Ver­tex taps long­time com­mer­cial lead to fill two-year COO va­can­cy; Nan­cy Thorn­ber­ry set for dif­fer­ent role at Kally­ope with an old friend from Mer­ck wait­ing in the wings

For the first time in two years, Ver­tex has a COO.

Stu­art Ar­buck­le

The cys­tic fi­bro­sis drug­mak­er an­nounced Wednes­day that Stu­art Ar­buck­le, who has led the com­pa­ny’s com­mer­cial ef­forts since 2012, has been ap­point­ed to run op­er­a­tions as well. In do­ing so, Ar­buck­le fills a void opened two years ago when, af­ter an in­ves­ti­ga­tion, long­time ex­ec­u­tive Ian Smith was abrupt­ly fired for “per­son­al be­hav­ior” that vi­o­lat­ed Ver­tex’s code of con­duct. De­tails of the vi­o­la­tion, which al­so cost Smith high-pro­file board seats at oth­er biotechs, have nev­er been made pub­lic.

An­a­lysts and in­vestors will know Ar­buck­le for his quar­ter­ly up­dates on the state of Ver­tex’s cys­tic fi­bro­sis sales. He has presided over a feast-or-famine decade for the com­mer­cial arm of a biotech that has seen suc­cess with few par­al­lels but sub­stan­tial push­back over the price of its med­i­cines.

When he joined, the com­pa­ny was still rak­ing in rev­enue from its he­pati­tis C drug In­civek, at the time the fastest sell­ing drug in his­to­ry. But Gilead’s HCV cure So­val­di soon sup­plant­ed it and sales dried up en­tire­ly, forc­ing lay­offs and jeop­ar­diz­ing the com­pa­ny.

Since then, Ar­buck­le has run a branch that Ver­tex boasts is in­ten­tion­al­ly slim, so they can di­rect most of their rev­enues to R&D. That’s re­sult­ed in $6 bil­lion in an­nu­al sales for a se­ries of CF drugs that can now treat 90% of pa­tients for a dis­ease that pre­vi­ous­ly left pa­tients with no good op­tions, but al­so crit­i­cism for the rough­ly $300,000 price tag Ver­tex at­tached to those pills.

Pri­or to Ver­tex, Ar­buck­le worked at Glax­o­SmithK­line and then Am­gen, over­see­ing the biotech’s on­col­o­gy busi­ness group and lat­er head­ing the com­pa­ny’s ex­pan­sion in­to Asia.

“Stu­art built out our world-class com­mer­cial teams in both the U.S. and In­ter­na­tion­al and led the ef­fort to se­cure the re­im­burse­ment of our med­i­cines around the world,” CEO Resh­ma Ke­wal­ra­mani said in a state­ment. “He al­so has played a key role evolv­ing our op­er­at­ing mod­el to ready us for con­tin­ued ex­pan­sion in­to new dis­eases and ge­o­graph­ic ar­eas. In his new role, Stu­art will en­sure that we are best po­si­tioned to max­i­mize the po­ten­tial of our in­no­v­a­tive ther­a­pies, se­cure ac­cess for pa­tients and dri­ve con­tin­ued growth for Ver­tex.”

Ja­son Mast


Nan­cy Thorn­ber­ry

→ Gut-brain up­start Kally­ope will change CEOs, but it’s not the end of Nan­cy Thorn­ber­ry’s sto­ry at the New York biotech. Start­ing Oct. 1, Jay Ga­le­o­ta will take over as Kally­ope’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, while Thorn­ber­ry will chair R&D and re­tain her seat on the board of di­rec­tors. Ga­le­o­ta and Thorn­ber­ry know each oth­er well from their days at Mer­ck toil­ing on Type 2 di­a­betes drug sitagliptin, when Thorn­ber­ry was fran­chise head for di­a­betes and en­docrinol­o­gy and Ga­le­o­ta was SVP and gen­er­al man­ag­er of the di­a­betes and obe­si­ty fran­chise. (The FDA ap­proved sitagliptin, mar­ket­ed as Janu­via, in 2006). Ga­le­o­ta re­cent­ly helmed In­heris Bio­Phar­ma af­ter 28 years at Mer­ck in a pletho­ra of ca­pac­i­ties.

Lin­coln Ger­main

→ To say that Zymer­gen is in for an up­hill bat­tle would be a gi­gan­tic un­der­state­ment af­ter the rev­e­la­tions this week that its poly­mer film Hya­line sim­ply doesn’t work and that the com­pa­ny ex­pects no rev­enue in 2021, fol­lowed by “im­ma­te­r­i­al” 2022 sales. Two new ex­ecs — chief com­mer­cial of­fi­cer Lin­coln Ger­main and chief de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer Sub­odh Desh­mukh — are now faced with a mon­u­men­tal chal­lenge as Zymer­gen picks up the pieces. Ger­main had been CCO in the ad­vanced ma­te­ri­als busi­ness at Hon­ey­well, and Desh­mukh ex­its San­doz, where he was glob­al head of prod­uct de­vel­op­ment. As a re­sult of the gris­ly de­tails, CEO Josh Hoff­man high­tailed it out of the com­pa­ny he co-found­ed and was re­placed by ex-Il­lu­mi­na CEO Jay Flat­ley.

Roger Luo

Roger Luo has signed on to be chief de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer at Hill­house-backed Over­land Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, a US/Chi­na play co-found­ed by Hua Mu and in­ter­im CEO Ed Zhang with their sights set on a range of dis­eases. Luo’s Big Phar­ma roots run deep: His Janssen days in clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment from 2010-17 were marked by his work on FGFR in­hibitor erdafi­tinib, which would lat­er earn break­through des­ig­na­tion for urothe­lial can­cer in 2018. Pri­or to Janssen, he held lead­er­ship roles cen­tered on such drugs as Spry­cel (dasa­tinib) and Er­bitux (ce­tux­imab) at Bris­tol My­ers Squibb.

Lian­Bio, the Chi­nese up­start from Per­cep­tive that made a splash last fall with a $310 mil­lion fi­nanc­ing round and brought in CEO Yizhe Wang in May, has se­lect­ed Pas­cal Qian as GM of Chi­na. Like Wang, Qian has ties to Eli Lil­ly, where he re­cent­ly was Lil­ly Chi­na’s VP, head of on­col­o­gy busi­ness unit. While at No­var­tis from 2012-18, he led the sol­id tu­mor busi­ness unit for No­var­tis On­col­o­gy, and ear­li­er he spent sev­en years at Pfiz­er in var­i­ous ca­pac­i­ties. Lian­Bio has been un­spool­ing all sorts of deals, from a $70 mil­lion part­ner­ship with Pfiz­er in No­vem­ber to an $18 mil­lion up­front col­lab­o­ra­tion in IBD with Xon­toge­ny’s Lan­dos Bio­phar­ma.

Jan­na Hutz

Jan­na Hutz is en­ter­ing a new phase in her ca­reer at Ei­sai as pres­i­dent of the Ei­sai Cen­ter for Ge­net­ics Guid­ed De­men­tia Dis­cov­ery, which al­so goes by the Star Wars-es­que short­hand of G2D2. For­mer­ly an ap­plied hu­man ge­neti­cist at Pfiz­er, Hutz left for Ei­sai in 2015 and had been G2D2’s head of dis­cov­ery da­ta sci­ence be­fore step­ping up in this new post. Her ap­point­ment comes at a fas­ci­nat­ing time as Ei­sai and its part­ner — the much-pil­lo­ried Bio­gen — seek an­oth­er ac­cel­er­at­ed ap­proval in Alzheimer’s with BAN2401 (lecanemab) af­ter the Aduhelm OK, which has been a source of sus­tained up­roar and be­wil­der­ment in the in­dus­try.

Nagesh Ma­han­thap­pa

→ Meet the new boss, same as the old boss: Tony Kings­ley bare­ly last­ed a year at Schol­ar Rock be­fore step­ping down this week as CEO, and the in­ter­im suc­ces­sor should know his way around the place. It’s Nagesh Ma­han­thap­pa, who found­ed the com­pa­ny in 2012 and was CEO un­til Kings­ley took over last sum­mer. Schol­ar Rock has a Phase III tri­al in the works for its spinal mus­cu­lar at­ro­phy drug apite­gromab and its board of di­rec­tors is search­ing for a per­ma­nent re­place­ment. Our Nicole De­Feud­is has more on Kings­ley’s ex­it.

→ There’s a change at the top to dis­cuss at Ar­ma­ta Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals based in Ma­ri­na Del Rey, CA, as CEO Todd Patrick re­tires from the bac­te­rio­phage biotech and hands the ba­ton to pres­i­dent and chief de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer Bri­an Var­num. Be­fore he first showed up at Ar­ma­ta in 2012 when it was C3J Ther­a­peu­tics, Var­num filled a num­ber of roles at Am­gen from 1989 un­til he was forced in­to ear­ly re­tire­ment in 2007 as a re­sult of world­wide down­siz­ing at the phar­ma gi­ant. Patrick re­tains his seat on the board of di­rec­tors and will tran­si­tion to an ad­vi­so­ry role “through at least 2022” for Ar­ma­ta, the prod­uct of a merg­er be­tween C3J and Am­pliPhi Bio­sciences in 2019.

An­drew Per­ry

→ GSK vet An­drew Per­ry has tak­en on the chief com­mer­cial of­fi­cer post at Re­search Tri­an­gle on­col­o­gy biotech G1 Ther­a­peu­tics, led by first-year CEO Jack Bai­ley, who suc­ceed­ed Mark Vel­le­ca at the top spot. Pfiz­er vet So­ma Gup­ta had been CCO at G1 since April 2020 and is part­ing ways “for per­son­al and pro­fes­sion­al rea­sons,” ac­cord­ing to the re­lease. Af­ter 16 years with GSK, Per­ry shift­ed to the British phar­ma’s HIV sub­sidiary Vi­iV Health­care as VP of US mar­ket­ing.

→ Cam­bridge, MA-based Foun­da­tion Med­i­cine has reeled in San­ket Agraw­al as its chief bio­phar­ma busi­ness of­fi­cer. Agraw­al makes his way to the com­pa­ny af­ter a stint at Am­gen in R&D, com­mer­cial on­col­o­gy, and as a gen­er­al man­ag­er. Dur­ing his time at Am­gen, Agraw­al helped lead the de­vel­op­ment from Phase I through launch of Lumakras.

Peg­gy Sotiropoulou

→ While cel­e­brat­ing an­oth­er boat­load of fund­ing this week — a $110 mil­lion Se­ries B on top of its ini­tial round of $78+ mil­lion — T cell re­cep­tor play­er T-knife has fleshed out its lead­er­ship fur­ther with CSO Peg­gy Sotiropoulou. She hails from Celyad, first ar­riv­ing as the CAR-T biotech’s R&D man­ag­er and ris­ing to head of R&D be­fore her jump to T-knife.

→ Jostling for po­si­tion in the crowd­ed CD47 field and scor­ing a nice cash in­fu­sion with a $105 mil­lion Se­ries C in April, Arch On­col­o­gy has made three ap­point­ments to try to set them­selves apart in the space with Louie Nau­movs­ki, CMO; Amit Agar­w­al, SVP, clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment; and Steve De­Mat­tos, SVP, clin­i­cal op­er­a­tions. To close out the 10 years he just spent at Ab­b­Vie, Nau­movs­ki was group med­ical di­rec­tor of on­col­o­gy ear­ly de­vel­op­ment. Agar­w­al has Big Phar­ma ex­pe­ri­ence of his own as Bris­tol My­ers’ mul­ti­ple myelo­ma glob­al dis­ease lead. And not to be out­done, De­Mat­tos has been VP, clin­i­cal op­er­a­tions at Xen­cor and has made the rounds at Am­gen, J&J and Al­ler­gan.

Broes Na­eye

→ Main­tain­ing its Peer Re­view pres­ence, emac­tuzum­ab de­vel­op­er Syn­Ox Ther­a­peu­tics has tapped Ax­el Mesched­er as CMO and Broes Na­eye as chief tech­nol­o­gy of­fi­cer. Mesched­er, who was with Roche and Mor­phoSys in his ear­li­er years, rides in­to the Dublin-based biotech af­ter helm­ing Dutch nanomed­i­cines com­pa­ny Cristal Ther­a­peu­tics, where he dou­bled as CMO. Na­eye leaves his post as Sanofi’s glob­al prod­uct sup­ply lead for Dupix­ent to slide in­to this CTO role. It’s a busy time for new ex­ecs at Syn­Ox, as Mesched­er and Na­eye fol­low the ap­point­ments of chair­man Ton Logten­berg and CEO Ray Bar­low last week.

Gen­nao Bio is giv­ing Syn­Ox a run for its mon­ey with rapid-fire Peer Re­view shoutouts, poach­ing CSO Dale Lud­wig from Ac­tini­um to fill the same role. Lud­wig was CSO/VP of on­col­o­gy dis­cov­ery re­search — bi­o­log­ics tech­nol­o­gy for Eli Lil­ly be­fore mov­ing on to Ac­tini­um and spent 11 years at Im­Clone Sys­tems pri­or to the 2008 buy­out. Lud­wig rep­re­sents the third ex­ec to join Gen­nao Bio in as many weeks; COO Chris Duke and CFO Clau­dine Prowse com­plete the trio.

Jef­frey Staiger

→ Top­ping off its ini­tial $13 mil­lion fund­ing with a meati­er $88 mil­lion Se­ries A in Jan­u­ary, Aro Bio­ther­a­peu­tics has named Scott Green­berg COO, Jef­frey Staiger SVP of fi­nance and busi­ness de­vel­op­ment, and Michael Tor­tori­ci VP of clin­i­cal phar­ma­col­o­gy and non-clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment. A 12-year Cel­gene vet, Green­berg came to Aro in 2019 as VP, busi­ness de­vel­op­ment and al­liance man­age­ment af­ter a year at Roivant, even­tu­al­ly be­com­ing CBO un­til op­por­tu­ni­ty knocked with the COO job. Staiger, a Cel­gene vet in his own right, was re­cent­ly Bris­tol My­ers’ VP of busi­ness de­vel­op­ment. And Tor­tori­ci comes to Aro from a sev­en-year stay at CSL Behring that saw him get el­e­vat­ed to ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor and head of clin­i­cal phar­ma­col­o­gy.

Aro, helmed by for­mer J&J R&D ex­ec Sue Dil­lon, is de­vel­op­ing pro­tein drugs based on mol­e­cules known as Cen­tyrins and plans to re­lo­cate to its new digs in The Cur­tis area of Philadel­phia start­ing in Oc­to­ber.

→ In an abrupt heel turn, Si­mon Coop­er takes over the CMO slot from Clau­dia Or­donez at Lex­ing­ton, MA-based Keros Ther­a­peu­tics, which shrugged off the start of the Covid-19 pan­dem­ic with a $96 mil­lion up­sized IPO in April 2020. Coop­er, an ex-staffer at No­var­tis, Sanofi and Ab­b­Vie, ap­peared in Peer Re­view a few short months ago when he be­came CMO at Kad­mon af­ter hold­ing the same po­si­tion at Anokion. Or­donez will re­main with Keros in a con­sult­ing role un­til mid-Sep­tem­ber.

Pamela Cramer

→ They got Rhythm: David Meek­er, en­ter­ing year two as CEO of obe­si­ty-fo­cused Rhythm Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, has wel­comed chief hu­man re­sources of­fi­cer Pamela Cramer and SVP, clin­i­cal Lin­da Shapiro Man­ning. Cramer had re­cent­ly been head of peo­ple for Foun­da­tion Med­i­cine, and she’s the ex-se­nior di­rec­tor of hu­man re­sources at Ep­silon Da­ta Man­age­ment and Parex­el. Af­ter work­ing in clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment and med­ical af­fairs at No­vo Nordisk, Mer­ck and Boehringer In­gel­heim, Shapiro’s lat­est tenure as ex­ec­u­tive clin­i­cal re­search di­rec­tor at Shoshana Shen­del­man’s Ap­plied Ther­a­peu­tics was an ephemer­al one.

Morn­ing­side-backed Meis­sa Vac­cines has two can­di­dates in the pipeline for RSV and Covid-19, and the Red­wood City, CA biotech now has Robert Walk­er to over­see clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment as CMO. Walk­er piv­ots from the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment, where he and his team would lend a hand dur­ing Op­er­a­tion Warp Speed while he was CMO and di­rec­tor of the Di­vi­sion of Clin­i­cal De­vel­op­ment at BAR­DA.

David See­berg­er

→ Mer­ck KGaA on­col­o­gy spin­out iOnc­tura has tapped Corbin Ther­a­peu­tics CEO Sean Mac­Don­ald as its first CBO and David See­berg­er as VP, fi­nance. Mac­Don­ald, who re­mains chair­man of On­tario’s Edesa Biotech, has al­so been head of BD at Cos­mo Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals. See­berg­er breaks away from blue­bird bio af­ter be­ing VP, head of fi­nance, Eu­rope for Nick Leschly’s gang. Swiss-based iOnc­tura has Phase Ib stud­ies un­der­way with its lead drug IOA-244 for sol­id and hema­to­log­i­cal tu­mors.

→ In late June, Pieris Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals said its id­io­path­ic pul­monary fi­bro­sis drug PRS-220 would al­so be in de­vel­op­ment to com­bat “long Covid.” This week the Boston biotech has cho­sen two ex­ecs, bring­ing in CMO Tim De­muth and pro­mot­ing Shane Ol­will to chief de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer. De­muth takes his tal­ents to Pieris af­ter serv­ing as Mer­ck KGaA’s VP and head of glob­al clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment on­col­o­gy, while Ol­will be­gan his run at Pieris 10 years ago as se­nior di­rec­tor, phar­ma­col­o­gy & on­col­o­gy and was pre­vi­ous­ly head of trans­la­tion­al sci­ence.

Pan­Ther Ther­a­peu­tics has named Marc Pi­pas as CMO. Pi­pas comes to the com­pa­ny with ex­pe­ri­ence from his times at Mer­ri­mack Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals — where he was in­volved in pro­gram de­vel­op­ment of FDA-ap­proved pan­cre­at­ic can­cer drug Onivyde be­fore it was sold to Ipsen for $1 bil­lion — and H3 Bio­med­i­cine, a sub­sidiary of Ei­sai.

Joseph Gold

→ Fo­cused on CAR-NK cell ther­a­pies, Cata­ma­ran Bio is cruis­ing by with Joseph Gold locked in­to the role of VP, tech­ni­cal op­er­a­tions and man­u­fac­tur­ing. Gold, a se­nior di­rec­tor at Geron from 1996-2012, climbs aboard from his time at City of Hope as se­nior di­rec­tor of man­u­fac­tur­ing for the Cen­ter for Bio­med­i­cine and Ge­net­ics. Cata­ma­ran broke its cer­e­mo­ni­al bot­tle of cham­pagne in No­vem­ber 2020, launch­ing with a $42 mil­lion Se­ries A.

→ Bal­ti­more-based Per­son­al Genome Di­ag­nos­tics has en­list­ed Jamie Platt as COO. Platt makes her way to the com­pa­ny from Ini­va­ta, where she most re­cent­ly served in the same role. Pri­or to that, Platt served in roles at MPLN and Quest Di­ag­nos­tics. In ad­di­tion to Platt’s ap­point­ment, PGDx has al­so pulled in Mag­gie Rougi­er-Chap­man as SVP, head of mar­ket­ing and com­mer­cial strat­e­gy. Rougi­er-Chap­man comes to the com­pa­ny from In­vi­tae, where she served as head, on­col­o­gy prod­uct man­age­ment & strat­e­gy — hav­ing made her way there af­ter the com­pa­ny’s ac­qui­si­tion of ArcherDX. While at ArcherDX, Rougi­er-Chap­man was EVP, com­mer­cial op­er­a­tions.

Daryn Lewis

→ In­tro­duc­ing it­self with an $81 mil­lion Se­ries A in De­cem­ber, bio­mol­e­c­u­lar con­den­sate out­fit Faze Med­i­cines has ap­point­ed Daryn Lewis as SVP, head of peo­ple & cul­ture. From Iron­wood, Lewis pro­ceed­ed to its spin­off Cy­cle­ri­on in 2019, where she was VP of peo­ple. Backed by Third Rock, Faze pulled in Philip Vick­ers to grab the CEO reins from in­ter­im chief Cary Pf­ef­fer a month af­ter its launch.

Ran­dall White has got­ten the call to be VP, clin­i­cal pro­gram man­age­ment for Penn­syl­va­nia’s Windtree Ther­a­peu­tics, which puts its em­pha­sis on acute car­dio­vas­cu­lar and pul­monary dis­eases. White was pre­vi­ous­ly the glob­al team leader for quizar­tinib — the ty­ro­sine ki­nase in­hibitor to treat acute myeloid leukemia — at Dai­ichi Sankyo, and he al­so filled sev­er­al roles at Bris­tol My­ers from 2003-17, in­clud­ing head of project man­age­ment for the ear­ly im­muno-on­col­o­gy port­fo­lio.

Aman­da Shel­don

Frank Watan­abe’s Ar­cutis un­packed pos­i­tive Phase III da­ta with its rof­lu­mi­last cream, and the Cal­i­for­nia biotech is adding to the ros­ter as Er­ic McIn­tyre leads in­vestor re­la­tions and Aman­da Shel­don leads cor­po­rate com­mu­ni­ca­tions. McIn­tyre just put a bow on a decade at Am­gen and had been the phar­ma com­pa­ny’s di­rec­tor of in­vestor re­la­tions since 2019. Shel­don makes her way to Ar­cutis af­ter her time as the FH Foun­da­tion’s VP of mar­ket­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

Ca­lyx, the eClin­i­cal and reg­u­la­to­ry so­lu­tions and ser­vices provider, has brought in Craig Mooney as VP of sci­ence and e-tech en­abled ser­vices. Mooney joins the com­pa­ny af­ter a stint at Bris­tol My­ers, where he served as the di­rec­tor of IRT for most of the past decade.

Resh­ma Ke­wal­ra­mani

→ In ad­di­tion to the Ver­tex news that bat­ted lead­off to­day, Resh­ma Ke­wal­ra­mani has se­cured a seat on the board of di­rec­tors at Gink­go Bioworks, which shook the SPAC at­mos­phere in May thanks to a $2.5 bil­lion com­bi­na­tion with Har­ry Sloan’s Soar­ing Ea­gle Ac­qui­si­tion Corp. Ke­wal­ra­mani will be the eighth board mem­ber at Gink­go, along with Sloan and such names as CEO Ja­son Kel­ly, Arie Bellde­grun and Pa­cif­ic Bio­sciences CEO Chris­t­ian Hen­ry.

→ Am­gen has ex­pand­ed its board of di­rec­tors by bring­ing Omar Ishrak in­to the fold. Ishrak, the ex-chair­man and CEO of Medtron­ic, is the 12th mem­ber of a board that al­so con­sists of CEO Bob Brad­way, Tyler Jacks and Phillips 66 CEO Greg Gar­land.

Vic­ki Sato

David Chang and Arie Bellde­grun are bol­ster­ing their board of di­rec­tors at Al­lo­gene with the ad­di­tions of Liz Bar­rett and Vic­ki Sato. Bar­rett, who has helmed Uro­Gen since Jan­u­ary 2019, is al­so on the board at Sage, while Sato — the ex-pres­i­dent of Ver­tex who’s one of End­points News’ 60 over 60 hon­orees — sits on the boards of Bris­tol My­ers, Vir, and De­nali, among oth­ers.

→ Yes, Sen­sei: A $133 mil­lion IPO in Feb­ru­ary al­most im­me­di­ate­ly fol­lowed a $30 mil­lion fi­nanc­ing round for Sen­sei Bio­ther­a­peu­tics, and Kris­t­ian Humer has now been added to the im­munother­a­py biotech’s board of di­rec­tors. If it seems like you have the kind of déjà vu that Dionne War­wick would ap­pre­ci­ate, you’re not alone: Humer was just in Peer Re­view last week af­ter he was named CFO and CBO of Virid­i­an.

Yuan Xu

→ San Diego’s Fate Ther­a­peu­tics — which reg­is­tered pos­i­tive da­ta with its B cell lym­phoma pro­gram at this year’s AS­CO — has elect­ed Yuan Xu to the board of di­rec­tors. Be­fore she was CEO at Leg­end, Xu was all over the ma­jor phar­ma map at Mer­ck, Gilead, No­var­tis and GSK, to name sev­er­al.

Don San­tel has suc­ceed­ed Ali Be­hba­hani as chair­man of the board at Prince­ton, NJ’s Oys­ter Point Phar­ma. Be­hba­hani will stay on as a board mem­ber. San­tel, the ex-CEO of Hy­pe­r­i­on who was al­so in­ter­im CEO at Adicet Bio, cur­rent­ly chairs the board at Ocelot Bio as well.

Pardes Bio­sciences, who is chas­ing a treat­ment for SARS-CoV-2 in­fec­tions, has brought on Deb­o­rah Au­tor and Lau­ra Hamill to its board of di­rec­tors. Au­tor cur­rent­ly serves as VP, glob­al head of reg­u­la­to­ry ex­cel­lence at As­traZeneca and pre­vi­ous­ly had a 12-year stint at the FDA, most re­cent­ly serv­ing as deputy com­mis­sion­er for glob­al reg­u­la­to­ry op­er­a­tions and pol­i­cy. Mean­while, Hamill most re­cent­ly served as EVP, world­wide com­mer­cial op­er­a­tions at Gilead and pre­vi­ous­ly spent 18 years at Am­gen. She cur­rent­ly sits on the boards of Ac­celeron Phar­ma, Anap­tys­Bio, and Y-mAbs Ther­a­peu­tics.

Robert Palay

→ Backed by Khosla Ven­tures, Celli­nous­ing an AI plat­form to in­duced pluripo­tent stem cells to man­u­fac­ture au­tol­o­gous iP­SCs and tack­ing on $16 mil­lion worth of fund­ing to do it — has made room for Robert Palay on the board of di­rec­tors. Palay found­ed and was CEO of Cel­lu­lar Dy­nam­ics In­ter­na­tion­al un­til Fu­ji­film pur­chased it in 2015.

→ Cell and gene ther­a­py com­pa­ny Ix­a­ka has pulled in Lau­rent Au­doly as a non-ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of its board. Au­doly is the co-founder, CEO and chair­man of Parthenon Ther­a­peu­tics and has pre­vi­ous­ly served as CEO of Kymera Ther­a­peu­tics and head of R&D at Pierre Fab­re Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals. Ear­li­er in his ca­reer, Au­doly worked at Pfiz­er, Mer­ck and Pieris.

Ther­ag­nos­tics, fo­cused on the de­vel­op­ment of mol­e­c­u­lar ra­dio­ther­a­py for imag­ing and treat­ing can­cers, has re­cruit­ed Den­nis Langer and Ken Her­rmann as non-ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tors of its board. Langer pre­vi­ous­ly served as CEO of Neose Tech­nolo­gies, pres­i­dent of Dr. Red­dy’s North Amer­i­can busi­ness, and SVP of re­search and de­vel­op­ment at GSK. On the oth­er hand, Her­rmann is the chair of the de­part­ment of nu­clear med­i­cine at the Uni­ver­sität­sklinikum Es­sen in Ger­many.

→ Can­cer-fo­cused RareCan has tapped Ani­ta Coop­er as non-ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor. Cur­rent­ly, Coop­er serves as non-ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor for CRO Sim­bec-Ori­on and was pre­vi­ous­ly ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer and SVP of Parex­el.

Health­care Dis­par­i­ties and Sick­le Cell Dis­ease

In the complicated U.S. healthcare system, navigating a serious illness such as cancer or heart disease can be remarkably challenging for patients and caregivers. When that illness is classified as a rare disease, those challenges can become even more acute. And when that rare disease occurs in a population that experiences health disparities, such as people with sickle cell disease (SCD) who are primarily Black and Latino, challenges can become almost insurmountable.

David Meek, new Mirati CEO (Marlene Awaad/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Fresh off Fer­Gene's melt­down, David Meek takes over at Mi­rati with lead KRAS drug rac­ing to an ap­proval

In the insular world of biotech, a spectacular failure can sometimes stay on any executive’s record for a long time. But for David Meek, the man at the helm of FerGene’s recent implosion, two questionable exits made way for what could be an excellent rebound.

Meek, most recently FerGene’s CEO and a past head at Ipsen, has become CEO at Mirati Therapeutics, taking the reins from founding CEO Charles Baum, who will step over into the role of president and head of R&D, according to a release.

Jacob Van Naarden (Eli Lilly)

Ex­clu­sives: Eli Lil­ly out to crash the megablock­buster PD-(L)1 par­ty with 'dis­rup­tive' pric­ing; re­veals can­cer biotech buy­out

It’s taken 7 years, but Eli Lilly is promising to finally start hammering the small and affluent PD-(L)1 club with a “disruptive” pricing strategy for their checkpoint therapy allied with China’s Innovent.

Lilly in-licensed global rights to sintilimab a year ago, building on the China alliance they have with Innovent. That cost the pharma giant $200 million in cash upfront, which they plan to capitalize on now with a long-awaited plan to bust up the high-price market in lung cancer and other cancers that have created a market worth tens of billions of dollars.

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Jay Bradner (Jeff Rumans for Endpoints News)

Div­ing deep­er in­to in­her­it­ed reti­nal dis­or­ders, No­var­tis gob­bles up an­oth­er bite-sized op­to­ge­net­ics biotech

Right about a year ago, a Novartis team led by Jay Bradner and Cynthia Grosskreutz at NIBR swooped in to scoop up a Cambridge, MA-based opthalmology gene therapy company called Vedere. Their focus was on a rather narrow market niche: inherited retinal dystrophies that include a wide range of genetic retinal disorders marked by the loss of photoreceptor cells and progressive vision loss.

But that was just the first deal that whet their appetite.

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FDA hands ac­cel­er­at­ed nod to Seagen, Gen­mab's so­lo ADC in cer­vi­cal can­cer, but com­bo stud­ies look even more promis­ing

Biopharma’s resident antibody-drug conjugate expert Seagen has scored a clutch of oncology approvals in recent years, finding gold in what are known as “third-gen” ADCs. Now, another of their partnered conjugates is ready for prime time.

The FDA on Monday handed an accelerated approval to Seagen and Genmab’s Tivdak (tisotumab vedotin-tftv, or “TV”) in second-line patients with recurrent or metastatic cervical cancer who previously progressed after chemotherapy rather than PD-(L)1 systemic therapy, the companies said in a release.

Dave Lennon, former president of Novartis Gene Therapies

Zol­gens­ma patent spat brews be­tween No­var­tis and Re­genxbio as top No­var­tis gene ther­a­py ex­ec de­parts

Regenxbio, a small licensor of gene therapy viral vectors spun out from the University of Pennsylvania, is now finding itself in the middle of some major league patent fights.

In addition to a patent suit with Sarepta Therapeutics from last September, Novartis, is now trying to push its smaller partner out of the way. The Swiss biopharma licensed Regenxbio’s AAV9 vector for its $2.1 million spinal muscular atrophy therapy Zolgensma.

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Volker Wagner (L) and Jeff Legos

As Bay­er, No­var­tis stack up their ra­dio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal da­ta at #ES­MO21, a key de­bate takes shape

Ten years ago, a small Norwegian biotech by the name of Algeta showed up at ESMO — then the European Multidisciplinary Cancer Conference 2011 — and declared that its Bayer-partnered targeted radionuclide therapy, radium-223 chloride, boosted the overall survival of castration-resistant prostate cancer patients with symptomatic bone metastases.

In a Phase III study dubbed ALSYMPCA, patients who were treated with radium-223 chloride lived a median of 14 months compared to 11.2 months. The FDA would stamp an approval on it based on those data two years later, after Bayer snapped up Algeta and christened the drug Xofigo.

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Rafaèle Tordjman (Jeito Capital)

Con­ti­nu­ity and di­ver­si­ty: Rafaèle Tord­j­man's women-led VC firm tops out first fund at $630M

For a first-time fund, Jeito Capital talks a lot about continuity.

Rafaèle Tordjman had spotlighted that concept ever since she started building the firm in 2018, promising to go the extra mile(s) with biotech entrepreneurs while pushing them to reach patients faster.

Coincidentally, the lack of continuity was one of the sore spots listed in a report about the European healthcare sector published that same year by the European Investment Bank — whose fund is one of the LPs, alongside the American pension fund Teacher Retirement System of Texas and Singapore’s Temasek, to help Jeito close its first fund at $630 million (€534 million). As previously reported, Sanofi had chimed in €50 million, marking its first investment in a French life sciences fund.

Mi­rati tri­umphs again in KRAS-mu­tat­ed lung can­cer with a close­ly watched FDA fil­ing now in the cards

After a busy weekend at #ESMO21, which included a big readout for its KRAS drug adagrasib in colon cancer, Mirati Therapeutics is ready to keep the pressure on competitor Amgen with lung cancer data that will undergird an upcoming filing.

In topline results from a Phase II cohort of its KRYSTAL-1 study, adagrasib posted a response rate of 43% in second-line-or-later patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer containing a KRAS-G12C mutation, Mirati said Monday.