Pfizer spinout woos Otsuka vet Raymond Sanchez to lead CNS pipeline work; Joe Anderson returns to Arix helm
→ Four months after plopping itself down in the center of the neurosciences field with a pipeline from Pfizer and $350 million in launch cash from Bain Capital, Cerevel Therapeutics has recruited a seasoned central nervous system drug developer to become its CMO. Raymond Sanchez, who jumps from Otsuka, is tasked with shepherding Cerevel’s Parkinson’s (dopamine D1 agonist) and epilepsy (GABA A positive modulator) programs into Phase III. At the Japanese pharma, Sanchez oversaw CNS work at Avanir among other responsibilities.
→ After a brief stint as chief investment officer, Joe Anderson is returning to his CEO role at biotech startup builder Arix Bioscience. The former Abingworth partner was first appointed to the helm in 2016, but switched his focus last September to groom the investment team and portfolio — something he will continue devoting resources to as the London-based company shifts toward a “leaner” organization. As part of the transition, Jonathan Peacock will exchange his executive chairman badge for the non-executive title, and his former deputy Christopher Evans will retire from the board.
→ Serial entrepreneur and former Horizon Discovery CEO Darrin Disley has taken the chief executive role at Cell Mogrify, a Cambridge, England-based startup that just scored $3.7 million seed funding to pursue its work on direct cellular conversion. “Direct reprograming between mature human cell types” without going through a pluripotent stem cell or progenitor cell state, Disley said, “is a holy grail of regenerative medicine and pharmaceutical applications,” especially as the cell therapy field explodes. The new CEO is also an investor in the company alongside Ahren Innovation Capital and 24Haymarket.
→ Alexion’s Rachelle Jacques is jumping ship to another rare disease biotech with a big promotion: CEO of Enzyvant Sciences, which was forged out of Vivek Ramaswamy’s prolific shop at Roivant back in 2016. Jacques has replaced Alvin Shih — who was appointed months after the formation of Enzyvant — as the company preps for the commercial roll out of RVT-802, a regenerative therapy designed to reconstitute the immune system to treat primary immune deficiency resulting from congenital athymia. She previously served as senior VP and global franchise head of complement at Alexion, and has also worked with Shire, Baxalta, Baxter and Dow Corning.
→ Rosamond Deegan is stepping down as president and chief business officer at Bicycle Therapeutics, triggering a promotion and a new hire to fill the two positions. Lee Kalowski, the biotech’s CFO, will become president of its US operations (it has offices in both Cambridges across the Atlantic). Meanwhile, Peter Leone jumps from Arrowhead Pharma to lead business development efforts for Bicycle’s bicyclic peptide platform.
→ Roche-partnered gene therapy company 4D Molecular Therapeutics is stacking up its C-suite with a string of appointments and promotions. Fred Kamal is coming on board as chief technical officer after overseeing quality and regulatory CMC for Avexis as well as Juno. August Moretti, formerly of Assertio Therapeutics and Alexza Pharmaceuticals is the new CFO. Peter Francis and Theresa Janke have been promoted to chief medical officer and chief operating officer respectively; Francis is an ophthalmic genetics expert while Janke is a founding member of the company.
→ As RedHill Biopharma $RDHL gears up for a potential US launch of its antibiotic Talicia, it’s tapped Rick Scruggs as COO of its US operations. A board member since 2016, Scruggs learned the ropes of drug commercialization at Salix Pharma until Valeant bought it up. The Israeli biotech is plotting a fourth quarter rollout for Talicia, which recently reported a Phase III success in eradicating H. pylori infection.
→ Doug Williams has wooed a former Biogen colleague to his startup team at Codiak BioSciences. Andrea DiFabio has been named chief legal officer, a post she also occupied recently at Bioverativ (now a Sanofi subsidiary). Aside from her legal expertise, DiFabio is also expected to contribute to corporate strategy and transactional discussions, Williams said.
→ Following several pacts with high profile partners on its RNAi programs, Dicerna $DRNA is beefing up its leadership team. Hardean Achneck, a former CMO at stem cell therapy developer Hemostemix, is the new VP, head of medical development; Paratek alum Regina DeTore Paglia has been appointed as SVP of human resources; and new head of corporate communications Rebecca Peterson brings two decades of experience from the likes of Millennium, Alkermes and Sanofi Genzyme.
→ LogicBio Therapeutics has recruited Kenneth Huttner from Bioverativ to its effort treating rare diseases with gene editing. As SVP, head of clinical development, Huttner will play a key role in advancing the company’s $LOGC lead program for methylmalonic acidemia into the clinic.
→ Having lost a bid (and a fortune) in a run for a New Jersey Senate seat last fall, former Celgene CEO Bob Hugin is making a leap back into biotech. He is joining the board of Allergan $AGN at a time the company, under pressure from the hedge fund Appaloosa LP to divide the role of chairman and CEO, is slowly thawing to the idea of revamping its leadership structure. His appointment, though, has only inspired a backlash from the activist investor, which described its as “a lame attempt to deflect pressure through token measures.”
→ Gossamer founder Faheem Hasnain (of Receptos fame) is taking over the board chairman seat at Mirati Therapeutics as Rodney Lappe retires from the genetics-driven cancer drug developer.
→ Katherine High, co-founder and head of R&D at gene therapy pioneer Spark Therapeutics, is one of two proposed new members joining the board of CRISPR Therapeutics. The biotech, which counts itself a frontrunner in race to develop therapies with its namesake gene editing tool, has also invited Bioverativ CFO John Greene to be a director.
→ In a push to raise its profile globally, Discovery Park — a science campus based in the southeastern part of England — has appointed Chris Broom as head of business development.