Vertex COO Ian Smith ousted due to 'personal behavior'; CFO Mats Blom exits Zealand Pharma; Katrine Bosley abruptly ends Editas reign
→ Vertex has ousted company COO and interim CFO Ian Smith — their $6 million man — for personal conduct unbecoming an executive at the company. The cystic fibrosis drug developer says Smith’s termination “is the result of personal behavior that violated Vertex’s Code of Conduct and values and is unrelated to the Company’s financial and business performance.” Chief accounting officer Paul Silva will now step in as interim CFO while Vertex looks for a replacement.
→ The cross pollination of executives between Roche and its big biotech subsidiary Genentech is continuing today with news that the South San Francisco branch of the family is reeling back one of its former execs in Basel to take the top job. Alexander Hardy, who started at Genentech way back in 2005, will be taking the helm March 1. He’s currently the head of global product strategy at the big HQ base in Switzerland, a job he landed after a 2-year stint as head of Asia Pacific. Hardy is taking the place of Bill Anderson, who moved to Switzerland to become CEO of Roche Pharmaceuticals January 1 as Daniel O’Day made his move to Gilead.
→ For close to 5 years now Katrine Bosley has led Editas Medicine $EDIT through good times and bad, right to the threshold of dosing its first patient in the premier clinical study for its groundbreaking gene-editing tech. But the high-profile biotech CEO is unexpectedly resigning from the company and abruptly severing her ties with the board as well. Editas board member Cynthia Collins — the former CEO at Human Longevity — is stepping up to hold the post on an interim basis, while the biotech looks for a replacement.
→ Almost two months after Zealand Pharma announced Britt Meelby Jensen’s departure from the helm, the Copenhagen-based company is seeing off its CFO as well. Mats Blom’s remaining tenure will overlap briefly with that of newly appointed interim CEO Adam Steensberg, who’s been serving as EVP and chief medical and development officer.
→ Days after bagging a $100 million Series B, OrbiMed-backed Apollomics has brought in two execs to prep for a year to be marked by a move from Hangzhou, China to Foster City, CA and continued activities in its immuno-oncology pipeline. Wilson Cheung, formerly of KBP BioSciences, is joining as CFO while biotech veteran Debra Thoma Vallner was named SVP, development operations. Most recently at eFFECTOR Therapeutics, Vallner will now play a role in development strategy, protocol design, and the clinical trial portfolio.
→ Anup Marda has left a 17-year career at Bristol-Myers Squibb to become CFO of Cabaletta Bio, a Penn spinout looking to jumpstart human studies of a new-model CAAR T cell therapy aimed at autoimmune diseases
→ New York-based Neurogene has convinced University of Edinburgh researcher Stuart Cobb to spend half of his time leading research for its nascent gene therapy pipeline. He will help deepen “existing academic collaborations, establish additional partnerships and provide strategic guidance on novel technologies,” said CEO Rachel McMinn.
→ Having served as a “trusted advisor” to the executive team at Flexion Therapeutics $FLXN for the past nine years through a drug approval and some buyout buzz, Christina Willwerth has earned a spot in the C-suite. As chief strategy officer, she will continue some of the planning and priority setting work she took up as SVP of program management and strategy, with additional responsibilities for portfolio and human resources.
→ Sanofi may have walked away from their research pact, but MyoKardia $MYOK is forging ahead with commercialization plans for its heart drug, appointing William Fairey as chief commercial officer. An alumni of Actelion, Fairey was most recently COO at ChemoCentryx. He will now plot the potential launch mavacamten, which targets the so-far untapped condition of obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
→ With some positive Phase II data on its PTSD drug in hand, Lundbeck has recruited Johan Luthman to carry it — as well as the rest of the pipeline — forward as EVP and head of R&D. The appointment triggers a relocation to Denmark for Luthman, a Swede who’s been living the in the US following a string of neurology R&D roles at Eisai, Merck, AstraZeneca and others.
→ As Sangamo Therapeutics $SGMO braces for a “significant flow of clinical data” from its gene editing programs, the Richmond, CA-based company has tapped Adrian Woolfson for the EVP of R&D position. Woolfson brings a background in immuno-oncology, with a resume spanning genetic cancer vaccine biotech Nouscom and Pfizer.
→ New boards have been established for Ironwood and its biotech spinout Cyclerion. Industry vet Julie McHugh will chair the Ironwood board while Cyclerion named Marsha Fanucci — an ex-Genzyme/Millennium exec — to the head of their new board.
→ Liz Barrett and George Golumbeski has joined the board of Sage Therapeutics, lending some heavyweight support for its central nervous system focused pipeline, led by a postpartum depression drug. While both Barrett and Golumbeski are working in the cancer field — Barrett as CEO of UroGen after a high-profile exit from Novartis and Golumbeski as president of cancer detection startup Grail — Celgene vet Golumbeski notes that his career started in the CNS space.
→ As Intellia Therapeutics $NTLA continues down a path to first-in-human studies of its gene editing tech, it will be getting advice from Vida Ventures founder Fred Cohen, its latest board director.
→ Having recently closed an $85 million raise backed in part by GV, Schrödinger is appointing one of its venture partners — and a familiar face — to its board. Before joining the fund formerly known as Google Ventures, Rosana Kapeller was founding CSO at Nimbus, which applied Schrödinger’s computational technologies in drug discovery.