Chutes & Ladders—Bayer undergoes leadership shake-up

 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.  

Two Bayer pharma execs add new roles


Sebastian Guth (LinkedIn)

Bayer’s pharmaceutical reinvention is continuing with a pair of new title additions for two members of the leadership team. 

Sebastian Guth, head of the U.S. pharmaceutical team, has been named chief operating officer. He’ll continue to report to Stefan Oelrich, who oversees the global pharma unit. His new title is effective April 1. Christine Roth, who oversaw the company’s strategic oncology unit, will lead a new global commercialization team. She’ll also report to Oelrich when she officially takes on the role beginning in June. 

Christine Roth
Christine Roth
​​ (Christine Roth/Bayer)

No changes are coming (as of now) to the R&D or product supply teams, with Christian Rommel, Ph.D., and Holger Weintritt each continuing to oversee those respective units. 

The reorganization can be lumped in with Bayer’s larger pharma refocusing, which got underway in earnest following Bill Anderson’s CEO appointment. The former Roche pharma chief has made rejuvenating commercial pharma sales a cornerstone of his leadership. Release

BioNTech hires Novartis’ radioligand head as new CCO 


BioNTech made swift work of replacing outgoing executive Sean Marett, hiring a known Novartis leader as his replacement.

The mRNA drug developer has hired Annemarie Hanekamp as its new chief commercial officer after she spent nearly three years at Novartis. She was most recently SVP and head of radioligand therapy, now one of hottest oncology modalities. Hanekamp led the global oncology unit before that. 

Her appointment fits BioNTech’s larger focus as it pivots away from infectious diseases and toward making cancer drugs. The company’s pipeline of mRNA-based cancer therapies is now seven assets long, most of which are aimed at solid tumors. Radiopharmaceuticals have similarly been a burgeoning class of solid tumor treatments, with new biotechs being the apple of investors’ eyes. Just this week, AstraZeneca coughed up $2 billion to buy out radiopharma Fusion Pharmaceuticals. Release 

Arvinas taps BMS hematology leader as CMO 


Protein degrader company Arvinas has named Noah Berkowitz, M.D., Ph.D., to take on the role of chief medical officer. In his new position, Berkowitz will guide the ongoing clinical development of Arvinas’ programs in oncology and neuroscience.

With more than two decades of industry experience under his belt, Berkowitz most recently served as Bristol Myers Squibb’s senior vice president and development unit head of hematology. Before his role at BMS, he held various leadership roles during the nearly eight years he worked for Novartis.

Arvinas’ former CMO, Ron Peck, M.D., is leaving the biotech to pursue other opportunities. Release 

> Fulcrum Therapeutics has chosen Patrick Horn, M.D., Ph.D., to serve as chief medical officer, replacing interim CMO Iain Fraser, who will stay on as SVP of early development. Horn most recently served as CMO for HemoShear Therapeutics and held the same role at Albireo Pharma before that. Release

> Chromocell Therapeutics interim CEO Frank Knuettel is cementing his role, shedding the interim status of his title. Knuettel took the temporary top spot in July 2023 while serving as the company’s CFO, a role he continues to hold. Release

> Subhendu Basu, Ph.D., is taking the helm at Telum Therapeutics as founding CEO Roberto Díez-Martínez, Ph.D., transitions to chief operating officer. Basu most recently served as president and chief operating officer at Adaptive Phage Therapeutics, a Fierce 15 winner that recently merged BiomX. Release

> Simon Cooper is hopping from his role as Keros Therapeutics’ chief medical officer to serve as Morphic Therapeutic’s CMO. Earlier in his career, Cooper held positions across Kadmon Holdings, Anokion, AbbVie, Sanofi, Novartis, Wyeth Research, Napp Pharmaceutical Research, Roche, Human Genome Sciences and MedImmune. Release

> CAR-T company AffyImmune Therapeutics has appointed Matt Britz to serve as CEO and tapped Pete Gelinas as SVP of chemistry, manufacturing and controls. New head honcho Britz has been with AffyImmune since June 2021 and most recently served as the company’s chief operating officer, while Gelinas joins the biotech from ElevateBio and has past experience at bluebird bio. Release

> GRO Biosciences is expanding, tapping Tracey Lodie, Ph.D., to take on the role of chief development officer. Lodie joins from Quell Therapeutics and has experience across Gamida Cell, Blue Rock Therapeutics, Syros Pharma and Sanofi/Genzyme. Release

> Renibus Therapeutics’ former co-CEO Frank Stonebanks has hit the exits, with his former co-leader and company co-founder Jeffrey Keyser, Ph.D., taking the helm as president and CEO. Before co-founding the biotech, Keyser developed the Mucinex product line, according to a Renibus release. Release

> Women-founded executive search firm Bench International has tapped Renee Tannenbaum to lead corporate development. Tannenbaum has previously held leadership roles at Bristol Myers Squibb, Merck & Co., Elan Pharmaceuticals, Novartis Pharma AG and Halozyme. Release

> Investment bank Piper Sandler Companies has recruited Biren Amin as a managing director and senior research analyst for its healthcare equity research team. Amin, who will focus on biotech companies at Piper Sandler, was previously CFO and chief strategy officer of Pyramid Biosciences. Release

> Vishwas Setia has been named CFO of Maplight Therapeutics, succeeding Jonathan Gillis, who will transition to the role of chief administrative and accounting officer at the CNS-disorder-focused biotech. Setia hails from Bank of America Securities, where he served as a managing director in the healthcare investment banking group. Release

> BenevolentAI has appointed James Malone, Ph.D., an alum of, BenchSci and SciBite, to be its next chief technology officer, effective next month. He’ll replace Daniel Neil, Ph.D., who held the CTO role for seven years and is stepping down to relocate closer to his family. Release

> John Maraganore, Ph.D., the founding CEO of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, has a new gig as a member of Rapport Therapeutics’ board of directors. Following his departure from Alnylam in late 2021 after nearly two decades at the helm, Maraganore has taken on roles as venture partner at Arch Venture Partners and Atlas Ventures, senior adviser at Blackstone Life Sciences and CEO of JMM Innovations. Release

> Mark McKenna, former CEO of Prometheus Biosciences, pulled back the curtain this week on his next venture, Mirador Therapeutics. In addition to McKenna as CEO, Mirador’s executive team is rounded out by several other Prometheus alums, including Olivier Laurent, Ph.D., as chief scientific officer, Vika Brough as CFO and Allison Luo, M.D., as chief medical officer. Fierce Biotech