Sierra Oncology brings on former Aimmune CEO to the helm; Flagship woos ex-Novartis exec Fabrice Chouraqui
→ Momelotinib-focused Sierra Oncology, which launched a Phase III trial in November for myelofibrosis patients, has made Stephen Dilly its president and CEO, effective June 1. Dilly was previously the CEO at Aimmune from 2014 until what was billed as his retirement in 2018, but now he’s back at the helm of another company and is also a member of Sierra’s board of directors. Additionally, the seasoned vet has held posts at Genentech, Chiron and GSK.
Meanwhile, Veloxis Pharmaceutics CEO Craig Collard was also named to Vancouver-based Sierra’s board.
→ Fabrice Chouraqui has added a new title to his résumé. After steadily rising through the ranks and journeying the globe to nab a top job as president of US pharma for the Basel-based Novartis, Chouraqui has hit the exit to head a hybrid position as a CEO-partner at Flagship. In his new position, he’ll take a shot at leading Cellarity — one of the VC’s latest paradigm-changing companies molded on a groundbreaking model that aspires to deliver a new platform to the world of drug R&D. He’s changing a top executive position in a global organization supervising thousands of staffers for a role running a team of 50 engaged in deep science that marries new insights into cellular biology and AI in Cambridge, MA. And he’s committed to a dual role as venture partner, contributing his own ideas to shaping the strategy and execution at Flagship.
→ Celyad, the Belgian biotech now making a low-profile run for off-the-shelf CAR-T success alongside more prominent peers like Cellectis, Servier and Allogene, has promoted Peggy Sotiropoulou to head of R&D. Sotiropoulou joined the company in 2017 and previously served as director of R&D.
→ Just a little more than a month since taking over as the latest CEO to helm Immunomedics, Harout Semerjian is exiting the company after being confronted by “logistical” obstacles thrown up by the pandemic that made it impossible for him to move from London to carry out the job. And he’s getting a little over a million dollars in cash plus perks to grease the skids on the way out. Semerjian, a longtime Novartis exec who jumped to Ipsen for a 3-year stint as head of commercial operations, took the biotech job on April 16, grabbing a salary of $675,000 a year, a bonus equal to a minimum of 70% of that figure, stock options and a $225,000 budget for moving from Ipsen to New Jersey. Now Behzad Aghazadeh is back in charge and he’s in no hurry to restart their headhunting operation for a new CEO. That, says the company, will have to wait until the pandemic is over.
→ Swedish biotech Medivir will welcome Yilmaz Mahshid as CEO in the fall, succeeding Uli Hacksell, who had been at the helm since October 2018. Hacksell will stay on as a member of Medivir’s board. Mahshid has been the CFO at another Swedish company, PledPharma, since December 2017. Before PledPharma, Mahshid was at Industrifonden as investment manager and controller.
→ Nima Farzan is taking over as CEO of San Diego precision oncology player Kinnate Biopharma, replacing Stephen Kaldor, who has been appointed chairman. Farzan had been president and CEO of PaxVax from 2011-19 and is currently a board member at Keros Therapeutics. Prior to PaxVax, Farzan was with Novartis in numerous capacities, including VP of US marketing in the vaccines & diagnostics division.
→ Ex-Pfizer exec Mark Schneyer will step up to the plate in the newly-created role of SVP, business development and CBO at Acadia Pharmaceuticals, which revealed positive Nuplazid data in December and a collaboration with Vanderbilt University this month on targeting muscarinic M1 receptors. Schneyer was at Pfizer for nine years, most recently as their VP, business and corporate development for the Upjohn division.
→ Newly operating Larimar Therapeutics — created from a merger between Chondrial Therapeutics and Zafgen — has enlisted some new faces into its ranks. Joseph Truitt has been named chair of the board of directors, Nancy Ruiz as CMO and Michael Celano as CFO. Truitt formerly served as CEO of Achillion Pharmaceuticals. Ruiz joins the company from Prolong Pharmaceuticals, where she served as VP of clinical development and head of drug safety, while Celano most recently served as CFO and COO at Recro Pharma.
→ Savita Bernal has joined the ranks as CBO of French microbiome biotech MaaT Pharma, which racked up €18 million in Series B financing in February. Before her appointment at the Lyon-based biotech, Bernal spent 7 years at another Lyon-based company, Adocia, where she was director of strategic marketing and corporate communications, business development.
→ Another leadership transition is unfolding at South San Francisco-based Assembly Biosciences, where Gilead vet William Delaney is replacing the retiring Richard Colonno as CSO, virology, effective June 1. Colonno now moves into a senior advisory role. The Gilead connections are strong, as Assembly CEO John McHutchison spent 9 years at the big biotech, where he was CSO and head of R&D. Delaney spent 20 years at Gilead, starting as a research scientist in virology and rising to executive director, biology.
→ Biodesy has unveiled a new name this week: Bluelight Therapeutics. The South San Francisco biotech also has a new CSO: Mark Gallop, a board member since 2018. An executive-in-residence at 5AM Venture Partners, Gallop co-founded Rubedo Life Sciences, Nurix (where he was also CSO) and XenoPort (where he was also SVP of research).
→ After spending a little over a year at Applied Therapeutics, CFO Mark Vignola is hitting the exit. Charles (Chuck) Silberstein has been named as his successor and head of business development. Silberstein joins the company from recently acquired Allergan, where he served as SVP of corporate business development. In addition, Silberstein has served posts at Goldman Sachs Asset Management and JP Morgan Asset Management.
→ Nathan Jorgensen is headed to Cambridge, MA-based Vor Biopharma to be CFO. Before going to Vor, which engineers hematopoietic stem cells (eHSCs) to treat cancer, Jorgensen was most recently with the Qatar Investment Authority in a senior management position. Other stops for Jorgensen in the financial industry have included Calamos Investments and Stifel Nicolaus.
→ NGM Bio, which released positive data in February involving the use of aldafermin in NASH patients, will bring in Siobhan Nolan Mangini as CFO, effective July 13. Before arriving at NGM this summer, Nolan Mangini had been president and CFO of another San Francisco-based company, Castlight Health. She began her Castlight tenure in 2012 as director, strategy & business development.
→ Susan Knudson is making her way to San Diego-based regenerative medicine developer Histogen, where she will become EVP and CFO. She had held the same titles at Pfenex since February 2018. Knudson has also been the CFO of Neothetics and the senior director of finance and administration at Avera Pharmaceuticals.
→ Belgian biotech Hyloris Pharmaceuticals, which corralled a $15 million funding round in late April, has selected Patrick Jeanmart as CFO. Jeanmart jumps to Hyloris from Degroof Petercam Investment Bank, where he was their global head of healthcare. From 2007-18, he was also the CFO at Celyad.
→ Damon Silvestry has signed on at San Diego biotech Progenity to be their COO. Before starting at Progenity, which develops molecular testing products, Silvestry spent 5 years at Natera, where he was SVP, operations and people, and 3 years at Miraca Life Sciences, where he ended his tenure as SVP of operations.
→ Next-gen T cell player TCR² Therapeutics has added some new faces to its leadership team. The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company welcomed Gregg McConnell as head of business development and Viera Muzithras as VP of regulatory affairs. McConnell hails from BlueRock Therapeutics, where he served as VP and head of business development until its acquisition by Bayer. Previously, McConnell has served in roles at Pfizer. Muzithras steps in from Bristol Myers Squibb (formerly Celgene), serving as executive director of global regulatory affairs. Prior to that, Muzithras was senior director of regulatory affairs and global regulatory director at Novartis.
→ Just days after lining up $145 million to pay for their first foray into the clinic, the Rallybio team is going back to Alexion for their latest hire. They’ve recruited Róisín Armstrong, who will head the development of RLYB211, a plasma-derived hyperimmune globulin in development for the prevention of fetal and neonatal alloimmune thrombocytopenia. Armstrong served as VP and global medicine team leader at Alexion.
→ Salt Lake City biopharma Elevar Therapeutics, with its lead candidates rivoceranib (apatinib) and Apealea focused on treating cancers, has called upon Mark Gelder to be global head of medical affairs. Gelder, who has spent time with Pfizer, Wyeth and Bayer, was the CMO at Pierian Biosciences, Accelovance and Heron Therapeutics.
→ New York-based Relmada Therapeutics, which targets CNS diseases, has brought on Molly Harper as EVP of operations. Harper started out as one of the initial employees with Akcea Therapeutics as their VP, commercial development, eventually becoming SVP and global franchise general manager.
→ Amunix, which raised $73 million in a Series A financing round in March, has named Anne Keane SVP of regulatory and quality. Keane makes the leap to Amunix from Lyell Immunopharma, where she was VP of regulatory.
→ Following the passing of Michael Wakelam at the end of March, epigenetics expert Wolf Reik has been named acting director of the Babraham Institute. Reik has been the head of the Institute’s epigenetics research program since 2008 and associate director since 2004.
→ Oxford spinout Evox Therapeutics has enlisted Martin Andrews as non-executive director. Andrews served as the SVP, rare diseases at GlaxoSmithKline and previously served as SVP, global vaccines commercial at GSK’s vaccines division.
→ A day before Gilead‘s $2 billion partnership deal, Terry Rosen’s Arcus Biosciences appointed Amgen vet David Lacey to its board of directors. Lacey and Rosen are familiar with each other from their days at Amgen, where Lacey was SVP of discovery research.
→ Cambridge, MA-based Anchiano Therapeutics has elected Stan Polovets to be chairman of its board of directors. Polovets, the former CEO of the Alfa-Access-Renova (AAR) Consortium and the co-founder, chairman and CEO of the Genesis Prize Foundation, has been on the board since April.
→ Ex-Allergan exec James Hindman has hopped aboard as a director at Urovant Sciences — which in March had Jim Robinson step in and take over the reins of the company. During his career at Allergan, Hindman held various roles leading to his post as CFO until the company’s $70.5 billion merger with Actavis in 2015.
→ Bain-backed Pfizer spinout SpringWorks Therapeutics has welcomed former Ideaya Biosciences exec Julie Hambleton, to its board of directors. Hambleton joined the board at Arch Oncology in April. In addition, Hambleton previously served as VP, head of US medical at Bristol Myers Squibb.
→ iOnctura — focused on developing molecules targeting cancer and fibrosis — has tapped former CEO of Syndax Pharmaceuticals Joanna Horobin as non-executive chair of its board.
→ Inflammatory disease-focused Acquist Therapeutics has added to its board of directors, selecting Thomas Haverty and John Redman. Haverty is currently the interim CMO at Eloxx Pharmaceuticals, while Redman is CEO of Proteus Ventures.