Chutes & Ladders—Allergan taps Celgene vet Bob Hugin for M&A guidance

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

Allergan taps Celgene vet Bob Hugin for M&A guidance

Bob Hugin

Bob Hugin will head a new, deal-focused committee.

The former Celgene CEO and M&A engineer will lead a panel with three current Allergan board members, which the troubled biotech says will “provide focused oversight on mergers, acquisitions, divestitures and other transactions.” Allergan also revealed it had slashed compensation for Brent Saunders, who currently holds both the CEO and chairman roles, down to $6.6 million for 2018—less than a quarter of the $32.8 million he took home in 2017. But some activist investors weren’t happy with the new panel, with the hedge fund Appaloosa describing the "half-measures" as "no more than a meaningless series of gestures intended to preserve the current system of lax oversight and further entrench management." FiercePharma

Imara gains former Pfizer rare disease executive as CMO

Willem Scheele, M.D., was named chief medical officer.

Imara has had a good month, securing $63 million in a crossover round to advance its sickle cell drug, currently in a phase 2a trial. Now it has nabbed Pfizer’s clinical rare disease lead, Scheele, to oversee the program and manage the company's overall clinical efforts. His tenure at Pfizer stretches back to Wyeth, which the Big Biotech bought out a decade ago. He replaces interim CMO Shi Yin Foo, M.D., of the orphan drug accelerator Cydan, whichlaunched Imara in 2016 with a $31 million series A. FierceBiotech

iTeos brings on Sanofi cancer VP as CMO

iTeos Therapeutics
Joanne Lager, M.D., was appointed CMO, effective April 1.

Belgian immunotherapy developer iTeos snagged Sanofi VP and head of global oncology development after it raised $75 million last June to bring two of its assets to the clinic, and fund an expansion to new offices in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Since then, iTeos launched a phase 1 trial of its A2A antagonist, while its TIGIT antibody is slated to enter the clinic in the second half of this year. FierceBiotech

Liquid biopsy developer Epic Sciences has brought on Myriad Genetics’ oncology chief, Lloyd Sanders, to be its new president and CEO. Sanders takes over for Murali Prahalad, who is stepping down after six years but will maintain a seat on Epic’s board of directors. At Myriad, Sanders oversaw the cancer, urology and dermatology commercial units as president, and was responsible for sales, marketing and lab operations for several molecular diagnostics. FierceMedTech

Swedish p53 cancer biotech Aprea Therapeutics has nabbed former Agios senior medical director Eyal Attar as its senior VP and CMO. Attar worked on Agios’ two blood cancer drugs: the Celgene-partnered Idhifa, which was approved in acute myeloid leukemia, as well as its wholly owned Tibsovo, an oral drug to treat AML patients with IDH1 mutations. FierceBiotech

Oxford University spinout OxStem has appointed Stuart Collinson as chairman and CEO, as part of a planned transition to succeed Michael Stein. Previously, Collinson was chairman and CEO of Aurora Biosciences and held senior positions at GlaxoWellcome and Baxter International, and has served on the boards of several biotech companies. Release (PDF)

Fresenius Medical Care created a new global medical office to head up its clinical science work, and has named Frank Maddux to run it as global chief medical officer. The dialysis provider also promoted Robert Kossmann to serve as CMO for North America, and named Fresenius Kidney Care CMO Jeffrey Hymes as senior VP for clinical and scientific affairs at Fresenius Medical Care North America. FierceMedTech

Cancer vaccine developer Elicio Therapeutics has launched with $30 million, MIT tech and a new CEO with Robert Connelly, until recently a venture partner at Flagship Pioneering. Connelly helped found the antibody developer Domantis, eventually sold to GSK, and served as CEO of Pulmatrix and Axcella Health. FierceBiotech

WindMIL Therapeutics has brought on Sanjin Zvonić, Ph.D., as VP of process science and manufacturing. Previously, Zvonić served as senior director and business leader of clinical and commercial manufacturing at Hitachi Chemical Advanced Therapeutics Solutions, as Progenitor Cell Therapy integrated into Hitachi. Release

Stryker’s chairman and CEO, Kevin Lobo, was named AdvaMed's chairman of the board of directors for a two-year term. Lobo has been a member of the association's board since 2012 and a member of its executive committee since 2014, and has chaired its International Committee and Industry Communications Committee. Release

Drug discoverer Schrödinger has named Brian Shoichet, Ph.D., to its scientific advisory board. Shoichet serves in the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry at the University of California, San Francisco, where his lab applies computational modeling to experimental testing and new chemotype discovery. Release

AbbVie is culling 178 jobs permanently from Stemcentrx, a biotech it spent $5.8 billion on, with up to $10 billion on the table in total in 2016, from its base in South San Francisco. FierceBiotech

Roche said it will close its production plant in Rio de Janeiro over the next 4 to 5 years, with plans to sell the site with no production commitments. The plant has about 440 employees and 200 contractors onsite, where it makes drugs for the local market and Europe. FiercePharmaManufacturing

Bluebird Bio has completed a 125,000-square-foot, $80 million lentiviral vector manufacturing facility in Durham, North Carolina. It currently houses 50 employees, which the company thinks will grow to 70 by the end of the year. FiercePharmaManufacturing

Less than two years after revealing a multimillion-dollar upgrade for its plant in Macclesfield, U.K., AstraZeneca announced plans to slash almost 100 jobs out of a total of around 1,800, in what the local union called a “hammer blow” to U.K. manufacturing. The site is AZ’s second-largest manufacturing facility. FiercePharmaManufacturing