Biotech Leadership Transformations: Week of May 21

Executive Change

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.

OptiScan Biomedical Corporation – Hayward, Calif.-based OptiScan Biomedical, a medtech company, named Cary G. Vance as its new president and chief executive officer. Vance has also been named as a member of the company’s board of directors. Vance replaces William Mince, who has served as OptiScan’s interim CEO since October 2017. Vance joins the company at a pivotal point in the company’s growth as it commercializes diagnostics equipment to assist with the care of patients in intensive care units. In October the company saw regulatory approval for its OptiScanner 5000 Glucose Monitoring System. Before taking the helm of OptiScan, Vance served as president and CEO of Myoscience, a privately-held medical device company marketing a drug-free Focused Cold Therapy technology. Prior to Myoscience Vance was president and CEO of Hansen Medical, a publicly-traded global intravascular robotics company.

Immatics – Immunotherapy company Immatics named Stephen Eck as its new chief medical officer at Houston-based Immatics US, Inc. Prior to joining Immatics, Eck served as Vice President and Global Head of Oncology Medical Sciences at Astellas Pharma, and previously held senior roles at Pfizer and Eli Lilly. While at Astellas Eck worked closely with The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, which is a key collaborator of Immatics. Eck is a member of MD Anderson’s Moon Shots Program advisory board.

ImmusanT, Inc. – Ken Truitt has been named chief medical officer of Cambridge, Mass.-based ImmusanT, a company developing first-in-class peptide-based immune therapies to patients living with autoimmune diseases. Truitt will be behind the company’s development of Nexvax2, ImmusanT’s lead candidate currently in clinical development for the treatment of celiac disease. Additionally, Truitt will drive the expansion of the company’s ESIT platform to develop treatments for other autoimmune diseases including type 1 diabetes. Prior to ImmusanT, Truitt served as head of internal therapeutic medicines at Daiichi Sankyo. He has also held roles at Merck and Co. in that company’s pulmonary/ immunology division.

Algenuity – U.K.-based Algenuity, a leader in algal biology and industrial biotechnology, named Alex Pudney as its new chief scientific officer. The company said Pudney’s skills in strain engineering, directed evolution and design of experiments, are already proving invaluable to the Algenuity team. In a statement Pudney said as CSO his role is to “manage the demands of the business and support the staff, helping them to be successful in an environment that brings out the best in people, which ultimately is what will help us achieve our goals in this fast-moving sector.”

Five Prime Therapeutics – South San Francisco-based Five Prime Therapeutics, Inc. named its head of research Bryan Irving as its new chief scientific officer. Irving was part of the team that developed Genentech’s lung cancer drug Tecentriq. Irving joined Five Prime in August 2017 in his role as vice president of research.  Irving joined Five Prime in August 2017 as the Vice President of Research. Prior to Five Prime, Irving served as head of cancer immunology at CytomX Therapeutics. He led efforts to generate protease-activatable immunotherapies designed to mobilize anti-tumor immunity locally in the tumor microenvironment. Before CytomX he worked 12 years at Genentech.

DelMar Pharmaceuticals – Vancouver-based DelMar Pharmaceuticals appointed Saiid Zarrabian as its new president and chief executive officer. Zarrabian had been serving as the interim CEO since November 2017. His position is now permanent. As CEO Zarrabian will continue to drive development of the company’s two-Phase II open-label trials of its drug candidate VAL-083 for MGMT-unmethylated glioblastoma multiforme. Zarrabian has held a number of leadership roles in the biotech industry. Before DelMar he served as chairman of the board of directors at La Jolla Pharmaceutical Company. He also served as president of the Protein Production Division of Intrexon Corporation, a synthetic biology company.

AnaBios – Chris Mathes has been hired as the chief commercial officer of San Diego-based AnaBios. Mathes will guide the company's business development and contribute to AnaBios' overall strategic direction as it leverages its proven drug de-risking technology based on ex vivo human pharmacological responses. Mathes joins AnaBios from early drug discovery company Icagen, where he was Chief Commercial Officer. Prior to that, he served as Chief Commercial Officer at ChanTest, now part of Charles River, and headed up North American business development activities for their drug discovery services.

Exelixis , Inc. – Andrew R. Peters was named head of strategy for South San Francisco-based Exelixis. The position was newly created for Peters. In his role, Peters will refine the company’s mid- and long-term strategy focused on advancing the next generation of Exelixis medicines. He joins Exelixis from Deutsche Bank Securities where he served as a director and senior analyst from May 2016 to May 2018. Peters joins the company as it looks to expand the company’s pipeline beyond its cancer drug Cabometyx.

Prevail Therapeutics – New York-based Prevail Therapeutics, which is focused on developing gene therapies for patients with Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases, named Francois Nader to its board of directors. Nader served as president and chief executive officer of NPS Pharma from 2008 until 2015, when the company was acquired by Shire for $5.2 billion. He currently serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Acceleron Pharma and as Board Director of Alexion Pharmaceuticals and Clementia Pharmaceuticals. 


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