Robert Bazemore makes Hutchmed deal his grand finale as Epizyme CEO; Black Diamond reshuffles the deck with departures of CMO, CSO
→ One minute, Epizyme CEO Robert Bazemore helped engineer a partnership with Hutchmed on developing Tazverik in China. The next minute, he gave his job to someone else.
Bazemore stepped aside as Epizyme’s chief executive the same day the biotech announced the deal, ceding the throne to Grant Bogle, the chief commercial officer at Tesaro from 2015 until 2019 — the year GlaxoSmithKline’s takeover of the oncology-focused company was completed. Since 2019, Bogle has kept a seat on Epizyme’s board of directors.
Bazemore will lend advisory support for another year. “I feel the time is right to hand the reins over to Grant and I am excited to work closely with him to achieve Epizyme’s vision,” Bazemore said in a statement.
→ According to an SEC filing and Black Diamond’s Q2 update, CMO Rachel Humphrey and CSO Christopher Roberts are out at the precision oncology outfit led by David Epstein. Karsten Witt, the acting CMO until Humphrey took over less than a year ago, has assumed the role again on an interim basis upon Humphrey’s “termination,” to use the language in the filing, while Black Diamond co-founder Elizabeth Buck officially stepped in as chief scientist on Wednesday after Roberts resigned July 12. Additionally, Black Diamond has made ex-G1 Therapeutics CEO Mark Velleca a member of the board of directors that is chaired by former GSK (then GlaxoWellcome) CEO Bob Ingram.
→ PureTech, the company working to turn a 200-year-old discovery into a new approach to Alzheimer’s, has plucked up Julie Krop as CMO. Krop jumps aboard from her most recent stint as CMO of Freeline Therapeutics. Prior to her time at Freeline, Krop was handling affairs as CMO at AMAG Pharmaceuticals, where she oversaw three FDA approvals for the company. In addition to those stints, Krop brings to the table a hefty amount of experience from her time at Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Stryker Regenerative Medicine, Peptimmune, Millennium Pharmaceuticals and Pfizer.
→ CEO Joanne Smith-Farrell is piecing together her team at Be Bio, swinging the door open for new president and COO Krishnan Viswanadhan and chief people officer Brad Hartman at the B cell-centered biotech. A Roche vet in regulatory affairs, Viswanadhan was most recently SVP and global cell therapy franchise lead at Bristol Myers Squibb and held leadership positions at Celgene prior to that appointment. Hartman is the former chief people officer at FerGene who was also the VP of people at reSTORbio, Proteon Therapeutics and Unum (now Cogent Biosciences).
→ The C-suite at Affinivax grows once again after the appointments of CBO Stuart Chaffee in April and CFO Elizabeth Radcliffe in May, as Kara Bickham breaks away from Big Pharma pneumococcal vaccine rival Merck to become CMO. Bickham led the clinical development of Merck’s 15-valent pneumococcal vaccine shot Vaxneuvance, which the FDA approved last month and covers the same strains as Pfizer’s Prevnar 13 along with two others. Can Affinivax catch up with these formidable foes? They have $226 million worth of Series C cash to certainly try.
→ Nirupama Subramanian has been named COO of Third Rock startup Rheos Medicines, which struck a deal with Roche in December 2019 to develop drugs within the immunometabolism field. Subramanian had been a part of the Agios team since 2016, and since January 2020 was Jackie Fouse’s SVP, corporate development & business planning. Her eight preceding years at Novartis reached its conclusion as VP, vaccines business transition lead, when Novartis Vaccines was sold to GSK in 2014 for $7.1 billion.
→ San Francisco’s AltruBio has locked in Jeroen Grasman as CFO to push its drugs for immunological diseases into the market after netting $63 million in a Series A three months ago. Grasman hails from neoantigen biotech PACT Pharma, where he was VP of finance and operations, and he’s also held financial roles at Roche and Genentech. Led by second-year CEO Judy Chou, AltruBio changed its name from AbGenomics in June 2020 and the FDA provided extra momentum with a fast track designation for its lead drug neihulizumab in steroid refractory acute graft-versus-host disease (SR-aGVHD).
→ Sitting pretty with a $110 million Series B raise from April to study the role of extrachromosomal DNA (ecDNA) in a slew of cancers, San Diego-based Boundless Bio has selected Neil Abdollahian as CBO. When Abdollahian held the same position at Cidara Therapeutics the last five years, he was a key cog in the $780 million deal Janssen made for the biotech’s lead antiviral conjugate CD388 that can be capable of standing up to any flu strain, as CEO Jeff Stein told Endpoints News.
→ Following Michael Amoroso’s rapid ascent to CEO earlier this year, Abeona ushered in research & clinical development head Vishwas Seshadri on June 1 and this week has promoted Edward Carr to CFO. Carr first pulled up to Abeona in 2018 as corporate controller, and then he was quickly elevated to chief accounting officer in January 2019. Ex-Abeona CFO Christine Silverstein has since become the CFO of Excision BioTherapeutics.
→ Betzy Estrada has gotten the call to be EVP and chief human resources officer at Urovant, the Sumitovant sub hatched by Vivek Ramaswamy that won an FDA approval for its overactive bladder drug vibegron at the tail end of 2020. Estrada, a former HR manager at Advanced Sterilization Products before J&J sold it in 2018, spent the last six years as VP, human resources, and chief compliance executive at Japanese medical electronic equipment manufacturer Nihon Kohden.
→ Hitting Nasdaq early in 2021 with an IPO that closed at $161 million, WuXi-backed oncology biotech Adagene has tapped Steven Fischkoff as interim CMO. This isn’t Fischkoff’s first time stepping on the CMO court with previous stops at Lion Biotechnologies, WindMIL Therapeutics and Flame Biosciences, and he’s been VP of clinical and medical affairs at Celgene. Adagene, collaborating on a CAR-T candidate with the NIH in renal cell carcinoma, has also appointed Stanley Frankel and Robert Spiegel to the scientific and strategic advisory board.
→ If there’s anyone who could have the inside scoop on just how in the world Aduhelm notched its accelerated approval for Alzheimer’s, it’s probably Daniela Drago, who leaves Biogen and has been appointed chief regulatory officer at Aurion Biotech. Drago had been senior director of regulatory at Biogen since 2019 and her regulatory background also extends to Bausch + Lomb, Roche and Vifor Pharma. Eye disease-focused Aurion Biotech is specifically developing a cell therapy for corneal edema.
→ Eli Lilly and Genentech alum Jeffrey Bloss is taking on the role of CMO at UK-based cancer player NuCana. Prior to consecutive CMO gigs at Tarveda Therapeutics and Aegerion, Bloss was SVP, medical affairs for the Americas for Astellas Scientific and Medical Affairs (ASMA) and GSK’s VP and head of oncology global medical affairs.
→ Sutro Biopharma jumps back into Peer Review by bringing in Jane Chung, the drug discovery player’s first chief commercial officer. Formerly the commercial operations manager for Avastin during a portion of her decade at Genentech, Chung had been president and general manager of AstraZeneca Canada since November 2019 and joined the Big Pharma in 2015 after two years at Onyx Pharmaceuticals. We last saw Sutro back in April when Trevor Hallam was promoted to president of research, CSO.
→ Netherlands-based Immunetune has ushered in Sijme Zeilemaker as CEO. Zeilemaker makes his way to the company from Immunicum, where he served as COO, director business development and head of investor relations. Before joining Immunicum in 2017, Zeilemaker was director business development at InteRNA Technologies and held roles at to-BBB technologies and 2-BBB Medicines.
→ Imvax hit pay dirt with a Series C totaling $112 million in July 2020 to develop tumor-derived immunotherapies like its glioblastoma candidate IGV-2001, and Josh Muntner will be leading the financial side of the company starting Aug. 31. Muntner takes this CFO job after three years in the same post at star-crossed Mesoblast, and earlier he was ContraFect’s SVP of business development.
→ Rainbow Seeker: Holly Schachner comes streaming into DoubleRainbow Biosciences as its CMO. Schachner hops on board from MyoKardia, where she was SVP, therapeutic head of clinical science. Prior to that role, Schachner was CMO specialty medicine at Allergan and held roles at Sanofi, Bayer Diabetes Care and Pfizer.
→ AEON Biopharma has brought on Alex Wilson as general counsel. Wilson comes aboard from Glaukos, where he served as associate general counsel, business development & sustainability. Prior to that, Wilson was a corporate attorney at O’Melveny & Myers.
→ AGC Biologics has handed the title of general manager of its new Longmont plant — formerly owned by Novartis Gene Therapies — to Tony Fraij. Fraij previously served as VP of technical operations for AveXis. Before his time with AveXis, Fraij was working in roles at Boehringer Ingelheim and Sandoz.
→ Antios Therapeutics has appointed Catherine Coffey Ross VP, medical affairs, wrapping up almost 9 years at AbbVie as their former director of global business development. Her arrival at Atlanta-based Antios is just two months after the company announced a partnership in June with Arbutus with ATI-2173, its candidate as a monotherapy for HBV. Two months earlier, new CEO Greg Mayes hinted that the company will be preparing for an IPO as they closed a $96 million crossover round to see ATI-2173 enter Phase II clinical trials.
→ Joining the SPAC brigade in February by reverse merging with Arya Sciences Acquisition Corp III, Seattle-based Nautilus Biotechnology has picked up Karl Voss as VP of life sciences R&D. Voss completes a 13-year run at Pacific Biosciences that saw him get promoted to VP, consumables R&D and then head of materials and surface science. Count Jeff Bezos, Andreessen Horowitz and the late Paul Allen’s Vulcan Capital among those that have helped fund Nautilus, co-founded five years ago by Sujal Patel and Parag Mallick.
→ Pfizer alum Marion Snyder has been promoted to chief of staff, SVP, government affairs at MiMedx after two years as SVP, market access. Snyder, who worked in account management when she started at MiMedx in 2013, had a 13-year run at Pfizer in such roles as director of payer marketing for Enbrel.
→ IAVI has made a couple of new hires with the appointments of Andy Kilianski as senior director for emerging infectious diseases and Lew Schrager as tuberculosis impact area senior leader. Kilianski comes aboard with experience from his time as a former Department of Defense senior scientist and program manager. Meanwhile, Schrager brings to the table skills from his time as a consultant to the WHO and Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative and as VP of scientific affairs at Aeras.
→ Alex Zhavoronkov hauled in a massive new chunk of change at Insilico — $255 million of it, to be exact — and now has brought on former acting Surgeon General Steven Galson as an independent member of the AI drug discovery player’s board of directors. Galson, once the CDER director from 2001-07, just retired from Amgen after nearly 11 years as an exec in global regulatory affairs and strategy, global patient safety and R&D.
→ Mickey Mikitani’s Rakuten Medical, two weeks removed from a $166 million Series D to get its lead cancer drug into a global Phase III trial, has added Nitin Nohria and Hiroshi Takasawa to its board of directors. Nohria, former dean of the Harvard School of Business, will serve as chairman of the board. Takasawa, CEO of Rakuten Asia, has been a part of various ventures since joining Rakuten in 2005, including the company’s M&A deals.
→ Ex-Novo Nordisk global CMO Alan Moses has been added to the board of directors at Enterin out of Philadelphia. Moses, who spent 14 years with Novo, also joined the boards of BiomX and Chemomab Therapeutics within the last year.
→ The former CEO of Kymab, Simon Sturge, has made his way onto the board of directors at Swiss-based MoonLake Immunotherapeutics as chairman. Prior to his role at Kymab, Sturge was with Merck KGaA as COO and served at Boehringer Ingelheim, Celltech Biologics and Ribotargets. In addition to Sturge’s appointment, the company has pulled in Spike Loy as a member of the board. Loy is managing director at BVF Partners.
→ Tarsus Pharmaceuticals, which released “clinically meaningful” Phase II/III data for its Demodex blepharitis drug in June, has reserved a seat for Rosemary Crane on the board of directors. Crane, the former group chairman of the OTC & nutritional group at J&J who was with Bristol Myers from 1982-2002, is on the boards at Catalent and Teva.
→ Twist and shout: Melissa Starovasnik has signed on to the board of directors at Twist Bioscience, the synthetic biology outfit that decided to pump up the square footage on its so-called “Factory of the Future” in Oregon from 110,000 to 190,000. In her 28 years at Genentech, Starovasnik held such roles as VP, protein sciences, head of large molecule drug discovery and senior scientific advisor, research.
→ Longtime Novartis vet Ameet Mallik, who had been head of US oncology for Novartis Oncology from 2017 until this April, makes his way to the board of directors at Atara Biotherapeutics. Mallik is now CEO of Rafael Holdings, which merged with Rafael Pharmaceuticals at the beginning of the summer.
→ XOMA has reeled in the CEO and president of Blaze Bioscience, Heather Franklin to its board of directors. Prior to her role at Blaze, Franklin was with ZymoGenetics, Amgen and Targeted Genetics.
→ Seraxis has added a few more seats to its board of directors with the appointments of Shelley Hartman, Jerry Baty and Min-Jung Choi. Hartman is the current CEO of Aegle Therapeutics and a former managing director at Goldman Sachs. Meanwhile, Baty is a partner at Newport and the former CEO of SafeTech USA. Last, but not least, Choi is a senior finance manager at Medytox.