BioSpace Movers and Shakers: March 15

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The chief executive officer of Sandoz, Novartis’ generics business unit, abruptly stepped down this week as the parent company initiates a multi-year “transformative” restructuring.

On Thursday, Sandoz CEO Richard Francis announced plans to step down from the company by the end of March. In his statement, Francis pointed to the transformation that Sandoz is expected to undertake. He said it’s a multi-year project that is something he cannot commit to.

“… and therefore (I) have decided that now is the right time to step down,” Francis said. “I am very proud of what we have achieved as a team. Together, we have expanded access to medicines across the world and reached many millions of patients. In particular, we have successfully launched five biosimilar products.”

Francesco Balestrieri, who is currently Region Head Europe for Sandoz, has been appointed interim CEO.

VentoRx PharmaceuticalsChristopher J. Burns, president and CEO of Pennsylvania-based VentoRx, was named CEO of the Year by Life Sciences Pennsylvania. The award recognizes a CEO who has demonstrated visionary leadership and active participation to advance the industry. Burns has more than 25 years’ experience in the pharmaceutical industry including various corporate and R&D leadership positions at Protez Pharmaceuticals, ViroPharma and Rhone-Poulenc Rorer, which is now Sanofi.

BioCT – BioCT, the bioscience industry trade organization for the state of Connecticut, announced that Megan Rosengarten joined the organization’s board of directors. Rosengarten is the vice president and general manager for surgical innovations in the surgical robotics business of Medtronic. Also, Anthony Sabatelli and Larry Weiss both stepped down from the board. Anthony remains on BioCT's Government Affairs Committee.

PAREXEL International – Boston-based PAREXEL named Amy McKee, former deputy director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Oncology Center of Excellence, to its regulatory consulting team. She will serve as vice president of regulatory consulting services. McKee, who spent 11 years at the FDA, will be focused on building the company’s new cross-functional oncology initiative. Also joining the company is Matthew Cooney, a medical oncologist most recently with University Hospitals in Cleveland. Cooney is joining the company as senior medical director and therapeutic area lead for oncology within PAREXEL’s Global Medical Services team.

electroCore – Basking Ridge, N.J.-based electroCore named Tony Fiorino as chief medical officer and Brian Posner as chief financial officer. The company’s current chief medical officer, Peter Staats, will become a senior executive advisor of medical and government affairs. Fiorino will oversee the ongoing clinical development of the company’s gammaCore non-invasive vagus nerve stimulator into new potential indications, including migraine prevention and diseases of inflammation, such as rheumatoid arthritis. Posner will lead the financial planning, financial management and investor relations functions. Fiorino joins electroCore from Immune Pharma, where he served as interim chief executive officer since August 2018. He joined Immune as chief medical officer and chief operating officer in August 2017 from Triumvira Immunologics. Posner joins electroCore from Cellectar Biosciences, where he served as chief financial officer since April 2018. Prior to Cellectar, he served in CFO roles at Alliqua BioMedical, Ocean Power Technologies and Power Medical Interventions.

Celyad – Anne Moore, the former vice president of healthcare investment banking at Bryan, Garnier & Co., was named vice president of corporate strategy at Belgium-based Celyad. Moore will be responsible for leading corporate strategy including communications and will be a key member of the business development team. Moore will be based in Mont-Saint-Guibert, Belgium and will report to Filippo Petti, the company’s CFO.

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FSD Pharma Inc. -- Sara May was named president of FV Pharma, a wholly owned subsidiary of Toronto-based FSD Pharma. May replaces Thomas Fairfull, who is leaving the company. May, who is currently head of quality assurance at FV, has held numerous leadership positions within the medical cannabis industry where she oversaw project operations and implementation of quality control and quality assurance measures and standard operating procedures.

Karuna Pharmaceuticals – Boston-based Karuna appointed two Eli Lilly veterans to leadership roles. The company appointed Christian (Chris) Felder, to vice president of discovery research and also promoted Giorgio Attardo, to vice president of chemistry, manufacturing and controls (CMC) and preclinical development. Felder is an expert in G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRsand spent 21 years of research and management experience at Eli Lilly. Prior to joining Karuna, Attardo was vice president at Avid Radiopharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Eli Lilly. Before joining Eli Lilly, Attardo held positions of increasing responsibility in CNS and oncology as senior director at both Chlorion Pharma and Gemin X Pharmaceuticals.

Precision BioSciencesRaymond Schinazi joined the board of directors of Durham, N.C.-based Precision BioSciences. Schinazi is the Frances Winship Walters Professor of Pediatrics and director of the Laboratory of Biochemical Pharmacology at Emory University. He has founded several biotechnology companies, including Triangle Pharmaceuticals and Pharmasset, Inc.

Escient Pharmaceuticals -- William Hodder was named chief business officer for San Diego-based Escient Pharmaceuticals. Hodder brings more than 30 years of broad biopharmaceutical industry experience including business development, corporate strategy, product marketing, sales, fundraising and product development. Prior to joining Escient, Hodder was a corporate and business development consultant, advising multiple private and public biotech companies on partnering and fundraising matters. Previously, he was senior vice president of corporate development at Protagonist Therapeutics. Prior to that, he was a co-founder and CEO of Trenovus, Inc.

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