BioSpace Movers and Shakers: Ambys, Decibel, Verona, and More

Biotech and pharma companies tap new members of executive leadership teams and boards.

Adaptimmune – Chief Financial Officer Adrian Rawcliffe has been named chief executive officer of Adaptimmune Therapeutics. He succeeds James Noble, who is retiring and transitioning to a non-executive director role on the company’s board of directors in September. Rawcliffe has been with the company since 2015 when he joined as CFO. Since that time, he led the company’s financial strategy and operations, as well as investor relations, corporate communications, manufacturing and supply chain, product development, information management and facilities. He currently serves as a non‐executive director of WAVE Life Sciences. Before joining Adaptimmune, he held various senior roles at GSK, including his most recent as head of finance of the North American Pharmaceuticals business. The company has started a global search for a new CFO, which will be the subject of a separate.

Pluristem Therapeutics – Israel-based Pluristem named Yaky Yanay as sole CEO following the transition from its co-CEO structure. Zami Aberman was named executive chairman of the board of directors.

Molecular Match – Eric Pulaski was named president of Texas-based MolceularMatch. Pulaski joins the company’s executive team to drive product strategy and revenue growth. Pulaski was most recently the founder and CEO of SmartVault Corporation, a SaaS provider in the online document management and secure portal space. He was also founder and CEO of BindView.

Amylyx – Cambridge, Mass.-based Amylyx made announced three additions to its executive leadership team. The company tapped industry veterans Patrick Yeramian as chief medical officer, Margaret Olinger, as chief commercial officer and Tom Holmes as global head of supply chain. These three key appointments serve to build and direct the company’s clinical development and commercial strategies. Prior to joining Amylyx, Yeramian served as consulting medical director for the company, where he supported the pre-IND and IND filings of AMX0035. Previously he served as CMO at Viragen, Inc., where he was responsible for the development of global clinical and regulatory strategies and for the implementation of clinical programs worldwide. Olinger joins Amylyx after more than a decade at Alexion Pharmaceuticals, where she helped build and lead some of the most successful commercial launches and operations. Prior to Alexion, Olinger spent nearly 20 years at Bayer Healthcare, serving in various leadership and commercial positions. Prior to joining Amylyx, Holmes was the senior director of external manufacturing at Biogen, where he managed Biogen’s global external manufacturing network and was responsible for driving supply contracting.

Ambys Medicines – South San Francisco-based Ambys Medicines appointed two Genentech veterans to its executive team. Deidre Roniger was named senior vice president of corporate development and Amanda Velentino was named chief people officer. Roniger most recently served as managing partner at DNA Ink, a boutique life sciences consulting firm. Roniger’s previous experience includes nearly a decade at Genentech, where she held roles of increasing responsibility. During her tenure at Genentech Valentino served as senior director of talent acquisition and strategy. Prior to joining Genentech, Valentino served for eight years with the firm Albrecht & Associates Executive Search Consultants.

Abeona Therapeutics -- Victor Paulus was named new senior vice president of regulatory affairs at Abeona Therapeutics. Paulus has more than 30 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, including more than 20 years specializing in regulatory affairs. Before joining Abeona, Paulus was global head of regulatory affairs for Advanced Accelerator Applications, a Novartis Company, where he secured orphan designations and product approvals for several therapies in development. He also previously served as director of regulatory affairs for pediatric vaccines at GlaxoSmithKline and was manager of regulatory affairs for Merck. Abeona also announced the appointment of Jodie Gillon, as vice president of patient advocacy and clinical affairs. Prior to joining Abeona, Gillon spent over a decade with Pfizer as the global medical lead for patient engagement within the Rare Diseases Business Unit and the director of medical communications within the Chief Medical Office.

Cognito Therapeutics -- Mihály Hajós, has been appointed chief scientific officer at Cambridge, Mass.-based Cognito Therapeutics. Prior to Cognito, Hajós was head of Experimental and Translational Neurophysiology at Biogen, with a focus on using neurophysiological methods to study the mode of action of current and potential pharmacotherapies. He has also contributed to the design of multiple clinical proof-of-mechanism and proof-of-concept studies at Pfizer.

Elios Therapeutics Phillip Johnson was named CFO of Texas-based Elios Therapeutics. Johnson joins Elios after having served as an executive and consultant for a number of companies. Prior to consulting, Johnson served as CFO for Xeris Pharmaceuticals. Before that, he was vice president and corporate controller at ArthroCare Corporation.

Decibel TherapeuticsChristine Poon was named to Boston-based Decibel Therapeutics’ board of directors. Poon currently serves as executive in residence of The Max M. Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University.

DEKRA – Bruce Madsen, a nearly 40-year veteran in workplace safety, was named vice president of industrial ergonomics at DEKRA Organizational Safety and Reliability. In this new role, Madsen will help DEKRA OSR implement his solutions for addressing exposures contributing to soft tissue injuries. Madsen has been consulting in this space for 38 years and was the founder of Sports Therapy Associates, an injury prevention, risk reduction, peak performance, and safety ROI consulting firm in southern Oregon.

Verona Pharma – London-based Verona Pharma announced two senior appointments to its clinical team. Nina Church joins as executive director of Global Clinical Development and Nancy Herje as senior director of Clinical Operations. Church has 30 years of experience of late-stage clinical drug development in respiratory therapeutics, with 25 years at GlaxoSmithKline where she held a series of management positions. She joins from Parion Sciences where she was executive director of Clinical Operations. Prior to joining Verona, Nancy was a senior clinical scientist at ExecuPharm and previously held roles at Chimerix, Aerocrine, Inspire and GlaxoSmithKline.

Zelluna Immunotherapy – Norway-based Zelluna named Jens-Peter Marschner as its new CMO. Prior to joining Zelluna, Marschner was the Medical Lead Oncology for Western Europe and Canada at AbbVie. Previously, as CMO for Affimed, he was responsible for clinical strategy and development of its bi-specific antibodies. He also held senior roles at Bayer and Boehringer Mannheim.

Medherant – Medherant, a U.K.-based company, tapped John Burt as CEO. Nigel Davis, the current CEO, will remain with the company as CBO. Burt was most recently the CEO of Abzena plc. Burt left Abzena at the end of 2018 following its sale to the private equity firm Welsh Carson Anderson & Stowe. Previously, Burt was co-founder and CEO of Thiakis.

PHARNEXT – Paris-based Pharnext tapped Peter Collum as its CFO and CBO. Prior to joining Pharnext, Collum was a partner at MTS Health Partners, a boutique healthcare investment bank. Previously, he worked in the healthcare investment banking group at Bank of America, with a focus on life sciences. Collum started his career at Roche as an engineer.