Chutes & Ladders—Aerie taps former Allergan exec as new VP


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

Aerie Pharmaceuticals hires former Allergan, Alcon exec to help lead clinical, medical affairs

Aerie Pharmaceuticals
Michelle Senchyna, Ph.D., has been tapped as VP of clinical development and medical affairs.

Senchyna will “lead and direct the clinical development and medical affairs strategy for the company,” it said in a statement, and comes off a stint as executive director of ophthalmology at Allergan, having also worked at Alcon and Panoptica. The change comes at a time when Aerie is working to get its ophthalmology franchise off the ground. The FDA approved Rocklatan in open-angle glaucoma last March, a little more than one year after it greenlighted Aerie’s first glaucoma drug, Rhopressa. However, sales have fallen short of expectations, leading Aerie to lower its 2019 revenue guidance by more than one-third last year. FierceBiotech

Boston Pharmaceuticals nabs Novartis veteran as new CMO

Boston Pharmaceuticals
Craig Basson, M.D., Ph.D., has left Novartis to join as CMO.

Basson joins the early-stage private biotech after serving at the Swiss Big Pharma for a decade, most recently as its global head of translational medicine (cardiovascular and metabolism) where he led the team developing new programs to translate basic findings into new drugs. Gurnet Point launched Boston back in 2015 with a $600 million financial commitment. Since then, Boston scoured the world for the best available assets in any therapeutic area that have advanced as far as IND-enabling studies but no further than phase 2, resulting in deals with Daiichi Sankyo and Pierre Fabre. The hunt for assets led Boston back in 2018 to sit down with GSK and Novartis and strike two of its biggest deals to date, which saw it pick up three anti-infectives jettisoned by Novartis. FierceBiotech

After losing its CMO last summer, CytomX Therapeutics finally nabs a replacement 

CytomX Therapeutics
Alison Hannah, M.D., will step in as CMO. 

Hannah will help guide the biotech’s clinical development, coming in with experience from a long line of roles including at CRO Quintiles and Sugen (now Pfizer) and, most recently, as a board member at NeoGenomics. She comes to the company half a year after Rachel Humphrey, M.D., abruptly left CytomX Therapeutics last August as its chief medical officer. Startup Treadwell Therapeutics hired Humphrey as its new CMO as part of her role at venture capital firm TIO Bioventures, which helped launch Treadwell Therapeutics last month. Her departure came amid a tough year for the biotech and six months after CytomX partner Bristol-Myers Squibb abandoned three discovery-stage programs from a $3.6 billion biobucks deal struck in 2017. FierceBiotech

> Gabriela Gruia, M.D., who oversaw regulatory affairs for Novartis’ oncology team, is Ichnos Sciences’ new chief development officer. She joins Alessandro Riva, M.D., who left the Swiss pharma for a stint at Gilead in 2017 and took Ichnos’ helm early last year. Riva, Novartis’ longtime global oncology development head, arrived at Ichnos before it even had a name—at least one that was publicly known. In March 2019, Glenmark, an Indian company best known for its generics, announced that Riva would take charge of a spinout that would hit the ground running with eight pipeline assets, about 400 staffers and three R&D sites. FierceBiotech

> Biomarin has transitioned executive VP and CFO Dan Spiegelman to senior adviser and will stay in the role until Sept. 1 to oversee the hiring of a replacement. Brian R. Mueller, senior VP of finance and chief accounting officer, has assumed the role of acting CFO. Release

> Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Amylyx Pharmaceuticals has tapped Jeffrey Trigilio as the company’s first CFO. Trigilio most recently served as VP of finance at BlueRock Therapeutics and previously held roles of increasing responsibility at Alexion Pharmaceuticals. Release

> North Carolina-based Aerami Therapeutics has tapped Timm Crowder, Ph.D., as COO. Crowder most recently served as COO at SPYRYX Biosciences and previously was the director of advanced manufacturing technology at GlaxoSmithKline. Release

> South San Francisco-based Portola Pharmaceuticals has named Rajiv Patni, M.D., as executive vice president and chief medical officer. Patni was most recently chief medical officer at Adamas Pharmaceuticals and has held senior roles at Actelion Pharmaceuticals, Roche and Pfizer. Release

> San Diego-based Epirium Bio has appointed Ransi Somaratne, M.D., as CMO. Most recently, Somaratne served as core team leader for BioMarin Pharmaceutical. Release (PDF)

> Danish drugmaker Galecto has appointed Bertil Lindmark as chief medical officer. Lindmark joins from eTheRNA immunotherapies NV and previously served as global VP of clinical development for AstraZeneca's respiratory and inflammation franchises. Release

> Waltham, Massachusetts-based Dyne Therapeutics is fleshing out its executive team with the additions of Oxana Beskrovnaya, Ph.D., as senior vice president and head of research; Chris Mix, M.D., as senior vice president of clinical development; and John Najim, as vice president of chemistry, manufacturing and controls. Release

> North Carolina-based Pappas Capital has tapped Karen LeVert as venture partner. Prior to Pappas, LeVert most recently  co-founded two independent innovation labs, Southeast TechInventures and Ag TechInventures.

> U.K.-based PhoreMost Limited has named Benedict (Ben) Cross, Ph.D., as senior director of technology to direct the evolution and development of the company’s Siteseeker screening platform. Release