Chutes & Ladders—Ayala sheds execs amid Advaxis merger

 Chutes and LaddersWelcome 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 Max Bayer or Gabrielle Masson, and we will feature it here at the end of each week. 

Ayala sheds execs amid Advaxis merger 

Advaxis, Ayala Pharmaceuticals 

A new merger deal has Advaxis and Ayala joining forces, though not everyone from Ayala’s team will be coming with. Advaxis CEO Kenneth Berlin will guide the newly created company—which has yet to decide on a name—while Ayala CEO Roni Mamluk, Ph.D., will resign.

That’s not the only Ayala loss, with CFO Yossi Maimon and CMO Gary Gordon, M.D., stepping down, though Gordon will remain in an advisory role “for a period of time.” The new company’s board will include two members designated by Advaxis and four chosen by Ayala alongside Berlin. 

Each biotech will continue to propel its lead program, with the new company aiming to prioritize the development of AL102 to treat desmoid tumors and ADXS-504 for patients with prostate cancer. With only $20 million on hand, Ayala was facing a potential cash crunch. But Advaxis may have solved its problems—in return for the hope of a return to the Nasdaq after dropping from the leading stock exchange down to the OTC Markets in 2021. Fierce Biotech

Scynexis CEO to retire amid strategic restructure, C-suite shake up


Scynexis is shedding C-suite execs as part of strategic restructuring that includes layoffs and slimming down its pipeline. 

President and CEO Marco Taglietti, M.D., will retire after more than seven years leading the company, effective Dec. 31. He will also step down from the board of directors. Chief Medical Officer David Angulo, M.D., will take Taglietti’s spot after serving as CMO for the last seven years.  

As part of the corporate restructure, Scynexis’ chief commercial officer position is being eliminated, meaning Christine Coyne, who has served in this leadership role for more than a year, will leave the company. 

Meanwhile, former Athersys CFO Ivor Macleod will join as Scynexis’ chief financial officer starting Oct. 24. Release

New face of Mirror Biologics: Former Luzsana leader Scott Filosi tapped as CEO  

Mirror Biologics

Mirror Biologics has tapped seasoned exec Scott Filosi to be the new face of the company as it gears up to become a commercial business.  

Starting Nov. 15, Filosi will take the reins from interim CEO and founder Dr. Michael Har-Noy, who took up the temporary post after former interim CEO Adi Raviv departed in February.  

In his new role, Filosi will oversee Mirror as it looks to commercialize its lead product, dubbed AlloStim, an "off-the-shelf," non-genetically manipulated, disease agnostic immunotherapy. 

Filosi has years of market access and drug launch experience across multiple therapeutic areas, serving in numerous senior leadership roles at Merck KGaA, UCB Pharma, Boehringer Ingelheim and Johnson & Johnson. 

Most recently, Filosi was founding CEO of Luzsana Biotechnology, a spinout from Jiangsu Hengrui Pharmaceutical, one of Asia’s largest pharmas. There, Filosi led the development of several oncology programs and aimed to “quantifiably reduce costs” of medicines. 

Mirror’s mission runs certain parallels with Luzsana’s, driven by the goal to provide patients with non-toxic, affordable and widely accessible immunotherapies. Release

> Former Biogen finance leader John Applegate is joining Verge Genomics as chief financial officer. After more than 14 years at Biogen, Applegate was most recently at Valo Health. Release

> AstraZeneca’s rare disease business arm Alexion has appointed Scott Weintraub to serve as SVP and head of U.S. commercial operations, a company spokesperson told Fierce Biotech via email. Weintraub first joined Alexion in 2019, most recently serving as the company’s VP and head of global commercial strategy.

> Lyn Baranowski is taking on her first chief executive role, joining pulmonary disease-focused Avalyn Pharma. Prior to this, she was chief operating officer at Altavant Sciences. Release

> Bristol Myers Squibb alum Robert Petit has been tapped to lead early clinical development at Orionis Biosciences. Since leaving BMS in 2010, Petit has held a number of roles in biotech, including chief scientific officer at Advaxis. Release 

> Flagship-founded Alltrna is appointing Caroline Kӧhrer, Ph.D., as VP of discovery platform. She won’t be moving far, bouncing over from Moderna, another Flagship company, where she was director of RNA science. Release

> Some three months after temporarily taking the role of chief medical officer, Fulcrum Therapeutics R&D lead Judith Dunn, Ph.D., is resigning. But she’s not bolting out of the door, staying on in a consulting role until January 3, 2023. Disclosure

> Senda Biosciences has a couple of new additions to its leadership team, naming Lori Rudolph-Owen, Ph.D., as chief operating officer and Barbara Bispham as SVP and general counsel. The company is two months removed from closing a $123 million financing round. Release

> Ashvattha Therapeutics has tapped Steve Maricich, M.D., Ph.D., to serve as chief medical officer as the biotech prepares to launch clinical trials next year. Maricich joins Ashvattha from Calibr and Scripps BioVentures, where he also served as chief medical officer. Release

> Cancer immunotherapy company Abalos Therapeutics has chosen Thomas Bogenrieder, M.D., P.h.D., to take up the role as chief medical officer. Bogenrieder previously served as chief clinical officer for Amal Therapeutics and has held leadership roles at Evaxion Biotech, Boehringer Ingelheim and GSK. Release

> David Hollander, M.D., is joining Revance Therapeutics as chief medical officer. Hollander joins the commercial-stage biotech from Aerie Pharmaceuticals, where he served as head of R&D. Release

> Belgium biotech Bioxodes has appointed a new CEO as the company prepares to launch a phase 2a trial for patients with intracerebral hemorrhage. Marc Dechamps will take over the role from company founder Edmond Godfroid, who will assume the role of chief operating officer alongside his existing responsibilities as chief scientific officer. Dechamps is a biologist with more than 30 years of experience, including working at GSK and ViiV Healthcare. Release

> Ankyra Therapeutics has tapped Joseph Elassal, M.D., to fill its chief medical officer position after former CMO Howard Kaufman, M.D., transitioned to helm the biotech as president and CEO. Previously, Elassal has held roles at Regeneron, Pfizer and PhRMA, among others. Release