Chutes & Ladders—Alder poaches Juno executive for CEO

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.


Alder poaches Juno executive as CEO to prep for its migraine launch

Alder Biopharmaceuticals
Robert Azelby was named president and CEO, effective June 13.

Alder brought on Juno Therapeutics’ executive VP and chief commercial officer to add operational expertise as it looks to submit its lead migraine treatment for the company’s first FDA approval. Azelby helped develop and implement Juno’s CAR-T strategy, culminating in its $9 billion acquisition by Celgene in January. He takes over for Paul Cleveland, who has been serving as interim CEO since March, following the departure of Randall Schatzman, who led the biotech since co-founding it in 2002. FierceBiotech

Allergan brings in Abbott vet after investors demand change


Thomas Freyman was appointed to Abbott’s board of directors, effective immediately.

Freyman retired from Abbott last year as executive VP of finance and administration. Allergan also announced that director Patrick O'Sullivan will retire from the company’s board in July. The change is part of what Allergan calls an "active board refreshment process,” after a cadre of investors demanded changes in leadership, specifically that Chairman and CEO Brent Saunders split his two roles and replace at least two board members. FiercePharma

resTORbio hires Novartis researcher as clinical VP

Kerry Russell, M.D., Ph.D., will serve as VP of clinical development.

Russell was previously a senior director and translational medicine expert in the cardiovascular division at the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research. Prior to that, she was an associate professor at the Yale School of Medicine. She’s taking on resTORbio’s newly created VP role as the company aims to expand its pipeline in aging-related diseases. Novartis helped spin out the company when it offloaded two small molecule assets to the PureTech subsidiary last year, and it maintains a minority stake in resTORbio. FierceBiotech

> Imara appointed Rahul Ballal, Ph.D., as its new CEO as the company looks to expand its sickle cell treatment into mid- and late-stage clinical trials. Ballal was previously chief business officer at Northern Biologics. Release

> Deborah Geraghty, Ph.D., joined Anokion as chief business officer. The Swiss biotech also promoted co-founder and research VP Stephan Kontos, Ph.D., to chief scientific officer, and named Tony Rossomando, Ph.D., as VP of technical operations. Geraghty was formerly VP of corporate strategy at Dimension Therapeutics. Release

> Medical device manufacturer AirXpanders brought on Frank Grillo as president and CEO. Grillo previously held roles at Boston Scientific, Kyphon, Intuitive Surgical and MRI Interventions. Release

> Finch Therapeutics Group hired Ulrich Thienel, Ph.D., M.D., as chief medical officer and Gregory Perry as chief financial officer. Thienel previously held positions at RRD International, Takeda, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Johnson & Johnson. Perry joins following roles at Novelion Therapeutics, Eleven Biotherapeutics, ImmunoGen, Domantis and Transkaryotic Therapies. Release

> Science Exchange named Rob Mihalko VP of marketing and Alex Slater VP of business development and general manager for Europe. Release

> Novo Nordisk plans to lay off 3,000 employees and cut its long-term financial outlook, following a similar move in 2016, according to a Danish newspaper. A Novo spokesperson told FiercePharma discussions of what the plan will look like are premature, and the company continually assesses and adjusts plans as needed. FiercePharma

> The French drugmaker Ipsen plans to move its U.S. headquarters from New Jersey to Cambridge, Massachusetts, with an aim of adding 200 people to its workforce. FierceBiotech

> Massachusetts' attorney general has filed suit against Purdue Pharma and its billionaire owners, the Sackler family, as well as current and former executives, for the manufacturer’s role in the opioid crisis. FiercePharma