MD An­der­son­'s Patrick Hwu to helm Mof­fitt Can­cer Cen­ter; Af­ter Rock­well Med­ical ouster, Robert Chioi­ni gets an­oth­er chance to lead

Patrick Hwu

→ The Mof­fitt Can­cer Cen­ter in Tam­pa has found its next pres­i­dent and CEO af­ter the im­broglio sur­round­ing the de­par­ture of Alan List.

Patrick Hwu, the head of can­cer med­i­cine at MD An­der­son Can­cer Cen­ter, has been tapped to lead Mof­fitt al­most ex­act­ly 8 months fol­low­ing the mass res­ig­na­tions of List, cen­ter di­rec­tor Thomas Sell­ers and 4 oth­er re­searchers for con­flict of in­ter­est re­gard­ing their work in Chi­na, one of sev­er­al high-pro­file ex­am­ples that in­clude Har­vard pro­fes­sor Charles Lieber.

Hwu, who of­fi­cial­ly starts Nov. 10, spent 17 of his 33 years in on­col­o­gy at MD An­der­son in promi­nent lead­er­ship po­si­tions. Be­sides his most re­cent role, he chaired the De­part­ment of Sar­co­ma Med­ical On­col­o­gy and was the first chair of the De­part­ment of Melanoma Med­ical On­col­o­gy. Hwu was al­so co-di­rec­tor of the Cen­ter for Can­cer Im­munol­o­gy Re­search.

“I’m con­fi­dent that our col­lec­tive ef­forts will fur­ther el­e­vate Mof­fitt’s lead­er­ship in can­cer pa­tient care, re­search and ed­u­ca­tion,” Hwu said in a state­ment.

Robert Chioi­ni

Robert Chioi­ni made head­lines back in 2018 when he at­tempt­ed to un­fire him­self as CEO of Rock­well Med­ical, as­sert­ing that those who vot­ed against him vi­o­lat­ed fed­er­al se­cu­ri­ties laws. With that messy dis­missal be­hind him fol­low­ing a set­tle­ment deal, Chioi­ni is back in the sad­dle, tak­ing over as CEO of Toron­to life sci­ences com­pa­ny SQI Di­ag­nos­tics. Er­ic Brouw­er has sub­se­quent­ly stepped aside as in­ter­im CEO, but he will con­tin­ue on as CSO at SQI.

“I look for­ward to work­ing with the team to un­lock the po­ten­tial across our suite of clin­i­cal and point of care di­ag­nos­tic prod­ucts,” Choi­ni, who found­ed Rock­well Med­ical in 1995, said in a state­ment. “Now more than ever, we see the im­por­tance of ac­cu­rate, wide­ly avail­able, and rapid di­ag­nos­tic tests.”

Ravi Rao

→ Start­ing Sept. 1, So­bi is bring­ing in Ravi Rao as head of R&D af­ter the EMA spurned the Stock­holm phar­ma’s pitch for ema­palum­ab (which has al­ready been ap­proved in the US) in late Ju­ly. Be­fore link­ing up with Stock­holm-based So­bi, which fo­cus­es on hema­tol­ogy and im­munol­o­gy, Rao wrapped up a run as CMO of Ae­glea Bio­ther­a­peu­tics. His Big Phar­ma ex­pe­ri­ence ranges from his 5 years at Roche, where he was group med­ical di­rec­tor, im­munol­o­gy clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment, to 7 years as a VP at GSK, where he led the im­munol­o­gy and spe­cial­ty med­i­cine fran­chise up­on his de­par­ture to Ae­glea.

James Hussey has been around the block ei­ther as a pres­i­dent or CEO, and now he’s at the helm of Seneca Ther­a­peu­tics, look­ing to push its on­colyt­ic virus SVV-001 in­to clin­i­cal tri­als some­time in 2021. Hussey, who got his ca­reer go­ing at Bris­tol My­ers in the 1980s, has been the CEO of NeoPharm and NanoInk as well as the pres­i­dent of Sagent Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals. Among his most re­cent roles, Hussey has been act­ing US pres­i­dent of Mor­phoSys and EVP of Athenex.

Kristof Ver­cruysse

Per­somed, a Bel­gian con­sor­tium look­ing to scale up de­vel­op­ment of per­son­al­ized can­cer vac­cines, has named Abl­ynx vet Kristof Ver­cruysse as their CEO. Most re­cent­ly he has been the chief de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer and CMO at TargED Bio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, for­mer­ly known as IO­VA. Ver­cruysse was di­rec­tor of clin­i­cal op­er­a­tions at Abl­ynx from 2007-13.

Matt Brokaw has been cho­sen to take the helm as pres­i­dent and CEO of med­ical de­vice com­pa­ny Aerin Med­ical, which aims to pro­vide non-in­va­sive pro­ce­dures for treat­ing chron­ic nasal air­way con­di­tions. Brokaw has pre­vi­ous­ly held lead­er­ship po­si­tions in mar­ket­ing at com­pa­nies with ENT port­fo­lios, such as Smith+Nephew (which just ac­quired Tusker Med­ical in Jan­u­ary) and Stryk­er. Along with Brokaw’s ap­point­ment, Aerin Med­ical al­so re­vealed the close of their $48 mil­lion eq­ui­ty fi­nanc­ing.

→ Fo­cused on the re­peatome in drug de­vel­op­ment, ROME Ther­a­peu­tics has brought on Den­nis Za­ller to be their CSO. A for­mer ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor at Mer­ck and Cel­gene/BMS, Za­ller has col­lab­o­rat­ed in the past with ROME’s pres­i­dent, CEO and co-founder, Rosana Kapeller. On Wednes­day our Max Gel­man spoke with Za­ller and Kapeller, which you can read here.

→ Long­time phar­ma ex­ec Paul Ko­rner is head­ed to Prince­ton, NJ women’s health­care com­pa­ny Ag­ile Ther­a­peu­tics as their CMO. Ko­rner has held a va­ri­ety of ex­ec­u­tive ti­tles, in­clud­ing SVP of US de­vel­op­ment at Fer­ring Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, which has made women’s health one of its ar­eas of fo­cus. He just com­plet­ed a more than year-and-a-half run as Ax­o­vant’s SVP, clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment & med­ical af­fairs, and from 2005-08, Ko­rner was Bay­er’s VP of med­ical af­fairs, women’s health.

Al­ka Chaubey

Al­ka Chaubey has made her way to San Diego-based gene se­quenc­ing play­er Bio­nano Ge­nomics as their first CMO. A well-known fig­ure through­out the mol­e­c­u­lar di­ag­nos­tics and cy­to­ge­net­ics com­mu­ni­ties, Chaubey is cur­rent­ly the head of cy­toge­nomics for PerkinElmer Ge­nomics, and she al­so spent 10 years at South Car­oli­na’s Green­wood Ge­net­ic Cen­ter, in­clud­ing 7 years as their di­rec­tor.

→ Bio­mark­er-dri­ven Ike­na On­col­o­gy has turned to Big Phar­ma vet Ser­gio San­til­lana to be their CMO. San­til­lana al­so led med­ical op­er­a­tions at Mer­ri­mack Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and ARI­AD Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals pri­or to join­ing Boston-based Ike­na. He’s al­so held a num­ber of on­col­o­gy clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment lead­er­ship roles at Eli Lil­ly (2002-06), GSK (2006-14) and Take­da (2014-16), where he was their se­nior med­ical di­rec­tor, on­col­o­gy clin­i­cal re­search.

Yasir Al-Wa­keel

Nor­bert Bischof­berg­er has been busy all sum­mer bol­ster­ing his ex­ec­u­tive lead­er­ship at Kro­nos Bio, and this week is no dif­fer­ent as Yasir Al-Wa­keel heads to the biotech as their CFO and head of cor­po­rate de­vel­op­ment af­ter a 3-year run as CFO and head of strat­e­gy at Neon Ther­a­peu­tics. Al-Wa­keel held the same ti­tles at Mer­ri­mack Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals as he does now at Kro­nos, which gob­bled up two of Gilead’s SYK in­hibitors in Ju­ly. We fea­tured him in our 2018 re­port on the un­der-40 crowd mak­ing a mark in biotech.

→ San Diego im­munother­a­py play­er Fate Ther­a­peu­tics has en­list­ed Cel­gene vet Ed­ward Du­lac as their new CFO. Du­lac start­ed at Cel­gene in 2012 as their di­rec­tor of glob­al mar­ket­ing and rose to VP, busi­ness de­vel­op­ment and strat­e­gy be­fore jump­ing over to Fate, which de­vel­ops off-the-shelf cell prod­ucts with its pro­pri­etary in­duced pluripo­tent stem cell (iP­SC) prod­uct plat­form.

→ British Co­lum­bia-based Xenon Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, tar­get­ing neu­ro­log­i­cal dis­or­ders, has tapped Chris Von Seg­gern as chief com­mer­cial of­fi­cer. Dur­ing a tenure of near­ly 12 years at ClearView Health­care Part­ners, most of Von Seg­gern’s en­er­gy was geared to­ward or­phan dis­eases and trans­for­ma­tion­al tech­nolo­gies.

Richard Katz has an­nounced his res­ig­na­tion as CFO at Liq­uidia Tech­nolo­gies, which is look­ing to go toe-to-toe with stan­dard-of-care Ty­va­so in the de­vel­op­ment of their drug LIQ861 for pul­monary ar­te­r­i­al hy­per­ten­sion. Steven Bariahtaris is step­ping in as in­ter­im CFO at the Re­search Tri­an­gle phar­ma un­til the po­si­tion is filled. Bariahtaris was a long­time J&J ex­ec in sev­er­al ca­pac­i­ties, leav­ing the phar­ma gi­ant ear­ly this year as their chief au­dit ex­ec­u­tive. While at J&J, he was al­so their CFO & VP of fi­nance for Janssen Amer­i­c­as.

Ju­lianne Aver­ill

Ju­lianne Aver­ill has tak­en on the CFO post at Bay Area in­fec­tious dis­ease di­ag­nos­tic tech start­up Alveo Tech­nolo­gies, which an­nounced a col­lab­o­ra­tion with Janssen Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals in April to bring its be.well test­ing sys­tem to mar­ket. A De­loitte vet, Aver­ill hails from Black­Thorn Ther­a­peu­tics, where she was their VP, fi­nance since Jan­u­ary 2019.

→ Rare dis­ease biotech San­i­fit — which raised near­ly $81 mil­lion last June in Spain’s largest-ever pri­vate biotech fundraise — has made the ad­di­tion of Adam Levy as CFO. Most re­cent­ly, Levy served as CBO of Brick­ell Biotech and has pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ence with mi­Ra­gen Ther­a­peu­tics, Mer­rill Lynch and Jef­feries Group among oth­ers.

→ San Diego-based biotech Zai Lab has snapped up Ty Ed­mond­son as chief le­gal of­fi­cer. Ed­mond­son hails from Bio­gen, where he served as SVP, chief cor­po­ra­tion coun­sel and as­sis­tant sec­re­tary. Pri­or to Bio­gen, Ed­mond­son served in roles at Sepra­cor, Sum­it­o­mo Dainip­pon Phar­ma, Ei­sai and Bris­tol My­ers Squibb among oth­ers.

Liz Hen­der­son

Mer­ck KGaA has made Liz Hen­der­son re­gion­al VP of Mer­ck Bio­phar­ma Asia Pa­cif­ic (APAC), based in Sin­ga­pore. A Pfiz­er and Am­gen vet, Hen­der­son has spent the last 18 months in Lon­don as Mer­ck’s man­ag­ing di­rec­tor and GM, Mer­ck UK & Re­pub­lic of Ire­land and has been at Mer­ck since 2009. In her new role, she will cov­er 11 APAC coun­tries across the phar­ma’s 4 ther­a­py ar­eas: on­col­o­gy, fer­til­i­ty, neu­rol­o­gy and im­munol­o­gy, and gen­er­al med­i­cine and en­docrinol­o­gy.

Tyme Tech­nolo­gies — fo­cused on the de­vel­op­ment of can­cer me­tab­o­lism-based ther­a­pies — has named John Roth­man as EVP, prod­uct de­vel­op­ment. Roth­man pre­vi­ous­ly served in roles at Scher­ing-Plough, Roche and Ad­vax­is.

Lori Hoff­man has moved to Prince­ton, NJ-based Slay­back Phar­ma as their head of al­liance man­age­ment af­ter lead­ing Fron­ti­da’s al­liance man­age­ment func­tion the last 3 years. Be­fore Fron­ti­da, Hoff­man spent more than 9 years at Sagent Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, the ma­jor­i­ty of which was spent as their se­nior di­rec­tor, busi­ness de­vel­op­ment.

Ted Love

Seat­tle Ge­net­ics has reeled in Glob­al Blood Ther­a­peu­tics pres­i­dent and CEO Ted Love to its board of di­rec­tors. Love brings a wealth of ex­pe­ri­ence from Onyx Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, Nu­velo, Ther­a­vance and Genen­tech.

Be­yond­Spring is mak­ing a big splash with the ad­di­tion of Ravin­dra Ma­jeti to its board of di­rec­tors. Ma­jeti co-found­ed Forty Sev­en out of Stan­ford in 2016, be­fore the com­pa­ny was ac­quired by Gilead in a $4.9 bil­lion buy­out. Af­ter snag­ging $123 mil­lion from the deal, Ma­jeti cur­rent­ly serves as chief, di­vi­sion of hema­tol­ogy at Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty.

Gar­ry Men­zel

TCR² Ther­a­peu­tics CEO Gar­ry Men­zel has been giv­en a seat on ge­net­ic dis­ease biotech Stoke Ther­a­peu­tics’ board of di­rec­tors. Men­zel is al­so a found­ing di­rec­tor at Black Di­a­mond Ther­a­peu­tics.

Michael Cham­bers has been se­lect­ed to the board of di­rec­tors at Calviri, a can­cer-fo­cused spin­out of the Biode­sign In­sti­tute at Ari­zona State. Cham­bers left his CEO post at Alde­vron but re­mains their chair­man.

Liz Kwo

Flex­ion Ther­a­peu­tics, which struck a deal in April to de­vel­op and com­mer­cial­ize Zil­ret­ta in Chi­na, has brought on Liz Kwo as a mem­ber of their board of di­rec­tors. Kwo is the staff VP, clin­i­cal da­ta an­a­lyt­ics at An­them.

Jakob Dupont, for­mer CMO at Gos­samer Bio, has joined Apex­i­gen‘s board of di­rec­tors. Dupont cur­rent­ly serves as EVP, head of glob­al re­search and de­vel­op­ment at Atara Bio­ther­a­peu­tics and was pre­vi­ous­ly at Genen­tech/Roche and On­coMed Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals.

Secretary of health and human services Alex Azar speaking in the Rose Garden at the White House (Photo: AFP)

Trump’s HHS claims ab­solute au­thor­i­ty over the FDA, clear­ing path to a vac­cine EUA

The top career staff at the FDA has vowed not to let politics overrule science when looking at vaccine data this fall. But Alex Azar, who happens to be their boss’s boss, apparently won’t even give them a chance to stand in the way.

In a new memorandum issued Tuesday last week, the HHS chief stripped the FDA and other health agencies under his purview of their rule making ability, asserting all such power “is reserved to the Secretary.” Sheila Kaplan of the New York Times first obtained and reported the details of the September 15 bulletin.

President Donald Trump (via AP Images)

Signs of an 'Oc­to­ber Vac­cine Sur­prise' alarm ca­reer sci­en­tists

President Donald Trump, who seems intent on announcing a COVID-19 vaccine before Election Day, could legally authorize a vaccine over the objections of experts, officials at the FDA and even vaccine manufacturers, who have pledged not to release any vaccine unless it’s proved safe and effective.

In podcasts, public forums, social media and medical journals, a growing number of prominent health leaders say they fear that Trump — who has repeatedly signaled his desire for the swift approval of a vaccine and his displeasure with perceived delays at the FDA — will take matters into his own hands, running roughshod over the usual regulatory process.

#ES­MO20: Push­ing in­to front­line, Mer­ck and Bris­tol My­ers duke it out with new slate of GI can­cer da­ta

Having worked in parallel for years to move their respective PD-1 inhibitors up to the first-line treatment of gastrointestinal cancers, Merck and Bristol Myers Squibb finally have the data at ESMO for a showdown.

Comparing KEYNOTE-590 and CheckMate-649, of course, comes with the usual caveats. But a side-by-side look at the overall survival numbers also offer some perspective on a new frontier for the reigning checkpoint rivals, both of whom are claiming to have achieved a first.

UP­DAT­ED: Two wild weeks for Grail end in $8B Il­lu­mi­na buy­out

Grail’s whirlwind two weeks have ended in the wealthy arms of its former founder and benefactors.

Illumina has shelled out $8 billion to reacquire the closely-watched liquid biopsy startup they spun out just 5 years ago and sold off much of its shares just 3 years ago. The deal comes nearly two weeks after the well-heeled startup filed for a potentially massive IPO — one that was disrupted just a week later when Bloomberg reported that Illumina was in talks to buy their former spinout for up to $8 billion.

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Roche vaults to the front of the NL­RP3 clin­i­cal race, pay­ing $448M up­front to bag In­fla­zome

Roche is going all in on NLRP3.

The pharma giant is putting down $448 million (€380 million) upfront to snatch Novartis-backed Inflazome, which makes it a clinical player in the space overnight.

Dublin and Cambridge, UK-based Inflazome is the second NLRP3-focused biotech Roche has acquired in less than two years, and although no numbers were disclosed in the Jecure buyout, this is almost certainly a much larger deal.

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Anthony Fauci (AP Images)

A press of­fi­cer at An­tho­ny Fau­ci’s NI­AID was un­masked as a hard-right Covid troll. He just re­tired to­day

William B Crews had been a public affairs specialist at the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

That ended today when he informed the agency of his decision to retire, after he was identified as the managing editor at RedState, a prominent Trump loyalist website.

Crews’ RedState duties are performed under the alias streiff. While enjoying the benefits of pseudonymity, he disparaged and worked against NIAID with an incendiary level of rhetoric in the midst of a pandemic.

#ES­MO20: Bris­tol My­ers marks Op­di­vo's sec­ond ad­ju­vant win — eye­ing a stan­dard of care gap

Moving into earlier and earlier treatment lines, Bristol Myers Squibb is reporting that adjuvant treatment with Opdivo has doubled the time that esophageal or gastroesophageal junction cancer patients stay free of disease.

With the CheckMate-577 data at ESMO, CMO Samit Hirawat said, the company believes it can change the treatment paradigm.

While a quarter to 30% of patients typically achieve a complete response following chemoradiation therapy and surgery, the rest do not, said Ronan Kelly of Baylor University Medical Center. The recurrence rate is also high within the first year, Hirawat added.

Donald Trump, AP

Covid-19 roundup: Trump sug­gests Pfiz­er vac­cine could be first ap­proved; VBI Vac­cines inks de­vel­op­ment deal with Cana­da

President Donald Trump commented Monday morning that Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate could be the first to win approval by regulators.

During an interview on a Fox News’ morning show, the president said Pfizer was doing “very well” when asked which candidate could be approved, according to a Reuters report. He added that J&J could follow up afterward, saying “they’ll probably be a little later.”

Is­raeli biotech rais­es $57M to go where cur­rent BRAF in­hibitors can't, with back­ing from No­var­tis, SR One

For the blockbuster potential of Novartis’ Tafinlar and Pfizer’s Braftovi, all the BRAF inhibitors on the market so far only target V600 mutations — which accounts for roughly 50% of patients.

Israeli biotech Novellus now has $57 million to develop a drug that they say can help the other 50% who have everything else.

The Series C will fund a Phase II trial for PLX-8394, a “paradox breaker” that could block RAF without activating MAPK signaling. In a Phase I trial, a patient with a BRAF fusion saw their tumor go away after taking the drug, allowing Novellus to hit the ground running.