Biogen's CMO Maha Radhakrishnan departs, leaving behind a legacy in Alzheimer's drug development

Biogen Chief Medical Officer and Head of Medical Affairs Maha Radhakrishnan, M.D., has left the company. 

A spokesperson for Biogen confirmed her departure Friday, saying she left “to pursue new endeavors aligned with her career aspirations.” Alto Neuroscience announced earlier this week that she was joining the company’s board of directors. 

Priya Singhal, M.D., head of development, is serving as interim chief medical officer, the Biogen spokesperson said.

Radhakrishnan emerged as one of the faces of Biogen's push to get the first Alzheimer's disease drug in decades approved. While the company achieved that historic step with Aduhelm, the drug launch quickly fell apart. It's now been shelved, and in its place has risen Leqembi.

Speaking to Fierce Biotech in November 2021, Radhakrishnan said she was proud to be a part of the science that advanced the understanding of Alzheimer's.  

“I cannot express how fulfilling this is. It is indeed a proud moment,” she said. “But along with the pride also comes a sense of accountability, the sense of responsibility that we really need to keep the patient front and center of everything we do.”

Maha Radhakrishnan
Maha Radhakrishnan (Biogen) (1)

This wraps up Radhakrishnan’s second stint at the company after she rejoined in January 2020. She previously was at Biogen from 2013 to 2016, as vice president of U.S. medical before overseeing Canada and Europe medical. Between 2016 and 2020, Radhakrishnan had stints at Sanofi and Bioverativ, the latter of which was bought by Sanofi in 2018. 

In her previous Fierce interview, Radhakrishnan said: “I always tell people that I never left Biogen … I tell people Biogen is in my DNA.”

Confirmation of Radhakrishnan’s exit follows news that Voyager Therapeutics had plucked Biogen’s head of neuromuscular development, Toby Ferguson, M.D. He joins the Al Sandrock-led biotech as its new chief medical officer. Replacing him at Biogen is Stephanie Fradette, who has worked her way up the medical director chain over six years on the clinical development team.

The reconfiguration of the clinical development team comes just as top brass was hoping to build its stride following a year of layoffs and strategic refocusing. Adam Keeney, Ph.D., EVP and head of corporate development, recently told Fierce Biotech that he felt Biogen was well situated to execute in 2024.

“I think we've got a clear direction, [and] we've got a clear goal that I think will be successful, and it will be a very different Biogen than it was two or three years ago,” he said.

Last fall, the neuroscience pharma hired Jane Grogan, Ph.D., to lead the research team, plucking her from Graphite Bio. Though it was early days in her tenure, she told Fierce Biotech that her priorities were relatively modality-agnostic, as long as they fit within the company’s core therapeutic areas of neurodegeneration, neuroinflammation and neuromuscular conditions. She expressed a bit of trepidation about cell and gene therapies, saying the classes needed to mature, and was out on psychedelics.