Roche China CEO preps for a move to Merck KGaA while US Merck adds to C-suite; Succession plan finalized for EVPs retiring from Sanofi
→ Beginning Oct. 1, Roche China CEO Hong Chow will be head of China & international for Merck KGaA’s healthcare business, a position that also encompasses Japan, Europe, Latin America, Asia-Pacific, the Middle East, Africa and Russia. The multi-pronged position also has Chow leading the cardiovascular metabolism & endocrinology franchise and the Global Business Innovation (GBI) unit. A Bayer alum, Chow has helmed Roche China since 2015.
“My years with Roche have been just incredible and I am forever grateful for the opportunity to work with so many amazing people in China and around the world to deliver so many more innovative drugs to Chinese patients in an unimaginable speed,” Chow said on LinkedIn. “At the same time, I am very excited to start the new chapter in October with Merck to make a broader impact to patients and society in China and internationally.”
→ As for the other Merck, Cristal Downing will become chief communications & public affairs officer for new CEO Rob Davis’ team, effective Aug. 16. Downing jumps from another Big Pharma, J&J, where she spent six years in multiple communications capacities, ending her run there as VP, communication & public affairs, medical devices. Merck’s leadership revamp has extended beyond the CEO slot, with Caroline Litchfield succeeding Davis as CFO, former chief marketing officer Mike Nally leaving for Flagship’s Generate Biomedicines, and Dean Li taking over R&D for Roger Perlmutter, who’s getting a fresh start as CEO of Eikon Therapeutics.
→ Longtime execs Karen Linehan (EVP, general counsel and head of legal, ethics & business integrity) and Philippe Luscan (EVP, global head of industrial affairs) are retiring from Sanofi, with Roy Papatheodorou and Brendan O’Callaghan slated to replace them. Papatheodorou has been general counsel at Novartis since 2017 and joined the Swiss pharma in 2014. O’Callaghan scores a promotion from his current position as global head of Sanofi’s biologics platform that will take effect after Luscan’s retirement sometime in 2022. Their predecessors share an impressive run: Luscan’s Sanofi career began in 1990, while Linehan, who retires on Dec. 31, joined soon after in 1991.
→ Luciana Borio has quite the decorated résumé and she’s adding a new gig as a venture partner at Bob Nelsen’s ARCH to the list. Borio, who was once vetted by President Biden’s team to lead the FDA as commissioner, formerly served as the administration’s acting chief scientist. In addition, she’s held roles as VP at nonprofit investment firm In-Q-Tel, serves as a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, and is a member of CEPI’s scientific advisory committee.
→ Jim Mullen is filling another C-suite vacancy at Editas Medicine by promoting Bruce Eaton to CBO after choosing Mark Shearman to replace Charles Albright as CSO. Eaton’s association with Editas dates back to 2015 when he started consulting for the genome editing player, then became a research collaborator before ultimately gaining the title of SVP, chemistry, and site head in Boulder, CO. Eaton also co-founded and was CEO of i2 Pharmaceuticals and fleetingly served as COO of SomaLogic.
On a related Editas note, former CEO Cynthia Collins has been elected to the board of directors at Poseida Therapeutics.
→ Orchard Therapeutics’ former chief technical officer, Ran Zheng, is taking over the wheel at Landmark Bio — a new center for advanced cell manufacturing once known as the Center for Advanced Biological Innovation and Manufacturing (CABIM). During her time at Orchard, Zheng was advancing the company’s product pipeline with the approval of Libmeldy for metachromatic leukodystrophy. Besides her stint at Orchard, Zheng held leadership positions at Genzyme and Amgen.
→ Medicxi-backed SynOx Therapeutics launched in November 2020 with a $44 million Series A round, aiming to develop an antibody to treat tenosynovial giant cell tumors (TGCT) named emactuzumab that John Reed once had on his radar while he was with Roche. This week Ray Barlow takes over as CEO of SynOx, while Ton Logtenberg has been named chairman. Barlow was CBO of Kiadis Pharma, the Dutch biotech which was sold to Sanofi — where Reed now leads R&D — for $357 million. He took on a number of business development roles at AstraZeneca and was Amgen’s executive director of corporate development from 2012-17. In addition to starting Crucell (acquired by J&J), Logtenberg founded Merus and stepped down as the company’s president, CEO and principal financial officer at the end of 2019.
→ London-based microbial immunotherapy outfit Prokarium has promoted Kristen Albright to CEO. Albright, who set her career in motion as a postdoctoral fellow at J&J, first turned up at Prokarium in 2018 as VP, business development & translational research, then got the bump to COO last summer. Albright has also been a business development and licensing manager with Emergent BioSolutions. That isn’t the only C-suite news here: Prokarium has enlisted Uz Stammberger as CMO, formerly the translational clinical oncology program leader at the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research and the clinical lead for tepotinib at Merck KGaA.
→ It’s go big or go home with the reinforcements at Selecta Biosciences, appointing AAV trailblazer Jude Samulski as a gene therapy special advisor. What’s the connection here? Playing a quick Six Degrees of Jude Samulski game, he co-founded and is CSO at AskBio, which made a splash by bringing in president of therapeutics Kathy High, who co-founded Spark, which has collaborated on gene therapies with … Selecta Biosciences.
→ Pfizer spinout SpringWorks Therapeutics adds to its long line of new execs with CMO James Cassidy. While he was with Len Schleifer’s squad at Regeneron, Cassidy was VP of oncology/strategic program direction, and he’s also been VP of oncology at Bristol Myers Squibb. In December 2020, SpringWorks promoted Badreddin Edris to COO and Mary Smith to chief development officer, then plucked chief commercial officer Bhavesh Ashar from Bayer in March. SpringWorks subsequently brought in R&D chief Mike Burgess from Turnstone Biologics in May.
→ French vaccine biotech Valneva has finally found a replacement for CFO David Lawrence, but they’re stretching out the transition by indicating that Peter Buhler’s first day will be sometime “within the six months.” This odyssey toward a new CFO began when Lawrence initially retired from Valneva in September 2020, only to be named acting CFO several months later. Now he’ll “continue supporting Valneva until late 2021” in a change to the original plan upon retirement to stick around as an advisor until early 2021. Buhler, the current CFO of Quotient, has a number of financial roles on his résumé, including head of finance, Europe at Merck Serono.
→ The next wave of new leadership at Peter Thiel-backed Peptilogics features a quintet of execs, with CBO Nik Bhide leading off. A Novartis and Allergan vet in finance and corporate development, Bhide joins the peptide drug developer after a stint as the executive director, business development & licensing for Merck Research Laboratories.
Marc Lesnick (SVP, regulatory and quality) co-founded and was chief development officer at Park Therapeutics, and his regulatory knowhow has taken him to such companies as Shionogi, Cascadian Therapeutics and Spruce Therapeutics. Jodie Gillon (SVP, corporate affairs and patient advocacy) is a Big Pharma alum who was recently Abeona’s chief patient officer and head of corporate and medical affairs. Also new to Pittsburgh-based Peptilogics is Albert Fonticiella (VP of people), who has worked in the Steel City as VP of corporate services for Edwards Marc Brands, the chocolatier which also has The Milk Shake Factory and Snappers pretzel snacks within its umbrella. And Shire vet Steve Kulp (VP of operations) moves on from his corporate operations gig at Idera Pharmaceuticals.
Thiel contributed to the $35.4 million Series B that Peptilogics announced this past December before Christmas.
→ The pieces to the leadership puzzle at CRISPR player Excision BioTherapeutics — built around the work of Kamel Khalili — continue to fit into place with Lisa Danzig taking the CMO reins. Danzig’s leadership on Chiron’s clinical meningococcal franchise team laid the groundwork for her career; she has held the CMO position at PaxVax and was global head of medical & scientific affairs at Novartis. Since its Series A, Excision has also appointed an SVP of clinical development, a CFO and a head of translational medicine.
→ Anti-aging player Alkahest, now a Grifols subsidiary after a $146 million deal in September 2020, has pegged Amgen vet César Cerezo as CMO. Cerezo pivots to Alkahest after four years with the pharma giant, which just channeled Monty Hall again this week and made a deal to acquire Teneobio for $2.5 billion. For the last year, Cerezo was Amgen’s VP, therapeutic area head of global affairs, general medicine in the following therapeutic areas: cardiovascular/metabolic, bone, nephrology, neuroscience, inflammation and biosimilars.
→ Dannielle Appelhans has been named COO at Pablo Cagnoni’s Rubius Therapeutics, which saw its stock soar due to the mid-March release of human data for its red blood cell-derived cancer drug. Appelhans, an ex-team leader in pharmaceutical manufacturing at Eli Lilly, was previously SVP of technical operations and chief technical officer for Novartis Gene Therapies. Rubius’ shares have since leveled off and the biotech is pinning its hopes on RTX-240 after “deprioritizing” its lead drug RTX-134 in March 2020.
→ RARE-X has tapped Charlene Son Rigby to helm its company as CEO of the rare disease technology nonprofit. Son Rigby previously served in positions at Oracle and Doubletwist before hopping over to the CBO role at Fabric Genomics. Additionally, Nicole Boice, RARE-X’s founder and current executive director, will shift over to the role of chief engagement officer.
→ Fresh off its $40 million Series A, Stephen Squinto-led Gennao Bio has brought on Claudine Prowse as CFO after the biotech announced the addition of COO Chris Duke a couple weeks ago. Prowse wraps up her time at Rocket Pharmaceuticals (which predates the Inotek merger) as SVP, strategy and corporate development, and she’s been an investor relations exec with Biogen and Human Genome Sciences.
→ Our Max Gelman profiled SalioGen when it announced its Series A financing in March, looking to play an integral part in gene therapy 3.0 by using mammalian-derived enzymes as its delivery system. This week SalioGen is assembling more members of the team with Sung You, chief business and strategy officer; Nancy Craig, SVP of genetic engineering and mobile elements; and Sandeep Nema, SVP of technical operations. Before becoming a managing partner with PBM Capital, You was a healthcare investment banking exec with Morgan Stanley; Craig’s work in mobile genetic elements is the driving force behind SalioGen’s gene coding platform called EDIT; and Nema ends a 24-year association with Pfizer, making his exit as executive director of biotherapeutics pharmaceutical science.
→ When miRagen bought out Viridian last fall — taking the Viridian name with it — Jonathan Violin was chosen to conduct the Boulder, CO biotech orchestra and Barrett Katz landed the CMO slot. This week Viridian has another principal musician to add with CFO and CBO Kristian Humer coming on board. Humer had been with Citigroup for 11 years, and since 2016 he was managing director of banking, capital markets & advisory for Citi’s global healthcare team.
→ Treg-focused Quell Therapeutics has pulled in Tracey Lodie as CSO, following a stint at Gamida Cell where she served in the same role. Prior to that, she was SVP, transitional immunology at BlueRock Therapeutics and VP of immunology at Syros Pharmaceuticals. Lodie jump-started her career at Sanofi Genzyme.
→ With first-year CEO Andrin Oswald at the controls, Centogene has tapped Patrice Denèfle as CSO starting Aug. 16. Denèfle picks up the mantle from Phil Lambert, who’s leaving the German rare disease biotech for undisclosed reasons after less than two years on the job. Once the general manager of the Roche Institute for Research and Translational Medicine, Denèfle has been a chief scientist before with 4P-Pharma and Genethon.
→ Simon Harnest has answered the call to be chief investment officer at Emeryville, CA-based Metagenomi, the gene editing biotech that debuted with a Series A that Leaps by Bayer co-led in November. When he first clocked in at Cellectis at 2015, Harnest was VP, finance and investor relations, and he leaves André Choulika’s team after being promoted to chief investment officer this January.
→ The cash spigot is flowing at Peer Review mainstay Umoja Biopharma after its $210 million Series B in June, and the Seattle-based company continues its torrid hiring pace with three new execs. Bruce Kerwin (SVP of process and product development) was VP of drug product design at Just Biotherapeutics — also out of Seattle — and served as a scientific director in protein formulation development at Amgen, where he spent 16 years. Ryan Larson (VP and head of translational science) co-founded the cell therapy product sciences department at Bristol Myers and was senior director of the cell therapy product and analytical team. Finally, Mike Fitzpatrick (VP of business development and operations) is also a Bristol Myers vet — spending 15 years at ZymoGenetics before the 2010 buyout — with responsibilities ranging from protein biochemistry and process development to corporate operations.
→ Metrion Biosciences has recruited Nick Foster as CCO and head of global business development. Foster joins with experience from his times at BioFocus (now Charles River Laboratories) as associate director, business development Europe; Optibrium as head of commercial operations; and WuXi AppTec as director, business devlopment.
→ Making its plans to go public last week, Tillman Gerngross and Adagio Therapeutics are building a blue-ribbon group for its board of directors, with Tom Heyman, Anand Shah and Michael Wyzga reserving their seats alongside Adagio chair Rene Russo. Heyman, the ex-president of Johnson & Johnson Development Corporation, retired in 2019 after 37 years with J&J. Shah was deputy commissioner for medical and scientific affairs at the FDA for a year until he stepped aside in January. And Wyzga, who was with Genzyme from 1993-2011 and was president and CEO of Radius Health, is president of MSW Consulting, Inc.
→ Not shying away from the IPO volcano that has erupted the past couple years, Lava Therapeutics exceeded $100 million with its raise in March and has welcomed Amy Garabedian this week as general counsel and corporate secretary. Garabedian had previously been associate general counsel at Spark, where she had been lending her legal expertise since 2015.
→ SPT Labtech has some changes in its leadership team. David Newble, who has been serving as managing director has been tapped as the company’s CEO — taking over for Patrick Bennett who will assume the role of chairman of the board. Additionally, Paul Ventura has been named VP of sales and Joby Jenkins joins as VP of business development.
→ Attralus has brought on Jake Bauer as an independent director on its board of directors. Bauer was most recently CBO of MyoKardia and VP, business operations and head of corporate development at Ablexis.
→ After Sangamo’s R&D split last summer, Adrian Woolfson has resurfaced as a board member at ImmunoScape, which zeroes in on technology “that allows for immune profiling and characterization of the human immune response at extremely high resolution.” Jason Fontenot, the acting head of research after Woolfson’s departure, has since been promoted to CSO, while Rob Schott came in to lead development at Sangamo earlier this year.
→ Sizing things up for an IPO according to Bloomberg, Singapore’s Hummingbird Bioscience has beefed up its board of directors with Fred Hutch president Tom Lynch. In May, Hummingbird raised $125 million for its precision oncology pipeline in a Series C led by Novo Holdings.
→ Troy Wilson-led Kura Oncology has made Helen Collins a member of its board of directors. The CMO at Five Prime until the Amgen purchase, Collins has also been Gilead’s global lead of oncology biosimilars.
→ Cambridge, MA immuno-oncology biotech Oncorus has opened up a seat for Barbara Yanni on a board of directors that has expanded in the last year after the appointments of Scott Canute and fellow Merck vet Eric Rubin. Yanni retired from Merck in 2014 as VP and chief licensing officer
→ Linda Marbán and the folks at Capricor Therapeutics are bringing in Karimah Es Sabar as a member of their board of directors. Es Sabar is CEO and partner at Vancouver-based Quark Venture and she chairs the Health & Biosciences Economic Strategy Table for the government of Canada.
→ Cell and gene therapy biotech Inceptor Bio has named Mark Gilbert as chair of its scientific advisory board. Gilbert was the former CMO of Juno Therapeutics and was a faculty member at Fred Hutch and the University of Washington in Seattle.
→ Janssen vet Mark Bach has gained a seat on the clinical scientific advisory board at Lumos Pharma. Bach is currently CMO for ShouTi, having joined the company from Ascendis Pharma.