Chutes & Ladders—Alexion bids farewell to CFO Clancy in possible M&A pivot


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.

Alexion replaces CFO Clancy and his 'legendary caution.' Could an M&A spree follow?

CFO Paul Clancy will depart after third-quarter earnings.

The longtime pharma exec and more-than-two-year CFO at Alexion will step down in favor of Aradhana Sarin, M.D., Alexion’s chief strategy and business officer responsible for the drugmaker’s $2 billion in recent pipeline acquisitions. Clancy will remain on as a senior adviser through mid-2020, the company said in a Tuesday release. Clancy’s tenure at Alexion was marked by relative stability in the drugmaker’s finances, backed by what one analyst called a “cautious … and disciplined” hand that may have no longer resonated with an Alexion board hungry for deals. FiercePharma

Black Diamond grabs trio of new R&D execs as it barrels toward the clinic

Black Diamond
The company will pick up three R&D execs, including new CSO Chris Roberts.

Matt Lucas, Ph.D., and Tai-An Lin, Ph.D., will also join the biotech as vice president of chemistry and VP and head of biology, respectively. The Versant Ventures biotech raised $85 million in a series B at the start of the year, coming just weeks after Black Diamond exited stealth mode. It broke cover with a $20 million in series A and a platform designed to identify and target allosteric mutant oncogenes. Together, these cash grabs teed up the allosteric oncogenic mutation specialist up to move two or three candidates into the clinic in the coming years. FierceBiotech

X4 Pharma founder Renato Skerlj signs on as its R&D chief

X4 Pharma
Founder Renato Skerlj will take over as R&D head. 

The appointment follows that of X4 CMO E. Lynne Kelley, M.D., in April. The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company has been working on its lead asset, mavorixafor, for the rare primary immunodeficiency disorder WHIM syndrome and a number of other rare diseases. Skerlj founded the company alongside CEO Paula Ragan, Ph.D., and biotech luminary Henri TermeerFierceBiotech

> Sanofi has notified the Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corporation—which owns about 20% of the company’s local outfit—that it's planning to exit the country after 60 years there, the Financial Express said. The departure could endanger 1,200 local employees as Sanofi aims to sell its approximately 55% share in the local company, with the Bangladeshi government owning the remaining 45%. FiercePharma

> Roche is in the process of a "phased exit" at its site in Clarecastle, Ireland, and is planning 132 layoffs at the plant. The drugmaker expects the process to conclude by March 2020 and has set aside €24 million for the employees who are still working at the site. That means each worker could be in line for a €180,000 termination payment. FiercePharma

> Samuel Agresta, M.D., and Allan Reine, M.D., have been tapped as the newest CMO and CFO, respectively, for Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Foghorn Therapeutics. Agresta previously served as CMO at Infinity Pharmaceuticals and as VP and head of clinical development at Agios Pharmaceuticals. Reine joins Foghorn from Pieris Pharmaceuticals, where he served since August 2017 as CFO. Prior to that, he was a healthcare portfolio manager at Lombard Odier Asset Management from 2012 through early 2017. Release

> New York-based Everest Medicines has expanded its leadership teams with the appointments of Jason Brown as CBO, Frank Grams as senior VP of alliance management and head of business development in Europe, Sophia Zhu as senior VP of portfolio development and strategic planning, Alex Wang as head of international business and Daniel Weng as VP of finance. Release

> San Francisco-based Encoded Therapeutics has named David McNinch as its newest CBO and Andrew Stober as CMO. Stober previously led gene therapy manufacturing for Novartis, and McNinch previously served as a consultant for Encoded. Release

> Princeton, New Jersey-based Oyster Point Pharma has tapped Dan Lochner as its CFO and John Snisarenko as CCO. Lochner joins Oyster Point Pharma after spending nearly 15 years at Goldman Sachs, most recently as a managing director. Snisarenko most recently served as group VP and head of ophthalmic business at Takeda. Release

> Peter Catalino, M.D., has taken over as Vertex’s senior VP and head of global marketing. Catalino previously served as global commercial head of cardiovascular, renal and metabolic for Novartis, where he headed up marketing for cardiovascular drug Entresto, among others.

> Allen Poirson, Ph.D., has been tapped as Mountain View, California-based twoXAR’s senior VP of biopharmaceutical business development. Poirson previously served as CEO for Sony Biotechnology, a wholly owned subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America, and most recently was a partner at Mighty Capital, a Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm. Release

> San Francisco-based insitro has named Matthew Rasmussen, Ph.D., as VP of data engineering and Duane Valz as general counsel. Rasmussen joins insitro from Myriad Genetics, where he served as VP of software engineering and previously held engineering roles at Counsyl. Valz most recently served as general counsel at Zymergen. Release

> China-based CANbridge Pharmaceuticals is expanding its operations leadership team with the appointment of Lisa Li as VP of rare disease and Guofang Liu as head of market access. Li most recently served as commercial director for rheumatology in the Japan-Asia Pacific region for AbbVie and previously held the role of business unit director for immunology in China for the drugmaker. Liu joins CANbridge from Novartis Oncology China, where she served as central market access for oncology and rare disease products.

> Christine Loh, Ph.D., has been named senior VP and head of biology at Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Nimbus Therapeutics. Loh previously served as VP of translational medicine at Kymera Therapeutics and executive director of research at Bioverativ. Release

> Watertown, Massachusetts-based SQZ Biotechnologies has pegged Lawrence Knopf as the company’s general counsel. Knopf most recently served as senior VP, general counsel and secretary at Heartware International. Prior to that, Knopf served as senior VP and deputy general counsel at Boston Scientific. Release (PDF)