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On an executive hiring spree, Sarepta snags Biogen’s Gilmore O’Neill as new CMO

Gilmore O’Neill

Sarepta has snagged ex-Biogen executive Gilmore O’Neill to join the leadership as CMO, filling the position just one year after its last CMO hire.

Last April, the company had brought in former Regeneron exec Catherine Stehman-Breen to serve as its chief medical officer, despite her inexperience with Duchenne drugs. At the time, then-CEO Ed Kaye pointed to her “extensive experience in global development, clinical operations and research across multiple therapeutic areas” as reasoning for her hire. But it appears Stehman-Breen quietly left Sarepta just 8 months later, although Sarepta never issued a press release regarding her departure.

The company’s president and CEO Doug Ingram tells me Stehman-Breen’s position was temporarily filled by Stan Bukofzer on an interim basis while Sarepta initiated the hunt for a full-timer. No word on why Stehman-Breen left.

Catherine Stehman-Breen

Now, O’Neill will take a stab at the role. And the breadth of his clinical drug dev experience is notable — and should be a boon for Sarepta, considering its R&D plans. During his time at Biogen, O’Neill oversaw the development programs for all Alzheimer’s disease, movement disorders, acute neurology, multiple sclerosis, pain, neuromuscular disease, and rare diseases.  He also oversaw all gene and cell therapy programs, which is one of Sarepta’s focus areas going forward.

O’Neill helped get global marketing OKs for Tecfidera, Zinbryta, Plegridy, and Spinraza, the company said.

Doug Ingram

“Gilmore is uniquely positioned to successfully lead our development strategy,” Ingram said in a statement. “He has deep expertise in neurobiology, genetic medicine and clinical development, having driven some of biotech’s most successful clinical programs. And his proven leadership ability and passion for our mission of changing lives through genetic medicine will be essential as we advance toward our goals with a sense of urgency, creativity and purpose.”

O’Neill had this to say:

I was inspired to join the Sarepta leadership team by the quality of Sarepta’s pipeline and the sense of urgency within the company to advance these programs and improve the lives of patients. I’m looking forward to making a fast start, and one of my most pressing priorities will be to meet with and learn from the DMD patient community.

Sarepta appears to be on a bit of an executive shakeup, as just Monday the company announced Louise Rodino-Klapac as its new VP of gene therapy. And Ingram said the company is hiring, on average, 1.5 people per day. Sarepta has grown from its staff by 100 people since the start of 2018, from 240 t0 340. He said the company has plans to reach nearly 480 by the end of the year. The big add-ons are happening in the science side, Ingram said. It’s researchers, developers, regulatory folks, etc.


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