Chutes and Ladders—Seattle Genetics names former Keytruda developer as CMO

Welcome to this week's Chutes and Ladders, our roundup of hirings, firings and retirings throughout the industry. (Pixabay)

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, and we will feature it here at the end of each week.

Seattle Genetics names former Keytruda developer as CMO

Seattle Genetics
Roger Dansey joined as chief medical officer.

Roger Dansey—who previously helped lead Merck’s late-stage oncology work, including research on Keytruda in multiple tumor types—will take over for Jonathan Drachman, who will stay on at Seattle Genetics as a strategic advisor. Dansey has also served as a senior vice president at Merck, as well as VP for oncology clinical research at Gilead Sciences. Before that, he led Amgen’s global development of Xgeva. FierceBiotech

Ex-Pfizer executives join Roivant’s C-suite

Roivant Sciences logo
Roivant Sciences
Salomon Azoulay was named chief medical officer, while Adele Gulfo was recruited as chief of commercial development.


The pair of Pfizer veterans join after Roivant launched its latest “vant” spinoff, the RNA-focused Genevant, in partnership with Arbutus Biopharma. Azoulay is coming off a nearly two-decade career at Pfizer, most recently as senior VP and CMO for Pfizer Essential Health. Gulfo joins from Mylan, where she was an executive VP and chief strategy officer. She previously served as a VP at AstraZeneca, and also led Pfizer’s business in the U.S. and Latin America. FierceBiotech article

Aravive CEO Stephen Eck leaves to join Immatics

Stephen Eck will serve as chief medical officer.

The former Astellas executive has moved on, a year after taking the helm of Fierce 15 winner Aravive Biologics. Previously, Eck served as VP and global head of oncology medical sciences at Astellas and also held senior roles at Pfizer and Eli Lilly. He joins the German T cell specialist after a $58 million funding round held last year with Amgen’s support, following a $1 billion immunotherapy collaboration between the two. FierceBiotech article 

> Former Novo Nordisk CEO Lars Rebien Sørensen will become the new chairman of the board of directors of the life science investment arm Novo Holdings, effective July 1. At the end of 2017, Novo Holdings wholly or partly owned 85 life science companies in the U.S. and Europe. Sørensen will replace Sten Scheibye, who is retiring. Release

> Pfizer veteran Travis Wager was named VP of research at Aquinnah Pharmaceuticals. Wager wore various hats during his 20-year tenure at Pfizer, including leading small molecule design and as project leader in neuroscience and pain research, developing compounds targeting Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, ADHD, narcolepsy and allergic rhinitis. FierceBiotech article

> Athena Countouriotis joined TP Therapeutics as executive VP and chief medical officer after resigning from Adverum Biotechnologies following 11 months as CMO. Countouriotis has previously held roles at Halozyme Therapeutics, Ambit Biosciences, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer. FierceBiotech article

> Sensei Bio, formerly Panacea Pharmaceuticals, appointed John Celebi as CEO. Celebi was previously chief operating officer of X4 Pharmaceuticals, following tenure as chief business officer of Igenica Biotherapeutics. FierceBiotech article

> Industry and FDA veteran Brian Harvey joined Thetis Pharmaceuticals as senior medical director to develop treatments for inflammatory bowel disease. Harvey previously held VP of regulatory strategy posts at Pfizer and Sanofi-Aventis after working as an FDA division director for gastroenterology products. Release

> Precera Bioscience, formerly Sano, appointed Pamela Weir as president and CEO earlier this year, along with a new leadership team including J. Scott Daniels as chief scientific officer and Betty Hawkins as senior VP of business development and operations. Release (PDF)

> Jeri Thomas joined Liquidia Technologies as senior VP for commercial. Thomas was previously senior VP for strategic group planning at Harrison and Star, a healthcare marketing agency. Release

> Blink Health named Susan Lang as chief strategy officer. Lang was previously senior VP and chief supply chain officer at Express Scripts. Release