Sara Kenkare-Mi­tra leaves Genen­tech for a chance to lead neu­ro R&D; Glax­o­SmithK­line alum jumps to Vi­for Phar­ma with the lid lift­ed on sale to CSL

Sara Kenkare-Mi­tra

Sara Kenkare-Mi­tra spent more than 23 years at biotech be­he­moth Genen­tech, climb­ing the cor­po­rate lad­der from small mol­e­cule sci­en­tist all the way up to SVP of de­vel­op­men­tal sci­ences. At the same time, she was an ad­junct pro­fes­sor at her al­ma mater, UC San Fran­cis­co.

But things have changed. Thurs­day was her first full day at her new job as pres­i­dent and head of R&D at neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive dis­ease play­er Alec­tor — just a few months af­ter Glax­o­SmithK­line dropped $700 mil­lion up­front to part­ner with the San Fran­cis­co biotech on neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive dis­eases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkin­son’s, amy­otroph­ic lat­er­al scle­ro­sis and fron­totem­po­ral de­men­tia.

And on­ly a few hours in­to the first full day of her new job, Kenkare-Mi­tra, who was fea­tured as one of our 20 Women in Bio­phar­ma R&D last year, left an all-hands meet­ing to sit down with End­points News.

Af­ter im­mi­grat­ing from In­dia — where she found her pas­sion for med­i­cine with in­spi­ra­tion from her physi­cian grand­fa­ther — Kenkare-Mi­tra went to the Uni­ver­si­ty of Texas in Austin. But in her eyes, Texas was not the right fit — and she then went to UC San Fran­cis­co, where she ul­ti­mate­ly grad­u­at­ed with her PhD in bio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal sci­ences. Kenkare-Mi­tra has been in­volved with UCSF ever since grad­u­a­tion as an ad­junct pro­fes­sor, ei­ther talk­ing to in­dus­try sci­en­tists about bi­o­log­ics or talk­ing with stu­dents from the per­spec­tive of in­dus­try.

Af­ter grad­u­at­ing, she faced a lit­tle bit of a co­nun­drum: whether to go in­to acad­e­mia and be an aca­d­e­m­ic in the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal sci­ences, or go in­to drug dis­cov­ery and de­vel­op­ment. And that was some­thing she de­bat­ed for a while be­fore de­cid­ing down the path of biotech, Kenkare-Mi­tra said.

But then, Kenkare-Mi­tra got in­trigued — “in­spired” in her words — by Genen­tech, when the now-gi­ant biotech’s mon­o­clon­al an­ti­body Her­ceptin got ap­proved back in the late 1990s. She thought that was so cool, and from her view, “that’s sci­ence.” And that’s where she end­ed up for the next two decades.

Look­ing back at her tenure at Genen­tech, Kenkare-Mi­tra learned one valu­able les­son dur­ing her al­most 24 years at the biotech: Fol­low the sci­ence — as sim­ple as that.

Kenkare-Mi­tra got in­ter­est­ed in Alec­tor when she was ap­proached by Alec­tor’s founder and CEO Arnon Rosen­thal, whom she knew through her com­mu­ni­ty and friends at Genen­tech.

“For me, I’ve just been im­pressed al­ways look­ing at Alec­tor from a dis­tance, be­cause of just Arnon’s own pas­sion and vi­sion around neu­rode­gen­er­a­tion,” she told End­points.

Pair­ing the pas­sion Kenkare-Mi­tra saw in Rosen­thal with her first peek at what Alec­tor was work­ing on in its pipeline made her want to be a part of the com­pa­ny. And this is what start­ed the con­ver­sa­tions be­tween Kenkare-Mi­tra and Rosen­thal — ul­ti­mate­ly bring­ing her on board.

What pulled her was not so much the deal with GSK, but Alec­tor’s bi­ol­o­gy and tar­gets. Alec­tor flashed da­ta in late Ju­ly that in­di­cat­ed its lead an­ti­body, AL001 for fron­totem­po­ral de­men­tia, brought pro­gran­ulin lev­els back to near-nor­mal lev­els af­ter a half-a-year. Sev­en stayed at near-nor­mal af­ter a year — which could prove to be more ef­fec­tive at slow­ing men­tal de­cline than Bio­gen’s con­tro­ver­sial Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm. AL001 is cur­rent­ly in Phase III test­ing.

Oth­er in­di­ca­tions in Alec­tor’s pipeline in­clude two on­col­o­gy tar­gets in the pre­clin­i­cal phase.

Her first goal while on the job? Talk with peo­ple and get ori­ent­ed. There’s a new dy­nam­ic of go­ing from a large biotech to a small biotech. In Kenkare-Mi­tra’s case, while Genen­tech has over 13,000 em­ploy­ees, Alec­tor has some­where around 200 em­ploy­ees. She said her first 90 days will be talk­ing with every­one at the small biotech, and get­ting to un­der­stand the pro­grams and pipeline more in-depth.

Paul Schloess­er

Hervé Gis­serot

→ Just pri­or to the buzz about Aus­tralian big lea­guer CSL pur­chas­ing the com­pa­ny, Vi­for Phar­ma tapped Hervé Gis­serot as chief com­mer­cial of­fi­cer, re­unit­ing with Vi­for CEO and for­mer CSL board mem­ber Ab­bas Hus­sain on Jan. 17 af­ter their long ca­reers at GSK. Af­ter Hus­sain left GSK in 2017 as glob­al pres­i­dent, phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals & vac­cines, Gis­serot was el­e­vat­ed to head of phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals & vac­cines, in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal and lat­er added Greater Chi­na to the scope of his re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. The scut­tle­butt sur­round­ing the $11.7 bil­lion megadeal with CSL ramped up Dec. 2 and the two par­ties made it of­fi­cial this week, lend­ing cre­dence to a grow­ing sen­ti­ment about a groundswell of M&A ac­tiv­i­ty — as ev­i­denced fur­ther by Pfiz­er’s buy­out of Are­na Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals on Mon­day.

So­bi has turned to its board of di­rec­tors to find a suc­ces­sor to Roche and GSK vet Ravi Rao as head of R&D. An­ders Ull­man will take over in a move “that will be ful­ly im­ple­ment­ed in ear­ly 2022,” ac­cord­ing to the re­lease, and his three-decade ca­reer in­cludes stops at As­traZeneca, Bay­er and Take­da. Rao had been on the job since Sept. 1, 2020 at So­bi, which just scored an ap­proval with the Eu­ro­pean Com­mis­sion along­side Apel­lis for its parox­ys­mal noc­tur­nal he­mo­glo­bin­uria (PNH) drug pegc­eta­coplan, mar­ket­ed in the EU as As­paveli.

Nish­la Keis­er

→ A pair of ex­ecs has head­ed over to Or­na Ther­a­peu­tics, the MPM-backed start­up div­ing in­to cir­cu­lar RNA ther­a­pies dubbed oR­NA. Robert Mabry, Take­da’s head of glob­al bi­o­log­ics, has set off for Or­na as the biotech’s new CSO — be­fore his time at Take­da, Mabry was VP, pro­tein sci­ences for Co­gen, now known as Reper­toire Im­mune Med­i­cines. Or­na has al­so named Nish­la Keis­er as chief le­gal and strat­e­gy of­fi­cer af­ter spend­ing more than six years in le­gal roles at In­tel­lia, in­clud­ing SVP, deputy gen­er­al coun­sel. Or­na launched in Feb­ru­ary with an $80 mil­lion Se­ries A round.

Jim Neal

Jim Neal is plan­ning to hang up his CEO cap and re­tire from his role at XO­MA Cor­po­ra­tion. Neal joined the com­pa­ny in De­cem­ber of 2016 from En­te­los where he served as CBO. Pri­or to that, Neal had ex­pe­ri­ence from stints at Iconix Bio­sciences and In­cyte. With plans un­der­way in search for his suc­ces­sor, Neal has now been ap­point­ed as chair­man of the board — tak­ing over from Den­man Van Ness who has served in the po­si­tion since 2011. Van Ness will con­tin­ue in his role as lead in­de­pen­dent di­rec­tor.

Amy Broidrick

→ Back in De­cem­ber 2020, we told you about Amy Broidrick leav­ing her post as Viking’s glob­al head of cor­po­rate de­vel­op­ment to be­come chief strat­e­gy of­fi­cer at Carls­bad, CA can­cer biotech Quali­gen. She can now add pres­i­dent to her ti­tle as Michael Poiri­er cedes those re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and re­mains chair­man and CEO. Broidrick, a Pfiz­er and Mer­ck alum who will con­tin­ue as chief strat­e­gy of­fi­cer, is a for­mer Are­na ex­ec and the ex-VP, head of glob­al mar­ket­ing ex­cel­lence and busi­ness in­no­va­tion for EMD Serono. Quali­gen’s lead as­set, QN-247, is in the pre­clin­i­cal phase for pa­tients with acute myeloid leukemia.

Thomas Leggett

Rick Mo­di’s gene ther­a­py up­start Affinia Ther­a­peu­tics — one of the End­points 11 for 2021 with CSO Charles Al­bright mak­ing the switch from Ed­i­tas in Feb­ru­ary — has in­stalled Thomas Leggett as CFO. Leggett had re­signed from the same post at Black Di­a­mond in his pre­vi­ous Peer Re­view ap­pear­ance a few weeks back. Dur­ing his two years at Black Di­a­mond, Leggett was a ma­jor fig­ure be­hind the can­cer biotech’s $85 mil­lion Se­ries C and its sub­se­quent Nas­daq de­but that helped kick off the 2020 IPO boom. Leggett’s al­so been CFO at Flag­ship’s Ax­cel­la Health (now Ax­cel­la Ther­a­peu­tics) from 2017-19.

Tony Gib­ney has hit the ex­it at Fog Phar­ma, be­com­ing chief busi­ness and strat­e­gy of­fi­cer for reti­nal dis­ease play­er Iver­ic Bio. Since May 2020, Gib­ney was Fog Phar­ma’s CBO and CFO af­ter two years as the busi­ness chief at Achillion, where he guid­ed its sale to Alex­ion be­fore Alex­ion was sold to As­traZeneca around this time last year. He’s al­so been man­ag­ing di­rec­tor and co-head of the biotech­nol­o­gy in­vest­ment bank­ing team at SVB Leerink back in the Leerink Part­ners days.

Richard Eisen­stadt

→ Mary­land-based Al­tim­mune made a pipeline piv­ot in June, turn­ing its back on a sin­gle-dose in­tranasal Covid-19 vac­cine can­di­date that sput­tered bad­ly in Phase I in fa­vor of a re­newed fo­cus on liv­er dis­eases and obe­si­ty. Al­tim­mune now has Richard Eisen­stadt on board as CFO start­ing Dec. 31. Since 2014, Eisen­stadt held the role of fi­nance chief at Neos Ther­a­peu­tics, which merged with Ay­tu Bio­Science in March and is now called Ay­tu Bio­Phar­ma.

Will Brown

→ If you’re won­der­ing about Eisen­stadt’s pre­de­ces­sor, Peer Re­view knows his where­abouts too: Will Brown is on his way to women’s health biotech Ob­sE­va, re­plac­ing David Re­nas — who will bare­ly last a year on the job af­ter an­nounc­ing his de­par­ture in late Oc­to­ber “for per­son­al rea­sons,” ef­fec­tive Jan. 5. Brown was named act­ing CFO of Al­tim­mune in May 2018 be­fore shed­ding the act­ing la­bel a year lat­er.

Lisa Mc­Grath

Keytru­da com­bo part­ner Sur­face On­col­o­gy has pro­mot­ed Lisa Mc­Grath to chief peo­ple of­fi­cer and Shan­non De­vens to SVP, de­vel­op­ment op­er­a­tions. Mc­Grath has been a Sur­face ex­ec since 2017 and was the Cam­bridge, MA biotech’s SVP of hu­man re­sources since 2020. De­vens — a five-year Sur­face vet —moves up to SVP af­ter be­com­ing VP of clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment op­er­a­tions in 2018, and from 2009-16, she was the se­nior di­rec­tor of clin­i­cal op­er­a­tions for In­fin­i­ty Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals.

The hus­tle-and-bus­tle al­so spills on­to the board of di­rec­tors at Sur­face: Eli Lil­ly and J&J vet Denice Tor­res will chair the board, suc­ceed­ing ex-Sur­face CEO Jeff Goater (who will re­tain his seat), while Mi­rati chief com­mer­cial of­fi­cer Ben Hick­ey has al­so been added to the mix.

NeoGe­nomics’ liq­uid biop­sy sub Ini­va­ta has pegged David Eber­hard as CMO. Eber­hard is a for­mer pathol­o­gist at Genen­tech who comes to Ini­va­ta af­ter his stint at Il­lu­mi­na as se­nior med­ical di­rec­tor, on­col­o­gy, and from 2016-18, he was se­nior di­rec­tor, on­col­o­gy de­vel­op­ment at Ge­nom­ic Health. Mark Mal­lon has steered the ship at NeoGe­nomics af­ter step­ping down as Iron­wood’s CEO in Feb­ru­ary.

Kate Rochlin

→ New York-based IN8bio start­ed trad­ing on its sec­ond at­tempt this sum­mer, jump­ing on the Nas­daq band­wag­on be­fore things re­al­ly sub­sided with IPOs. Late last week, IN8bio pro­mot­ed Kate Rochlin to COO af­ter a year as VP, op­er­a­tions and in­no­va­tion. Rochlin, who was al­so di­rec­tor of busi­ness de­vel­op­ment for Nanobi­otix spin­off Cu­r­a­digm, co-found­ed and was CSO of Im­munovent. IN8bio just re­vealed very ear­ly da­ta in­di­cat­ing that its off-the-shelf gam­ma delta T cells helped three acute myeloid leukemia pa­tients stay in re­mis­sion.

Paul Savidge

→ Roche’s Spark tells Peer Re­view that Paul Savidge has been pro­mot­ed to chief le­gal of­fi­cer af­ter serv­ing as the gene ther­a­py biotech’s gen­er­al coun­sel. Savidge, who’s spent the last five years at Spark, is a Bris­tol My­ers Squibb alum who closed out his 15 years at the drug gi­ant in 2014 as SVP and deputy gen­er­al coun­sel for the glob­al com­mer­cial­iza­tion, R&D and Eu­rope groups.

Vanya Sagar

→ As we look back on the year, Affini­vax start­ed 2021 with a bang, haul­ing in a $226 mil­lion megaround to try and give Pfiz­er’s Pre­vnar 13 a run for its mon­ey. And the Cam­bridge, MA biotech con­tin­ues to ex­pand its team with Vanya Sagar as chief peo­ple of­fi­cer, choos­ing a new path here af­ter end­ing her three years with Sig­ilon Ther­a­peu­tics as chief hu­man re­sources of­fi­cer. She al­so worked in HR at Bio­gen from 2015-18.

→ Around the Horn: Take­da liv­er dis­ease part­ner He­mo­S­hear Ther­a­peu­tics has re­cruit­ed Patrick Horn as CMO. As med­ical chief of Al­bireo since 2018, Horn’s pres­ence was piv­otal to this year’s US and Eu­rope ap­provals of Byl­vay for pro­gres­sive fa­mil­ial in­tra­hep­at­ic cholesta­sis, and for near­ly sev­en years he was CMO at Tetraphase. He­mo­S­hear has al­so joined forces with Hori­zon on de­vel­op­ing treat­ments for gout.

Cather­ine Priest

→ Push­ing its lead drug NRTX-1001 in­to Phase I/II thanks to a $41.5 mil­lion fi­nanc­ing round co-led by The Col­umn Group in June, Neu­rona Ther­a­peu­tics has spruced up its C-suite with the pro­mo­tions of Cather­ine Priest to chief de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer, Gau­tam Banik to chief tech­nol­o­gy of­fi­cer and David Blum to CMO. Priest joined Neu­rona in 2015 and had been the San Fran­cis­co biotech’s VP of pre­clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment af­ter three years as a se­nior sci­ence of­fi­cer with the Cal­i­for­nia In­sti­tute for Re­gen­er­a­tive Med­i­cine. For­mer­ly Neu­rona’s VP of process sci­ences and man­u­fac­tur­ing, Banik owned the same ti­tle dur­ing his nine years at Celler­ant Ther­a­peu­tics. And Blum, an ex-se­nior med­ical di­rec­tor at GSK, had led clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment at Neu­rona since 2019 af­ter his time with Sunovion as head of neu­rol­o­gy clin­i­cal re­search.

Nordic Nanovec­tor has re­tooled its lead­er­ship from the top down this year, nam­ing Erik Skullerud as CEO and Pierre Do­di­on as CMO with­in the last few months alone. The Nor­we­gian biotech that tar­gets CD37 has now greet­ed San­dra Jon­s­son as COO. Jon­s­son has al­most a dozen years at No­var­tis un­der her belt and was head of com­mer­cial strat­e­gy & op­er­a­tions at Shire be­fore her most re­cent gig at Alex­ion as se­nior di­rec­tor, com­mer­cial in­ter­na­tion­al.

Za­ven Ka­prielian

Remix Ther­a­peu­tics, which launched last year with $81 mil­lion worth of fi­nanc­ing, has wel­comed Za­ven Ka­prielian to its C-suite as CSO. In ad­di­tion to his aca­d­e­m­ic ap­point­ments at Al­bert Ein­stein Col­lege of Med­i­cine, Ka­prielian has al­so served as project CSO at De­men­tia Dis­cov­ery Fund US. Pri­or to that, Ka­prielian was di­rec­tor of neu­ro­science re­search at Am­gen.

Pa­tri­cia Nasshorn

Cue Bio­phar­ma, whose Im­muno-STAT agents aim to se­lec­tive­ly con­trol T cell re­spons­es, has se­lect­ed Patri­ca Nasshorn as CBO. A vet­er­an of Bris­tol My­ers, Mer­ck and J&J in such ar­eas as busi­ness de­vel­op­ment, li­cens­ing and mar­ket­ing, Nasshorn has pre­vi­ous CBO ex­pe­ri­ence with Vencerx Ther­a­peu­tics. Cue’s IL-2-based lead can­di­date, CUE-101, is in a Phase Ib study alone and in a com­bo with Keytru­da for head and neck can­cer.

Eliz­a­beth Reczek

Neu­tron Ther­a­peu­tics has snapped up Eliz­a­beth Reczek as CEO and as a mem­ber of its board. This isn’t Reczek’s first ex­pe­ri­ence in the CEO seat, hav­ing pre­vi­ous­ly helmed DNA/RNA se­quenc­ing com­pa­ny Se­qLL and Ex­ce­lim­mune.

→ Look­ing to bounce back from the CRL the FDA is­sued for its an­tibi­ot­ic su­lopen­em this sum­mer, Iterum Ther­a­peu­tics has named Saila­ja Put­ta­gun­ta as its first CMO. Put­ta­gun­ta is no stranger at Iterum, where she was VP of clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment from 2016 to 2018. Most re­cent­ly, she served as CMO at Bio­mX and was a med­ical di­rec­tor at Pfiz­er.

So­phie Am­sellem-Bosq

→ Rare bone dis­ease biotech In­noSkel has ap­point­ed So­phie Am­sellem-Bosq as chief tech­ni­cal of­fi­cer. Most re­cent­ly, Am­sellem-Bosq served as glob­al CAR-T pro­gram di­rec­tor at Servi­er, and she has al­so held po­si­tions at Gus­tave Roussy Can­cer Cen­tre, Am­broise Paré Hos­pi­tal and IN­SERM.

→ Syd­ney-based on­col­o­gy biotech Kazia Ther­a­peu­tics has wel­comed Karen Krume­ich as CFO start­ing in Jan­u­ary. Once a se­nior di­rec­tor with Bris­tol My­ers’ health sys­tems man­age­ment team, Krume­ich has held CFO posts at Ther­avec­tys and Soli­genix be­fore this lat­est move. Last month John Friend was named CMO at Kazia, which ex­pand­ed the pipeline by nab­bing VEG­FR3 in­hibitor EVT801 from Evotec in the spring.

Raphaël Rousseau

Neo­gene Ther­a­peu­tics has wel­comed aboard Raphaël Rousseau as CMO. Rousseau hails from Grit­stone bio, where he served as EVP, head of prod­uct de­vel­op­ment and CMO. Pri­or to Grit­stone, Rousseau was glob­al fran­chise head of pe­di­atrics at Genen­tech and Roche.

Skye Bio­science has pro­mot­ed Tu Diep to chief de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer and ap­point­ed Kei­th Ward to its board of di­rec­tors. Diep joined the San Diego-based com­pa­ny as SVP of de­vel­op­ment af­ter a stint at Pro­tox Ther­a­peu­tics. Pri­or to Pro­tox, Diep was with On­coSec Med­ical and El­e­ment Bio­sciences. Mean­while, Ward cur­rent­ly serves as pres­i­dent and CEO of In­ter­veX­ion Ther­a­peu­tics; he was for­mer­ly EVP and chief de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer for Rea­ta Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and held roles at Bausch + Lomb and GSK.

Charles Schweiz­er

Charles Schweiz­er is mov­ing on from GSK to join Hous­ton-based Im­muno­Gen­e­sis as SVP of clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment. Schweiz­er had on­ly been with the phar­ma gi­ant a short time as the ther­a­peu­tic area head of on­col­o­gy, and ear­li­er he was VP, clin­i­cal op­er­a­tions with Galera Ther­a­peu­tics. Im­muno­Gen­e­sis, which is fo­cused on “re-en­vi­sion­ing cold tu­mor treat­ment,” hopes to march its lead can­di­dates in­to the clin­ic next year.

Jen­nifer New­berg­er

→ Ex-Ap­ple prin­ci­pal coun­sel Jen­nifer New­berg­er has signed on to Cog­ni­to Ther­a­peu­tics as head of reg­u­la­to­ry and com­pli­ance, hav­ing just com­plet­ed a brief run as Ab­bott’s se­nior reg­u­la­to­ry coun­sel af­ter her time at Ap­ple. The C-suite has re­al­ly crys­tal­lized in the last year at Cog­ni­to, in­clud­ing CEO Brent Vaugh­an, CBO Mark Day, CFO Jonathan Lieber, and chief com­mer­cial of­fi­cer Everett Crosland. Both Vaugh­an and Crosland are sched­uled to ap­pear with End­points News at #JPM22, now ful­ly vir­tu­al due to a run­away train of Omi­cron con­cerns.

Al­ic­ja Januszewicz

→ Biotech’s Got Tal­ent: Al­ic­ja Januszewic has an­swered the call to be SVP, peo­ple and cul­ture for The­seus Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, a can­cer biotech which broke through on Nas­daq in Oc­to­ber with a $160 mil­lion IPO. Af­ter tal­ent man­age­ment roles with such com­pa­nies as Epizyme, Bax­al­ta and Agenus, Januszewic was VP of peo­ple & cul­ture for Al­lena Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals. The Or­biMed spin­out now led by CEO Tim Clack­son launched with a $100 mil­lion raise six months be­fore the IPO.

Mas Mat­su­da

Mas Mat­su­da has tak­en on the roles of gen­er­al coun­sel and cor­po­rate sec­re­tary for Cal­i­for­nia skin dis­ease biotech Ar­cutis. An 18-year le­gal vet with Am­gen, Mat­su­da was re­cent­ly SVP, gen­er­al coun­sel, chief com­pli­ance of­fi­cer and cor­po­rate sec­re­tary at Halozyme be­fore join­ing Ar­cutis, which is de­vel­op­ing rof­lu­mi­last for such con­di­tions as chron­ic plaque pso­ri­a­sis and atopic der­mati­tis.

→ Bio­an­a­lyt­i­cal re­search or­ga­ni­za­tion Sapi­ent has brought on Phil Wor­boys as head of trans­la­tion­al med­i­cine. Wor­boys joins the San Fran­cis­co Bay area-based com­pa­ny af­ter more than a decade at Ther­a­vance Ther­a­peu­tics, where he most re­cent­ly served as SVP of re­search and trans­la­tion­al med­i­cine. Ear­li­er in his ca­reer, Wor­boys had stints at Roche, Pfiz­er and Mer­ck.

Adar Makovs­ki Sil­ver­stein

Adar Makovs­ki Sil­ver­stein has tak­en on the role of di­rec­tor, cor­po­rate de­vel­op­ment for On­cono­va Ther­a­peu­tics, which re­leased sin­gle-pa­tient da­ta ear­li­er this month with rigosert­ib for squa­mous cell car­ci­no­ma com­pli­cat­ing re­ces­sive dy­s­troph­ic epi­der­mol­y­sis bul­losa (RDEB-as­so­ci­at­ed SCC). Sil­ver­stein hails from Am­gen, where she was a se­nior li­cens­ing as­so­ciate, busi­ness de­vel­op­ment, ex­ter­nal R&D. In Au­gust 2020, rigosert­ib fell flat in a Phase III tri­al for pa­tients with high-risk myelodys­plas­tic syn­drome.

→ Next-gen se­quenc­ing com­pa­ny Clear Labs has brought on a trio of new ex­ecs with the ap­point­ments of Darsh­na Tan­na as VP of prod­uct port­fo­lio, Scott Car­luc­ci as VP of cus­tomer suc­cess and Tim Sand­ford as VP of op­er­a­tions. Tan­na for­mer­ly served as VP of mol­e­c­u­lar so­lu­tions at Roche while Car­luc­ci was most re­cent­ly se­nior di­rec­tor of tech­ni­cal ser­vice & sup­port at Ho­log­ic. As for Sand­ford, he was pre­vi­ous­ly the head of op­er­a­tions at Ther­moFish­er Sci­en­tif­ic.

Mark Alles

JJ Bi­en­aimé has space re­served on the board of di­rec­tors at Bio­Marin for ex-Cel­gene chair­man and CEO Mark Alles. Now chair­man of Turn­ing Point Ther­a­peu­tics, Alles is on the boards of An­ten­gene and Sy­ros.

Tan­go Ther­a­peu­tics CFO Daniel­la Beck­man has joined the board of di­rec­tors at Blue­print Med­i­cines, which just snapped up Lengo Ther­a­peu­tics in a $250 mil­lion deal. Beck­man al­so serves as a board mem­ber for Vor Bio­phar­ma and 5:01 Ac­qui­si­tion Corp.

Bar­bara Ryan

→ Long­time Deutsche Bank man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Bar­bara Ryan has been ap­point­ed to the board of di­rec­tors at OcuTer­ra, chaired by Brent Saun­ders and chug­ging along with $35 mil­lion in Se­ries B cash. Ryan is al­so on the board of MiNK Ther­a­peu­tics, now led by ex-Agenus pres­i­dent and COO Jen­nifer Buell.

→ Lon­don-based con­sumer ge­net­ics test­ing and med­ical di­ag­nos­tics com­pa­ny DnaNudge has swept in ex-GSK chair­man and CEO Richard Sykes as chair­man elect of its board of di­rec­tors. Sykes is the new chair of the UK gov­ern­ment’s Vac­cine Task­force.

→ Io­n­is’ for­mer CFO and COO Lynne Par­shall is mak­ing her way on­to the board of di­rec­tors at Reper­toire Im­mune Med­i­cines. Par­shall cur­rent­ly sits on the board of Cy­to­ki­net­ics and was for­mer­ly chair­woman at Akcea Ther­a­peu­tics.

Jing Marantz

→ San Diego mR­NA out­fit Arc­turus Ther­a­peu­tics has ap­point­ed Jing Marantz to the board of di­rec­tors. Marantz, for­mer­ly the head of med­ical af­fairs with Al­ny­lam, now holds that very po­si­tion at Mer­ck sub Ac­celeron.

Long­wood B cell start­up Be Bio has al­so dipped in­to the Ac­celeron tal­ent pool, nam­ing Jay Back­strom to the board of di­rec­tors. Back­strom has been Ac­celeron’s head of R&D as well as Cel­gene’s CMO and head of reg­u­la­to­ry af­fairs.

Kim­ball Hall

→ Am­gen and Genen­tech alum Kim­ball Hall has been giv­en a seat on the board of di­rec­tors at Ve­ra Ther­a­peu­tics, which did a 180-de­gree pipeline turn from gene ther­a­py (when it was known as Tru­code Gene Re­pair) to kid­ney dis­eases like IgA nephropa­thy. In De­cem­ber 2020, Hall was pro­mot­ed to pres­i­dent of Abzena in ad­di­tion to her COO du­ties.

Shore­line Bio­sciences CEO Klean­this Xan­thopou­los will no longer be on Zosano Phar­ma’s board of di­rec­tors be­gin­ning Dec. 31, but the door has opened for Elaine Yang to join the board. Yang, the for­mer VP of in­ter­nal au­dit for Face­book, is the chief rev­enue of­fi­cer at Lyra Health.

Jef­frey Humphrey

Ma­gen­ta Ther­a­peu­tics CMO Jef­frey Humphrey is tak­ing a seat on the board of di­rec­tors of Cyteir Ther­a­peu­tics. Humphrey for­mer­ly served as CMO of Con­stel­la­tion Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and pre­vi­ous­ly held po­si­tions at Bris­tol My­ers, Pfiz­er, Bay­er and Ky­owa Kirin.

De­nis Patrick is adding an­oth­er board ap­point­ment to his ré­sumé with his new spot at Palleon Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals. Patrick is VP and head of part­ner­ing in­no­va­tion at Pfiz­er and a man­ag­ing part­ner at Pfiz­er Ven­tures. Patrick cur­rent­ly has seats on the boards of FoRx Ther­a­peu­tics, Metabomed, Mis­sion Ther­a­peu­tics and EvolveIm­mune Ther­a­peu­tics and pre­vi­ous­ly had stints at GSK and Mer­ck.

Elaine Sun

Hep­lisav mak­er Dy­navax has brought in Elaine Sun as a mem­ber of the board of di­rec­tors. Sun, the ex-CFO and chief strat­e­gy of­fi­cer at SutroVax (now Vax­cyte), is EVP and CFO of Halozyme.

Randy Schatz­man-led Bolt Bio­ther­a­peu­tics has re­cruit­ed Nicole Onet­to to its board of di­rec­tors. Onet­to for­mer­ly served as deputy di­rec­tor and CSO of Zy­mo­Ge­net­ics and CMO of OSI Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals. She al­so brings with her ex­pe­ri­ence from her times at Bris­tol My­ers, Gilead and Im­munex.

→ Cu­per­ti­no, CA-based Durect has wel­comed for­mer ALX On­col­o­gy CFO Pe­ter Gar­cía to its board of di­rec­tors. Gar­cía was al­so CFO at PDL Bio­Phar­ma, Bi­o­Time (now Lin­eage Cell Ther­a­peu­tics), Ma­ri­na Biotech, Nanosys, Nu­velo, No­va­cept, In­tra­Bi­otics Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and Den­dreon.

→ Life sci­ence tools com­pa­ny Lu­micks has added for­mer Vor Bio­phar­ma chief tech­nol­o­gy of­fi­cer (CTO) Sadik Kas­sim and Michael Schnall-Levin to its sci­en­tif­ic ad­vi­so­ry board. Kas­sim cur­rent­ly serves as CTO of Dana­her and for­mer­ly had stints at Kite, Mus­tang Bio, No­var­tis’ cell and gene ther­a­pies unit and J&J. Mean­while, Schnall-Levin is the SVP R&D and found­ing sci­en­tist at 10x Ge­nomics and for­mer­ly served as chief prod­uct of­fi­cer at Medi­gram.

Derek Graf con­tributed to this edi­tion.

Graphic: Alexander Lefterov for Endpoints News

Small biotechs with big drug am­bi­tions threat­en to up­end the tra­di­tion­al drug launch play­book

Of the countless decisions Vlad Coric had to make as Biohaven’s CEO over the past seven years, there was one that felt particularly nerve-wracking: Instead of selling to a Big Pharma, the company decided it would commercialize its migraine drug itself.

“I remember some investors yelling and pounding on the table like, you can’t do this. What are you thinking? You’re going to get crushed by AbbVie,” he recalled.

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Mar­ket­ingRx roundup: Pfiz­er de­buts Pre­vnar 20 TV ads; Lil­ly gets first FDA 2022 pro­mo slap down let­ter

Pfizer debuted its first TV ad for its Prevnar 20 next-generation pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine. In the 60-second spot, several people (actor portrayals) with their ages listed as 65 or older are shown walking into a clinic as they turn to say they’re getting vaccinated with Prevnar 20 because they’re at risk.

The update to Pfizer’s blockbuster Prevnar 13 vaccine was approved in June, and as its name suggests is a vaccine for 20 serotypes — the original 13 plus seven more that cause pneumococcal disease. Pfizer used to spend heavily on TV ads to promote Prevnar 13 in 2018 and 2019 but cut back its TV budgets in the past two fall and winter seasonal spending cycles. Prevnar had been Pfizer’s top-selling drug, notching sales of just under $6 billion in 2020, and was the world’s top-selling vaccine before the Covid-19 vaccines came to market last year.

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Albert Bourla (Photo by Steven Ferdman/Getty Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Pfiz­er fields a CRL for a $295M rare dis­ease play, giv­ing ri­val a big head start

Pfizer won’t be adding a new rare disease drug to the franchise club — for now, anyway.

The pharma giant put out word that their FDA application for the growth hormone therapy somatrogon got the regulatory heave-ho, though they didn’t even hint at a reason for the CRL. Following standard operating procedure, Pfizer said in a terse missive that they would be working with regulators on a followup.

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A new can­cer im­munother­a­py brings cau­tious hope for a field long await­ing the next big break­through

Bob Seibert sat silent across from his daughter at their favorite Spanish restaurant near his home in Charleston County, SC, their paella growing cold as he read through all the places in his body doctors found tumors.

He had texted his wife, a pediatric intensive care nurse, when he got the alert that his online chart was ready. Although he saw immediately it was bad, many of the terms — peritoneal, right iliac — were inscrutable. But she was five hours downstate, at a loud group dinner the night before another daughter’s cheer competition.

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

Opin­ion: Flori­da is so mAb crazy, Ron De­San­tis wants to use mAbs that don't work

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is trying so hard to politicize the FDA and demonize the federal government that he entered into an alternate universe on Monday evening in describing a recent FDA action to restrict the use of two monoclonal antibody, or mAb, treatments for Covid-19 that don’t work against Omicron.

Without further ado, let’s break down his statement from last night, line by line, adjective by adjective.

Not cheap­er by the dozen: Bris­tol My­ers be­comes the 12th phar­ma com­pa­ny to re­strict 340B sales

Bristol Myers Squibb recently joined 11 of its peer pharma companies in limiting how many contract pharmacies can access certain drugs discounted by a federal program known as 340B.

Bristol Myers is just the latest in a series of high-profile pharma companies moving in their own direction as the Biden administration’s Health Resources and Services Administration struggles to rein in the drug discount program for the neediest Americans.

Joaquin Duato, J&J CEO (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

New J&J CEO Joaquin Du­a­to promis­es an ag­gres­sive M&A hunt in quest to grow phar­ma sales

Joaquin Duato stepped away from the sideline and directly into the spotlight on Tuesday, delivering his first quarterly review for J&J as its newly-tapped CEO after an 11-year run in senior posts. And he had some mixed financial news to deliver today while laying claim to a string of blockbuster drugs in the making and outlining an appetite for small and medium-sized M&A deals.

Duato also didn’t exactly shun large buyouts when asked about the future of the company’s medtech business — where they look to be in either the top or number 2 position in every segment they’re in — even though the bar for getting those deals done is so much higher.

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Amgen's Twitter campaign #DearAsthma inspired thousands of people to express struggles and frustrations with the disease

Am­gen’s #Dear­Asth­ma spon­sored tweet lands big on game day, spark­ing thou­sands to re­spond

Amgen wanted to know how people with asthma really felt about daily life with the disease. So it bought a promoted tweet on Twitter noting the not-so-simple realities of life with asthma and ended the post with a #DearAsthma hashtag, a megaphone emoji and a re-tweet button.

That was just over one week ago and the responses haven’t stopped. More than 7,000 posts so far on Twitter replied to #DearAsthma to detail struggles of daily life, expressing humor, frustration and sometimes anger. More than a few f-bombs have been typed or gif-ed in reply to communicate just how much many people “hate” the disease.

Pfiz­er, Bris­tol My­ers dom­i­nate top 10 pre­dic­tions for the best-sell­ing drugs of 2022

The annual exercise where analysts try and predict which drugs will become blockbusters and make the most money tends to highlight the biggest trends in biopharma R&D. 2022 is no exception.

The team at Evaluate Vantage published its predictions for the top 10 selling drugs for the year — expecting tens of billions of dollars in sales and highlighting an industry-wide focus on certain diseases and indications.

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