Chutes & Ladders—Alchemab CEO resigns immediately citing 'personal reasons'

 Chutes and LaddersWelcome 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 Max Bayer, and we will feature it here at the end of each week.

Alchemab CEO Treco resigns immediately citing "personal reasons" 

Alchemab Therapeutics

Former Alchemab CEO Doug Treco

Alchemab Therapeutics CEO Doug Treco, Ph.D., has resigned immediately due to "personal reasons." The company wouldn't elaborate but named chief financial and business officer Young Kwon, Ph.D., CEO. Treco's swift exit marks the end of a brief tenure leading Alchemab that lasted just more than a year, according to his LinkedIn profile, however the company did not announce his appointment until June 2021. Treco's LinkedIn also indicates he remains chairman of Inozyme Pharma's board and board member of CRISPR Therapeutics.

Kwon's promotion comes just six months after he was hired by the company as chief financial and development officer. Prior to that he was CFO and CBO at Momenta Pharmaceuticals, helping oversee financing rounds and, ultimately, the company's $6.5 billion sale to Johnson & Johnson. Before joining Momenta, Kwon was a senior director of business development at Biogen. 

The leadership shift comes as Alchemab is looking to ramp up development of its infant monoclonal antibody pipeline, which by and large remains in the discovery phase, except for one asset in the preclinical stage. The company closed an $82 million series A in April 2021. Release

Civetta builds out it's scientific team, naming a CSO and SVP of Chemistry 

Civetta Therapeutics

A year and a half after raising just more than $50 million in a series A round, Civetta has found its scientific leadership, naming Jesse Smith, Ph.D., as chief scientific officer and Susan Ashwell, Ph.D., as senior vice president of chemistry.

Smith jumps from small biotech to small biotech, having just been at Remix Therapeutics as SVP of Biology. While there, he helped build out the company's RNA degrading platform that's attracted more than $150 million in financing, including a $70 million series B. It also enticed Janssen enough to partner up in a deal worth potentially $1 billion in exchange for three targets in oncology and immunology. Ashwell joins from UCB, Cambridge where she was head of medicinal chemistry, a role she moved into after the company acquired Ra Pharmaceuticals. She also spent more than 10 years at AstraZeneca, advancing to director of cancer chemistry. 

Both Smith and Ashwell have come aboard in the very early days of Civetta, a cancer therapeutics biotech founded by researchers from William Sellers, M.D., and Eric Fischer, Ph.D., researchers at both Harvard Medical School and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The company aims to develop new therapies by building small molecules targeting beta-propeller domains. Release

Former Nkarta CMO Rajangam joins Senti Bio in similar role

Senti Bio

Senti Bio CMO Kanya Rajangam

After more than three years overseeing Nkarta Therapeutics' clinical work, Kanya Rajangam, M.D., Ph.D., is jumping ship for a new challenge, joining Senti Bio in an expanded capacity as chief medical and development officer. Backed by Bayer's venture arm, Leaps by Bayer, the company is working to build a suite of cell and gene therapies using off-the-shelf natural killer cells.

Evidently, Rajangam's experience bolstering Nkarta's natural killer cell-focused pipeline caught the attention of Senti's leadership. The two companies are competing in the CAR-NK space, a budding alternative cell therapy to CAR-Ts. Prior to joining Nkarta, Ranjangam held CMO positions at two other biotechs, Atara Biotherapeutics and Cleave Biosciences. Rajangam's hiring marks Senti's unofficial preparation for the clinic after years of building out its platform; the company plans to launch two assets into phase 1 trials next year. 

After nabbing more than $100 million in series B funds in early 2021, the company hit Wall Street via SPAC in December, merging with Dynamics Special Purpose Corp. The deal valued the company at $601 million. Release

> Nouscom elevates Rick Davis to chief operating officer less than two years after being hired as chief business officer in September 2020. Prior to joining Nouscom, Davis oversaw investment opportunities in oncology for Johnson & Johnson Innovation. Release

> Nineteen-year Thermo Fisher Scientific vet Mark Aitkenhead, Ph.D., bolts to lead commercial operations at Element Biosciences. As chief commercial officer, Aitkenhead will oversee commercial functions of the gene-sequencing-focused company and help launch new products. Release

> Michelle Gilson is jumping from biotech analyst to biotech executive, joining Arcellx's C-suite as chief financial officer. Her switch from investment firm to industry comes on the heels of analyst Ronny Gal joining Novartis to guide its strategy and business execution. Release

> CN Bio has a new business chief, naming Paul Brooks as chief business officer to oversee the commercial strategy. The company designs in vivo human-based models for scientists to test on, a platform coined "organ-on-a-chip." Release

> Former Editas CEO Katrine Bosley is bouncing over to venture capital, joining Advent Life Sciences as a venture partner. She departed the CRISPR-based company in January 2019 but remains on the board of Arrakis Therapeutics and Galapagos. Release

> Astellas is shoring up the top of its oncology business team, naming Phil Tennant as SVP and head of the oncology business unit, to be replaced by John Demaree as SVP and head of global oncology strategic brand marketing. Tennant has previous experience marketing cancer drugs, having joined Astellas from Bristol Myers Squibb where he led the marketing of the hematology unit in the U.S. 

> After nearly 20 years at investment behemoth OrbiMed, Chau Khuong is joining Catalio Capital Management as a general partner and senior adviser. Over the course of his career, companies that Khuong has invested in have churned out 12 FDA-approved medicines or devices. Release

> Nanoscope Therapeutics has a pair of new corporate whisperers, naming ophthalmology veterans Naveed Shams, M.D., Ph.D., and Thomas Ciulla, M.D., as advisers to the board. The two have more than 50 years of combined work experience, much of it spanning clinical development and executive roles in ophthalmology, a valuable asset as Nanoscope eyes its own gene therapies to treat retinal degenerative disease. Release

> Precision oncology biotech Shasqi has filled a pair of roles atop its development team, naming Steve Abella, M.D., as chief medical officer and Scott Wieland, Ph.D., as SVP of clinical development. The company is currently in a phase 1 trial for its chemotherapy, which it touts as not sacrificing toxicity for therapeutic firepower. Release

> Oxford, England-based Beckley Psytech has hired Laura Trespidi as chief development officer. Her appointment comes seven months after dosing began in a phase 1 safety trial testing the psychedelic DMT in psychedelic-naive patients. Release

> MindMed has plucked Schond Greenway from Avalo Therapeutics to be chief business officer, leaving his CFO post at Avalo. He'll join a biotech in MindMed that's designing a slate of meds targeting brain health-related conditions, such as addiction and psychiatric disorders. Release

> Drew Young is joining Anthos Therapeutics as chief commercial officer and head of patient experience as the company plows a head in a number of late-stage trials of its metabolic and cardiovascular treatment abelacimab. Leading the way are two phase 3 trials for patients with cancer-associated thrombosis. Release

> Following two and half years overseeing the rollout of FDA-approved Arikayce, Insamed's Drayton Wise had been promoted to chief commercial officer. The med, which is approved to treat a rare bacteria-caused lung disease, raked in more than $180 million in 2021, an almost 15% increase from the year before. However, sales in the U.S. remained stagnant. Release

> Former Zai Lab president and executive Tao Fu is headed to VC, hopping aboard Fraiser Life Sciences as venture partner. The firm's funds have raised more than $3 billion, and five dozen companies that it's invested in since 2005 have gone public or been bought out. Release (PDF)