Adaptimmune R&D chief leaves at dawn of critical trial

Rafael Amado has handed in his notice at Adaptimmune. The R&D chief is set to leave Adaptimmune in less than two weeks, triggering a search for a new clinical leader.

Amado joined Adaptimmune as chief medical officer in 2015 before transitioning to the role of president of R&D last year. The new position expanded Amado's responsibilities, giving him oversight of all research and clinical activities from target identification through regulatory filings. 

Soon, Adaptimmune will have to do without that leadership. Amado, who worked at Amgen and GlaxoSmithKline earlier in his career, is set to leave Adaptimmune Aug. 12 “to pursue other opportunities.” Adaptimmune is recruiting a CMO to cover the clinical part of Amado’s duties but may have to rely on its existing employees to handle the work in the near term.

“We are fortunate to have a talented team of R&D leaders in place,” Adrian Rawcliffe, the incoming Adaptimmune CEO, said in a statement.

Amado’s departure comes shortly after Adaptimmune selected another member of the C-suite to lead the company. As previously announced, James Noble is set to retire from executive duties and pass the leadership baton on to Rawcliffe at the start of next month. Rawcliffe currently serves as chief financial officer, meaning Adaptimmune has another C-suite position it needs to fill.

Adaptimmune disclosed details of Amado’s departure alongside the news that John Lunger stepped up to the position of chief patient supply officer today. Lunger, previously senior vice president of manufacturing and supply chain, is taking on the new role ahead of the commercial supply of Adaptimmune therapies. 

A lot of work lies between Adaptimmune and the delivery of commercial T-cell therapies to patients. Adaptimmune began a study with ADP-A2M4 SPEAR T‑cells for patients with synovial sarcoma or myxoid/round cell liposarcoma earlier this year, putting it on a path it hopes will lead to a 2022 commercial launch.