Hiring Roundup of Biotech Leaders


Biotech companies tapped a number of new upper management and c-suite executives last week. BioSpace put together a roundup of some of the latest appointments in the industry, which includes a number of new chief executive officers hired to helm companies.

Semma Therapeutics – Cambridge, Mass.-based Semma Therapeutics, a company with a focus on regenerative medicine, hired Bastiano Sanna, as its new president and chief executive officer. Sanna takes over the role from Elizabeth Stoner, who has been serving as the Interim CEO. Stoner and will remain as an advisor to the company. Sanna came to Semma from Magenta Therapeutics, where he served as chief operating officer. Before taking over as COO at Magenta, Sanna was part of the leadership team at Novartis’ Cell and Gene Therapy Unit. At Novartis he served as the Global Program Head of Stem Cell Transplant. Swiss-based Novartis dissolved its Cell and Gene Therapy Unit in 2016.

TFF Pharmaceuticals – With a focus on developing therapies for lung diseases, Austin, Texas-based TFF Pharmaceuticals named Glenn Mattes as its new CEO. Mattes previously served as CEO of Arno Therapeutics and before that served as president of Tibotec Therapeutics, a Johnson & Johnson company. Mattes was hired shortly after TFF closed on a $14 million Series A, which will be used to develop the company's pipeline of advanced performance dry powder drugs for the treatment of pulmonary diseases.

Synlogic Therapeutics – Chief Medical Officer Aoife Brennan has been tapped to serve as interim president and CEO at Cambridge, Mass.-based Synlogic, following the abrupt departure of Jose Carlos Gutiérrez-Ramos. The leadership change occurred only a few weeks after the company received the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Fast Track designation for its clinical product candidate, SYNB1618, an investigational medicine designed to metabolize phenylalanine as a treatment for phenylketonuria (PKU). In April Synlogic dosed the first subjects in a Phase I/IIa clinical trial of SYNB1618.

Evolus, Inc. -- David Moatazedi, the former head of Allergan’s U.S. Medical Aesthetics division, was named CEO of Irvine, Calif.-based Evolus. The company is moving toward the commercialization of its first aesthetic product candidate, DWP-450, also known as prabotulinumtoxinA. Evolus’ prabotulinumtoxinA is under review by the FDA for the treatment of frown lines. If approved, Evolus’ prabotulinumtoxinA would be a contender for some of the market share dominated by Allergan’s Botox.

Horizon Discovery – Gene editing company Horizon Discovery tapped Terry Pizzie as its new chief executive officer. Pizzie has been with the company since 2017. He had been serving as Head of Commercial Operations. Prior to joining Horizon, Pizzie worked for Pacific Biosciences, first as vice president of its Europe division and later as head of Global Sales.

Celonic AG – Swiss biologics contract development and manufacturing organization Celonic AG tapped Soenke Brunswieck as its new head of Cell & Gene Therapy. Brunswieck will be in charge of Celonic’s new portfolio of CDMO Services in the Cell & Gene Therapy domain. Before taking the role at Celonic, Brunswieck was director of Business Development and Project Management at PharmaCell BV (now Lonza Netherlands BV). Prior to PharmaCell, Soenke was the Director of Marketing & Sales at CellGenix for over 10 years.

Adare Pharmaceuticals – Princeton, N.J.-based Adare Pharmaceuticals hired a number of executives this past week in order to support the next phase of the company’s growth strategy. Adare, a specialty pharmaceutical company, hired Robert J. Rush as its new chief financial officer. He replaces Joseph Del Buono as CFO, who resigned to pursue other opportunities, the company said. Ajay Damani was tapped as the head of Adare’s Business Unit and Giuseppe (Beppe) Di Vincenzo was named vice president of strategy.

Atara Biotherapeutics – South San Francisco-based Atara Biotherapeutics, which is focused on the development of off-the-shelf, allogeneic T-cell immunotherapies, named Dietmar P. Berger as its new head of global development and R&D. Berger most recently served as a head of Product Development in Clinical Science Hematology and Oncology at Genentech. At Atara Berger will manage all R&D leadership functions.

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