Chutes & Ladders—Biogen poaches Pfizer executive as medicinal sciences head

Biogen poached Pfizer exec Anabella Villalobos to lead its biotherapeutic and medicinal sciences efforts.

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 Eric Sagonowsky (email) or Angus Liu (email) and we will feature it here at the end of each week.

Pfizer loses neuroscience expert Villalobos to Biogen

Biogen Logo

Anabella Villalobos

Anabella Villalobos, Ph.D., became SVP of biotherapeutic & medicinal sciences.

Biogen’s management team has undergone mqny changes this year, and poaching someone from another well-established biopharma company seems to be its strategy for filling the positions. That includes Alisha Alaimo, who left Novartis last week to become Biogen’s SVP of U.S. therapeutic operations; new VP of government affairs Amy Chevalier Efantis, formerly with Boehringer Ingelheim; new HR head Ginger Gregory from Shire; EVP and head of global therapeutic operations Jean-Paul Kress, M.D., formerly an SVP with Sanofi Genzyme. This time, Biogen has taken Anabella Villalobos, Ph.D., away from Pfizer and named her SVP of biotherapeutic and medicinal sciences. A medicinal scientist, Villalobos has over 25 years of industry experience with a focus on neuroscience, which is also Biogen’s key area of interest. FierceBiotech

AstraZeneca recoup after Mystic fall with new oncology hires

AstraZeneca Logo
Jean-Charles Soria

Jean-Charles Soria came on board as head of oncology innovative medicines.

Yet to fully recover from the Imfinzi failure as a first-line lung cancer treatment, AstraZeneca and its immunology subsidiary MedImmune has hired two execs to help advance the immuno-oncology efforts. Jean-Charles Soria, a professor of medicine and medical oncology at South-Paris University, joined MedImmune as SVP and head of oncology innovative medicines. Advancement of the company’s early oncology biologics portfolio is written in the job description. Geoffrey Kim, was appointed head of oncology strategic combinations at AstraZeneca. Kim was the FDA’s director of the oncology products division for the past two year. His new job at the British drugmaker includes seeking immunotherapy drug combinations, where the Imfinzi-tremelimumab therapy tumbled in the Mystic trial. FierceBiotech

Moderna taps industry veteran to oversee manufacturing

Juan Andres

Juan Andres was named SVP of late stage technical development and manufacturing.

Moderna just hired Juan Andres, former global head of manufacturing and supply at Novartis, as an SVP overseeing manufacturing. He is replacing Steve Harbin, who will become chief of staff and chief sustainability officer. Prior to Novartis, Andres worked at Eli Lilly for 18 years also in different roles related to manufacturing, production and quality controls. One key component of Andres’ job includes getting Moderna’s $110 million, all-inclusive manufacturing facility in Norwood, Massachusetts, ready and running in 2018. He will also lead preparation for Moderna’s phase 3 development and commercialization. Though Moderna’s revealed 12 mRNA development programs are all currently in clinical or preclinical studies, the quality of manufacturing is key to these therapies. FiercePharma

> Tony Ho, M.D., AstraZeneca's former head of oncology innovation, landed at CRISPR Therapeutics as head of R&D. Release

> Cancer diagnostics company Grail's founding CEO Jeff Huber, a former Google exec, was transitioned to vice chairman, while Chairman Bill Rastetter replaced him as CEO, and Ken Drazan was promoted from CBO to president. Release

> Thomas Wynn, previously the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases' Immunopathogenesis section chief, joined Pfizer to head early discovery in inflammation and immunology unit. 

> Matthew Moyle has left AnaptysBio as CSO after about one year at the job. FierceBiotech

> Pfenex named Evert (Eef) Schimmelpennink as CEO, president and secretary. He was previously CEO of Alvotech, and used to be VP of global generics at Hospira and later VP of global injectables at Pfizer. Release

> Applied Genetic Technologies replaced the retiring CFO Larry Bullock with William Sullivan, Merrimack's former CFO who led its IPO, and named Andrew Ashe to the position of general counsel. Release

> Nordic Nanovector, which develops targeted therapies for hematological cancers, named Reza Safaei, M.D., as head of medical affairs. Release

> Cell Design Labs named Roger Sidhu, M.D., formerly Amgen's global product GM, to the newly created position of CMO. Release

> Connecticut-based Cara Therapeutics announced the appointment of Mani Mohindru, Ph.D., as CFO and Chief Strategy Officer, replacing Josef Schoell, who will be retiring. Release

> Lee Kalowski, Tokai's former CFO, who helped lead the company’s $105 million IPO in 2014, joined Bicycle Therapeutics as CFO. Release

> Astellas made three senior-level changes in its corporate affairs section: Moyra Knight was promoted to executive director of communications and corporate citizenship, Karl Uhlendorf was promoted to senior director of policy and government communications, and Andrew Lewis was promoted to senior director of medical and development communications. Release