Chutes & Ladders—AstraZeneca’s research executive jumps ship to startup Goldfinch

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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 Angus Liu (email) and we will feature it here at the end of each week.

Kidney disease specialist Goldfinch Bio poaches AstraZeneca research exec

Anthony Johnson

Goldfinch Bio
Anthony Johnson, M.D., became CEO.

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A year after Third Rock Ventures launched Goldfinch Bio with a $55 million series A, it has found the startup two top executives with Big Pharma experience. Anthony Johnson, M.D., AstraZeneca’s head of early clinical development for the Innovative Medicines and Early Development Biotech unit, has taken the top job. He also once held similar roles at Bristol-Myers Squibb and GlaxoSmithKline but is also familiar with the environment of early-stage biotech with a stint at investment shop OrbiMed. Mike Broxson, who was most recently Takeda’s head of R&D business development, also joined Goldfinch as chief business and operation officer. The company is currently focused on two kidney diseases with no FDA-approved treatment options. FierceBiotech

Human Longevity CEO, CMO, COO, oncology head ousted in C-suite shuffle

Human Longevity
Craig Venter

Human Longevity
Co-founder J. Craig Venter took back the helm.

Genomics startup Human Longevity just experienced a C-suite earthquake. Co-founder and executive chairman Craig Venter has re-grabbed the CEO title, kicking out Cynthia Collins, who just joined the firm in January from GE Healthcare’s In Vitro Diagnostics, where she was CEO and GM. The company didn’t specify the reason for the change. In the meantime, Fortune also reported that COO Gary Altman, Ph.D., CMO Brad Perkins, M.D., and head of oncology Kenneth Bloom, M.D., have all stepped down. As of Dec. 8, the company’s management team webpage still showed Bloom as head of oncology, but at least his previous title also included “President.” CFO Saturnino (Nino) Fanlo has taken on additional role as COO. Fortune story

Takeda exec Hernon now Biogen’s new information technology leader


Mark Hernon

Mark Hernon was named chief information officer.

Biogen keeps bulking up its management team, having recently named a chief information officer to “continue creating and harnessing data and information to pioneer new developments in neuroscience.” Mark Hernon, who used to be Takeda’s regional CIO for the Americas and global head of R&D, QA and HR systems, most recently served as the global head of R&D site strategy and operations. He spent 12 years with Millennial as CIO and VP of operations before the Takeda takeover. Release

> Long-serving Pfizer veteran Ian Mills, M.D., who was recently head of clinical development at Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Europe, joined startup Outpost Medicine as its CMO. FierceBiotech

> Current Sunesis Pharma CEO Daniel Swisher, Jr., will join Jazz Pharma as president and COO, taking over from Russell Cox, who has taken the reins at liver failure specialist Vital Therapies. Release

> Cambridge, Massachusetts-based CAR-T startup Obsidian Therapeutics has come out of stealth with a $49.5 million series A and just revealed that former Padlock Therapeutics leader Michael Gilman has been serving as CEO since last October. FierceBiotech

> EMD Serono appointed oncology scientist Zhen Su, M.D., as CMO for North America and tapped John Walsh, M.D., as VP of neurology & immunology, U.S. medical affairs. Release | Release

> Johnson & Johnson Innovation’s VP and head of transactions, Shakti Narayan, Ph.D., joined Tango Therapeutics, a 2017 Fierce 15 winner, as CBO; Dimitris Papoutsakis, Ph.D., also joined as VP of operations, program and portfolio management. Release

> Another 2017 Fierce 15 winner PMV Pharma lured Celgene’s VP of business development and global alliances, Winston Kung, as COO and CFO. Release

> Neurologic disorders specialist Aptinyx appointed Baxter veteran Andy Kidd to CCO, as its second clinical candidate gained FDA fast track designation. Release

> Astellas named João Carlos de Britto, most recently Baxalta Latin America regional head, GM of its Brazil operations. Release

> Bioclinica named its current imaging and eHealth president, David Herron, to succeed retiring John Hubbard, Ph.D., as CEO, and brought on William Hogan to replace David Peters as CFO. FierceCRO

> INC Research/InVentiv Health hired Michelle Keefe to lead its commercialization capabilities as president of commercial solutions. Release

> BlueRock Therapeutics, which develops cell-based medicines, hired Derek Hei, Ph.D., as SVP of manufacturing, quality and regulatory. Release

> Faron Pharma hired former AstraZeneca’s Fasenra global marketing director Juhana Heinonen as CCO. Release

> British drug discovery services company Domainex named Chris Brown, who spent over 10 years at Envigo, as CFO. Release

> Martin Naley joined Amsterdam-based managed access service company myTomorrows as U.S. GM. Release