Peer Review

Medivir taps ex-Acadia chief Uli Hacksell as interim CEO; Merck onboards chief digital officer

Leone Patterson

→ Following a five-month search for a full-time chief executive, Adverum Biotechnologies $ADVM has decided interim CEO Leone Patterson is the best candidate for the job after all. Patterson, who first joined Adverum in 2016, is now responsible for scaling its nascent clinical operation. The gene therapy company will now search for a CFO instead to take over Patterson’s old responsibilities.

Uli Hacksell

→ As Medivir $MVIR places a renewed focus on clinical development, it’s tapped board member Uli Hacksell as acting CEO, less than two years after promoting former BD head Christine Lind to the role. “The Board of Directors has worked on a plan that will concentrate Medivir’s attention on the company’s robust clinical pipeline composed of transformative cancer drugs with multi-billion dollar sales potential,” said Hacksell, previously CEO of Acadia Pharma, in a statement.

→ Cambridge, UK-based allergy med developer Camallergy has named biotech vet Baxter Phillips as CEO, taking over from co-founder Sherden Timmins, who now moves to a new COO role. Phillips brings fresh experience from the helm of Neurogastrx, as well as a dealmaking record at AmpliPhi Biosciences and Depomed.

Tetra Bio-Pharma has formally installed its CSO Guy Chamberland as permanent CEO, building on “tremendous momentum” he’s established for the cannabinoid-based drug company. While serving at the helm on an interim basis, Chamberland was credited with boosting the company’s share price and devising a regulatory strategy in both Canada and the US.

Jonathan Goldman has landed his next CEO job at Abzena, continuing his work in the biologics outsourced services field after his last company, Aptuit, was bought out by Evotec. Succeeding John Burt, Goldman is tasked with “establishing new partnerships with clients, building internal manufacturing capacity and pursuing strategic acquisitions.”

→ Despite garnering the avid attention of a lineup of both big and remarkable development partners, F-star never raised much cash for its operations from investors. But that might change with the appointment of Eliot Forster, the high-profile biotech exec who recently left the helm at Immunocore, as he steps up to the CEO’s job. He’s taking the top spot at a time the biotech is marching toward its first clinical development work on an in-house pipeline — putting the company at the crossroads.

→ Traveling down what now seems like an increasingly popular path, Merck $MRK has recruited a Nike exec to be its chief information and digital officer. As a member of the exec committee, Jim Scholefield will call the shots over Merck’s information technology and digital strategy.

→ Fresh off the heels of an R&D reorganization announced last month, Danish drugmaker Novo Nordisk has appointed AstraZeneca’s Ludovic Helfgott as executive vice president of its fledgling biopharma business. Helfgott is set to replace company veteran and former Novo CFO Jesper Brandgaard in April next year, who is retiring following a twenty-year stint with the Danish company best known for its raft of diabetes treatments.

Kitty Yale

Kitty Yale is taking her clinical R&D expertise to upstart biotech Akero Therapeutics, newly relocated to San Francisco after fellow Gilead vet Andrew Cheng was appointed CEO last month. As chief development officer, she will steer Akero’s lead program for NASH into a Phase II planned for next year.

→ In anticipation of several regulatory filings, Spectrum Pharmaceuticals $SPPI has scooped Francois Lebel from Ziopharm Oncology to be its CMO. Lebel, a seasoned oncology drug development exec with stints at Baxter and MedImmune, will have extensive responsibilities covering both clinical affairs and business development activities.

David King has resigned as CSO of aTyr Pharma $LIFE to start his own biotech “in a non-competitive area and in biology distinct from” the immunological pathways aTyr is pursuing, the company emphasizes. He will help with the transition and recruitment of a new leader until the end of the year.  

Mustang Bio $MBIO has wooed Martina Sersch, formerly of Amgen, Genentech and Pfizer, to be its CMO. In the role, she will oversee programs in immuno-oncology— a field she’s intimately familiar with — as well as a rare disease gene therapy.

→ Looking to bake commercial and reimbursement plans into its late-stage clinical work, Tyme has recruited ex-Celgene sales exec Michele Korfin as chief commercial officer. Korfin joins the cancer biotech from Kite Pharma, where she helped map the market access strategy, including payer relations and reimbursement, for the pioneering CAR-T therapy Yescarta.

Abeona Therapeutics $ABEO is bringing in João Siffert as head of R&D and chief medical officer, freeing Juan Ruiz up to become the head of European medical affairs. Jumping from a similar role at Nestle Health Science, Siffert will be welcomed alongside new general counsel Neena Patil.

→ After a 10-year tenure at Janssen — preceded by stints at Biogen and GlaxoSmithKlineAdam Hacker is joining the small team at Autolus. As SVP for regulatory affairs and quality, he is charged with driving more of the biotech’s T cell therapies through the clinic.


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