Maze interim chief Charles Homcy passes baton to Jason Coloma; William Collier tapped as CEO of Arbutus
→ Four months into Maze Therapeutics’ launch, Charles Homcy is passing the startup’s reins to another Third Rock colleague. Jason Coloma, the current COO, is leaving his role at the VC firm to become full-time CEO on a mission to translate genetic insights into new medicines. Equipped with a whopping $191 million with support from Arch, Maze’s big idea is to find and target genetic modifiers that play a role in Mendelian diseases caused by another gene. Coloma, a Roche/Genentech vet seasoned in business development, was CBO at Corvus Pharmaceuticals before joining Third Rock in 2017.
→ Arbutus Biopharma has scooped William Collier from ViiV Healthcare to succeed Mark Murray, who says it’s an opportune time for him to retire considering “the effective consolidation of Arbutus’s operations and scientific team in Warminster, Pennsylvania, a pipeline focused on a combination therapeutic regimen to cure HBV, and a clear strategic business plan in place.” A GlaxoSmithKline vet, Collier spent the past nine years managing ViiV’s North American operations, with launches for HIV, herpes and bacterial infections treatments under his belt.
→ Michael Stein has transitioned to the full-time CEO role at Valo Therapeutics, which is looking to combine two approaches in cancer immunotherapy: Oncolytic viruses coated with tumor-specific peptides. Stein has been serving as Valo’s part-time co-chairman since the biotech was spun out of the University of Helsinki in January 2017. One of his most notable achievements was breaking the UK record for a seed round as CEO of Oxford spinout OxStem, a regenerative medicine company. His other stints include co-founding software startup Map of Medicine; it was later sold to Informa and then Hearst, where he landed an EVP role.
→ Robert Forrester is stepping down as CEO of Verastem Oncology $VSTM just 8 months after the company nabbed an approval for duvelisib, a PI3K drug with a storied past — and what appears as not much of a future. The biotech put out word this morning that Forrester will take an advisory role with Verastem while COO Dan Paterson steps up to take charge of the leadership team and the board looks around for a new CEO. The company says it will search for a new chief with substantial commercial experience.
→ As N8 Medical moves its anti-infective drug/device into the clinic, it’s tapped Biocodex vet Marc Rohman as CEO. Lauded for his track record in launching cardiovascular medicine and interventional devices, Rohman is now tasked with planning the commercialization of N8’s platforms, which are designed to prevent complications caused by other medical devices such as ventilators by delivering a class of synthetic molecules dubbed ceragenins.
→ While moving into an office in Cambridge, Massachusetts will grow their financial, clinical and regulatory presence in the US, the antibody design experts at the UK’s F-star Therapeutics have added Darlene Deptula-Hicks to their team. As CFO, Deptula-Hicks will lead a transition into the clinical stage — the biotech recently began testing its lead bispecific in cancer patients — and potentially the public market, if chief Eliot Forster gets his way turning the biotech into a heavyweight player. Jumping from Northern Biologics, she succeeds Tolga Hassan, who will transition to a COO position.
→ In a sign of just how serious it is about internal drug development, Schrödinger has wooed experienced execs from Merck and Eisai to its preclinical and translational research team. Duncan Hamish Wright is joining as VP of translational science, while George Lai will lead translational PK/PD and drug metabolism with a senior director title. While the company has historically been known for the drug discovery and design services it provides to biopharma clients — using a physics-based molecular modeling platform — chief biomedical scientist Karen Akinsanya is now spearheading an effort to build a wholly-owned pipeline, beginning with oncology.
→ Recursion welcomed Theravance vet Sharath Hegde to its team as CSO. At Theravance, Hegde served as its SVP and head of research. During his 15-year stint at Theravance, Hegde participated in the discovery of several NCEs — including Yupelri and Vibativ. Hegde had a previous stint at Syntex.
→ NovaBay Pharmaceuticals — focusing on commercializing Avenova for the domestic eye care market — has tapped Justin Hall as president and CEO and brought on Jason Raleigh as its CFO — both have served in interim positions since March 2019. Hall has been with the company for six years and Raleigh for more than three.
→ CMO Pharis Mohideen is parting ways with Millendo Therapeutics — developing treatments for orphan endocrine diseases — to be closer to his family in New Jersey. A search for a new CMO is underway and in the meantime, SVP of development, Ryan Zeidan, will help oversee the medical function during the interim period as well as continuing with his own functions.
→ Teri Heiland is moving up the ranks at Immunomic Therapeutics. She has been promoted to the role of CSO at the company. Heiland — a co-founder of the company — has expertise in DNA vaccine design. Prior to joining Immunomic, Heiland was one of the founders at Maryland-based biomarker and drug discovery company, Capital Genomix, where she served as VP of research and development. She also served as a principal investigator on over $2M in grants from the Department of Defense and NIAID.
→ Abzena — specializing in ADC drug development services — has made two new additions to its leadership team: Andrew Kraus as Chief Technology Officer and Philip Payne as CMO.
Kraus “will implement advanced technology solutions to further enhance data integrity controls, regulatory compliance and effective electronic data sharing. He will also oversee a range of platforms to support global operations including Electronic Laboratory Notebook and Enterprise Resource Planning systems.” His previous stints include serving at BioClinica, ICON Clinical Research and the Cardiovascular Research Foundation. Payne “will lead global business development with a particular focus on growing the company’s business in the European and UK regions.” He joins the company from stints at Concept Life Sciences, Aptuit and Catalent Pharma Solutions.
→ SCYNEXIS tapped Nkechi Azie as vice president of clinical development. In his new role, Azie will lead clinical development activities and strengthen medical affairs efforts in anticipation of ibrexafungerp’s — an antifungal agent in Phase III clinical and preclinical development for the treatment of invasive fungal infections caused by Candida, Aspergillus and Pneumocystis species — potential approval and commercial launch.
Prior to joining SCYNEXIS, Azie served as SVP of medical affairs at The Medicines Company. Her other stints include serving as senior director of medical affairs at Astellas Pharma — where she was responsible for the antifungal franchise including micafungin and isavuconazole — and director of anti-infective clinical development for Pfizer.
→ CRO George Clinical brought on Meelian Hoh on to its executive team as CFO. Hoh joins from Mitel, where she served as finance director for the Asia-Pacific region. Some of her previous stints include general manager – finance at Kincare, CFO for Pelion Group, and other senior-level positions at Bellwether Pharma, Novartis and Pfizer/Pharmacia.