Biotech Leadership Transformations: Week of May 28th

Executive Leaving Office

There have been a number of leadership changes in the life sciences industries over the past week. BioSpace compiled a roundup of the changing landscape of the c-suite and boards of directors across the industry.

Deciphera Pharmaceuticals – Waltham, Mass.-based Deciphera Pharmaceuticals tapped Stephen R. Ruddy for the role of chief technical officer, a newly created position. Ruddy will be responsible for establishing and leading a world-class manufacturing and supply chain organization at Deciphera, particularly as the company plans for the potential approval of DCC-2618, a kinase switch control inhibitor for the treatment of gastrointestinal stromal tumors. Before Deciphera, Ruddy served as head of pharmaceutical development at oncology-focused Tesaro, Inc. At Tesaro Ruddy built and led a CMC organization that enabled multiple small-molecule NDA and MAA approvals and advanced multiple immuno-oncology product candidates from discovery into clinical development, Deciphera said in its announcement. In addition to Tesaro Ruddy served in leadership roles at ViroPharma Inc., Elan Corporation plc, Merck & Co., Inc., NanoSystems LLC and Sterling Winthrop Pharmaceuticals.

Axcella Health – Cambridge, Mass. – based Axcella Health obtained a key executive, Bill Hinshaw who has been appointed as President and Chief Executive Officer. Hinshaw was most recently Executive Vice President and Head of U.S. Oncology at Novartis. Hinshaw joins Axcella had a key point in the company’s strategic and clinical evolution, according to David Epstein, Chairman of the Axcella Board of Directors and Executive Partner of Flagship Pioneering.

Imara Inc. – Cambridge, Mass.-based Imara Inc. added two members to its leadership team this week. Joe Datt was named head of clinical development and Siddharth Parulkar was named head of global clinical operations. Datt and Parulkar will lead strategy at Imara as the company looks to advance IMR-687, a Phase II small molecule inhibitor of phosphodiesterase 9 (PDE9) for the treatment of sickle cell disease. Datt previously served as global head of medical affairs and head of immunology for U.K.-based Orchard Therapeutics. He also held roles at BioMarin Europe Limited and Novartis Pharmaceuticals Limited.

Before Imara, Parulkar was global program manager at FujiFilm Pharmaceuticals. He held roles at Leap Therapeutics and Tesaro, Inc., as well as GlaxoSmithKline.

Casebia Therapeutics – Amy Jennings has been appointed head of regulatory affairs at Cambridge, Mass.-based Casebia Therapeutics. Jennings will be responsible for developing regulatory strategy across the company’s portfolio and helping to drive therapeutic programs into the clinic. Prior to Casebia Jennings served as head of regulatory affairs at Achillion Pharmaceuticals, where she led two successful Investigative New Drug submissions, the company said.

Allogene Therapeutics, Inc. – One month after startup CAR-T company Allogene Therapeutics was launched by former Kite Pharma executives Arie Belldegrun and David Chang, the company has assembled its board of directors. The new board will oversee the company’s long-term strategic plan as it looks to develop allogeneic cell therapy, said Belldegrun, the board’s executive chairman. The company’s board of directors are:

  • Arie Belldegrun, M.D., FACS – Executive Chairman and Co-Founder of Allogene
  • David Bonderman – Chairman and Founding Partner of TPG
  • David Chang, M.D., Ph.D. – President, CEO and Co-Founder of Allogene
  • Franz B. Humer, Ph.D. – Former Chairman and CEO of Roche Holding Ltd.
  • John DeYoung – Vice President, Worldwide Business Development at Pfizer
  • Joshua Kazam – Co-Founder and Partner of Two River and Co-Founder of Allogene
  • Owen Witte, M.D. –Professor of Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics at the UCLA
  • Robert Abraham, Ph.D. - Senior Vice President and Group Head, Oncology R&D Group at Pfizer
  • Todd Sisitsky – Managing Partner of TPG Capital

Prevail Therapeutics – New York-based Prevail Therapeutics, Inc. appointed Francois Nader to its board of directors. Prevail is developing gene therapies for patients with Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases. Nader served as president and CEO of NPS Pharma from 2008 until 2015, when the company was acquired by Shire for $5.2 billion. Nader currently serves as chairman of the board of directors of Acceleron Pharma and is a board director at Alexion Pharmaceuticals and Clementia Pharmaceuticals.

Nouscom – Switzerland-based immuno-oncology company Nouscom named former Pfizer executive Adrian Woolfson as its new chief medical officer. As CMO Woolfson is expected to play a key role in leading the Company’s clinical development of its neoantigen off-the-shelf vaccine targeting tumors associated with Microsatellite Instability (MSI), as well as the personalized neoantigen vaccines and oncolytic virus programs. At Pfizer Woolfson served as global clinical leader of Early and Late Stage Immuno-Oncology/Hematology. At the pharma giant he was responsible for developing a portfolio of monotherapy and combination studies for Pfizer’s PD-L1 inhibitor Bavencio and 4-1BB agonist Utomilumab.

Axovant – Following a reorganization, Axovant, one of the companies developed by biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, added to its executive team and Scientific Advisory Board. Gavin Corcoran was named as the company’s executive vice president of Research & Development. Corcoran currently serves as chief medical officer at Allergan. Axovant also named Michael Hayden to the role of senior scientific advisor and chairman of the newly established Scientific Advisory Board. Most recently Hayden served as chief scientific officer of Teva Pharmaceuticals. Prior to Teva he founded Aspreva Pharmaceuticals.

Arcturus Therapeutics – Following a short, but fierce legal battle, Arcturus Therapeutics replaced four members of its board of directors. As part of a settlement agreement with ousted CEO Joseph E. Payne, four members of the board who were behind his firing resigned. Stuart Collinson, the executive chairman of the board; Craig Willett; Daniel Geffken, managing director of Danforth Advisors, as well as a former board member of Alcobra Ltd., the company Arcturus merged with last year; and David Shapiro, the chief medical officer of Intercept Pharmaceuticals, resigned. They have been replaced by Peter Farrell, the CEO and Chairman of ResMed; Andrew Sassine; James Barlow; and Magda Marquet, the co-founder and co-CEO of Alma Life Sciences.

Human Longevity Inc. – Five months after being named CEO of the company, Craig Venter is leaving. He announced his resignation on Twitter. Fierce Pharma reported that Venter will return to research at the J. Craig Venter Institute. Venter, who co-founded the company, was named CEO in December following the resignation of Cynthia Collins. It is unknown who the company will tap as its next CEO.

Indiana Biosciences Research Institute – Announced the appointment of Stephanie Grinage as vice president for Advancement and will assume the role June 4, 2018. Grinage will be IBRI’s top development officer, and serve as the primary strategic partner in cultivating and maintaining new and existing relationships with major donors and oversee and manage all aspects of IBRI’s fundraising programs. 

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