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Newly named Abeona chief Carsten Thiel booted after the board accuses him of misconduct involving colleagues

Just 6 months after landing the top job at Abeona Therapeutics $ABEO, CEO Carsten Thiel has been unceremoniously booted from the executive suite, accused of unspecified “personal misconduct” involving his interactions with colleagues at the company.

According to Abeona, a cell and gene therapy startup:

Dr. Thiel’s termination follows an investigation by independent members of the Company’s Board of Directors and external counsel into allegations of misconduct towards colleagues that the Board concluded violated the Company’s Code of Business Conduct and Ethics and was inconsistent with its expectations for Abeona’s CEO.

And the sacking came with a lecture.

“We expect all employees, regardless of title or responsibility, to conduct themselves ethically and in accordance with company policies, and are committed to ensuring an environment of respect, integrity and ethical conduct at Abeona,” said executive chairman Steven Rouhandeh in a prepared statement.

Endpoints News reached out to the company to see if we could round up some specifics of what happened, but a spokesperson was tight-lipped about the details, sticking with the statement.

João Siffert

Thiel had been swept out of his job as commercial chief at Alexion in the spring of 2017 as the then new CEO Ludwig Hantson cleaned house and brought in his own executive crew. Hantson’s arrival followed the departure of the previous Alexion CEO, who had been implicated in an ethics scandal of his own after questions regarding the way they handled advanced sales came up.

He’s being replaced on an interim basis by another new staffer: R&D chief João Siffert, who was brought in just a few weeks ago. Jefferies notes that Siffert appears to have the inside track on the job, but adds that Abeona will look around for the best replacement.

Prior to ABEO, Dr. Siffert was CMO at Ceregene (acquired by SGMO in 2013) and held leadership roles at AVNR and Avera with his most recent role as Chief Scientific and Medical officer for Nestle Health Science. Notably, he has Board level perspective at AVXS (was appointed to the AVXS Board 4/19/17). In general, he has experience with neurological drug and gene therapy development. With experience from preclin to drug approval, Dr. Siffert brings a breadth of leadership-based qualifications that should be relevant to ABEO’s current stage of growth. Though Dr. Siffert has a head start, ABEO has retained a search firm to look externally too.


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