BioSpace Movers & Shakers, Sept. 20

Executive Leaving Office

AetionScott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, joined the board of directors of health-tech company Aetion. This marks the second board of directors the former FDA head has joined this week. On Monday, he joined the board of FasterCures, part of the Milken Institute. Gottlieb will advise the company as it expands the reach and utility of the Aetion Evidence Platform, a tool developed to assess the safety, effectiveness, and value of treatments. Gottlieb joins the Aetion Board of Directors during a significant year for the New York-based company. Aetion is now working with 12 of the top 20 biopharma firms in the world, along with leading payers. Those partners include Sanofi, Amgen, UCB, McKesson Ventures, and Horizon Healthcare Services, the company said.

Rutgers – Joachim Messing, director of the Waksman Institute of Microbiology at Rutgers University, died. Messing was one of the scientists who helped crack the genetic code that revolutionized medicine and agriculture. He invented “shotgun” sequencing of DNA, an approach that vastly empowered the advance of the genomic era of biology, which led to the development of agricultural products and the development of drugs such as erythropoietin (EPO) to treat cancer patients. When he discovered a way to crack the genetic code of humans and plants such as rice, corn and wheat, Messing did not patent his work. Instead, he gave away the tools he invented to scientists worldwide because he believed it was vital for future research. His decision enabled his colleagues to further decipher the genetic blueprint of living cells, revolutionizing medicine, agriculture and basic sciences.

SQZ Biotechnology – Lawrence Knopf was named general counsel of Watertown, Mass.-based SQZ, a cell therapy company. Previously, Knopf served as senior vice president, general counsel and secretary at Heartware International, Inc., a global leader in cardiac assist devices that was acquired by Medtronic, where he was a key member of the executive leadership team. Prior to Heartware, Knopf served as senior vice president and deputy general counsel at Boston Scientific Corporation.

twoXAR -- twoXAR, Inc., an artificial intelligence-driven biopharmaceutical company, tapped Allen Poirson, as the company’s senior vice president of Biopharmaceutical Business Development. Most recently, Poirson was a partner at Mighty Capital, a Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm, where he was responsible for investments in digital health, life science, and medical companies. He has held research positions at NASA and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Evelo Biosciences – Novartis veteran David Epstein has been named chairman of the Evelo Biosciences Board of Directors. Epstein has been a director of Evelo since March 2017. Noubar Afeyan, a co-founder of Evelo and chief executive officer of Flagship Pioneering, is stepping down after serving as chairman of the Board since Evelo’s founding in 2014. Epstein currently serves as chairman of the Board of Directors of Rubius Therapeutics, chairman of the Board of Directors of Axcella Health, and as a director at International Flavors and Fragrances. From January 2010 to July 2016, Epstein served as chief executive officer of Novartis Pharmaceuticals, a division of Novartis AG.

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AdvaMed -- The Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed) announced that president and CEO Scott Whitaker has been named to the Board of Directors of MedTech Innovator (MTI), the industry’s preeminent nonprofit global competition and accelerator organization for medical device, digital health, and diagnostic companies. AdvaMed Accel Executive Director Ashley Wittorf is stepping down from the MTI Board after nearly three years of service.

X4 Pharmaceuticals – Renato Skerlj was named senior vice president of research and development at Cambridge, Mass.-based X4. Most recently, Skerlj held drug discovery and development leadership roles at Cambridge-based Lysosomal Therapeutics, Inc. Prior to that, he was interim Head of Small Molecule Discovery at Genzyme, and was part of the executive team at AnorMED.

Lytix Biopharma – Øystein Rekdal has been named CEO of Sweden-based Lytix Biopharma. Edwin Klumper has announced that he will step down from his role as CEO of Lytix. Klumper has agreed to assist the company with consultancy services until Aug. 30, 2020, as needed. Rekdal is one of the founders of Lytix Biopharma and its portfolio including LTX-315 and LTX-401.  Rekdal served as a CEO of Lytix Biopharma in the first years after the company was established and has, until now, served as chief scientific officer and head of R&D.

Berkeley Lights -- Elizabeth “Betsey” Nelson has been named a member of Berkeley Lights’ Board of Directors. Having worked as Chief Financial Officer for software company Macromedia, Inc. until its acquisition by Adobe for $3.4 billion, Nelson has over 20 years of experience working in the technology, internet, and telecom markets. Her previous public board positions include Zendesk, Pandora Media,, SuccessFactors and Autodesk.

Vivex Biologics -- Peter Wehrly has been appointed the new CEO of Atlanta-based Vivex. Wehrly is the former CEO and serves as the current chairman of the board of Synaptive Medical. Wehrly served in several leadership positions at Covidien including group president heading the global businesses in Western Europe, Japan, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Prior to Covidien, he held various general management positions within Medtronic IncAdditionally, Wehrly spent 17 years with DePuy Orthopedics, a Johnson & Johnson company where he served numerous roles of increasing responsibilities.

CASI Pharmaceuticals -- Larry Zhang has been named president of Maryland-based CASI Pharmaceuticals. Zhang first joined CASI Pharmaceuticals in September 2018 as President of CASI Pharmaceuticals (Beijing) Co., Ltd., the China operating subsidiary of CASI. Prior to joining CASI's Beijing office, Zhang was head of public affairs and corporate responsibility at Novartis Group (China).  Prior to joining Novartis Group (China), he served as CEO of Sandoz (China) Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd, a Novartis Company.

Portola Pharmaceuticals -- Ted W. Love was added to the board of directors at South San Francisco-based Portola. Love currently serves as president and CEO of Global Blood Therapeutics. He previously held executive positions at a number of biopharmaceutical companies including Onyx Pharmaceuticals, Nuvelo, Inc. and Theravance, Inc. Earlier in his career, Love held a number of senior management positions at Genentech.

Merrimack Pharmaceuticals – Cambridge, Mass.-based Merrimack made some changes to its board of directors. The company appointed Noah G. Levy, of Newtyn Management, LLC and Eric D. Andersen, of Western Standard, LLC to the board as part of a cooperation agreement. In addition to these two appointments, the board will nominate five directors at the 2019 annual meeting in October. Under terms of the cooperation agreement, the board will form a Committee on Strategy and Expenses, chaired by Levy that will focus on cost containment and other concerns.

Nimbus Therapeutics -- Christine Loh was named head of biology at Cambridge, Mass.-based Nimbus. Most recently Loh served as vice president of Translational Medicine at Kymera Therapeutics. Previously, she was the executive director of research at hemophilia-focused Bioverativ. During her time there, Loh helped progress the spinout of Bioverativ from Biogen.

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