BioSpace Movers and Shakers Oct. 29

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Axcella HealthNovartis veteran Stephen Mitchener was named chief business officer of Cambridge, Mass.-based Axcella Health. Mitchener was tapped for his vast experience in global product launches, asset development and fomenting product and technology partnership, the company said. Prior to Axcella, Mitchener spent 15 years at Novartis, most recently as head of U.S. Oncology Strategy, Partnering and Operations. Mitchener worked across immunology, infectious diseases, oncology, and rare diseases from clinical to commercialization and patent expiration, Axcella said.

Twist Bioscience – Synthetic DNA company Twist Bioscience named Ray Tabibiazar as the head of corporate development and business strategy. Tabibiazar, who has been serving as an adviser of the company for the past two years, will also act as general manager of the company’s division focused on biologics drug discovery. Tabibiazar joins Twist Bioscience from Aravive Biologics, a company he founded where he served as the executive chairman of the board until its reverse merger with Versartis, Inc. He currently serves as a non-executive director of that company. In addition to a number of venture capital firms he worked with, Tabibiazar also served chief scientific officer of Aviir, a molecular diagnostic company.

Orasis Pharmaceuticals – Israel-based Orasis Pharmaceuticals tapped Jeffry Weinhuff as its chairman of the board of directors. Weinhuff is a managing partner of Visionary Ventures. He joined the Orasis board following a Series B financing round led by Visionary Ventures. The financing round was in support of the company’s drug candidate CSF-1, which has demonstrated the potential to restore near vision for people with presbyopia.

Cold Genesys Inc. – California immuno-oncology company Cold Genesys, Inc. named Paola Grandi as its chief scientific officer and added two members to its board of directors, Leonard Post and James Mulé. The additions come as the company is advancing its lead oncolytic immunotherapy compound, CG0070, in bladder cancer and other solid tumors. Grandi, who founded Oncorus, will be responsible for directing the clinical and translational research program at Cold Genesys. Post is the CSO of Vivace Therapeutics and previously served as CSO of BioMarin and LEAD Therapeutics. He is currently a member of the boards of directors at Vivace, Orphagen, Fedora, and Oxyrane. Mulé currently serves as the scientific director of cell-based therapies at the Moffitt Cancer Center. He is on the advisory boards of several companies, including OncoPep, Iovance, Vault Pharma, Celgene and more.

Medidata – Maria Rivas, the head of global medical affairs at Merck KGaA, was named to the board of directors for New York-based Medidata Solutions, Inc. Rivas becomes the first woman to serve on the company’s board as part of Medidata’s fulfillment of its 2020 Women on Boards initiative pledge which aims to have 20 percent female membership by 2020.

MeiraGtx Holdings -- Katherine Breedis was named chief financial officer of MeiraGTx Holdings. Prior to MeiraGTx, Breedis was a managing director of equity research and senior analyst for biotechnology and major pharmaceuticals at Stifel Nicolaus & Company. She also held leadership roles in several other pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer and Eli Lilly. At Pfizer, she served as senior director of corporate strategy, providing guidance to the company’s executive leadership team and board of directors on mergers and acquisitions, business development, competitive landscape assessments and long-range corporate strategic planning.

Mercaptor Discoveries – California-based Mercaptor Discoveries announced Adriano Aguzzi is heading up the formation of the company’s scientific advisory board. Aguzzi is a renowned neuropathologist, who has earned numerous accolades including the Marcel-Benoist Prize, the Robert-Koch Prize and the Antonio-Feltrinelli Award, which are among the highest recognitions in Switzerland, Germany and Italy, respectively. Aguzzi plans to identify two to three additional advisors with complementary expertise to join Mercaptor's SAB and help guide Mercaptor's research.

Nuvelution Pharma – Bay Area-based Nuvelution Pharma tapped Janssen Pharmaceutical veteran Kirk Ways as its new chief medical officer. At Janssen, Ways served as the development head of cardiovascular and metabolism. Before Janssen, Ways served as chief development officer at BioStratum Incorporated. He also held roles at several noted pharmaceutical companies, including Aventis and Lilly Research Laboratories.

Anika TherapeuticsSusan Vogt was named an independent director at Anika Therapeutics. Vogt most recently served as chief executive officer and director of Aushon Biosystems, a venture-backed company with a novel multiplex immunoassay platform. She previously served as president, CEO and a director of SeraCare Life Sciences, Inc. Anika also announced that Steven Wheeler, who has served as a director of the company since 1993 and currently chairs the board’s Governance and Nominating Committee, will step down from his role in February 2019.

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