Syn­er­gy CEO pass­es torch to CCO Troy Hamil­ton; Pres­i­dent Steven Kaf­ka re­signs from Foun­da­tion; Ab­b­Vie vet John Leonard to helm In­tel­lia

Troy Hamil­ton

→ Mark­ing a new phase for the biotech, Syn­er­gy Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals $SYGP an­nounced that co-founder and Tru­lance co-in­ven­tor Gary Ja­cob is pass­ing the CEO ba­ton to Troy Hamil­ton. Join­ing Syn­er­gy in 2015, Hamil­ton was chief com­mer­cial of­fi­cer and EVP, steer­ing the launch and com­mer­cial­iza­tion of Tru­lance. The chron­ic id­io­path­ic con­sti­pa­tion drug is right up Hamil­ton’s al­ley, as he man­aged the gas­troin­testi­nal unit at Shire for nine years af­ter spend­ing much of his ca­reer at Janssen and Mc­Neil Spe­cial­ty Prod­ucts. “One of my ini­tial ar­eas of fo­cus will be to work with our CFO, Gary Gemignani, and the Syn­er­gy man­age­ment team to con­tin­ue to re­fine our busi­ness plan and fo­cus on achiev­ing cost ef­fi­cien­cies through­out the com­pa­ny while pri­or­i­tiz­ing in­vest­ments that will dri­ve sig­nif­i­cant Tru­lance growth,” Hamil­ton said in the state­ment. He al­so made sure to thank Ja­cob, who will con­tin­ue his in­volve­ment with the com­pa­ny as ex­ec­u­tive chair­man of the board.

Steven Kaf­ka

→ Pres­i­dent and COO Steven Kaf­ka has in­formed Foun­da­tion Med­i­cine $FMI of his in­ten­tion to re­sign next Feb­ru­ary, trig­ger­ing a lead­er­ship reshuf­fle that adds the pres­i­dent ti­tle to CEO Troy Cox and COO role to SVP of in­ter­na­tion­al mar­kets Kon­stan­tin Fiedler. Kaf­ka’s tenure at Foun­da­tion last­ed al­most five years, no­tice­ably longer than his stints at oth­er biotechs in­clud­ing Mil­len­ni­um Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and Aileron Ther­a­peu­tics. Cox and Fiedler are both rel­a­tive­ly new to the biotech, but each had spent time at some big name com­pa­nies be­fore land­ing here.

→ Cam­bridge, MA-based start­up Dis­arm Ther­a­peu­tics has lured Pe­ter Keller to join as chief busi­ness of­fi­cer af­ter sev­en years at Se­lec­ta Bio­sciences. Keller hasn’t al­ways worked in biotech — he was a man­age­ment con­sul­tant for a decade — but while in the in­dus­try, he has been in­volved in an ac­qui­si­tion, a big IPO and a bil­lion-dol­lar deal. While we haven’t heard much about where Dis­arm’s ax­on­al de­gen­er­a­tion-pre­vent­ing tech is head­ed, we now know Keller will be shap­ing part of it.

Joe Jimenez

→ As Joe Jimenez con­tin­ues to search for his next big break af­ter No­var­tis (ide­al­ly in Sil­i­con Val­ley), he will spend some time in Cincin­nati as a mem­ber of Proc­ter & Gam­ble’s board of di­rec­tors. Con­sumer busi­ness is fa­mil­iar turf for Jimenez, who worked top jobs at Heinz be­fore tak­ing the reins of the Swiss phar­ma gi­ant.

→ In a clear sig­nal that CRISPR/Cas9 play­er In­tel­lia Ther­a­peu­tics is piv­ot­ing to a Phase I, John Leonard, found­ing chief med­ical of­fi­cer, is be­ing kicked up to the CEO’s of­fice. Hav­ing led the biotech $NT­LA through a quick and suc­cess­ful IPO in 2016, At­las part­ner Nes­san Berming­ham will re­turn to biotech ven­ture cap­i­tal. The R&D trek will like­ly be long, with ri­vals Ed­i­tas and CRISPR Ther­a­peu­tics — who are still fight­ing over the IP — de­ter­mined to have a slice of the mar­ket. The board is putting its faith in Leonard, the for­mer top sci­en­tist at Ab­b­Vie who worked on HIV and HCV while tak­ing a lead role on Hu­mi­ra dur­ing his 22-year tenure.

Gen­zyme vet Marc Beck­er will be Con­cert Phar­ma’s new CFO, af­ter a brief stint at CRISPR Ther­a­peu­tics. The Lex­ing­ton, MA-based biotech $CNCE is prepar­ing to broad­en its pipeline of deu­teri­um chem­istry prod­uct can­di­dates — a pipeline where four out of five pro­grams are cur­rent­ly part­nered — and Beck­er will be very much in­volved in that, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment.

→ Paris-based Ac­ti­cor Biotech has tapped Yan­nick Plé­tan as its first chief med­ical of­fi­cer. A spin­off from the French Na­tion­al In­sti­tute of Health and Med­ical Re­search, the 4-year-old com­pa­ny is de­vel­op­ing an an­tithrom­bot­ic agent for the acute phase of is­chemic stroke. Plé­tan’s clin­i­cal and med­ical ex­pe­ri­ence at Roche and Pfiz­er will be im­por­tant as Ac­ti­cor nav­i­gates the next tri­al phase for its lead can­di­date ACT017.

Ra­jesh Shrotriya, the 15-year chair­man and CEO of Spec­trum Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, has been fired, the com­pa­ny an­nounced Sun­day. The ter­mi­na­tion trig­gered a chain of lead­er­ship changes: cur­rent pres­i­dent and COO Joseph Tur­geon is now pres­i­dent and CEO, as well as a board of di­rec­tor mem­ber; di­rec­tor Stu­art Krass­ner fills the chair­man seat; and Thomas Riga (EVP, CCO and head of busi­ness de­vel­op­ment) be­comes COO. Tur­geon is an Am­gen vet who used to over­see com­mer­cial ac­tiv­i­ties for Spec­trum.

→ For­est Labs vet Charles Ryan will take the CEO’s job at Neu­rotrope $NTRP fol­low­ing the res­ig­na­tion of Su­sanne Wilke.

→ In line with CEO George Scan­gos’ vi­sion for Vir Biotech­nol­o­gy to be a sci­ence-dri­ven com­pa­ny, im­mu­nol­o­gist An­to­nio Lan­za­vec­chia has been brought on as SVP and se­nior re­search fel­low. His main charge is to pro­vide sci­en­tif­ic lead­er­ship for Vir’s tech­ni­cal pro­grams look­ing in­to se­ri­ous in­fec­tious dis­eases. While do­ing that for the San Fran­cis­co up­start, he will con­tin­ue his roles as di­rec­tor of the In­sti­tute for Re­search in Bio­med­i­cine in Bellinzona, Switzer­land and as pro­fes­sor at the Uni­ver­sità del­la Svizzera ital­iana.

→ Fol­low­ing No­vem­ber’s IPO, Apel­lis Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals $APLS has ap­point­ed Tim­o­thy Sul­li­van, for­mer­ly a VC firm part­ner, as CFO. Sul­li­van has spent the past three years as an ob­serv­er on Apel­lis’ board of di­rec­tors, as the Ken­tucky biotech took its Soliris ri­val drug and age-re­lat­ed mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tion ther­a­py fur­ther along the pipeline, rais­ing mon­ey even af­ter a foiled first IPO at­tempt. Now Apel­lis is ready to en­ter Phase III tri­als for both pro­grams in 2018, and in his new role, Sul­li­van will lead the de­vel­op­ment of its fi­nanc­ing and growth strat­e­gy.

→ Long­time EVP and CFO Ryan May­nard is re­sign­ing from South San Fran­cis­co-based Rigel Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals $RIGL for undis­closed rea­sons (but cer­tain­ly not due to a dis­pute or dis­agree­ment with the com­pa­ny, ac­cord­ing the to SEC fil­ing). Nel­son Ca­bat­u­an, cur­rent VP of fi­nance, will step in as the in­ter­im prin­ci­pal ac­count­ing of­fi­cer while the biotech search­es for a re­place­ment ahead of its lead drug’s PDU­FA date.

Bellerophon Ther­a­peu­tics $BLPH has qui­et­ly hired a new CFO, As­saf Ko­rner, to re­place Megan Schoeps, who re­signed a cou­ple weeks ago. Ko­rner has worked a slate of fi­nan­cial jobs at med­ical de­vice and con­sumer prod­uct com­pa­nies such as Syneron Med­ical, Ilu­mi­nage Beau­ty and KP­MG.

→ Af­ter wow­ing in­vestors with its BC­MA-tar­get­ing CAR-T at ASH, blue­bird bio $BLUE turned to its in­ter­nal op­er­a­tions and named Ko­ry Went­worth VP of fi­nance and prin­ci­pal ac­count­ing of­fi­cer. A vet­er­an of big pub­lic ac­count­ing firms, Went­worth cut his teeth in biotech con­troller­ship dur­ing his 9-year run at Alex­ion. He fills the shoes of Jef­frey Walsh, the biotech’s chief fi­nan­cial and strat­e­gy of­fi­cer, who will con­tin­ue to serve in the prin­ci­pal fi­nan­cial role.

→ British dis­cov­ery and de­vel­op­ment ser­vice provider Con­cept Life Sci­ences has hired An­drew Scott as head of bioas­say de­vel­op­ment and screen­ing, and Ma­g­a­lie Fer­bach as busi­ness de­vel­op­ment di­rec­tor for South­ern and Cen­tral Eu­rope. Scott has ex­pe­ri­ence span­ning phar­ma, biotech and CRO, while Fer­bach’s back­ground is in agro­chem­i­cals. These ap­point­ments wrap up Con­cept’s ex­pand­ing year, marked by the ac­qui­si­tion of Aquila Bio­med­ical in Ed­in­burgh and open­ing of new lab­o­ra­to­ry space at Alder­ly Park.

As Nas­daq en­rolls the fi­nal batch of 2019 IPOs, how have the num­bers com­pared to past years?

IGM Biosciences’ upsized IPO haul, coming after SpringWorks’ sizable public debut, has revved up some momentum for the last rush of biotech IPOs in 2019.

With 39 new listings on the books and roughly two more months to go before winding down, Nasdaq’s head of healthcare listings Jordan Saxe sees the exchange marking 50 to 60 biopharma IPOs for the year.

“December 15 is usually the last possible day that companies will price,” he said, as companies get ready for business talks at the annual JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in January.

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A fa­vorite in Alex­ion’s C-suite is leav­ing, and some mighty sur­prised an­a­lysts aren’t the least bit hap­py about it

Analysts hate to lose a biotech CFO they’ve come to trust and admire — especially if they’re being blindsided by a surprise exit.

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David Grainger [file photo]

'Dis­con­nect the bas­tard­s' — one biotech's plan to break can­cer cell­s' uni­fied de­fens­es

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are the current gladiators of cancer treatment, but they come with well-known limitations and side-effects. The emergence of immunotherapy — a ferocious new titan in oncologist’s toolbox — takes the brakes off the immune system to kill cancer cells with remarkable success in some cases, but the approach is not always effective. What makes certain forms of cancer so resilient? Scientists may have finally pieced together a tantalizing piece of the puzzle, and a new biotech is banking on a new approach to fill the gap.

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While No­var­tis ban­ish­es Zol­gens­ma scan­dal scars — Bio­gen goes on a Spin­raza 'of­fen­sive'

While Novartis painstakingly works to mop up the stench of the data manipulation scandal associated with its expensive gene therapy for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) Zolgensma— rival Biogen is attempting to expand the use of its SMA therapy, Spinraza. 

The US drugmaker $BIIB secured US approval for Spinraza for use in the often fatal genetic disease in 2016. The approval covered a broad range of patients with infantile-onset (most likely to develop Type 1) SMA. 

Jason Kelly. Mike Blake/Reuters via Adobe

Eye­ing big ther­a­peu­tic push, Gink­go bags $290M to build a cell pro­gram­ming em­pire

Ginkgo Bioworks is on a roll. Days after publicizing a plan to nurture new startups via partnerships with accelerators Y Combinator and Petri, the Boston biotech says it has raised another $290 million for its cell programming platform to reach further and wider.

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UP­DAT­ED: Speak­er Nan­cy Pelosi to un­veil bill for fed­er­al­ly ne­go­ti­at­ed drug prices

After months of buzz from both sides of the aisle, Speaker Nancy Pelosi will today introduce her plan to allow the federal government to negotiate prices for 250 prescription drugs, setting up a showdown with a pharmaceutical industry working overtime to prevent it.

The need to limit drug prices is a rare point of agreement between President Trump and Democrats, although the president has yet to comment on the proposal and will likely face pressure to back a more conservative option or no bill at all. Republican Senator Chuck Grassley is reportedly lobbying his fellow party members on a more modest proposal he negotiated with Democratic Senator Ron Wyden in July.

Jeff Kindler's Cen­trex­ion re­news bid to make pub­lic de­but

Jeffrey Kindler’s plan to take his biotech — which is developing a slate of non-opioid painkillers — public, is back on.

The Boston based company, led by former Pfizer $PFE chief Kindler, originally contemplated a $70 million to $80 million IPO last year— but eventually postponed that strategy. On Wednesday, the company revived its bid to make a public debut in a filing with the SEC — although no pricing details were disclosed.

Zachary Hornby. Boundless

'A fourth rev­o­lu­tion in can­cer ther­a­pies': ARCH-backed Bound­less Bio flash­es big check, makes big­ger promis­es in de­but

It was the cellular equivalent of opening your car door and finding an active, roaring engine in the driver seat.

Scientists learned strands of DNA could occasionally appear outside of its traditional home in the nucleus in the 1970s, when they appeared as little, innocuous circles on microscopes; inexplicable but apparently innate. But not until UC San Diego’s Paul Mischel published his first study in Science in 2014 did researchers realize these circles were not only active but potentially overactive and driving some cancer tumors’ superhuman growth.

Scott Gottlieb, AP Images

Scott Got­tlieb is once again join­ing a team that en­joyed good times at the FDA un­der his high-en­er­gy stint at the helm

Right after jumping on Michael Milken’s FasterCures board on Monday, the newly departed FDA commissioner is back today with news about another life sciences board post that gives him a ringside chair to cheer on a lead player in the real-world evidence movement — one with very close ties to the FDA.

Aetion is reporting this morning that Gottlieb is joining their board, a group that includes Mohamad Makhzoumi, a general partner at New Enterprise Associates, where Gottlieb returned after stepping out of his role at the FDA 2 years after he started.

Gottlieb — one of the best connected execs in biopharma — knows this company well. As head of FDA he championed the use of real-world evidence to help guide drug developers and the agency in gaining greater efficiencies, which helped set up Aetion as a high-profile player in the game.

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