Chutes & Ladders—Axovant CEO, COO resign after disastrous readouts

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.

Axovant overhauls leadership after major trial flop

David Hung


CEO David Hung, M.D., stepped down.

It was a big bet for David Hung to join Axovant after his $14 billion Medivation sale to Pfizer. The hype and hope that once surrounded the company quickly receded when its lead candidate intepirdine disappointed in a phase 2b—and let’s not forget the embarrassing nelotanserin data mix-up. Now that his gamble hasn’t paid off, Hung has decided to step down from the top post, succeeded by Pavan Cheruvu, M.D., who has been involved with Axovant and Roivant since 2015. President and COO Marion McCourt, along with a few board members, also joined Hung out the door, but she already had her next job laid out. McCourt will serve as Regeneron’s SVP and head of commercial, replacing Bob Terifay, who left earlier as commercial EVP. FierceBiotech | FiercePharmaMarketing

Arcturus CSO/COO resigns as executive drama escalates


Pad Chivukula

Arcturus Therapeutics
Pad Chivukula stepped down as CSO and COO.

Shortly after former CEO Joseph Payne was terminated, Arcturus’ CSO and COO Pad Chivukula is also leaving. Payne previously noted in an SEC letter that both he and Chivukula had been excluded from discussions about his surprising ouster. Unlike Payne, who seems determined to take on the company’s board in the finger-pointing game, Chivukula shared a few good words in a statement and will continue to serve as a scientific adviser to the company. Concurrently, Christine Esau, who was once lead biologist at Ionis and Regulus, was promoted to VP of R&D. FierceBiotech

Celgene spinoff debuts with $250 million and industry big names

Robert Hariri

Bob Hariri, M.D., Ph.D., is chairman and CEO.

Celgene spinout Celularity has emerged with $250 million, supported by Celgene, Unite Therapeutics, Sorrento Therapeutics and Human Longevity, etc. Bob Hariri, M.D., Ph.D., who founded and headed predecessor Celgene Cellular Therapeutics, as well as cofounded Human Longevity, now serves as Celularity’s chairman and CEO. Several industry big names also joined as board directors. The company develops cell and tissue regenerative products, with an initial focus on blood cancer. It aims to use postpartum placenta and cord blood cells as solutions to the disease. FierceBiotech

> Former Celgene CEO Bob Hugin officially announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate, but some critics question Celgene's history of price hikes under him. FiercePharma

> Jeff Goater, who helped pull off Voyager Therapeutics’ IPO and has a decade of experience in investment banking, was promoted from Surface Oncology's CBO post to CEO. FierceBiotech

> Alison Finger, a Bristol-Myers Squibb veteran, was promoted to Bluebird Bio's CCO after joining the company in 2015. Release

> After a series of recent setbacks, Ardelyx said goodbye to CSO Jeremy Caldwell, Ph.D. FierceBiotech

> Charles River Laboratories promoted longtime executives Davide Molho and Birgit Girshick to president & COO, and EVP of discovery & safety assessment, respectively, as the $800 million MPI Research buy was announced. FierceCRO

> As it is in talks with partner Roivant to form a new RNAi delivery company, Arbutus bid farewell to CFO Bruce Cousins. FierceBiotech | Release

> CDMO Recipharm appointed Bernard Pluta to the newly created role of president of development services. Release

> Syneos Health named Lisa van Capelle as chief human resources officer. Release

> Ophthalmic medical device company Presbia hired 29-year Alcon executive Casey Lind as COO, and Magda Michna, Ph.D., who also spent time at Alcon before joining Presbia last February as VP of clinical affairs, was promoted to chief clinical officer. Release

> Protein engineering company Codexis named Shawn Clairmont to senior director of molecular diagnostics. Release

> CRF Health, which provides eSource technology, brought on recent Icon senior director of product innovation Bill Byrom as VP of product strategy & innovation. Release

> Influence Health's CEO Mike Nolte jumped ship to serve as clinical trial technology firm Bracket's CEO. Release

> Ashish Khanna, who helped neurologic disorder-focused Aptinyx raise its series A and series B rounds, added CFO to his CBO title. Release

> CDMO CordenPharma revealed its revamped C-suite, including Riku Heikki Rautsola, Ph.D., as CEO & president, and others. Release