Philip Tagari switch­es Am­gen's dis­cov­ery lab for in­sitro's ma­chine learn­ing tools; CEO Joaquin Du­a­to to chair J&J's board

Philip Tagari

In Feb­ru­ary, Philip Tagari will take a few days of re­tire­ment and then im­me­di­ate­ly re­turn to in­dus­try. He won’t be lead­ing the ther­a­peu­tics dis­cov­ery unit for a large bio­phar­ma, though.

He’ll trade in his Am­gen hat for chief sci­en­tist at a ma­chine learn­ing start­up that has reeled in hun­dreds of mil­lions in cap­i­tal to lay the ground­work for a much-hyped new mod­el of drug dis­cov­ery that aims to speed up the time to new clin­i­cal as­sets.

At in­sitro, the 24-year Am­gen vet­er­an will ad­dress what he calls the “in­tractable chal­lenges” of drug R&D. His man­date, per CEO Daphne Koller in this week’s ap­point­ment an­nounce­ment, is to hunt for “new tar­gets and de­sign ther­a­peu­tic mol­e­cules.”

“The chal­lenge was for Am­gen and me, an es­tab­lished bio­phar­ma, is to build that air­plane while you’re fly­ing the cur­rent air­plane,” Tagari said in an in­ter­view with End­points News.

Some in­tro­spec­tion at Am­gen, around 2018, led Tagari to take a deep dive in­to the three main “buck­ets” of chal­lenges in the in­dus­try: what to work on (dis­eases, in­di­ca­tions, tar­gets, etc.); “how to rapid­ly ar­rive at a ther­a­peu­tic en­ti­ty”; and trans­lat­ing that work in­to the “right and con­vinc­ing clin­i­cal ex­per­i­ment” so that “fan­tas­tic-look­ing mol­e­cules” don’t flop on ef­fi­ca­cy and/or safe­ty.

He be­came more in­ter­est­ed in how those chal­lenges could be ad­dressed by au­toma­tion, ma­chine learn­ing and oth­er tools.

The in­sitro plat­form sparked his in­ter­est, enough to reel him in. It helped that Roger Perl­mut­ter, whom Tagari worked for at both Mer­ck and Am­gen, was as­so­ci­at­ed with in­sitro, as an in­de­pen­dent board mem­ber.

As he gears up for the next stage of his ca­reer, Takari points to can­cer drug Lumakras and cho­les­terol-low­er­ing treat­ment Repatha as some high­lights of his time at Am­gen. From his 10 years at Mer­ck, in the late ’80s and most of the ’90s, he still sees the fruits of his la­bor every day: His wife takes a gener­ic ver­sion of an asth­mat­ic drug on which he worked. The im­pact on pa­tients is top of mind, he said, and even more so when that med­i­cine helps some­body in your own fam­i­ly. Plus, the drug racked up tens of bil­lions in sales fol­low­ing its launch short­ly be­fore the turn of the mil­len­ni­um.

Dur­ing his time in the labs of Mer­ck and Am­gen, Tagari has touched mul­ti­ple pock­ets of drug de­vel­op­ment: small mol­e­cules, bi­o­log­ics, an­ti­bod­ies, pep­tide ther­a­peu­tics, oligonu­cleotides, T cell en­gagers, en­gi­neered cy­tokines and oth­ers. For the past decade, he ran Am­gen’s ther­a­peu­tic dis­cov­ery work, brought to­geth­er un­der one unit af­ter the bio­phar­ma took a “self-ex­am­i­na­tion” in the ear­ly 2010s, he said.

Kyle LaHu­cik


Joaquin Du­a­to

→ In one of the more high-pro­file CEO tran­si­tions of the past year, Joaquin Du­a­to took over for Alex Gorsky at J&J on Jan. 3, leav­ing Gorsky in the role of chair­man. But start­ing in Jan­u­ary 2023, Du­a­to is tak­ing that ti­tle too.

So ends Gorsky’s as­so­ci­a­tion with the Big Phar­ma that be­gan in 1988 as a sales rep for Janssen, ris­ing to CEO in 2012. When he an­nounced his de­par­ture as chief ex­ec­u­tive in Au­gust 2021, it be­gan a cas­cade of ex­its in­volv­ing some of the biggest names at the phar­ma gi­ant. Chief sci­en­tist Paul Stof­fels re­tired on Dec. 31, 2021, then took on the daunt­ing task of turn­ing around Gala­pa­gos. And in Au­gust, head of R&D Math­ai Mam­men jumped ship him­self. Mam­men’s name popped up as a pos­si­ble can­di­date to re­place Michel Vounatsos as CEO of Bio­gen, but that job ul­ti­mate­ly went to ex-Sanofi chief Chris Viehbach­er.

Du­a­to had been vice chair­man of the ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee be­fore his as­cent to CEO.

Doug Man­ion

→ Im­muno-in­flam­ma­to­ry dis­ease biotech Aclaris Ther­a­peu­tics will reshuf­fle the lead­er­ship deck in a big way once we flip the cal­en­dar to 2023. Bris­tol My­ers Squibb vet­er­an and for­mer Are­na Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals R&D chief Doug Man­ion joined Aclaris in Au­gust as pres­i­dent and COO, but he will vault to the top spot as cur­rent CEO Neal Walk­er be­comes chair­man. Walk­er suc­ceeds Christo­pher Mo­lin­eaux, who will be the lead in­de­pen­dent di­rec­tor.

The shake­up con­tin­ues with the re­tire­ment of Frank Ruf­fo, the fi­nance chief at Aclaris for the whole of its ex­is­tence. While VP of fi­nance Kevin Balthas­er will take over as CFO on Jan. 1, Matthew Roth­man’s quick as­cent to gen­er­al coun­sel and cor­po­rate sec­re­tary has al­ready tak­en ef­fect. It’s his third pro­mo­tion this year, mov­ing up to ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, cor­po­rate coun­sel in Jan­u­ary and VP, le­gal and com­pli­ance in June.

Jef­frey Gold­berg

→ Austin, TX-based Ae­glea Bio­Ther­a­peu­tics has found a per­ma­nent re­place­ment for An­tho­ny Quinn, tap­ping Jef­frey Gold­berg as CEO while in­ter­im chief Jim Kas­ten­may­er re­turns full-time to his post as gen­er­al coun­sel. Gold­berg’s last CEO job was with Im­mu­ni­tas Ther­a­peu­tics, pass­ing the ba­ton to Aman­da Wag­n­er in No­vem­ber 2021. A Sanofi Gen­zyme alum, Gold­berg al­so spent four years as COO of Akcea. Quinn’s ex­it was part of a pipeline re­fo­cus/job cut mael­strom that rocked Ae­glea this sum­mer and saw the biotech change its lead can­di­date from pegzi­larginase (which has a check­ered his­to­ry that in­cludes an RTF) to its ho­mo­cystin­uria drug peg­tarvil­iase, once known as AGLE-177.

David Horn Solomon

David Horn Solomon has re­signed as CEO of Pharnext, while chair­man Joshua Schafer re­places him on an in­ter­im ba­sis. The ex-CEO of Zealand Phar­ma, Akari Ther­a­peu­tics and Si­lence Ther­a­peu­tics had led the com­pa­ny since April 2020 and hands over a biotech that’s in a Phase III tri­al for Char­cot-Marie-Tooth dis­ease type 1A — it’s pro­ject­ed to read out da­ta at the end of next year. Athena Bioven­tures man­ag­ing di­rec­tor and Si­lo Phar­ma VP of R&D Jim Kuo is slat­ed to fill the board va­can­cy that Horn Solomon al­so cre­at­ed.

Dar­rin Beaupre

→ Syn­thet­ic lethal­i­ty play­er Ideaya Bio­sciences has pegged Dar­rin Beaupre as CMO. In 2020, Beaupre left his job as Pfiz­er’s SVP, head of ear­ly on­col­o­gy de­vel­op­ment and clin­i­cal re­search to join Sa­mumed (now Bios­plice) as CMO and head of R&D in on­col­o­gy. Ideaya’s stock $IDYA took a hit in Au­gust when GSK de­clined its op­tion to de­vel­op IDE397, a MAT2A (me­thio­n­ine adeno­syl­trans­ferase 2a) in­hibitor, but it has re­bound­ed con­sid­er­ably in the months since.

Scott Kollins

→ Peer Re­view en­cour­ages you to read Nicole De­Feud­is’ fea­ture on where we are to­day with dig­i­tal ther­a­peu­tics, and to pro­vide guid­ance in that space, Ak­ili — the mak­er of FDA-ap­proved video game En­deav­or­Rxhas ap­point­ed AD­HD re­searcher Scott Kollins as CMO. Kollins had a two-decade ca­reer in the psy­chi­a­try and be­hav­ioral sci­ences de­part­ment at the Duke Uni­ver­si­ty School of Med­i­cine and was CMO of Hol­musk. “We have treat­ed AD­HD in the U.S. in vir­tu­al­ly the same way for more than 50 years; providers and pa­tients need new op­tions,” Kollins said in a press re­lease. “Ak­ili is in a unique po­si­tion to chal­lenge the sta­tus quo and change the treat­ment par­a­digm with unique dig­i­tal med­i­cine to im­prove pa­tient care.”

Ed­uard Gasal

Syn­cona– and For­bion-backed IL-2 play­er Anaveon has giv­en CMO du­ties to Ed­uard Gasal, who just had a brief run as CMO and then pres­i­dent of Eli Lil­ly’s sin­til­imab part­ner In­novent. A se­ries of on­col­o­gy posts at Am­gen from 2008-16 caught the at­ten­tion of No­var­tis, where Gasal was ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor and glob­al pro­gram clin­i­cal head in on­col­o­gy clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment. In­ci­den­tal­ly, the No­var­tis Ven­ture Fund played a role in Anaveon’s $119 mil­lion Se­ries B last year.

Guo­jun Bu

→ Un­til re­cent­ly the chair of the de­part­ment of neu­ro­science at the Mayo Clin­ic, Guo­jun Bu is now mak­ing the leap in­to in­dus­try, where he’ll help steer ear­ly-stage work on drugs for Parkin­son’s and Alzheimer’s in­to the clin­ic. The ed­i­tor-in-chief of Mol­e­c­u­lar Neu­rode­gen­er­a­tion, Bu will now take con­trol of the dis­cov­ery and pre-clin­i­cal work at SciNeu­ro, where he’ll be in charge of trans­la­tion­al work as the new CSO. Ear­li­er, he had been a pro­fes­sor of cell bi­ol­o­gy and neu­ro­science at the Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­si­ty School of Med­i­cine in St. Louis.

Bu won’t be new to the work at SciNeu­ro, which has op­er­a­tions in Rockville, MD and Shang­hai. “Hav­ing had a long­stand­ing as­so­ci­a­tion with SciNeu­ro as a sci­en­tif­ic ad­vi­sor, I am thrilled to join the com­pa­ny as chief sci­en­tif­ic of­fi­cer,” Bu said.

Chris­tine Fos­ter

Mnemo Ther­a­peu­tics, a Paris CAR-T start­up with Michel Sade­lain as one of the sci­en­tif­ic co-founders, has picked up Chris­tine Fos­ter as CBO. Fos­ter de­camps from Metageno­mi af­ter just eight months in the same ca­pac­i­ty. The Te­va and GSK vet has al­so made stops at Sunovion (head of search and eval­u­a­tion, cor­po­rate de­vel­op­ment & li­cens­ing), Ac­celeron (VP, busi­ness de­vel­op­ment) and In­tel­lia (SVP, busi­ness de­vel­op­ment). Helmed by for­mer Bay­er ex­ec Robert La­Caze, Mnemo has named an­oth­er sci­en­tif­ic co-founder, Se­bas­t­ian Amigore­na, as SVP, im­munol­o­gy.

Karen An­der­son

Medicxi start­up Centes­sa Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals has propped up he­mo­phil­ia A and B can­di­date Ser­pin­PC as its lead as­set fol­low­ing the dis­con­tin­u­a­tion of lix­i­vap­tan in June. This week, Bio­gen and Pfiz­er hu­man re­sources alum Karen An­der­son has ven­tured off to Centes­sa as chief peo­ple of­fi­cer. An­der­son, the chief hu­man re­sources of­fi­cer with Al­ny­lam from 2014-19, re­cent­ly held the role of HR chief at cloud-based cy­ber­se­cu­ri­ty com­pa­ny Mime­cast.

Pe­ter Williams

In­cyte has dipped in­to the Big Phar­ma well to ap­point Pe­ter Williams as gen­er­al man­ag­er of the UK and Ire­land. In his re­cent stint at Gilead UK, Williams was se­nior di­rec­tor or sales and mar­ket­ing for both the on­col­o­gy and in­flam­ma­tion busi­ness units. He’s al­so been a busi­ness unit di­rec­tor in on­col­o­gy dur­ing his five years with Ab­b­Vie UK. A cou­ple months ago, In­cyte paid $70 mil­lion in cash to buy Vil­laris Ther­a­peu­tics and its vi­tili­go as­set au­re­molimab.

→ Through the slings and ar­rows of the bear mar­ket, Pe­ter Thiel-backed men­tal health play­er atai Life Sci­ences slimmed down its pipeline and ditched some part­ner­ships in an ef­fort to save mon­ey. With new CFO Stephen Bardin in place and a $175 mil­lion term loan fa­cil­i­ty from Her­cules Cap­i­tal pro­vid­ing a fi­nan­cial buffer, atai has wel­comed Sahil Kir­pekar as CBO. In his eight-plus years at Ot­su­ka, Kir­pekar was head of busi­ness de­vel­op­ment and co-chaired its Glob­al In­vest­ment Com­mit­tee.

Igna­cio Muñoz-San­juán

→ A lit­tle be­fore Ca­jal Neu­ro­science launched this week with $96 mil­lion to tack­le Alzheimer’s and Parkin­son’s, Igna­cio Muñoz-San­juán joined the crew as CEO. Muñoz-San­juán hails from the CH­DI Foun­da­tion, where he was VP of tran­si­tion­al bi­ol­o­gy and was pres­i­dent and co-founder of non-prof­it Fac­tor-H. Ear­li­er in his ca­reer, Muñoz-San­juán was with Am­gen.

→ Qui­et mi­cro­bio­me play­er Mi­cro­bi­ot­i­ca is hav­ing a change in the guard in its lead­er­ship team, with CEO Mike Ro­manos pass­ing the ba­ton to COO Tim Sharp­ing­ton af­ter six years at the helm as he heads to Im­pe­r­i­al Col­lege, Lon­don. The change comes not long af­ter the com­pa­ny’s $67 mil­lion cash in­fu­sion in March. Sharp­ing­ton brings ex­pe­ri­ence from his times at Vec­tura, Arakis, ICON, Se­qu­us and Open Or­phan/hVI­VO.

Joel Kauf­man

→ A cou­ple weeks ago, Lei Lei Wu re­port­ed on can­cer de­tec­tion up­start Haystack On­col­o­gy and its $56 mil­lion Se­ries A; CEO Dan Edel­stein and the crew are wast­ing no time flesh­ing out the lead­er­ship with Joel Kauf­man as CFO. The ex-busi­ness chief at Navidea Bio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, Kauf­man breaks away from Se­ma4, where he had been VP of fi­nance & cor­po­rate de­vel­op­ment since May 2021.

Cor­nelia Haag-Molken­teller

→ Mak­ing its first ap­pear­ance, French “pin­point gene ther­a­py” biotech EG 427 has lined up Cor­nelia Haag-Molken­teller as CMO. Haag-Molken­teller left the same post at Urovant Sci­ences in March, and she end­ed more than a decade at Al­ler­gan as VP and ther­a­peu­tic area head in glob­al clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment for women’s health, in­ter­nal med­i­cine, an­ti-in­fec­tives, and urol­o­gy from 2015-18. EG 427 is fore­cast­ing a 2024 tar­get date to hit the clin­ic with its lead drug for neu­ro­genic blad­der dys­func­tion, EG110A.

Take­da gene ther­a­py part­ner Se­lec­ta Bio­sciences has re­cruit­ed Blaine Davis as CFO. The Bris­tol My­ers busi­ness de­vel­op­ment vet and for­mer En­do ex­ec held this same po­si­tion at Pro­tara Ther­a­peu­tics from 2020 un­til this past Ju­ly. Se­lec­ta got slowed down by a clin­i­cal hold on its methyl­malonic acidemia pro­gram SEL-302, but it’s all sys­tems go for ear­ly-stage tri­als now that the hold has been lift­ed.

Ed­mund Lee

→ As CSO De­nis Dry­gin sig­nals his de­par­ture, San Diego mR­NA biotech Reg­u­lus Ther­a­peu­tics has a pair of new ex­ecs who once worked at San­i­fit: Rekha Garg (SVP, clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment and reg­u­la­to­ry) is an Am­gen and Eli Lil­ly vet who was SVP, reg­u­la­to­ry af­fairs and safe­ty at San­i­fit from 2016-19, and Claire Pad­gett (SVP, clin­i­cal op­er­a­tions) came from Mi­rati to take on the role of SVP, de­vel­op­ment op­er­a­tions at the Span­ish com­pa­ny that was pur­chased by Vi­for. Dry­gin’s ex­it comes af­ter the kid­ney dis­ease drug lademirsen spit the bit in Phase II, caus­ing its long­time part­ner Sanofi to shut down de­vel­op­ment in Au­gust.

An­oth­er note: Reg­u­lus pro­mot­ed Mor­gan Carl­son to VP, bi­ol­o­gy and Ed­mund Lee to VP, trans­la­tion­al med­i­cine.

Mai­ja Hollmén

Mai­ja Hollmén has been ap­point­ed CSO of Fin­land’s Faron Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals. Hollmén co-found­ed Faron in 2007 and will be tasked with steer­ing de­vel­op­ment of bex­mar­il­imab for acute myeloid leukemia and myelodys­plas­tic syn­drome. She’s al­so a pro­fes­sor of tu­mor im­munol­o­gy at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Turku.

Nan­cy Bo­man

→ Gam­ma delta T cell de­vel­op­er Adicet Bio has in­stalled Nan­cy Bo­man as chief reg­u­la­to­ry of­fi­cer. Bo­man’s long ca­reer in reg­u­la­to­ry af­fairs in­clud­ed stops at Am­gen, Genen­tech, and Alder Bio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals be­fore she worked on the spinal mus­cu­lar at­ro­phy drug Zol­gens­ma as SVP of reg­u­la­to­ry af­fairs — and lat­er chief reg­u­la­to­ry of­fi­cer — for AveX­is, now No­var­tis Gene Ther­a­pies. Since 2019, she had been chief reg­u­la­to­ry of­fi­cer of En­cod­ed Ther­a­peu­tics.

→ Bris­tol My­ers-backed pep­tide shop Sapi­ence Ther­a­peu­tics has en­list­ed Abi Vain­stein-Ha­ras as med­ical chief, re­plac­ing con­sult­ing CMO Al­ice Bex­on. To close out her sev­en years at Te­va, Vain­stein-Ha­ras was di­rec­tor and clin­i­cal pro­gram leader for the mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis med Co­pax­one, and since 2014 she’s had a hand­ful of posts at Bi­o­Lin­eRx, in­clud­ing CMO. Nex­Point and Bris­tol My­ers con­tributed to Sapi­ence’s $41 mil­lion Se­ries B fi­nanc­ing in late May.

Pe­te Gough

→ Speak­ing of pep­tides, Madi­son, WI-based Roche spin­out Nim­ble Ther­a­peu­tics has locked in Pe­te Gough as CSO. Gough owned the same job ti­tle at Flag­ship’s Inzen Ther­a­peu­tics, which com­bined with Cyg­nal to form Sonata Ther­a­peu­tics in May. He’s al­so been head of the he­pati­tis B virus dis­cov­ery per­for­mance unit dur­ing a 15-year ca­reer with GSK.

Stan Mu­sial is knock­ing it out of the park again in Peer Re­view, this time as fi­nance chief of New York on­col­o­gy biotech Promon­to­ry Ther­a­peu­tics. In Ju­ly 2021, we told you about Mu­sial tak­ing the CFO job at Aru­vant af­ter tack­ling CFO/CBO du­ties at Dan­ish biotech Xenikos. Promon­to­ry, the com­pa­ny for­mer­ly known as Phos­platin, hired VPs He­lene Shea and Kate Hogg Call in Sep­tem­ber.

Bri­an Koh

→ Ear­ly can­cer de­tec­tion spe­cial­ist Prog­nomiQ has ap­point­ed Bri­an Koh as CMO. Koh had sev­er­al lead­er­ship roles in hema­tol­ogy and on­col­o­gy at Kite and Gilead, then moved on to lead trans­la­tion­al sci­ences and clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment at Vi­vid­ion, which was sold to Bay­er in a near­ly $2 bil­lion deal last year.

Shane Lea has signed on as chief com­mer­cial of­fi­cer of can­cer-fo­cused Cel­lec­tar Bio­sciences. Lea ran the hema­tol­ogy fran­chise at TG Ther­a­peu­tics af­ter nine years of mar­ket­ing roles with Cel­gene/Bris­tol My­ers. Cel­lec­tar’s lead pro­gram, iopo­fo­s­ine, is in a Phase II study for Walden­strom’s macroglob­u­line­mia and a Phase IIb tri­al for re­lapsed/re­frac­to­ry mul­ti­ple myelo­ma.

Mer­cedes Diz

→ Barcelona der­ma­tol­ogy biotech Almi­rall has el­e­vat­ed long­time staffer Mer­cedes Diz to VP, cor­po­rate strat­e­gy. Diz joined the team in 2002 and she had been se­nior di­rec­tor of cor­po­rate strat­e­gy for the last year. Her pro­mo­tion comes af­ter Car­los Gal­lar­do took over for his fa­ther, Jorge Gal­lar­do, as Almi­rall’s in­ter­im CEO on May 6.

Rachael Eas­t­on

→ With its lead as­set bezu­clas­tinib in Phase III for gas­troin­testi­nal stro­mal tu­mors (GIST), Co­gent Bio­sciences has brought in Rachael Eas­t­on as VP, head of clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment. Eas­t­on’s three years at GSK have drawn to a close, and since Oc­to­ber 2021 she was the phar­ma gi­ant’s group se­nior med­ical di­rec­tor, on­col­o­gy clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment. She’s al­so held clin­i­cal phar­ma­col­o­gy and trans­la­tion­al med­i­cine po­si­tions at CSL Behring and Sanofi.

Aman­da Mor­gan

Strik­ing a deal with fel­low ra­dio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal out­fit Point Bio­phar­ma for $260 mil­lion up­front, Lan­theus has se­lect­ed Aman­da Mor­gan as SVP, com­mer­cial as it cir­cles the wag­ons around the two drugs in the al­liance, PNT2002 and PNT2003. Mor­gan comes from Aca­dia Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, where she was pro­mot­ed to chief rev­enue and cus­tomer of­fi­cer af­ter serv­ing as SVP of sales and mar­ket ac­cess. Ear­li­er, she was Shire’s US head of sales and US head of pa­tient ser­vices.

Sheri­ta Hall

→ Fu­eled by a $120 mil­lion raise from April, oph­thal­mol­o­gy up­start Au­ri­on Biotech has named Sheri­ta Hall as VP, clin­i­cal op­er­a­tions and Ster­ling Chung as VP, glob­al reg­u­la­to­ry af­fairs. The for­mer VP of both clin­i­cal op­er­a­tions and pro­gram man­age­ment at Oc­u­lar Ther­a­peu­tix, Hall al­so led the wet AMD team at Re­genxbio. Chung had been in charge of reg­u­la­to­ry af­fairs at Ne­oleukin Ther­a­peu­tics and Mol­e­c­u­lar Tem­plates; ear­li­er, he had reg­u­la­to­ry gigs at Ab­bott, Take­da, Gilead and Seagen.

Stephen Bur­bidge

→ Last we heard from Rewind Ther­a­peu­tics, they were bring­ing in Irene Knue­sel as CSO. Now, the Bel­gian com­pa­ny is re­cruit­ing Stephen Bur­bidge as head of re­search and dis­cov­ery. Bur­bidge cur­rent­ly serves as di­rec­tor of dis­cov­ery and pre­clin­i­cal projects at 3D Con­sul­tants, Cam­bridge (UK) and in the past has been with Prox­im­a­gen and Glax­oW­ell­come/GSK.

→ Cal­i­for­nia AI start­up Ter­ray Ther­a­peu­tics has opened up some space on the board of di­rec­tors for Xen­cor pres­i­dent and CEO Bassil Dahiy­at. The broth­ers Berlin at Ter­ray, Eli and Ja­cob, teamed up with Al­pha­bet sub Cal­i­co Life Sci­ences on de­vel­op­ing mul­ti­ple undis­closed tar­gets in Oc­to­ber.

Tr­isha Mil­li­can

Re­Code Ther­a­peu­tics, which topped off its Se­ries B in June with an ad­di­tion­al $120 mil­lion, has elect­ed ex-Metacrine CFO Tr­isha Mil­li­can to the board of di­rec­tors. Pre­vi­ous­ly, Mil­li­can had a board seat at Amu­nix, the Ang­ie You-led com­pa­ny that Sanofi bought last year.

→ For­mer LEO Phar­ma CEO Christo­pher Pos­ner is tak­ing a seat on the board of di­rec­tors at Kem­Pharm. Pos­ner cur­rent­ly serves as pres­i­dent and CEO of Cara Ther­a­peu­tics and has for­mer­ly had stints at Bris­tol My­ers, Pfiz­er, Wyeth and En­do.

→ Wrestling with lay­offs and the “busi­ness de­ci­sion” to shelve its on­ly clin­i­cal tri­al, PACT Phar­ma CEO Scott Gar­land has clinched a spot on the board of di­rec­tors at ALX On­col­o­gy. The ex-Por­to­la CEO al­so has board seats at Day One Bio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and Calithera Bio­sciences.

Ai­da Habtezion

→The PhRMA Foun­da­tion is bring­ing in more fire­pow­er to its board of di­rec­tors with the ap­point­ments of Ai­da Habtezion (Pfiz­er CMO), Ma­ha Rad­hakr­ish­nan (Bio­gen CMO), George Ad­dona (Mer­ck Re­search Lab­o­ra­to­ries SVP and head. of dis­cov­ery, pre­clin­i­cal and trans­la­tion­al med­i­cine), and Lori Reil­ly (PhRMA COO).

Frédéric Legros is join­ing the board at Arthex Biotech as ex­ec­u­tive chair­man. Legros most re­cent­ly served as COO of Dy­nacure and was the for­mer VP and cor­po­rate head of busi­ness de­vel­op­ment at Val­ne­va.

Hen­ry McK­in­nell

→ For­mer Pfiz­er chair­man and CEO Hen­ry McK­in­nell is head­ing over to the ad­vi­so­ry board of AI play­er Quris. McK­in­nell al­so boasts stints as chair­man of the boards of Moody’s and Ac­cor­dia Glob­al Health Foun­da­tion.

→ Ox­ford, UK-based Pathios Ther­a­peu­tics is wel­com­ing aboard Jean­marie Guenot to its board of di­rec­tors. Guenot is cur­rent­ly the founder, pres­i­dent and CEO of Tore­ador Ther­a­peu­tics and has served in the same ca­pac­i­ty at Am­phive­na, Har­poon Ther­a­peu­tics and Mav­er­ick Ther­a­peu­tics.

Two new faces are join­ing the board of di­rec­tors at Bryn Phar­ma. Sandy Lore­aux, Co­vis Phar­ma’s US pres­i­dent, will take one and the oth­er will be tak­en by Isosce­les Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals CEO William Humphries. In ad­di­tion to their cur­rent stints, Lore­aux for­mer­ly served in roles at  Mallinck­rodt, Bausch Health and Sanofi, while Humphries joins with ex­pe­ri­ence from pri­or stints at Or­tho Der­ma­to­log­ics, Merz, Stiefel Lab­o­ra­to­ries and GSK.

→ As Synair­gen greets new board mem­ber Aman­da Rad­ford, Iain Buchanan is re­tir­ing af­ter a 12-year run. Rad­ford has been group fi­nan­cial con­troller with BSI Group since Ju­ly.

Late Fri­day ap­proval; Trio of biotechs wind down; Stem cell pi­o­neer finds new fron­tier; Biotech icon to re­tire; 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.

I hope your weekend is off to a nice start, wherever you are reading this email. As for me, I’m trying to catch the tail of the Lunar New Year festivities.

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Pfiz­er lays off em­ploy­ees at Cal­i­for­nia and Con­necti­cut sites

Pfizer has laid off employees at its La Jolla, CA, and Groton, CT sites, according to multiple LinkedIn posts from former employees.

The Big Pharma confirmed to Endpoints News it has let go of some employees, but a spokesperson declined to specify how many workers were impacted and the exact locations affected. Earlier this month, the drug developer had confirmed to Endpoints it was sharpening its focus and doing away with some early research on areas such as rare disease, oncology and gene therapies.

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Jake Van Naarden, Loxo@Lilly CEO

Lil­ly en­ters ripe BTK field with quick FDA nod in man­tle cell lym­phoma

Eli Lilly has succeeded in its attempt to get the first non-covalent version of Bruton’s tyrosine kinase, or BTK, inhibitors to market, pushing it past rival Merck.

The FDA gave an accelerated nod to Lilly’s daily oral med, to be sold as Jaypirca, for patients with relapsed or refractory mantle cell lymphoma.

The agency’s green light, disclosed by the Indianapolis Big Pharma on Friday afternoon, catapults Lilly into a field dominated by covalent BTK inhibitors, which includes AbbVie and Johnson & Johnson’s Imbruvica, AstraZeneca’s Calquence and BeiGene’s Brukinsa.

Filip Dubovsky, Novavax CMO

No­vavax gets ready to take an­oth­er shot at Covid vac­cine mar­ket with next sea­son plans

While mRNA took center stage at yesterday’s FDA vaccine advisory committee meeting, Novavax announced its plans to deliver an updated protein-based vaccine based on new guidance.

Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) members voted unanimously in favor of “harmonizing” Covid vaccine compositions, meaning all future vaccine recipients would receive a bivalent vaccine, regardless of whether they’ve gotten their primary series.

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Eliot Forster, F-star CEO (Rachel Kiki for Endpoints News)

F-star gets down to the wire with $161M sale to Chi­nese buy­er as na­tion­al se­cu­ri­ty con­cerns linger

With the clock ticking on F-star Therapeutics’ takeover by a Chinese buyer, the companies are still scrambling to remove a hold on the deal from the US government’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.

F-star and invoX Pharma said they are “actively negotiating” with CFIUS “about the terms of a mitigation agreement to address CFIUS’s concerns regarding potential national security risks posed by the transaction.”

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Ex­clu­sive: Cell ther­a­py biotech brings on Loxo vet amid glob­al ex­pan­sion plans; Re­tire­ment beck­ons for Vir's George Scan­gos

Bree Harlin, who used to be director of clinical operations at Loxo Oncology, now Loxo@Lilly, is now in the C-suite for the first time.

Harlin started at TC BioPharm on Wednesday as chief clinical officer, the biotech announced Friday — but her journey starts more than 20 years before then. After graduating from college, she moved to Boston, working in academia at some of the Harvard teaching hospitals in endocrinology and CNS.

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CBER Director Peter Marks (Susan Walsh/AP Images)

FDA ad­vi­so­ry com­mit­tee votes unan­i­mous­ly in fa­vor of bi­va­lent Covid shots re­plac­ing pri­ma­ry se­ries

The FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) voted unanimously in favor of “harmonizing” Covid vaccine compositions, meaning all current vaccine recipients would receive a bivalent vaccine, regardless of whether they’ve gotten their primary series.

The vote marks an effort to clear up confusion around varying formulations and dosing schedules for current primary series and booster vaccines, as well as “get closer to the strains that are circulating,” according to committee member Paul Offit, professor of pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

FDA re­ports ini­tial 'no sig­nal' for stroke risk with Pfiz­er boost­ers, launch­es con­comi­tant flu shot study

The FDA hasn’t detected any potential safety signals, including for stroke, in people aged 65 years and older who have received Pfizer’s bivalent Covid booster, one senior official told members of the agency’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) on Thursday.

The update comes as the FDA and CDC investigate a “preliminary signal” that may indicate an increased risk of ischemic stroke in older Americans who received Pfizer’s updated shot.

FDA cuts off use for As­traZeneca’s Covid-19 ther­a­py Evusheld

The FDA has stopped use of another drug as a result of the new coronavirus variants. On Thursday, the agency announced that AstraZeneca’s antibody combo Evusheld, which was an important prevention option for many immunocompromised people and others, is no longer authorized.

The FDA said it made its decision based on the fact that Evusheld works on fewer than 10% of circulating variants.

Evusheld was initially given emergency authorization at the end of 2021. However, as Omicron emerged, so did studies that showed Evusheld might not work against the dominant Omicron strain. In October, the FDA warned healthcare providers that Evusheld was useless against the Omicron subvariant BA.4.6. It followed that up with another announcement earlier this month that it did not think Evusheld would work against the latest Omicron subvariant XBB.1.5.