Mod­er­na dips in­to J&J's tal­ent pool for Tal Zak­s' re­place­ment; Jim Mullen choos­es next chief sci­en­tist at Ed­i­tas Med­i­cine

Paul Bur­ton

→ Ap­par­ent­ly Tal Zaks took George Costan­za’s con­cept on Se­in­feld of go­ing out on a high note to heart at Mod­er­na, mak­ing his plans to leave his lofty perch as CMO in Feb­ru­ary af­ter the biotech be­came a house­hold name for mil­lions re­ceiv­ing its mR­NA Covid-19 vac­cine. Start­ing Ju­ly 6, J&J vet Paul Bur­ton will suc­ceed one of Stéphane Ban­cel’s most trust­ed as­so­ciates, climb­ing on board as Mod­er­na push­es past Covid-19 and con­cen­trates on oth­er vac­cine can­di­dates.

Bur­ton piv­ots to Mod­er­na af­ter a 16-year run at J&J. For the last 15 months, he’s been Janssen’s chief glob­al med­ical af­fairs of­fi­cer, and be­fore that pro­mo­tion he was VP and head of car­dio­vas­cu­lar and meta­bol­ic med­ical af­fairs for six years.

Mark Shear­man

→ The Jim Mullen era is well un­der­way at Ed­i­tas Med­i­cine, and Charles Al­bright’s suc­ces­sor is all lined up with Mark Shear­man get­ting the nod as CSO af­ter Al­bright bolt­ed to be­come Affinia’s chief sci­en­tist sev­er­al months ago. Shear­man, who had been with Ap­plied Ge­net­ic Tech­nolo­gies Cor­po­ra­tion since 2015 and was CSO there, once served as SVP of re­search & ear­ly de­vel­op­ment dur­ing his six years at Mer­ck KGaA sub­sidiary EMD Serono.

Shear­man isn’t the on­ly new face at Ed­i­tas as Chi Li steps on board as chief reg­u­la­to­ry of­fi­cer. Li held the same po­si­tion at Celu­lar­i­ty for the last eight months and was VP, reg­u­la­to­ry af­fairs at Al­ler­gan and Bay­er.

Tania Philipp

→ Ex-Au­dentes CEO and co-founder Matthew Pat­ter­son has signed on as chair­man of Vor Bio­phar­ma, which struck a mul­ti-year dis­cov­ery deal with Abound Bio last week. Pat­ter­son has been a mem­ber of Vor’s board since 2020, and he takes over from 5AM Ven­tures man­ag­ing part­ner Kush Par­mar, who will re­main on the board. Pat­ter­son hand­ed the ba­ton to Na­tal­ie Holles af­ter Astel­las bought Au­dentes for $3 bil­lion, but the pa­tient deaths that have plagued Au­dentes’ gene ther­a­py pro­gram have forced a two-year wait on an ap­proval.

Else­where at Vor, Tania Philipp — the biotech’s VP, head of peo­ple — has been pro­mot­ed to chief peo­ple of­fi­cer. Philipp was the head of hu­man re­sources at Tan­go Ther­a­peu­tics be­fore join­ing Vor in De­cem­ber 2019.

→ Lei­den, Nether­lands-based Var­mX has locked in Jan Öhrström as CEO, suc­ceed­ing Alexan­der Vos. Öhrström has been chair­man of Var­mX since 2018 and will con­tin­ue to serve in that role. Öhrström was the for­mer CEO of ProFib­rix. His oth­er stints in­clude roles at Zy­mo­Ge­net­ics, No­vo Nordisk and The Med­i­cines Com­pa­ny.

In ad­di­tion, the com­pa­ny has tapped Alex Gold to its su­per­vi­so­ry board. Gold is the cur­rent CMO of San­i­fit Ther­a­peu­tics and the for­mer SVP and head of clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment at Por­to­la Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals.

Matthew Os­borne

→ With apolo­gies to the leg­endary Fox Sports col­lege bas­ket­ball an­a­lyst Bill Raftery: “Sen­da it in!” Flush with $98 mil­lion in new cash an­nounced just last week, Flag­ship “in­ter­sys­tems bi­ol­o­gy” biotech Sen­da Bio­sciences has three new play­ers on the ros­ter with Matthew Os­borne (CFO), Lynette Her­scha (chief le­gal of­fi­cer) and Ra­jesh Beri (VP of process de­vel­op­ment and man­u­fac­tur­ing sci­ences).

Os­borne, who’s just had con­sec­u­tive year-long tenures as CFO of On­cX­er­na Ther­a­peu­tics and Unum, was al­so VP of cor­po­rate af­fairs, com­mu­ni­ca­tions and in­vestor re­la­tions with Voy­ager. Af­ter eight years of le­gal work at Mo­men­ta, Her­scha jumped to the gen­er­al coun­sel job at Con­cert Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and then her lat­est post as Sol­id Bio’s chief le­gal of­fi­cer. Fi­nal­ly, Beri spent 11 years at Lon­za and was briefly Im­muno­vant’s head of CMC.

Rachel Lening­ton

→ As Seat­tle-based Athi­ra Phar­ma sorts out its un­usu­al CEO sit­u­a­tion — putting Leen Kawas on tem­po­rary leave Thurs­day — Rachel Lening­ton has been named chief tech­nol­o­gy of­fi­cer, head of prod­uct de­vel­op­ment strat­e­gy. Lening­ton doesn’t have a big re­lo­ca­tion ahead of her af­ter five years at Seagen, three of them as SVP of pro­gram and port­fo­lio man­age­ment. At the Bill & Melin­da Gates Foun­da­tion, the 10-year Am­gen vet­er­an was deputy di­rec­tor, strat­e­gy, plan­ning and man­age­ment. Athi­ra Phar­ma had been off to an aus­pi­cious start, com­plete with an IPO crack­ing the $200 mil­lion mark in 2020, be­fore the Kawas news hit.

→ Af­ter Jen­nifer Whel­er was named CMO last month, the lead­er­ship at ex­o­some biotech Co­di­ak Bio­Sciences has hit re­fresh again with the pro­mo­tions of Sri­ram Sathya­narayanan to CSO and Kon­stan­tin Kon­stan­ti­nov to chief tech­nol­o­gy of­fi­cer. Sathya­narayanan gets the bump af­ter serv­ing as Doug Williams’ SVP, pre­clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment. Pre­vi­ous roles in­clude a stint as se­nior di­rec­tor, trans­la­tion­al sci­ences at Jounce Ther­a­peu­tics. Mean­while, Kon­stan­ti­nov has been around Co­di­ak since its in­cep­tion; the Sanofi and Bay­er vet takes on the CTO job fol­low­ing his time as EVP, man­u­fac­tur­ing and process sci­ences.

Ken­ji Fu­ji­ta

→ Backed by Sofinno­va and Abing­worth, Re­search Tri­an­gle gene ther­a­py up­start At­se­na Ther­a­peu­tics has brought in Ken­ji Fu­ji­ta as CMO. Af­ter six years in clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment at Alex­ion, Fu­ji­ta has spent the past two years as John Maraganore’s VP of clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment at Al­ny­lam be­fore mak­ing the switch to At­se­na, which scored a $55 mil­lion Se­ries A round to pro­pel its lead drug to treat blind­ness (by way of Sanofi) in­to a Phase I/II tri­al.

Ilise Lom­bar­do

Shankar Ra­maswamy’s gene ther­a­py play Kriya Ther­a­peu­tics has ap­point­ed Ilise Lom­bar­do as CMO. Lom­bar­do co-found­ed and was CMO at Arvelle Ther­a­peu­tics, which An­geli­ni Phar­ma ac­quired to start 2021, and she’s al­so been CMO of Ax­o­vant (now Sio Gene Ther­a­pies), found­ed by Ra­maswamy’s broth­er, Vivek. Kriya hit the ground run­ning with an $80 mil­lion Se­ries A in May 2020, with di­a­betes head­lin­ing its ar­eas of fo­cus.

Chu­lani Karunati­lake

→ Sharp­en­ing its claws with a $72 mil­lion Se­ries B in Jan­u­ary, Cam­bridge, MA can­cer play­er Were­wolf Ther­a­peu­tics has se­lect­ed Chu­lani Karunati­lake as chief tech­nol­o­gy of­fi­cer. Karunati­lake had been SVP of tech­ni­cal op­er­a­tions at Mav­er­ick Ther­a­peu­tics, which Take­da pur­chased in an up-to-$525 mil­lion deal in March. His oth­er stops in­clude Nek­tar (SVP of phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal de­vel­op­ment) and Am­gen (di­rec­tor, process de­vel­op­ment). Karunati­lake’s ap­point­ment fol­lows that of CFO Tim Trost in Feb­ru­ary.

Tim Grin­stead

→ There might need to be a get­ting-to-know-you ice cream so­cial for the six new ap­pointees at Seat­tle-based Vi­s­us Ther­a­peu­tics, which de­buted in March and has an eye drop to com­bat pres­by­opia as its lead can­di­date.

James Burke

Tim Grin­stead (COO) moves to Vi­s­us af­ter four years at Alk­er­mes, where he rose to VP and gen­er­al man­ag­er; James Burke (VP of re­search) leaves Al­ler­gan af­ter 30-plus years of oph­thalmic dis­cov­ery and de­vel­op­ment; Patrick Hugh­es (VP of phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal de­vel­op­ment) had been VP, drug de­liv­ery in­no­va­tion at Glaukos; Lisa Simp­son (VP of clin­i­cal op­er­a­tions and com­pli­ance) is an­oth­er long­time Al­ler­gan vet, wrap­ping up her tenure as Ab­b­Vie’s VP of R&D com­pli­ance; Gu­ru Shar­ma (di­rec­tor of oph­thal­mol­o­gy and clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment) makes the leap large­ly from acad­e­mia af­ter teach­ing po­si­tions at LSU and West­ern Uni­ver­si­ty of Health Sci­ences; and Alex Oh (VP of in­tel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty) was re­cent­ly se­nior coun­sel at Bris­tol My­ers Squibb.

Frank Lee’s folks at Wa­ter­town, MA hema­tol­ogy biotech For­ma Ther­a­peu­tics have wel­comed John Bish­op as chief tech­nol­o­gy of­fi­cer. Bish­op comes off four years at Epizyme where he was SVP of phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal sci­ences. He al­so had an iden­ti­cal ti­tle over near­ly 12 years at Mo­men­ta that saw him lead CMC strate­gies for gener­ics of Co­pax­one and Lovenox.

Joseph Fer­ra

→ Notch­ing two fund­ing rounds in quick suc­ces­sion last year and claim­ing ex-Mer­ri­mack drug serib­an­tum­ab, New York-based El­e­va­tion On­col­o­gy has named Joseph Fer­ra CFO. For­mer­ly with UBS and JP Mor­gan, Fer­ra makes the hike to El­e­va­tion af­ter three years as CFO of Sy­ros Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, which re­ceived much-need­ed fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance from Bain to give the hob­bling biotech’s pipeline a boost.

→ A French biotech from the eu­reKARE port­fo­lio, Stel­late Ther­a­peu­tics has two new staffers with CSO David Immke and di­rec­tor of busi­ness de­vel­op­ment Jonathan Weiss. Dur­ing Immke’s 17 years at Am­gen, he was head of neu­ro­science re­search, VP of R&D trans­for­ma­tion and the med­ical af­fairs sci­en­tif­ic lead for the mi­graine drug Aimovig. Weiss served as a prin­ci­pal sci­en­tist at Kad­mon and steered belu­mo­sudil, in FDA lim­bo for cGVHD, in­to the clin­ic.

Ar­naud La­coste

→ Back­ing up the se­lec­tion of CEO Greg Kun­st last week, Au­ri­on Biotech — work­ing on a cell ther­a­py for corneal en­dothe­lial dis­ease — has waved in Ar­naud La­coste as CSO. In­flu­en­tial in the cre­ation of iP­SCs, La­coste makes the move fol­low­ing 12 years at No­var­tis, the bulk of that time as group head, cell and gene ther­a­pies, re­gen­er­a­tive med­i­cine. La­coste and his team pushed treat­ments for­ward in spinal mus­cu­lar at­ro­phy, CAR-T and cell ther­a­pies for reti­nal and corneal blind­ness.

→ Us­ing tech­nol­o­gy from the labs of Bob Langer and Daniel An­der­son at MIT, Flag­ship’s Sig­ilon Ther­a­peu­tics has locked in Philip Ash­ton-Rickardt as CSO. A for­mer pro­fes­sor at Im­pe­r­i­al Col­lege Lon­don and the Uni­ver­si­ty of Chica­go, Ash­ton-Rickardt found­ed and helmed Smith Ther­a­peu­tics af­ter his time in acad­e­mia. He heads to Sig­ilon af­ter be­ing SVP for im­munol­o­gy at AZTher­a­pies, which snapped up Smith in 2019.

Jim Vas­sel­li

Au­los Bio­science has tapped Jim Vas­sel­li as CMO. Vas­sel­li hops aboard from Mav­er­ick Ther­a­peu­tics, where he was SVP of clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment. Pri­or to that, Vas­sel­li spent near­ly a decade at As­traZeneca/Med­Im­mune and jump-start­ed his ca­reer at the Na­tion­al In­sti­tutes of Health (NIH)’s Na­tion­al Can­cer In­sti­tute (NCI).

At­se­na Ther­a­peu­tics — fo­cused on re­vers­ing or pre­vent­ing blind­ness — has pulled in Ken­ji Fu­ji­ta as CMO. Fu­ji­ta comes from Al­ny­lam, where he served as VP of clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment. Pri­or to that, he had stints at Mer­ck and Alex­ion Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals. Cur­rent­ly, Fu­ji­ta serves as an as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor in clin­i­cal med­i­cine at Robert Wood John­son Uni­ver­si­ty Hos­pi­tal.

→ AI and ma­chine learn­ing com­pa­ny Se­ma4 has en­list­ed An­drew Kasarskis as chief da­ta of­fi­cer. Kasarskis joins the com­pa­ny from Mount Sinai Health Sys­tem, where he was serv­ing as EVP and chief da­ta of­fi­cer. In ad­di­tion to his role at Mount Sinai, Kasarskis dou­bled as a pro­fes­sor in the de­part­ment of ge­net­ics and ge­nom­ic sci­ences and pop­u­la­tion health sci­ence and pol­i­cy at the Ic­ahn School of Med­i­cine. Be­fore that, Kasarskis held roles at Pa­cif­ic Bio­sciences, Sage Bionet­works and Mer­ck.

Thomas Beetham

Ma­gen­ta Ther­a­peu­tics has reeled in Thomas Beetham as chief le­gal of­fi­cer. Beetham makes his way to Ma­gen­ta from Kiniksa Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, where he served as chief le­gal of­fi­cer and EVP, cor­po­rate de­vel­op­ment and op­er­a­tions. Be­fore that, he was chief le­gal of­fi­cer at Synage­va Bio­Phar­ma.

ios­Bio has named Pa­tri­cia Lon­dono-Hayes as chief de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer. Lon­dono-Hayes comes aboard from Sanofi Pas­teur where she most re­cent­ly served as head of ex­ter­nal R&D ini­tia­tives and sci­en­tif­ic af­fairs, Eu­rope. Pri­or to that, she was with vac­cine com­pa­ny Acam­bis.

Re­al Chem­istry has brought on Mary Stutts as its glob­al chief in­clu­sion and health eq­ui­ty of­fi­cer. Pri­or to her new role, Stutts served as SVP, cor­po­rate re­la­tions at Sum­i­to­vant Bio­phar­ma. Be­fore that, Stutts was run­ning gigs at Genen­tech, Bris­tol My­ers Squibb, Bay­er, Unit­ed­Health Group, Kaiser Per­ma­nente, Stan­ford Health Care and Com­cast NBCU­ni­ver­sal.

Clau­dio Avi­la has land­ed at Jean-Pierre Som­ma­dos­si’s vi­ral dis­ease biotech Atea Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals as SVP of med­ical af­fairs. To close out his eight years at Gilead, Avi­la was ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, US med­ical strat­e­gy and med­ical af­fairs for remde­sivir — ex­pe­ri­ence that should prove valu­able with Atea’s oral an­tivi­ral AT-527 for mild to mod­er­ate Covid-19 in a Phase III tri­al.

Ar­i­ane Hamaide

→ A quar­tet of new ex­ecs has hit the stage and tuned up at Re­search Tri­an­gle-based AAV gene ther­a­py play­er Stride­Bio, fresh off an $81.5 mil­lion Se­ries B round. Ar­i­ane Hamaide (VP, strat­e­gy and op­er­a­tions) comes to the Take­da and Sarep­ta part­ner from Cel­lec­tis, where she was VP, cor­po­rate de­vel­op­ment; FDA vet Mike Havert (VP, reg­u­la­to­ry af­fairs) is the lat­est to break away from blue­bird af­ter the de­par­tures of David David­son and Joanne Smith-Far­rell, pre­vi­ous­ly serv­ing as se­nior di­rec­tor, reg­u­la­to­ry sci­ence, CMC; San­dra Lueken (VP, qual­i­ty op­er­a­tions) is an As­traZeneca alum in qual­i­ty as­sur­ance who held the same ti­tle at KBI Bio­phar­ma as she does here; and Jo­di Wolff (VP, pa­tient en­gage­ment & ad­vo­ca­cy) had led glob­al pa­tient ad­vo­ca­cy at San­thera Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals.

→ Dutch biotech AM-Phar­ma, which has its drug for sep­sis-as­so­ci­at­ed acute kid­ney in­jury in Phase III, has snared Mar­ti­jn Ne­gen as VP for com­mer­cial strat­e­gy. You name it, Ne­gen’s been there — As­traZeneca, Eli Lil­ly, Genen­tech, Boehringer In­gel­heim and Bris­tol My­ers among them — but late­ly he’s been Alex­ion’s busi­ness lead for On­dexxya (an­dex­anet al­fa) in Eu­ro­pean re­gions since the Por­to­la deal. Be­fore that, he was Por­to­la’s gen­er­al man­ag­er of Benelux and the Nordics.

Michael Wag­n­er

Michael Wag­n­er has got­ten the call to be SVP of chem­istry and drug dis­cov­ery at Ameet Nath­wani-led bio­mol­e­c­u­lar con­den­sates shop Dew­point Ther­a­peu­tics, putting a pe­ri­od on a near­ly 20-year ca­reer at Sanofi. Wag­n­er led the syn­thet­ic med­i­c­i­nal modal­i­ties de­part­ment with­in in­te­grat­ed drug dis­cov­ery, and fur­ther back, he was Sanofi’s head of in­sulins and pep­tides in the di­a­betes di­vi­sion.

Helmed by X4 Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals founder Re­na­to Skerlj since Oc­to­ber, RNA-me­di­at­ed dis­ease biotech Ex­pan­sion Ther­a­peu­tics has made Mark Lede­boer SVP of drug dis­cov­ery. Lede­boer joined Goldfinch Bio in 2016 as se­nior di­rec­tor, head of chem­istry and more re­cent­ly was their VP of drug dis­cov­ery. He spent the 17 pre­vi­ous years at Ver­tex in drug dis­cov­ery and as a re­search fel­low in med­i­c­i­nal chem­istry.

Devin Smith

Re­verse merg­ing with Pro­teosta­sis Ther­a­peu­tics late last sum­mer, Yu­man­i­ty Ther­a­peu­tics has tapped Devin Smith as gen­er­al coun­sel af­ter three years as SVP and gen­er­al coun­sel for Min­er­va Neu­ro­sciences. Smith be­came EMD Serono’s as­so­ciate gen­er­al coun­sel in 2006 and would get el­e­vat­ed to VP and gen­er­al coun­sel five years lat­er.

Car­rie Sir­a­gusa has joined the team at One Drop as VP of com­mer­cial strat­e­gy. Sir­a­gusa hails from Sanofi, where she was head of di­a­betes in­no­va­tion. Pri­or to Sanofi, Sir­a­gusa was an au­di­tor at Eis­ner­Am­per.

→ UK-based Phore­Most has brought on Chris­t­ian Dil­lon as VP of bi­ol­o­gy. Dil­lon comes from Can­cer Re­search UK’s Ther­a­peu­tic Dis­cov­ery Lab­o­ra­to­ries (CRUK-TDL), where he was as­so­ciate di­rec­tor.

Mike Var­ney

→ San Fran­cis­co-based Atom­wise has made sev­er­al ap­point­ments to its board of di­rec­tors as well as to their new sci­en­tif­ic ad­vi­so­ry board. The new di­rec­tors of the board in­clude: Eras­ca R&D chair­man Mike Var­ney (for­mer head of Genen­tech’s re­search and ear­ly de­vel­op­ment and a mem­ber of Roche’s ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee); An­drew Lo (a di­rec­tor of Roivant Sci­ences and pro­fes­sor at the MIT Sloan School of Man­age­ment); and John Hamer (CEO of Arête Ther­a­peu­tics and was the CSO and even­tu­al­ly pres­i­dent and CEO of Par­a­digm Ge­net­ics).

The SAB con­sists of Ke­mal Ma­lik (a for­mer mem­ber of the ex­ec­u­tive board of man­age­ment of Bay­er AG and CMO at Bay­er Health­care); Bruce Roth (SVP of re­search and ear­ly de­vel­op­ment of small mol­e­cule dis­cov­ery at Genen­tech and the in­ven­tor of Lip­i­tor); and Var­ney.

Mary Rozen­man

→ There’s a lot of Flag­ship go­ing on here, we know: Ge­of­frey von Maltzahn’s crew at Tessera has made room for El­liott Si­gal and Mary Rozen­man on the board of di­rec­tors. Si­gal has al­so tak­en on board ap­point­ments at Vir and Affinia in the last year, and Rozen­man — fea­tured in the 2020 Un­der 40 edi­tion by End­points News — has been in­sitro’s CFO and CBO for al­most two years.

→ Doug Williams is mak­ing some ap­point­ment news him­self, as Co­di­ak’s CEO takes a seat on the board of di­rec­tors at Mon­rovia, CA-based Cy­toIm­mune Ther­a­peu­tics. Al­lied with City of Hope, Cy­toIm­mune fo­cus­es on nat­ur­al killer im­munother­a­pies.

Eiry Roberts has made her way to the board of di­rec­tors at Am­i­cus, join­ing the likes of Burke Whit­man and ex-Mo­men­ta CEO Craig Wheel­er, who were just re-elect­ed at the Pompe dis­ease biotech’s an­nu­al stock­hold­ers meet­ing. An Eli Lil­ly alum, Roberts has been CMO at Neu­ro­crine since 2018.

San­dra Mil­li­gan

→ Back in the con­trol of Fa­heem Has­nain, San Diego’s Gos­samer Bio has added San­dra Mil­li­gan to the board of di­rec­tors. The Am­gen and Genen­tech alum has just start­ed as head of R&D at Organon.

Steven Schoch is now on the board of di­rec­tors at Amit Mun­shi-led Are­na Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, which stum­bled in a Phase IIb IBS study in March. For­mer­ly a di­vi­sion­al fi­nan­cial VP at Am­gen, Schoch — the ex-CEO of Mi­ra­max — is the CFO at 23andMe.

Brin­da Bal­akr­ish­nan

→ Af­ter the FDA swung the gates open for a vo­closporin ap­proval to treat lu­pus nephri­tis in Jan­u­ary, Au­rinia has elect­ed Brin­da Bal­akr­ish­nan to the board of di­rec­tors. Bal­akr­ish­nan is Bio­Marin’s group VP, cor­po­rate and busi­ness de­vel­op­ment.

Er­ic Ru­bin is the newest mem­ber of the board of di­rec­tors at im­muno-on­col­o­gy biotech On­corus. Ru­bin, Mer­ck’s SVP of glob­al clin­i­cal on­col­o­gy, has been with the phar­ma gi­ant since 2008.

→ Bay­er vet Ter­ry Her­mis­ton and Cul­li­nan On­col­o­gy CMO Jon Wig­gin­ton have been ap­point­ed to the board of di­rec­tors at Pitts­burgh-based on­colyt­ic vi­ral im­munother­a­py biotech KaliVir. Her­mis­ton pulls dou­ble CEO du­ty for GLAd­i­a­tor Bio­sciences and Co­ag­u­lant Ther­a­peu­tics, and Wig­gin­ton is al­so on the board at Sutro Bio­phar­ma.

Kishen Mehta

→ A few weeks re­moved from the FDA OK’ing Nurtec as a pre­ven­ta­tive treat­ment for mi­graine, Bio­haven is bring­ing one-time strate­gic ad­vi­sor Kishen Mehta in­to the fold on the board of di­rec­tors. Mehta is a port­fo­lio man­ag­er with Su­vret­ta Cap­i­tal Man­age­ment who filled the same role at Sur­vey­or Cap­i­tal.

→ Dan­ish gene edit­ing out­fit Twelve Bio has named Gi­ta Dittmar its ex­ec­u­tive chair. Dittmar has busi­ness de­vel­op­ment ex­pe­ri­ence at Bio­gen and was di­rec­tor of Mid­dle East busi­ness de­vel­op­ment at Dance Bio­pharm (now called Aera­mi Ther­a­peu­tics).

At the In­flec­tion Point for the Next Gen­er­a­tion of Can­cer Im­munother­a­py

While oncology researchers have long pursued the potential of cellular immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer, it was unclear whether these therapies would ever reach patients due to the complexity of manufacturing and costs of development. Fortunately, the recent successful development and regulatory approval of chimeric antigen receptor-engineered T (CAR-T) cells have demonstrated the significant benefit of these therapies to patients.

Tillman Gerngross (Adagio)

Till­man Gern­gross on Omi­cron: 'It is a grim sit­u­a­tion...we’re go­ing to see a sig­nif­i­cant drop in vac­cine ef­fi­ca­cy'

Tillman Gerngross, the rarely shy Dartmouth professor, biotech entrepreneur and antibody expert, has been warning for over a year that the virus behind Covid-19 would likely continue to mutate, potentially in ways that avoid immunity from infection and the best defenses scientists developed. He spun out a company, Adagio, to build a universal antibody, one that could snuff out any potential mutation.

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In­cor­po­rat­ing Ex­ter­nal Da­ta in­to Clin­i­cal Tri­als: Com­par­ing Dig­i­tal Twins to Ex­ter­nal Con­trol Arms

Most drug development professionals are familiar with the nerve-racking wait for the read-out of a large trial. If it’s negative, is the investigational therapy ineffective? Or could the failure result from an unforeseen flaw in the design or execution of the protocol, rather than a lack of efficacy? The team could spend weeks analyzing data, but a definitive answer may be elusive due to insufficient power for such analyses in the already completed trial. These problems are only made worse if the trial had lower enrollment, or higher dropout than expected due to an unanticipated event like COVID-19. And if a trial is negative, the next one is likely to be larger and more costly — if it happens at all.

Like the flu vac­cine every year, the FDA could move quick­ly on a vari­ant-tar­get­ed Covid vac­cine

In the same way that the FDA signs off on flu vaccines every year without requiring large clinical trials to measure their efficacy, the FDA may employ a similar strategy in authorizing variant-focused versions of the mRNA vaccines.

As the world braces for more data on the latest variant Omicron, which may reduce vaccine efficacy, top vaccine developers like Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech have promised they can pull together a new vaccine targeted against a specific Covid variant in about 100 days. Since Omicron emerged last week, Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and J&J have all said they’ve begun work on Omicron-specific vaccines, if needed.

Thanks­giv­ing edi­tion: Top 15 End­points sto­ries of 2021; Can you name that vac­cine?; Mer­ck­'s Covid an­tivi­ral dis­ap­points; FDA nom­i­nee's in­dus­try ties; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

Happy Thanksgiving to all those who are celebrating it — although, if we are being honest, this week’s abbreviated edition is really for those who are not. Wherever you’re tuning in from, we appreciate your support, hope you find this recap helpful and we wish you a wonderful weekend.

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What were End­points read­ers tun­ing in­to this year? Here’s a look at our 15 most pop­u­lar re­ports of the year (so far)

At the beginning of this year, I laid out a basic objective for Endpoints News as we headed to our 5th anniversary. We’ve long been doing a fine job covering the breaking news in R&D — if I do say so myself — but we needed to expand our horizons on industry coverage, increase the staff and go much, much deeper when the stories demanded it.

In a phrase: broader and deeper.

It’s safe to say, based on our daily web traffic, that you all seemed to like this idea. We’ve doubled the staff — thanks to a growing group of paid subscribers — ramped up the daily report and now publish a regular slate of in-depth articles. And traffic — those clicks you always read about — have gone up in volume too. Monthly sessions are up 43%, to close to 1.5 million. Unique readers are up 63%, to 874,480 in October, after setting a record of close to a million the month before. Page views are running at 3 million-plus a month. And the overall number of subscribers has surged to 124,000.

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Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission

Omi­cron: Re­searchers scram­ble as new coro­n­avirus mu­ta­tion takes flight around the globe — Pfiz­er/BioN­Tech, Mod­er­na vow swift re­sponse

As Americans were waking up for their Black Friday rituals, they were greeted with the news that a new mutation of the Covid-19 virus has appeared and been sequenced — after it caught an international flight to Hong Kong. And two of the leading Covid-19 vaccine developers promised delivery of a new vaccine “within 100 days” if necessary while a third spelled out its 3-prong strategy hours later.

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Nev­er too late: For­bion pitch­es $100M SPAC; Kro­nos Bio re­leas­es ear­ly in­ter­im da­ta on CDK9 in­hibitor

Dutch VC Forbion is hopping on the ever-lengthening SPAC train.

To be led by Jasper Bos, who joined Forbion Growth as a general partner back in May just after the fund closed at $428 million, Forbion European Acquisition will target late-stage opportunities in the life sciences industry in Europe to merge with and bring onto Nasdaq.

Cyril Lesser, senior controller at Forbion, will be the CFO while Bos serves as CEO.

Jeff Albers, Blueprint Medicines CEO

Look­ing past Big Phar­ma ri­vals, Blue­print buys a pre­clin­i­cal biotech for $250M+

J&J’s Rybrevant scored the first approval back in May for a small group of lung cancer patients with a rare EGFR mutation. Despite a swarm of other biopharma companies angling for a piece of that market, Blueprint Medicines is betting nearly $500 million on a candidate it thinks will stand out.

Blueprint is putting down $250 million in cash and another $215 million in biobucks for Lengo Therapeutics and its preclinical non-small cell lung cancer program LNG-451. Though it hasn’t been tested in humans, Blueprint says the candidate was “highly brain-penetrant” in preclinical trials, and has the potential to inhibit all common EGFR exon 20 insertion variants — which are found in just 2% to 3% of NSCLC patients.

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