Genentech's Oncology Boss Jumps Ship to Helm Bellicum

Genetech’s Oncology Boss Jumps Ship to Helm Bellicum January 31, 2017
By Mark Terry, Breaking News Staff

Houston, Texas-based Bellicum Pharmaceuticals announced today that Rick Fair will join the company as president, chief executive officer and board member, replacing Tom Farrell, who will remain as an advisor. Fair was previously senior vice president, Head of Oncology Global Product Strategy for Genentech /Roche .

Bellicum is a clinical stage biopharma company focused on identifying and developing cellular immunotherapies for hematological cancers, solid tumors, and orphan inherited blood diseases. Its pipeline currently exists of BPX-501, BPX-601, BPX-701 and some unidentified discovery compounds. BPX-501 is currently in four Phase I/II clinical trials in the U.S. and Europe in hematological cancers and orphan inherited blood disorders. While at Genentech, Fair oversaw the launch of five new molecular compounds, including Tecentriq, the first immunotherapy approved for bladder cancer. Before his latest position at Genentech, he had several leadership positions at the company, including franchise leadership with P&L responsibility for thrombolytics and oral oncolytics. Before joining Genentech, he was with Johnson & Johnson .

“We are delighted to welcome Rick to Bellicum,” said James Brown, Bellicum’s board chairman, in a statement. “Rick’s depth and breadth of experience in oncology, clinical development strategy and commercialization, both in the U.S. and internationally, will be of great value as we prepare for commercialization of our lead product candidate BPX-501, accelerate our pipeline of CAR T and TCR product candidates, and solidify our leadership in the development of controllable cell therapies.”

In addition, the board’s Compensation Committee gave Fair an “inducement award” as part of his position. He has a stock option to buy up to 500,000 shares of common stock at a per share exercise price of $11.87, which was yesterday’s closing price, along with a 10-year term.

Bellicum is currently trading for $11.87. Its yearly high was $22.80 on November 21, 2016.

There is no mention by Bellicum or on LinkedIn of Tom Farrell’s future plans. He has been Entrepreneur in Residence with PTV Sciences since 2005. From 2003 to 2005, he was chief operating officer for Cylene Pharmaceuticals, and before that, president and chief executive officer of Cyternex (the prior name of Cylene).

“On behalf of the Board of Directors,” Brown said in a statement, “I want to thank Tom Farrell for his leadership, commitment and accomplishments as president and CEO. His contributions have been invaluable and we wish him continued success in his future endeavors.”

“I’m proud to have led Bellicum from a virtual start-up to late-stage clinical development while establishing controllability as an essential feature of safe and effective cell therapy,” Farrell said in a statement. “With commercialization on the horizon and a growing pipeline of potential best- or first-in-class product candidates, I am pleased to hand the reins to Rick to lead the next phase of Bellicum’s sgrowth, and I wish him and the leadership team every success.”

“I am both honored and thrilled to join Bellicum at this exciting time,” Fair said in a statement. “Cellular immunotherapies have shown great promise in treating cancers and blood disorders. Bellicum is the leader in molecular switch technologies, has advanced multiple novel and highly differentiated therapies into the clinic, and is preparing to bring its first product to market. I look forward to working with the team at Bellicum and its collaborators to continue to advance the science, bring important treatments to patients, and create value for shareholders.”

In late December, Bellicum and Adaptimmune Therapeutics entered into a staged collaboration to evaluate, develop and commercialize the next generation of T-cell therapies. The companies will evaluate Bellicum’s GoTCR technology with Adaptimmune’s affinity-optimized SPEAR T-cells as a way to enhance TCR product candidates.

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