Chutes & Ladders—Biogen executive Kress takes over the reins of Syntimmune


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.

Syntimmune replaces de Graaf with Biogen exec Kress

Jean-Paul Kress

Jean-Paul Kress, M.D., became president and CEO.

After spending only six months as Biogen’s EVP and head of global therapeutic operations, Jean-Paul Kress, M.D., has jumped ship to lead Waltham, MA-based Syntimmune, taking over from Boehringer and Pfizer veteran David de Graaf, Ph.D., who was at the position for 13 months. Prior to Biogen, Kress was the North American head of Sanofi Genzyme, and had also served with Sanofi Pasteur, Gilead and Eli Lilly. The autoimmune biotech didn’t specify the reason for de Graaf’s departure but thanked his contributions to the company’s progress, including two mid-stage clinical trials of its lead candidate, SYNT001 and a successful series B round. FierceBiotech

Former aTyr chief Mendlein tasked to lead Moderna’s strategic growth

Moderna logo
John Mendlein

John Mendlein, Ph.D., was named president of corporate and product strategy.

John Mendlein, Ph.D., has been serving on Moderna’s board since 2012. After relieving himself of the CEO position at aTyr Pharma last November, the biotech unicorn figured he may serve the company better as an executive, or to be specific, a president overseeing corporate and product strategy. With all the investments the mRNA expert has garnered, it could be a wise decision to tap Mendlein’s deep industry experience. He currently serves on Editas’ board and is also a member of BIO’s emerging companies board. Besides aTyr, he also previously served as CEO of Fate Therapeutics, which he co-founded, and Adnexus Therapeutics, which was acquired by BMS. Release

Former FDA CIO and Takeda informatics executive joins Datavant

Eric Perakslis

Eric Perakslis, Ph.D., became CSO.

Usually when an executive leaves, a company either politely extends a few kind words or keeps mum on the real reason or drama behind the partway. So, you’d know something is going on when Takeda chief medical and scientific officer Andrew Plump said his company is actually excited about SVP of informatics Eric Perakslis’ new CSO role at Roivant’s recent clinical trial artificial intelligence offshoot Datavant. At his new role, Perakslis will help form a strategic partnership between the two companies. Perakslis’ career spans across academic, regulatory and industry realms. He was chief information officer with FDA, SVP of pharma R&D IT at Johnson & Johnson and executive director of Harvard Medical School’s Center for Biomedical Informatics. FierceCRO

> David Michelson, M.D., who led the failed Alzheimer’s BACE inhibitor program, left Merck after 11 years to become CMO of Proclara Biosciences. FierceBiotech

> Backed by Atlas Ventures with a $25 million series A, gene therapy player Generation Bio came to life, with former Sobi CEO Geoff McDonough at the helm. FierceBiotech

> Acceleron’s longtime CMO Matthew Sherman, M.D., will leave once data from two phase 3 trials of Celgene-partnered luspatercept come out around mid-year. FierceBiotech

> Former Protein Sciences CEO Manon Cox was reportedly forced out after the company's acquisition by Sanofi Pasteur. FierceVaccines

> Wendy Young, formerly Genentech's VP of discovery chemistry was promoted to SVP of small molecule discovery, succeeding Bruce Roth, who retired on Dec. 31 after 10 years at Genentech and 35 years within the biopharma industry.

> Taiho oncology promoted SVP and COO Timothy Whitten to president, and he'll assume the CEO role once current head Eric Benn retires in April. Release

> Pfenex named Susan A. Knudson as CFO, filling the vacancy left in October by Paul Wagner, who joined Chinese biopharma company CANbridge Life Sciences. Release

> China's Denovo Biopharma opened a new R&D center in San Diego that acts as its U.S. headquarters, and named Ronald L. Shazer, M.D., and Michael F. Haller, Ph.D., as the subsidiary's CMO and CFO, respectively. Release

> Sanuj Ravindran, M.D., who was aTyr's CBO, and Eric Michael David, M.D., joined BridgeBio as CEOs-in-residence. Release

> Immuno-oncology firm Agenus made a few key leadership appointments to advance its combination clinical programs: Hagop Youssoufian, M.D., was named senior clinical strategist; John Castle, Ph.D., was appointed head of translational medicine and bioinformatics; Tyler Curiel, M.D., became senior strategist for translational and biomarker development. Release

> Xiaoxiang Chen, M.D., who was the medical lead for emerging markets at Boehringer Ingelheim, came on board with Harbour BioMed as EVP and head of clinical development and regulatory science. Release

> Aduro's EVP of R&D Dirk G. Brockstedt, Ph.D., left for FLX Bio as SVP of biology. Release

> Allurion Technologies, a FierceMedTech's 2017 Fierce 15 winner, made a few key appointments, including making co-founder Shantanu Gaur CEO—to take over from Jonathan Wecker, who has become chairman and COO—and adding board member Ram Chuttani full time as CMO. Release

> Paul Stead, Ph.D., who was previously with Inovio and Nimbus Therapeutics, joined Adptimmune as VP of business development. Release

> Carl J. St. Bernard, most recently VP of Johnson & Johnson Vision, leading its Americas Surgery business unit, jumped ship to head Tryton Medical. Release

> Antibiotics specialist Melinta Therapeutics hired Lisa DeFrancesco, who was previously with Allergan, as SVP of investor relations, following the planned departure of John Bluth. Release

> Anthera Pharmaceuticals appointed Patrick Murphy, most recently VP of manufacturing at Versartis, as SVP of manufacturing. Release

> Aesthetics and neurotoxins expert Merz hired Terri L. Phillips, M.D., as VP and head of global medical affairs. Release

> Ora and Allergan vet Julia Williams joined Aerie as director of medical affairs. Release

> Oncology-focused Avelas announced some additions to its executive team, including Kyri Van Hooseas as VP of finance, Kenneth Kleinhenz as VP of regulatory affairs and quality assurance, and Ning Zou, Ph.D., as principal scientist and head of chemistry. Release

> Tarveda Therapeutics named former Avedro executive Brian Roberts as CFO. Release