Chutes & Ladders—Atai appoints co-CEO and a Fierce goodbye

 Chutes and LaddersWelcome to this week's Chutes & Ladders, our roundup of significant leadership hirings, firings and retirings across the industry. Please send the good word—or the bad—from your shop to Gabrielle Masson and it will be featured here at the end of each week.

Fierce team
The Fierce Biotech team, from left: Annalee Armstrong, Gabrielle Masson, Max Bayer and James Waldron (Annalee Armstrong/Fierce Biotech)

Editor's note: Before we get on to our usual Chutes & Ladders column, I’m here with news of a departure of our own: Max Bayer is off to his next big thing. 

If you’ve had the privilege of meeting Max in person or on the phone, you know he brings an incredible energy to everything he does. He will truly be missed in this newsroom, where things will be just a little less fun without him.

I've been his editor for the past two years and have enjoyed watching his growth as a reporter. I have no doubt his byline is going great places. 

Best of luck in everything you do, Max. From the whole Fierce Life Sciences team: we wish you a future full of LEEETLE BITS OF PEEEEZa and pork buns. Every time we hear Twelve Inch Nails, we'll think of you. – Annalee Armstrong

Atai announces CEO transition plans

Atai Life Sciences

Florian Brand
Florian Brand (Atai Life Sciences)

Atai Life Sciences, one of the leading shareholders in psilocybin drug developer Compass Pathways, is swapping CEOs. 

The company announced in its first-quarter earnings report that Florian Brand, co-founder and CEO, would leave at the end of the year. In the meantime, he’ll assume the role of co-CEO beginning in June, with co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer Srinivas Rao, M.D., Ph.D., stepping up to the plate. When Brand departs, Rao will fully take over the CEO role. 

Atai has been at the forefront of psychedelics' emergence as a legitimate neuropsychiatric treatment, capitalizing on clinical advancements and regulatory promise made in the last two decades. The company’s primary investment, Compass Pathways, is in the middle of two phase 3 studies testing psilocybin (commonly known as “magic mushrooms”) in patients with treatment-resistant depression.

Brand co-founded Atai in 2018, steering investments in newer psychedelic biotechs like Beckley Psytech and guiding a $225 million IPO in 2021. Release 

Alonzo Weems will retire from Lilly after 27 years

Eli Lilly

EVP of Enterprise Risk Management and Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer Alonzo Weems is retiring from Eli Lilly after 27 years at the company. He also departs as a member of the ascending pharma’s executive committee.

In short, Weems ensures that Lilly’s business is maintained ethically and that it's complying with necessary rules and regulations. He joined the company as a lawyer in 1997 and helped provide legal guidance across a number of departments. From 2006 to 2008, Weems revamped Lilly’s diversity, equity and inclusion strategy as the director of global workforce diversity. 

Weems will officially retire at the end of the year. Release

Novartis China president set to lead all ex-US commercial work 


Swiss pharma Novartis is promoting its president of China work to chief commercial officer of all ex-U.S. regions, according to China-based outlet Shanghai Daily. 

Ingrid Zhang will now lead all commercial strategy outside of the U.S. and be based out of Switzerland beginning June 1. Novartis Japan President Leo Lee will replace Zhang as the new China chief. 

Zhang first took the role in 2017 and has been at Novartis now for more than 13 years. She previously held positions at AstraZeneca and Pfizer. SHINE

Hi, co-author Max Bayer here! Today is my last day at Fierce and oh, how I've loved this place. I joined in February 2022 after more than three years at CBS News. Thanks for reading Chutes & Ladders! Tweet

> Senhwa Biosciences is welcoming Jason Huang, M.D., on to serve as the company’s chief medical officer. Before Senhwa, Huang was a regional therapeutic area expert for the Asia-Pacific region excluding Japan at Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen arm. Release

> Bolt Biotherapeutics is laying off 50% of staff and moving CEO Randall Schatzman and Chief Medical Officer Edith Perez, M.D., to advisory roles. Chief Financial Officer Willie Quinn has been tapped to lead as CEO. Fierce Biotech

> Radiopharmaceutical-focused Lantheus is naming Jeffrey Humphrey, M.D., as chief medical officer and Jean-Claude Provost, M.D., as chief science officer, effective May 28. Humphrey is a physician-scientist who has held roles across Bayer, Bristol Myers Squibb, Kyowa Kirin and Pfizer, while Provost previously served as Lantheus’ interim CMO and previously held positions across Pfizer, Merck Serono and Bayer. Release

> Regulus Therapeutics has promoted Rekha Garg, M.D., from her role as SVP of clinical development and regulatory to chief medical officer. Before joining Regulus, Garg held roles at Sanifit Therapeutics, Infinity Pharmaceuticals, Amgen and Eli Lilly. Release

> Ventyx Biosciences has tapped Matthew Moore to serve as the biotech’s chief operating officer. Moore most recently served as Arcutis Biotherapeutics’ chief business officer and held positions at AbbVie and Allergan before that. Release 

> Venatorx Pharmaceuticals’ CEO and director Christopher Burns, Ph.D., has stepped down. Former Entasis Therapeutics CEO and co-founder Manos Perros, Ph.D., has been tapped to lead Venatorx’s board as executive chair. Release

> Akari Therapeutics announced a 67% workforce reduction as well as a leadership transition, with Samir Patel, M.D., stepping on as president and interim CEO after the departure of former leader Rachelle Jacques. Release

> Teva Pharmaceuticals is continuing its corporate revamp initiated a year ago, naming pharma veteran Matthew Shields as EVP of the global operations division responsible for manufacturing and supplies. Shields replaces Eric Drapé, who is stepping down from the company after working there for more than a decade. Fierce Pharma