CAR-T player Cellectis poaches Stefan Scherer from Novartis

Cellectis lab
A researcher at a Cellectis lab (Cellectis)

Cellectis has named Stefan Scherer, M.D., Ph.D., as its SVP of clinical development. Scherer joins the off-the-shelf CAR-T pioneer from Novartis, where he headed up U.S. oncology early development and strategy.

France’s Cellectis is working to advance allogeneic CAR-T drugs into and through clinical development internally and in collaboration with Arie Belldegrun’s Allogene Therapeutics. With those activities gathering pace, Cellectis has bolstered its access to North American clinical development expertise by hiring Scherer to work out of its New York office.

At Novartis, Scherer led efforts to get immuno-oncology assets into early clinical development in the U.S. Prior to that, Scherer spent time at molecular diagnostics company Biocartis and working on cancer biomarkers at Roche, giving him a grounding in topics that underpin many successful oncology R&D programs.

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Scherer forms part of a new-look clinical leadership team at Cellectis. Having entered the clinic under the oversight of Loan Hoang-Sayag, M.D., Cellectis lured Stéphane Depil, M.D., Ph.D., back out of academia to take over as CMO December. Scherer will report to Depil, who headed up oncology R&D at Servier before leaving industry to run the cancer immunotherapy program at a cancer center in Lyon.

On paper, Depil and Scherer have complementary experience and expertise. Cellectis CEO André Choulika highlighted Scherer’s strengths in a statement, pointing to the SVP’s “strong track record of alliance- and relationship-building” to talk up his likely impact on the biotech.

“As we continue to evolve our efforts to accelerate the access to patients of our off-the-shelf, gene-edited CAR T-cell product candidates, Stefan will be a key driver in the advancement of our product pipeline and programs overall,” Choulika said.

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