, the current SVP and chief accounting officer, will take over as interim CFO. While Korn Ferry helps in the search for a successor, Holtz is returning to the role he first held at MaxCyte from 2005-20. Elsewhere, MaxCyte staffer Sean Menarguez has been bumped up to director, investor relations.
→ Seeking to put a bow on an NDA filing for its Duchenne muscular dystrophy drug vamorolone by June, Santhera has promoted Shabir Hasham to CMO. Hasham left Novartis in 2015 to become Santhera’s head of medical affairs EU & RoW, and since 2019 he’s been global development program lead & global head medical affairs. While with Novartis, Hasham was EU medical director and global associate brand director for the Swiss pharma’s neuroscience franchise. Hasham’s first day as medical chief is slated for May 1.
→ Cristina Oliva is making her way over to Norway-based BerGenBio, where she’ll serve as CMO. Oliva hops aboard after a stint as VP, oncology and head of oncology centre of excellence at IQVIA. Oliva’s résumé includes a star-studded career with previous roles at Nordic Nanovector, Takeda, GSK and Eli Lilly.
→ Undergoing a facelift by officially renaming itself a couple weeks ago, Swedish cancer outfit Vivesto — once known as Oasmia — has pegged Daniel Tesfa as CMO. Tesfa had been medical director, clinical and translation science hematology at Sobi since leading oncology and hematology for Bayer in Scandinavia from 2018-20. Vivesto will utilize Lonza’s expanded site in Nansha, China, striking a deal in late March with the CDMO to manufacture late-stage ovarian cancer candidate Cantrixil.
→ Alliance Pharma is locking in Patrick Bennett to helm the bioanalytical services company as CEO, succeeding founder Frank Li, who will remain as president and on the board of directors. Bennett brings with him experience from his time at PPD Laboratories (VP, strategy and development) and Thermo Fisher Scientific (director of global strategic marketing).
→ Peptide specialist MBX Biosciences is picking up former Esperion exec Richard Bartram as CFO. Bartram served in the same role during his time at Esperion — helping to raise more than $1.2 billion in capital. Prior to that stint, Bartram was with PricewaterhouseCoopers.
→ Vaxxas, the company that Merck teamed up with back in 2020 to tap into patch delivery tech, has named Dan Devine as CBO and general counsel. Devine joins the Brisbane, Australia-based company with experience from his roles at Pfizer, Patrys and Mesoblast.
→ James Gruber has been named CFO at Alkindi Sprinkle maker Eton Pharmaceuticals, taking over the position from Wilson Troutman, who will retire at the end of May. Gruber most recently served as US controller at Horizon Therapeutics and he also spent more than a decade working in various financial positions at Abbott.
→ As the calendar flipped to 2022, Javier Szwarcberg was named CEO of Spruce Biosciences, and now the Mike Grey-chaired biotech focused on rare endocrine disorders has brought in Libbie Mansell as chief regulatory and quality officer. If it seems like it wasn’t that long ago since Mansell appeared in Peer Review, you’re right: Six months ago she joined NFLection Therapeutics as SVP of global regulatory affairs & quality assurance, but it’s on to the next challenge. Mansell was also part of the AskBio team as SVP of regulatory affairs.
→ Nautilus Biotechnology — backed by Paul Allen and Jeff Bezos and listed on Nasdaq via a reverse merger with one of Perceptive’s blank-check companies last year — has signed on Gwen Weld as chief people officer and Sheri Wilcox as VP of affinity reagent development. Prior to joining Nautilus, Weld was chief people officer at Amperity and formerly general manager of human resources at Microsoft. Meanwhile, Wilcox hails from SomaLogic. where she served as senior director of global scientific engagement. Before that, she was with Pharmacia.
→ Karina Fedasz, who began her career at JP Morgan and was recently the CFO of IDW Media Holdings, has been named head of business development at Evofem, the maker of contraceptive gel Phexxi. In February, Endpoints News’ Beth Snyder Bulik spoke with Evofem CEO Saundra Pelletier about a number of topics, namely Phexxi’s ad campaign featuring “Schitt’s Creek” star Annie Murphy.
→ Jo Viney’s Seismic Therapeutic, using machine learning to develop immunology drugs and launching with a tectonic plate-shifting $101 million Series A in February, has added two execs: Eric Larson (SVP of finance) reunites with Viney, the CEO of Pandion before it was sold to Merck for $1.85 billion last year. Before Larson was Viney’s VP of finance, he served as corporate controller for Proteostasis Therapeutics. After nearly seven years with Biogen, Heather Vital (VP of R&D strategy) jumped to Deciphera Pharmaceuticals as senior director of program leadership and then moved on to her most recent gig as senior director, portfolio strategy and operations for Relay Therapeutics.
→ TCR biotech TScan Therapeutics has a new VP, finance in Leiden Dworak, who was previously VP, head of financial planning and analysis and business operations at Avrobio. Dworak has also served as the finance lead for global vaccines business development at Moderna.
→ California-based Korlym maker Corcept Therapeutics has three new execs ready to roll: First, Daniel Einhorn (VP, endocrine strategy) was the president of Diabetes and Endocrine Associates and medical director of Scripps Whittier Diabetes Institute in San Diego. Amiel Balagtas (VP, development operations) joins the list of Gilead vets at Corcept that includes chief HR and communications officer Amy Flood and chief development officer William Guyer, capping off a 23-year career at the Big Pharma as executive director, development systems. And Lyndah Dreiling (VP, global oncology development), who also has Gilead ties as senior director, clinical research oncology, is an Amgen alum who was recently SVP, clinical development with Spectrum Pharmaceuticals.
→ New Jersey-based Cellectar Biosciences has two announcements this week: Matthew Hagan has been appointed VP, marketing and strategic alliances, and David Lasecki has joined the oncology biotech as executive director, strategic alliances. Most recently, Hagan served as executive director, hematology portfolio marketing at Bristol Myers. Lasecki joins from Heron Therapeutics, where he served as senior director, oncology sales.
→ Oxford, UK-based Evox Therapeutics is bringing in Peter Jones as VP of CMC. Prior to his new role, Jones was senior executive director, process development at Autolus Therapeutics. Before that, Jones was serving at Oxford Biomedica, GSK and Genzyme.
→ Exelixis president and CEO Michael Morrissey has been named chairman of the board at Vera Therapeutics, stepping into the spot previously occupied by Abingworth’s Kurt von Emster. The atacicept developer’s board also includes Beth Seidenberg from Westlake Village BioPartners and Akero Therapeutics CEO Andrew Cheng.
→ There’s a changing of the guard on the board of directors at Cytokinetics, as John Henderson replaces the retiring Robert Gage. Henderson, a 25-year Pfizer vet, has been on the board at Cytokinetics since 2009. Cardiologist and Stanford Department of Medicine chairman Robert Harrington has also earned a seat on Cytokinetics’ board.
→ CRISPR Therapeutics has put Maria Fardis’ name forward to join the board of directors. When her time was up as CEO of Iovance, Fardis then became a venture partner at Frazier Life Sciences. If elected, Fardis would take a seat at a board that includes SR One’s Simeon George and AskBio’s Kathy High.
→ Michel Detheux, the president and CEO of iTeos Therapeutics, has assumed the role of chairman of the board at French rare bone disease biotech InnoSkel. Detheux co-founded iTeos 10 years ago and is also chairman of ONA Therapeutics in Barcelona.
→ As Prilenia Therapeutics bags $10 million from its recent Series B round — bringing its total capital to $144 million — with the help of new investor SV Health Investors, the company is tacking on Houman Ashrafian to its board of directors. Ashrafian is a managing partner at SV Health Investors and has founded six companies: Sitryx, Enara Bio, TRexBio, Alchemab, Catamaran Bio and Mestag, and serves on the board of four of these companies.
→ As Be Bio received a $130 million cash infusion led by ARCH to help its pursuit of B cell therapies for rare disease and cancer, the company has pulled out a seat for Steven Gillis on its board of directors and ARCH co-founder and managing director Robert Nelsen and Robert Plenge (SVP and head of immunology, cardiovascular and fibrosis thematic research center at BMS) are observers. Gillis is managing director at ARCH Venture Partners and serves as director of homology medicines at Takeda and director and chairman of Codiak Biosciences and VBI Vaccines.
→ Lipocine has brought on Jill Jene and Spyros Papapetropoulos to its board of directors. Jene is currently founder and principal of Jene Advisors and has previously served as VP and head of corporate development, strategy, portfolio planning and alliance management at Adamas. Meanwhile, Papapetropoulos is the CMO of Vigil Neurosciences and was formerly SVP, head of development at Acadia Pharmaceuticals, CEO of SwanBio Therapeutics and head of research & development and CMO at Cavion.