Chutes & Ladders—Bausch to bring on 2 new leaders as exec departs

 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. 

Bausch + Lomb to bring aboard 2 new leaders as exec departs

Bausch + Lomb

A little more than a month after Brent Saunders returned to helm the eye-focused Bausch Health spinout, the company is set to undergo further leadership changes. 

Christina Ackermann
Christina Ackermann (LinkedIn)

Christina Ackermann, current EVP, general counsel and president of ophthalmic pharmaceuticals, will exit the company at the end of the month, according to an April 12 Securities and Exchange Commission document. Ackermann has held the role since January of last year.

Starting April 24, A. Robert Bailey will take over as EVP and chief legal officer. This isn’t Bailey’s first time working at Bausch + Lomb, serving as EVP of law, policy and communications from 2007 to 2013. He also was previously EVP and chief legal officer for Allergan, which was acquired by AbbVie for $63 billion in 2020. Bailey rejoins Bausch from HIT company Datavant, where he was chief legal officer.  

At the same time, Andrew Stewart will leave AbbVie to serve as Bausch + Lomb’s president of ophthalmic pharmaceuticals. Stewart was most recently general manager within AbbVie’s eye care franchise and had joined the Big Pharma via its Allergan acquisition. SEC filing

Takeda exec jumps to lead Kyowa Kirin’s North America team 

Kyowa Kirin

Kyowa Kirin has poached a top executive from a Japanese rival, naming Steve Schaefer as president of the North America unit. He joins after more than six years at Takeda, most recently as senior vice president of the neuroscience business unit and commercial operations. He also helped fuse Shire’s teams with Takeda when the latter was acquired for more than $62 billion in 2018. 

The hiring comes as the company is continuing to flesh out its roster of approved products in the U.S., which includes cancer treatment Poteligeo and add-on Parkinson’s treatment Nourianz. At the end of 2022, Kyowa offloaded 13 brands in the Europe, Middle East and Africa regions to German company Grünenthal. 

Prior to joining Takeda, Schaefer spent more than 11 years at Lilly in myriad positions, including general manager of the Puerto Rico business and leader of commercial model go-to-market evolution. 

Shaefer takes over for Gary Zieziula, who is retiring after leading the North American team since April 2020. Release

Legend Biotech snags CMO to oversee cell therapies

Legend Biotech

Mythili Koneru, M.D., Ph.D., has left Marker Therapeutics to become Legend Biotech’s chief medical officer. There, she will oversee the New Jersey company’s development of cell therapies. The commercial-stage company, in partnership with Johnson & Johnson, already touts Carvykti, an FDA-approved CAR-T cell therapy.

Before Marker—where Koneru also held the CMO role—she served as AVP of immuno-oncology at Big Pharma Eli Lilly. Before springing to Lilly, Koneru developed T-cell therapies in both leukemia and solid tumor malignancies in early-stage clinical trials at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Release

> Two Exelixis board members, Carl Feldbaum and Vincent Marchesi, M.D., Ph.D., are moving on amid a proxy battle. As part of its “ongoing refreshment program,” Exelexis is nominating Tomas Heyman, CEO of Interlaken Therapeutics, and Robert Oliver, former president and CEO of Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, as replacements. Release

> Clinical-stage biotech NervGen Pharma has brought on Michael Kelly to lead as president and CEO. Kelly has more than 30 years of experience in the industry across Azur Pharma, Jazz Pharmaceuticals, Guilford Pharmaceuticals, ViroPharma and TAP Pharmaceuticals. Release  

> Jasper Therapeutics has tapped David Hinds to take on the role of SVP for development operations. Hinds most recently worked at CRO ICON and has also held roles at Takeda and Roche’s Genentech, among others. Release

> RNA-focused Ascidian Therapeutics is bringing on three new leaders as the company prepares to bring its lead candidate to clinic. Alia Rashid is joining from Editas Medicine and will become VP of clinical development; Sarah DiSalvatore from AGTC (Applied Genetic Technologies Corporation) will be VP of clinical operations; and Carmen Jacome from Flexion Therapeutics will become VP of program management. Release  

> Invivyd has appointed two new people to its C-suite: Robert Allen, Ph.D., as chief scientific officer and Stacy Price as chief technology and manufacturing officer. Allen joins the antibody therapy-focused company from Sorrento Therapeutics, while Price joins from Akouos. Release   

> Christopher Duke is taking the reins from Gennao Bio’s executive chair and founding CEO Stephen Squinto, M.D., who will step into the role of scientific adviser. Duke has been Gennao’s interim CEO since 2022 and has been with the genetic medicine company since it emerged in 2020. Release  

> Epigenomic editing company Tune Therapeutics is welcoming both Derek Jantz, Ph.D., and Zachary Hale to the team. Jantz, a co-founder of Precision BioSciences, is stepping on as chief scientific officer, while Hale joins from Juno Therapeutics and will serve as general counsel. Release   

> Lalo Flores, Ph.D., has left his CEO job at Century Therapeutics, departing the biotech and its board April 11. In his place steps the company’s chief technology officer Greg Russotti, Ph.D., as interim CEO. Release  

> RS BioTherapeutics has nabbed pharma vet Dean Hart to lead the cannabinoids company as CEO. Hart has four decades of industry experience, including leadership roles at Takeda and Eisai, where he formed and grew the U.S. sales force and helped launch the company’s first U.S. product. Release   

> Sana Biotechnology is bringing on Douglas Williams, Ph.D., as president of R&D, and Gary Meininger, M.D., to take the reins as chief medical officer as current CMO Sunil Agarwal, M.D., steps down. Williams was most recently Codiak BioSciences CEO and has experience across Biogen, ZymoGenetics, Seattle Genetics, Amgen and Immunex, while Meininger has worked in drug development at Vertex, Janssen and Merck & Co. Release  

> Ophthalmology CRO has brought on Paul Colvin as its new chief operating officer to help lead the company’s global growth. Colvin has more than 30 years industry experience, including a 14-year stint at Eli Lilly and 12 years leading PPD’s clinical development business. Fierce Biotech