Chutes & Ladders—Bayer trims 2 execs in corporate reshuffling


Chutes and Ladders
Welcome 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 Kyle Blankenship, and we will feature it here at the end of each week.

Bayer trims 2 C-level execs amid cost-cutting scheme, governance criticism

Hartmut Klusik and Kemal Malik will depart by the end of the year. 

Bayer will bid farewell to the two top managers and hence reduce its C-level seats to five, comprising only its CEO, CFO and three division chiefs. Klusik oversees Bayer’s human resources, technology and sustainability and is the company’s labor director, and Malik is responsible for innovation and the Asia-Pacific regions. Both execs have been with Bayer since the 1980s. Klusik, boosted to his current position in 2016, had his contract extended by one year that ends at the end of 2019, according to Bayer’s annual report. FiercePharma

Pfizer spinout Cerevel hires Coles as CEO

Tony Coles 
will take over as chief executive.

Coles, who led Onyx Pharmaceuticals to a $10 billion takeover, will now be in charge of using $350 million of Bain Capital’s money to advance a pipeline of neuroscience programs. Cerevel spun out of Pfizer with three clinical-phase assets and the major Bain investment almost one year ago. Since then, Cerevel has put together an executive team, bringing long-term Merck staffer John Renger on board as chief scientific officer and hiring people from Sangamo Therapeutics and Bain to fill other C-suite posts. Now, Cerevel has filled its top position. Coles began working with Cerevel as chair of its board late last year but remained focused on Yumanity Therapeutics, the biotech he co-founded and led until very recently. FierceBiotech

Swiss biotech Vifor nabs Sanofi exec as new CMO

Klaus Henning Jensen is the newest CMO

Jensen joins from the French Big Pharma where he was its global therapeutic area head responsible for diabetes, cardiovascular and metabolism development for three years. Before this, he worked for more than 11 years at diabetes specialist Novo Nordisk as its VP and later its head of clinical, medical and regulatory. At Vifor, he will now lead clinical development, drug safety and medical affairs. FierceBiotech

> U.S.-London CRO Phastar has hired Jennifer Bradford, Ph.D., to lead its data science group. Phastar, like an increasing number of CROs, is looking to get the best out of clinical trials and sees artificial intelligence and machine learning as two of the best ways of doing this. Bradford will now lead the team of scientists in its relatively new data science group as the company hopes to cash in on the trendy analytics that could open up new opportunities in drug development. FierceBiotech

> Pfizer has named Vassiliki Papadimitrakopoulou, M.D., as the new clinical development leader at its oncology unit. Papadimitrakopoulou, who starts Sept. 23 and will be based in New York, comes to Pfizer from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center where she was a professor of medicine in the department of thoracic/head and neck medical oncology. There, she led clinical and translational research projects predominately focused on overcoming drug resistance in advanced disease. She also was recently a member of the FDA’s Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee. FierceBiotech

> Ayala Pharmaceuticals has hired AbbVie’s former vice president of oncology, Gary Gordon, M.D., Ph.D., as chief medical officer. The cancer biotech will bring Gordon into the fold just a few months after its $30 million series B round led by Swiss powerhouse Novartis. Ayala is currently working on midphase development of pan-Notch inhibitor AL101 in adenoid cystic carcinoma. FierceBiotech

> Paris-based Step Pharma has pegged Andrew Parker, Ph.D., as CEO and member of its supervisory board. Parker will replace founding CEO Geoffroy de Ribains. Parker most recently served as executive VP and CSO of Zealand Pharma. Prior to Zealand, he was general partner and scientific director of Eclosion2 & Cie SCPC. Earlier in his career, Parker served in various research director roles at AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Opsona Therapeutics. Release

> Burlingame, California-based Cala Health has named Renee Ryan as its newest CEO. Ryan most recently served as VP of venture investments at Johnson & Johnson Innovation and has been a member of Cala's board since inception in 2014. Prior to J&J Innovation, Ryan was a healthcare investment banker at R.W. Baird, Jefferies and Goldman Sachs. Release (PDF)

> Philadelphia-based Imvax has appointed John Furey as its CEO and member of its board of directors. Furey will succeed interim CEO David Andrews, M.D., Imvax’s co-founder and CMO. Furey was previously COO of Spark Therapeutics and before that served as senior VP and head of global operations at Baxalta. Release

> Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Black Diamond Therapeutics has pegged Thomas (Tommy) Leggett as its newest CFO. Leggett joins Black Diamond from Axcella Health, where he was CFO. Before joining Axcella, Leggett was treasurer and head of business development finance at Purdue and worked as an investment banker for the healthcare groups at J.P. Morgan Securities, Lazard Frères & Company and UBS Securities. Release

> Ross Muken has been named the newest CFO of New York-based Click Therapeutics. Most recently, Muken was a senior managing director and partner at Evercore ISI. Prior to Evercore, Muken served as a managing director at Deutsche Bank Securities. 

> In anticipation of the expected FDA approval and commercial launch of lead drug candidate lenabasum, Corbus has hired Keith White as its head of market access. White joined Corbus from Intercept Pharmaceuticals, where he served since 2014 as VP of market access. He previously held various roles at InterMune, Thrombogenics and Genentech.