Chutes and Ladders—Atara hires ex-Genentech SVP to lead R&D

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Chutes and Ladders

Welcome to this week's Chutes and Ladders, our roundup of hirings, firings and retirings throughout the industry. Please send the good word—or the bad—from your shop to Conor Hale (email), and we will feature it here at the end of each week.


Atara hires ex-Genentech SVP to lead global R&D

Atara Logo
Dietmar Berger


Atara Biotherapeutics
Dietmar Berger was named global head of R&D.

Berger joins Atara as it approaches a European filing this year for conditional approval of its cytotoxic T cell treatment ATA129, currently in phase 3 trials targeting the Epstein-Barr virus and post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder. During his seven years at Genentech, Berger helped develop the PD-L1 immune checkpoint inhibitor Tecentriq, and the cancer therapies Alecensa and Gazyva. FierceBiotech

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Semma names former Novartis, Magenta exec as new CEO

Semma Therapeutics

Semma Therapeutics
Bastiano Sanna was appointed president and CEO.

Sanna, formerly of Novartis’ cell and gene therapy unit and Magenta Therapeutics, joins the company following a $114 million series B funding round late last year. He stepped down as COO of Magenta in March, and prior to that helped oversee Novartis’ CAR-T cell therapy development as global head of stem cell transplant programs. Semma’s main project looks to differentiate pancreatic stem cells into insulin producers as a treatment for Type 1 diabetes. FierceBiotech


GlaxoSmithKline CFO heads for the exit, following his C-suite peers

GlaxoSmithKline saves $431M moving retirees to private healthcare exchanges

GlaxoSmithKline
CFO Simon Dingemans plans to retire and step down from the board next May.

GSK has kicked off a global internal and external search to find a replacement for Dingemans, who joined the company from Goldman Sachs in 2011. CEO Emma Walmsley, who took over for Andrew Witty following his retirement last year, has replaced 40% of GSK’s top management in her first nine months, including naming Roche veteran Hal Barron as its new R&D chief and former AstraZeneca executive Luke Miels as pharma head. FiercePharma 


> Amber Salzman stepped down as president and CEO of Adverum Biotechnologies; CFO Leone Patterson will serve in the interim. In addition, Athena Countouriotis resigned after 11 months as CMO. Adverum’s VP of clinical development, Linda Neuman, will serve as interim CMO and take over the company’s phase 1/2 trial of ADVM-043 in A1AT deficiency. FierceBiotech

> Allogene Therapeutics is looking to poach veteran Cowen biotech analyst Eric Schmidt for its next CFO, according to reports. The off-the-shelf CAR-T startup recently raised $300 million in series A funding. FierceBiotech

> Motif Bio appointed Stephanie Noviello as VP for clinical development. Noviello previously served as lead of Bristol-Myers Squibb’s clinical virology program, and helped oversee portfolios in HIV and hepatitis B and C. At Motif, she will help guide a European submission for the antibiotic iclaprim. Release

> Tango Therapeutics expanded its management team, adding Charles Davis as senior VP for pharmaceutical sciences and promoting Alan Huang to chief scientific officer. Davis joins from the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, where he served as VP of pharmacokinetic sciences. At Tango, he will be responsible for drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics, safety assessment and clinical pharmacology. Huang previously joined the company as senior VP and head of biology. Release

> UpWell Health named Patrick Grosso as chief administrative officer and Josh Walker as chief operating officer. Grosso previously served as chief legal officer and VP of strategic initiatives at headphone manufacturer Skullcandy. Walker served as COO at Imagine Health and Optum. The company has recently expanded its bench, including appointing marketing VP Valerie Adams Meffert, Josh Harris as VP of member services, and Melissa Floren as VP of strategic partnerships. Release

> Steven Louie joined BioIVT as director of transporter sciences, and will lead expansion of the company’s hepatic transporter business, research and in vivo study design. Louie brings over 20 years of pharma experience, previously leading programs at GlaxoSmithKline, Merck and Amgen. He was elected chair of the Drug Transport Focus Group of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientsts in 2016. Release

> Matthew Stark was appointed VP of clinical and regulatory affairs at Cardiac Dimensions, to help oversee development of minimally invasive treatments for heart failure. Stark served as regulatory affairs VP at Terumo Aortic, formerly Bolton Medical, and previously led the medical affairs department for Spectranetics. Release