BioSpace Movers & Shakers: Acer, Viridian, BioPorto, atai & More

There were multiple leadership changes in the biopharma industry, with several new chief executive officers tapped to guide companies through their next growth phases.

This week, there were multiple leadership changes in the biopharma industry, with several new chief executive officers tapped to guide companies through their next growth phase. This week’s Movers & Shakers features changes across the C-suite of multiple companies.

Acer Therapeutics – Tanya Hayden was named chief operating officer of Acer Therapeutics. She takes over the role of Harry S. Palmin, who has served as COO and CFO. Palmin will continue to serve as CFO. Hayden joined Acer in June 2021 as vice president of program and strategic alliance management and has played a critical role in the advancement of Acer’s investigational programs. Before joining Acer, Hayden spent 20 years at Lonza.

Viridian Therapeutics – Viridian Therapeutics appointed Carrie Melvin as COO, a new position at the company. Before joining Viridian, Melvin served as SVP of clinical development operations at X4 Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Prior to joining X4 Pharmaceuticals, she served as VP of global clinical sciences and delivery of oncology at GSK. Before that, Melvin served as the head of global clinical operations at Kura Oncology, Inc.

BioPorto A/S – Prasad Devarajan, a globally-recognized pediatric nephrologist, was named senior medical director of BioPorto. He assumes the role on July 1. Devarajan is a professor of pediatrics & developmental biology, director of nephrology and hypertension, and CEO of the Dialysis Unit at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Devarajan will share his time between his directorships at Cincinnati Children’s and his executive role at BioPorto. In addition to his appointments at Cincinnati Children’s, Devarajan serves on the editorial and review boards of more than 20 journals and multiple U.S. National Institutes of Health study sections.

Lantheus Holdings – Paul Blanchfield, who has been serving as chief commercial officer, was promoted to the position of chief operating officer of Lantheus Holdings, Inc. In his new role, Blanchfield will be responsible for commercial, manufacturing and technical operations, as well as corporate communications. Prior to Lantheus, he worked at Takeda Pharmaceutical, where he served as the head of the U.S. Immunology Business Unit. Before Takeda, Blanchfield worked at Shire Plc for almost six years across several different roles, including as the head of U.S. Immunology and chief of staff to the chief executive officer. Blanchfield started his career at McKinsey & Company.

atai Life Sciences – Stephen Bardin, who currently serves as senior vice president of finance and operations at BridgeBio Pharma, will join atai as chief financial officer in the third quarter of this year. Initially, Bardin will join the company as deputy CFO and CFO designate on June 27. His joining the company will be supported by current CFO Greg Weaver, who is stepping into a strategic advisory role with the company.

Opus Genetics – Ben Yerxa was named CEO of N.C.-based Opus Genetics, a spin-off of the Retinal Degeneration Fund. Yerxa previously served as acting CEO of Opus, in addition to former roles as CEO of the Foundation Fighting Blindness and the Retinal Degeneration Fund, the venture arm of the foundation. Yerxa served as president and co-founder of Envisia Therapeutics. He also previously held founding and executive positions in several ophthalmology-based R&D organizations, including Liquidia Technologies, Clearside Biomedical, Parion Sciences, and Inspire Pharmaceuticals.

Iterative Scopes – Aditya Khosla was named chief technology officer. Khosla will lead Iterative Scopes’ machine learning, product management, and software engineering teams. Prior to joining Iterative Scopes, Khosla was the co-founder and CTO of PathAI, a company he co-founded in 2016.

Lumos Diagnostics – Doug Ward was named CEO of the Florida-based company focused on rapid point-of-care diagnostic technologies. Ward has held executive positions, including CEO, during his more than 30-year career. Most recently, he served as VP of strategy and business development at Hologic. Before that, he was the CEO of Personal Genome Diagnostics (PGDx), where he led the organization’s transformation from a clinical laboratory testing service.

POINT Biopharma Global – Chris Horvath was appointed executive vice president of commercial. Horvath began his career as a scientist at DuPont and Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research. He then transitioned to commercial roles of increasing responsibility at Janssen, Dendreon, Merck, Bayer, and most recently, Advanced Accelerator Applications, a Novartis company.

HOOKIPA Pharma HOOKIPA announced changes to its leadership team. After five years, Igor Matushansky will step down as chief medical officer and global head of research & development. Matushansky will continue contributing to HOOKIPA’s pipeline development as chair of HOOKIPA’s Scientific Advisory Board. Katia Schlienger has been promoted to EVP of clinical development. Schlienger was previously SVP and head of immuno-oncology. Roman Necina, CTO, is appointed to the newly created role of chief development officer. In addition to his current manufacturing responsibilities, he will be responsible for integrating portfolio and project management, IT & knowledge management.

Vektor Medical – Rob Krummen was named CEO. He replaces Mike Monko, who will continue with the company as executive chairman of the board of directors. Before joining Vektor in 2018, Krummen was a former partner at Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP and a former deputy solicitor general for the state of Ohio.

SIRTLab Corporation – Israel-based SIRTLab named Michael G. Kauffman as chief medical officer and co-chairman of the board of directors. As CEO and co-founder of Karyopharm, Kauffman led the company from inception through the commercialization of Selinexor. Before that, Kauffman was the CMO of Onyx Pharmaceuticals Inc. Kauffman was president and CEO of EPIX Pharmaceuticals, Inc. from 2002 to 2008. He held several senior positions at Millennium Predictive Medicine and Biogen.