Seer adds ex-FDA chief Mark McClellan to the board; Hercules Capital makes it official for new CEO Scott Bluestein
→ On the same day it announced a $17.5 million Series C, life sciences and health data company Seer unveiled that it had lured former FDA commissioner and ex-CMS administrator Mark McClellan on to its board. “Mark’s deep understanding of the health care ecosystem and visionary insights on policy reform will be crucial in informing our thinking as we work to bring our liquid biopsy and life sciences products to market,” said Seer chief and founder Omid Farokhzad in a statement.
→ Remember when Hercules Capital parted ways with Manuel Henriquez after the CEO had been singled out as a principal player in the big college cheating scandal known as Operation Varsity Blues? Scott Bluestein, then chief investment officer, stepped up to assume the duties ad interim. Four months later, the firm has decided to make that appointment permanent, leaving him in charge of an investment operation that’s been known for its involvement with umbrella-style biotech groups like Vivek Ramaswamy’s Myovant and Neil Kumar’s BridgeBio.
→ Having built Pandion Therapeutics up from a $58 million Series A through an early R&D strategy to the cusp of clinical studies, Anthony Coyle is passing the reins on. Rahul Kakkar, the new CEO, will work shoulder-to-shoulder with Jo Viney, who’s adding president to her current CSO title. Viney and Coyle are both founders of the Cambridge, MA-based biotech, which is working on bispecific antibodies designed to treat autoimmune diseases via targeted, localized modulation of the immune system. Bringing some fresh startup experience from Corvidia Therapeutics, Kakkar will now lead the transition into the next stage. SR One alum Vikas Goyal is also joining as SVP of business development, having taken a deep look at the company on the investor side of the table.
→ Former Immunomedics CEO Michael Pehl has emerged on the other side of the Atlantic, taking on another cancer challenge as the new chief of GEMoaB. From the biotech’s headquarters in Dresden, Germany, Pehl will steer the development of its next-gen immunotherapies designed to tone down toxicities by fine-tuning the cells. Before his ill-fated stint at Immunomedics — tainted by an FDA rejection and reports about a breach of data integrity — Pehl enjoyed a solid run as Celgene’s president of oncology.
→ As Copenhagen-based Orphazyme gets serious about filing its Niemann-Pick disease type C treatment for approval, it’s looped in a new leader well versed in drug launches. Kim Stratton takes over from Anders Hinsby, who’s been leading the biotech as CEO since co-founding it a decade ago. A Novartis vet, Stratton was most recently the international commercial head Shire’s specialty and rare disease portfolio — giving her insight into orphan drug development across the UK, US, Europe and emerging markets. The succession will officially take place in October.
→ Nello Mainolfi is stepping up his leadership role at Kymera Therapeutics, as Laurent Audoly pursues another venture idea. With the promotion to president, Mainolfi — a co-founder and the current CSO — is only assuming half of Audoly’s job. The company is searching for a new CEO while also welcoming Westfield managing partner Bruce Jacobs as CFO. The shakeup comes weeks after Audoly and Mainolfi inked a $70 million deal with Vertex to deploy the smaller player’s protein degradation tech for vague but decidedly next-gen uses. The duo had founded the startup together with the blessing of Atlas Venture, where Audoly was entrepreneur-in-residence.
→ Navitor is ready to send its mTORC pathway activators into the clinic, and James “Randy” Owen will be their man for the task. As the biotech’s first CMO, Owen is first tasked with clinical and regulatory development NV-5138 for treatment-resistant depression. In the same role at Acadia Pharma, he’d helped advance the Parkinson’s psychosis drug known as Nuplazid, or pimavanserin — an experience he’s expected to leverage in his new gig.
→ Cabaletta Bio — focused on the discovery and development of cell therapies for B cell-mediated autoimmune diseases — welcomes autoimmune clinical drug development expert, David Chang, into its ranks as the company’s CMO. Chang hops on board after a stint as SVP and head of inflammation, autoimmunity and neuroscience, global medicines development at AstraZeneca. He was the vice president and head of immuno-inflammation, clinical development at GSK and has served at Merck and Wyeth earlier in his career.
→ Vaccitech brings Mariem Charafeddine on board as its CMO to oversee the development of its growing clinical pipeline of T Cell-inducing viral vector vaccines. Charafeddine joins the company after a six-year stint at Abbvie as their medical director for pharmacovigilance and patient safety sciences, infectious diseases and neurosciences. Prior to her time at Abbvie, Charafeddine served at Hoffmann-La Roche/Genentech.
→ Parvus Therapeutics — focused on the development and commercialization of Navacim therapeutics targeting autoimmune and other inflammatory diseases — added some new faces to its board of directors and leadership team. Hugh Young Rienhoff joined as the company’s chairman of the board, Charles Johnson was appointed to the board and Alain Delcayre hopped on as senior vice president of research.
Rienhoff is the CEO of Imago Biosciences, his fourth start-up. Prior to his position at Imago, Rienhoff was the CEO of FerroKin Biosciences (later acquired by Shire in 2012). He has also served as the director at Abingworth Management in London and as a partner at New Enterprise Associates. Johnson, most recently, served as the CMO of Neurotech and prior to that was the vice president of global medical affairs at Vertex. He’s also had stints at Inspire Pharmaceuticals, APT Pharmaceuticals and Genentech. Delcayre is credited as VP of research and development at Anosys with the co-discovery of Exosome Display — a technique to manipulate exosome protein content — with his team.
→ Cell therapy company Immusoft has managed to snag Amgen’s $AMGN former head of biologics Robert Hayes as its chief scientific officer. The Seattle-based firm has developed a technology engineered to insert functional genes into immune cells using a non-viral vector. Its lead therapy is designed to help patients with a rare, lethal childhood genetic disease that affects the body’s ability to produce an essential enzyme that helps to break down long-chain sugars inside cells.
→ Leslie Dan steps down from the board of directors of Sesen Bio — focused on the development of targeted fusion protein therapeutics for the treatment of patients with cancer — and into retirement. With his retirement the board will now consist of five directors, four of whom are independent. Dan started his career in the pharmaceutical industry in 1964 as the founder of Novopharm, one of Canada’s largest generic pharmaceutical companies with about $750 million in revenue and over 3,000 employees (later becoming a part of Teva Pharmaceutical in 2000). After Novopharm, Dan founded Viventia Bio, which was later sold to Sesen in 2016.
→ Sanjay Patel is stepping up to succeed Tamara Seymour, who has served as the interim CFO, as CFO at Immunic — a company focused on the development of oral therapies for the treatment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. Patel comes from the same position at Pernix Therapeutics, where he helped in sourcing and executing acquisitions in excess of $600 million and raising more that $460 million in various financing transactions. Patel has had stints at Cantor Fitzgerald, the William J Clinton Foundation, and at Cowen and Company.
→ Aurinia — currently developing its investigational drug, voclosporin for the treatment of Lupus Nephritis, Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis and Dry Eye Syndrome — strengthened its senior management team with the addition of Max Donley as executive vice president of internal operations and Glenn Schulman as SVP of corporate communications and investor relations. Most recently, Donley led human resources, information technology and facilities at Senseonics. Prior to that, he served at Sucampo Pharmaceuticals and MedImmune. Schulman jumps on board after a stint as corporate communications and investor relations at Achillion Pharmaceuticals and previously, has served at CuraGen.
→ Maryland-based biotechnology company, Immunomic Therapeutics, has appointed Andrew Eisen as VP, Clinical Development. Eisen joined the company with experience from roles at Rexahn Pharmaceuticals, Acorda Therapeutics, Eisai Oncology Product Creation Systems, Daiichi-Sankyo Pharma Development and CuraGen.
→ Daniel Wallace has joined the board of directors of Lupus Therapeutics. Wallace is the medical director of the Wallace Rheumatic Study Center and associate director of the Rheumatology Fellowship Program at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles. Wallace has over 40 years of experience and has been involved in more than 50 clinical trials and is currently conducting six trials.