Peer Review

Why did Ablynx board chairman Peter Fellner resign in wake of Novo’s buyout offer?; Amgen vet Richard Paulson tapped to run Ipsen North America

Peter Fellner

→ What’s happening at Ablynx? On the same day Danish biopharma Novo Nordisk $NVO went public with its latest, $3.1 billion offer to buy Ablynx $ABLX, the Belgian biotech announced that Peter Fellner has decided to resign from its board. That abrupt departure triggered a lot of buzz that the unusual overture from Novo — not the kind of company you might typically find muscling a buyout — has triggered some dissension in the board. A former member of the advisory group to Novo Nordisk Foundation’s investing arm, Fellner has been on multiple corporate boards. Bo Jesper Hansen, a non-executive director and ex-CEO of Swedish Orphan International, replaced him as chairman.

→ Following a decade at Amgen, Richard Paulson is now EVP and CEO of Ipsen North America, heading all commercial operations in the region for the Paris-based pharma with R&D spread across oncology, neurosciences and rare diseases. He replaces former president of North America Cynthia Schwalm as she leaves Ipsen to pursue other interests. Paulson was most recently VP and general manager of the oncology unit at Amgen, but his career — which included a stint at Pfizer — has taken him to jobs across North America, Europe and Africa. “I am honored to join Ipsen at this time of rapid transformation and growth, as the company progresses in its evolution as a leading global biopharma company,” Paulson said.

→ France’s Innate Pharma has convinced academic and doctor Eric Vivier to start his involvement with the industry as its CSO and SVP. Currently a professor at Aix-Marseille University and the Marseille Public Hospitals, Vivier has built up an expertise on innate immunology and natural killer cells throughout his career, which took him to a few elite institutions in the US. “Joining Innate Pharma is a natural step for me as being both part of academia and industry is now becoming a standard to deliver biomedical innovation,” Vivier said in a statement. “It is also consistent with the translational approach which is becoming increasingly central in the fight against cancer.” Innate is hoping this is also a step up the R&D operation and towards commercialization, after suffering a second setback on lead cancer drug lirilumab late last year.

→ Low profile BioClin Therapeutics has built out its executive team with the appointments of COO Graeme Currie and CMO Esteban (Steve) Abella, an announcement made a few months after the fact. Currie worked his way up a biopharma career that started at GSK, featured Regeneron, and mostly recently made a stop at Dynavax. For Abella, who previously held roles in Amgen and Gilead, this is an opportunity to lead the clinical development strategy as BioClin advances B-701 for metastatic bladder cancer in the clinic.

Liz Barrett

Novartis $NVS has found a successor to outgoing oncology chief Bruno Strigini — at Pfizer. Liz Barrett, current global president of oncology at Pfizer, has been tapped to run the show at Novartis. The Swiss drugmaker has taken up a large presence in cancer since hiring Strigini — who’s says he’s retiring from the industry altogether — in the summer of 2014, but Barrett’s CV suggests she’s well equipped for the task. A J&J veteran, Barrett has been with Pfizer $PFE since 2009. During the last three years when she was global president of oncology, the pharma giant has managed to accomplish some breakthroughs in that field. Andy Schmeltz will succeed Barrett in running Pfizer’s global cancer drug unit. Schmeltz is currently SVP, patient & health impact, with previous experience leading the North America oncology business during his 15-year tenure at the company.

→ As Cingulate Therapeutics looks to launch its clinical programs for ADHD in full swing, it has named co-founder and board member Matthew Brams CMO. An experienced lead investigator in psychiatry, Brams is expected to help execute an ambitious plan: initiate and complete Phase I/II trials for both CTX-1301 and CTX-1302 in 2018, as well as begin Phase III trials.

→ Signalling a new direction for ClinicalRM, parent company Icon $ICLR has tapped James Cummings to replace founder Victoria Tifft at the helm. Cummings, formerly a VP at vaccine developer Novavax, is a retired colonel whose clinical work at the Department of Defense aligns with ClinicalRM’s focus in government sponsored research. His title will be president; Tifft will leave the office of CEO and become a non-executive director. Dublin, Ireland-headquartered Icon acquired the US-based CRO in 2016 in hopes of diversifying its client base.

Cindy Elkins

→ Along its journey to regain its foothold in the CAR-T field, Juno $JUNO has recruited IT expert Cindy Elkins to its team. The new chief information officer led the US commercial technology integration when Roche acquired Genentech, back when she was VP, IT for the Americas at the biotech giant.

Dale Ludwig is moving on from his 9-year VP tenure at Eli Lilly to become CSO at Actinium Pharma $ATNM. Ludwig will lead the radioimmunotherapy player’s initiatives on a technology platform powered by the alpha emitting radioisotope actinium-225, creating antibody radio-conjugates. The biotech is also counting on him to spearhead preclinical program development and support translational research efforts.

Neurocrine $NBIX has welcomed new CMO Eiry Roberts onboard as Christopher O’Brien is slated to retire in February after more than 12 years in the position. Having overseen the approval of Ingrezza (and the subsequent study flops) and beefed up the San Diego company’s pipeline, O’Brien will remain as an exclusive consultant. In joining the CNS/endocrinology specialist, Roberts has left her VP, R&D post at Eli Lilly, where she has worked since 2002. She will be involved in executing the biotech’s commercialization and clinical plans, with two programs Parkinson’s disease and endometriosis at the forefront.

→ Berkeley, CA-based Aduro Biotech $ADRO is switching up its C-suite: As COO Greg Schafer heads out the door in March, SVP of finance Jennifer Lew is being promoted to CFO. A Dynavax vet, Lew started at Aduro in 2013 and played a role in the company’s 2015 IPO. Prior to Lew’s promotion, Schafer had served as the principal financial officer.

Michael Tremblay’s retirement from Astellas Pharma Canada has triggered a slate of leadership changes in Canada and the United States. Steve Sabus will relocate to Markham, Ontario to lead APCA as general manager. Correspondingly, Astellas US is promoting Lynn Fenicchia Gerber and Kevin O’Keefe to split the duties Sabus previously fulfilled. A longtime employee who joined in the Yamanouchi days, Gerber will lead sales efforts for the overactive bladder, anti-fungal, cardiovascular and transplant franchises. Meanwhile, O’Keefe will be responsible for overseeing sales efforts and developing talent within the sales force.

→ British CRO Concept Life Sciences has appointed Helen McKeever as program manager and David Halverson as US head of sales. As Concept works to broaden its drug discovery and analytical services, McKeever will be in charge of process management while Halverson will lead the business development team.

→ Over-the-counter and generic drug company Perrigo $PRGO has picked Uwe Röhrhoff as its new CEO as John Hendrickson plans to retire. Before joining the Dublin-based manufacturer, Röhrhoff had the top job at a German pharma glass and packaging company.


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BIO 2018

Private Equity Senior Associate
OrbiMed Advisors New York, NY
Business Development Manager
Novotech Boston, MA
Director, Cell MS&T
Adaptimmune Philadelphia, PA

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