Tariq Kassum jumps from Obsidian to Celsius helm; Quell Therapeutics taps Iain McGill as new CEO
→ Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Celsius Therapeutics — which was launched in 2018 and backed by Third Rock Ventures and GV — has tapped Tariq Kassum to the helm. Kassum succeeded Alexis Borisy, who has been interim CEO and who stay as chairman of the board of directors.
Borisy recently made an unexpected exit from Third Rock, before their record $770 million fund for its next wave of investments in the life science field.
Kassum was the COO at Obsidian Therapeutics, following stints at Millennium Pharmaceuticals and Takeda.
→ Alex Sapir has succeeded Eddy Littler as CEO of ReViral — a stickler in the tough respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) field — and been elected to the company’s board of directors. Littler will assume the position of COO instead. Prior to joining ReViral, Sapir was CEO and president at Dova Pharmaceuticals, helping raise $160 million in an IPO and follow-on offerings. In addition, Sapir has had stints at United Therapeutics and GSK.
→ Weeks after launching out of Syncona’s crib, Quell Therapeutics — which is specializing in the development of engineered Treg cell therapies — welcomes Iain McGill as its CEO. Prior to joining Quell, McGill served as senior vice president in Europe and the rest of the world for Jazz Pharmaceuticals. Before that, McGill had a stint at EUSA Pharma and he also worked in various positions in the field of transplantation and immunology at Wyeth, Novartis and Roche Pharmaceuticals.
→ James Ward-Lilley, CEO of respiratory drug developer Vectura Group, is stepping down from both his position and the board. Current CFO Paul Fry will step in as interim CEO, in addition to his current responsibilities. A search for a new successor will begin immediately.
→ Sprint Bioscience CEO Anders Åberg is stepping down from his position after 10 years in the role, and current operational manager and co-founder Jessica Martinsson will replace him as the acting CEO. Åberg will retain his shareholding and remain as a senior advisor to the company.
→ Cambridge, England-based F-star has appointed Big Pharma vet Louis Kayitalire as its CMO. Kayitalire will oversee the development of F-star’s lead product candidate FS118 — a LAG-3/PD-L1-targeting tetravalent bispecific antibody currently in a Phase I clinical trial. He will also lead the clinical strategy and operations for F-star’s pipeline of bispecifics, including FS120 and FS222, which are on track for IND submissions this year. Kayitalire has over 20 years of experience in oncology and immuno-oncology accumulated over the years at Bristol-Myers Squibb, Celgene and Eli Lilly.
→ Swiss giant Roche has unveiled the new head of its $13 billion diagnostics unit — one day after the FDA sanctioned the accelerated approval of the company’s latest antibody-drug conjugate. Thomas Schinecker — who has been with the company since 2003 — is being promoted to CEO of Roche Diagnostics, and will begin his tenure from August 1, the company said. Schinecker will replace Roland Diggelmann, who left his post last August.
In addition, Roche board member Peter Voser — who has been with the company since 2011 — has elected to step down to focus on his role as interim CEO of ABB. Furthermore, Roche’s head of group communications, Stephan Feldhaus, is also leaving and will be replaced by Barbara Schaedler, who is currently head of public affairs at private energy company E.ON SE.
→ Unum Therapeutics has enlisted several C-suite members on its ongoing quest for a new kind of T cell therapy. Matthew Osborne, a former VP of corporate affairs, communications and investors relations at Voyager Therapeutics, is the new CFO. Takeda vet Jessica Sachs has been promoted to CMO, replacing Michael Vasconcelles. In addition, Mert Aktar has been appointed to the newly created role of head of business and corporate development after 8 years at Shire.
→ Michael Vasconcelles has been recruited by Flatiron Health to serve as its CMO. Vasconcelles just left the same position at Unum Therapeutics. Vasconcelles’ previous stints include serving at Takeda/Millennium, Genzyme and Sanofi Oncology. Currently, he is as a clinical instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School and is a practicing oncologist and associate physician at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston.
→ After a recent stint as vice president of global regulatory affairs and quality assurance at Charleston Laboratories, Mark Mannebach is joining Eiger BioPharmaceuticals as its vice president of global regulatory affairs.
“Eiger’s pipeline is now late-stage with planned global regulatory activities including an NDA and MAA for Progeria and Progeroid Laminopathies, enrollment of a global Phase III study for Lonafarnib in HDV, and End of Phase 2 meetings for Peginterferon Lambda in HDV and Avexitide in Post-Bariatric Hypoglycemia,” said David Cory, president and CEO of Eiger. “Mark’s global regulatory expertise and experience will strengthen our leadership team and execution.”
Some of Mannebach’s previous stints include roles at Sanofi, Pfizer, Covidien and Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals.
→ Zyla Life Sciences recruited Jeffrey Wilkins as its CMO and senior vice president. Wilkins joins the company from the same position at Lycera. Prior to his time at Lycera, Wilkins had stints at Nexeption Therapeutics, Ceptaris Therapeutics, Actelion and GSK.
→ PMV Pharmaceuticals — a biotech focused on p53-targeted small molecule drugs for cancer — announced the appointment of Deepika Jalota as its senior vice president and head of regulatory affairs.
Prior to joining the company, Jalota served as vice president global-regulatory strategy head, oncology at Bayer Healthcare. Before that, Jalota had stints at Sanofi-Aventis, Forest Laboratories and Proctor and Gamble.
→ Chelsea Place Johnson has joined the early-stage VC Atlas Venture as its senior associate, focusing on new company formation across areas of unmet medical need. Johnson, who most recently managed business development for Tango Therapeutics, had previously worked at Third Rock Ventures.
→ As Acceleron Pharma approaches the finish line with luspatercept, co-founder Tom Maniatis is retiring from the board while continuing to advise the company’s development of TGF-beta superfamily therapeutics. Maniatis co-founded the company in 2003 and has since taken up a CEO role at New York Genome Center, which he also helped start.
→ Domain Therapeutics — a biopharmaceutical company specialized in the discovery and development of new drug candidates targeting transmembrane receptors, in particular, G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) — announced the appointment of Sylvie Ryckebusch to its board of directors.
Ryckebusch was most recently the CBO the nonprofit EspeRare Foundation. In addition, her experience spans to roles at Merck Serono and as the founder of Octave Biotech Consulting.