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 LaHucik, and we will feature it here at the end of each week.
AstraZeneca names Galbraith as Baselga successor in cancer R&D
Susan Galbraith, Ph.D., is moving up the ladder to executive vice president of oncology research and development to fill the shoes of the late José Baselga.
After 11 years working on cancer therapies for the Big Pharma, Galbraith will now lead cancer R&D. The internal promotion, following Baselga's death in March, allows AstraZeneca to follow the same strategy and avoid hiring externally. Galbraith had a hand in recent successes that have made oncology pivotal to AstraZeneca's future. A Fiercest Women in Life Sciences in 2018, Galbraith played a role in the development of PARP inhibitor Lynparza and tyrosine kinase inhibitor Tagrisso. Prior to AstraZeneca, Galbraith spent nine years at Bristol Myers Squibb, where she was part of the in-licensing snag of Yervoy and early development of Opdivo. Fierce Biotech
Former Sanofi executive joins low price-focused biotech EQRx to lead drug creation
Carlos Garcia-Echeverria, Ph.D., is joining the clinical stage biotech to lead drug creation after leading Sanofi's research strategy.
Six months after raising $500 million, a week after inking a partnership with a drug discovery firm and a month after a phase 3 win, EQRx now has an industry veteran to put that capital to use and ramp up new programs. Garcia-Echeverria comes to EQRx at a pivotal moment as the company has multiple clinical-stage programs, including a recent phase 3 win for a non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) drug that it obtained the U.S. rights to from CStone Pharmaceuticals. Garcia-Echeverria's inherited arsenal also includes another NSCLC drug, already approved in China, that it licensed from Hansoh; a PD-1 antibody with orphan drug designation from the FDA for a certain primary liver cancer; and an in-licensed treatment from G1 Therapeutics for breast cancer. Garcia-Echeverria also has the help of Exscientia, an artificial-intelligence drug discovery platform to find new targets. Fierce Biotech
Moderna taps Ogilvy for first chief brand officer as marketing plans await full FDA approval
Kate Cronin is being tasked with marketing the story and mRNA science of Moderna as the company's first chief brand officer.
Cronin joins the COVID-19 vaccine breakout star at a pivotal moment as the company preps a marketing strategy for the vaccine. Moderna submitted for full approval of the vaccine June 1, but there's no hint from the FDA at how quickly the agency will act. Cronin brings 17 years of experience from Ogilvy, where she was recently appointed Ogilvy Health CEO in October 2020. “The word innovation alone doesn’t differentiate one pharma company from another; it needs to be deeper than that,” Cronin told Fierce Pharma last fall after being promoted to the Ogilvy post. Cronin will be integral to developing the nascent story of Moderna, compared to the storied histories of vaccine competitors Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson. Fierce Pharma
> Novartis named Rob Kowalski, Pharm.D., its new chief people & organization officer. Steven Baert left the position June 30 after 15 years with Novartis. Kowalski is an internal hire, having led Novartis' global regulatory affairs unit and heading U.S. drug development. Release
> Sanofi named Jessamy Baird managing director of the Big Pharma's UK unit. Baird will also maintain her role of general manager of the UK and Irish General Medicines business. She succeeds Hugo Fry, an 18-year Sanofi veteran. Release
> Takeda hired Awny Farajallah, M.D., July 1 as head of global medical affairs for the pharmaceutical's oncology unit. Farajallah comes from Ipsen, where he was senior vice president of medical affairs for its North America division. He also has Big Pharma experience at Bristol Myers Squibb, where he was head of U.S. medical affairs.
> Horizon Therapeutics named Petra Molan, Pharm.D., group vice president and general manager of Europe, Middle East and Africa on July 1. Molan was previously senior vice president of commercial operations at Arvelle Therapeutics.
> Johnson & Johnson's Janssen hired Penny Heaton, M.D., as global therapeutic area head of vaccines. Heaton comes from the top spot at the Bill & Melinda Gates Medical Research Institute. Tweet
> Ferring Pharmaceuticals appointed former Novo Nordisk President and CEO Lars Rebien Sørensen as chairman of the board of directors, as Frederik Paulsen leaves the post after serving in it since 1988. Release
> Lengo Therapeutics hired Enoch K. Kariuki, Pharm.D., as CEO. Kariuki comes to the oncology biopharma from VelosBio, where he was chief financial officer during the company's $2.75 billion sale to Merck. He previously led the initial public offering of Synthorx prior to that company's $2.5 billion exit to Sanofi. Release
> Esperion added JoAnne Micale Foody, M.D., to its leadership team as chief medical officer. She joins from Johnson & Johnson's Janssen Pharmaceutical, where she was vice president and head of data sciences. Release
> Abzena hired Patrice Dudley Aviles as chief human resource officer. Dudley Aviles joins the partner research organization from Roche's Genentech, where she led global human resources. Release
> ImmunoScape bolstered its team with three hires: Dan MacLeod, Ph.D., as vice president of discovery; Katja Fink, Ph.D., as senior director of its Hit Discovery Program; and Andreas Wilm, Ph.D., as director of computational biology. MacLeod comes from Precision Biosciences, Fink was previously at Vir Biotechnology's Humabs BioMed and Wilm joins from Microsoft's global public sector team. Release
> BioSkryb welcomed Gary Harton, Ph.D., as chief scientific officer. Harton comes to the genomic amplification tech developer from Perkin Elmer. Release
> Plexxikon, a Daiichi Sankyo Group company, promoted Chao Zhang, Ph.D., from chief scientific officer to CEO, replacing Gideon Bollag, Ph.D., who will become a part-time chief biologist. The maker of Zelboraf and Turalio also promoted Marguerite Hutchinson to chief operating officer and general counsel. The company also moved its headquarters from Berkeley, California, to South San Francisco. Release
> Windtree Therapeutics is beefing up its leadership team with Diane Carman as senior vice president and general counsel. Carman comes to the biotech and medical device company focused on acute cardiovascular and pulmonary disorders from Vitara Biomedical, where she was general counsel and secretary. Release
> Quanterix's interim chief financial officer and treasurer role will be permanently filled by Michael Doyle effective July 12. Doyle replaces Shawn Stetson after coming from Forrester Research, where he held the same position. Release
> Orbit Discovery has discovered its new CEO: Neil Butt, Ph.D. Butt comes from IONTAS, where he was chief business officer of the novel antibodies company that sold to FairJourney Biologics earlier this year. Release
> Ribometrix, a small-molecule therapeutics biotech targeting RNA, added Manjunath Ramarao, Ph.D., as senior vice president of research and development. Ramarao joins from the Biocon-Bristol Myers Squibb R&D Center in Bangalore, India, where he was executive director and site leader for research and early development. Release
Editor's Note: This story has been updated to correct a spelling error.