Chutes & Ladders—BioMarin hires ex-Roche, Genentech leader as new CCO

 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.

Can BioMarin’s new CCO jump-start Roctavian sales? 


When push comes to shove, that IS the question, is it not? We’ll see whether new commercial chief Cristin Hubbard can answer the call.

Headshot of new BioMarin CCO, Cristin Hubbard.

Her hiring was made official this week, giving new CEO Alexander Hardy a critical (and familiar) lieutenant as he charts BioMarin’s new course. Hubbard, like Hardy, comes from Roche, where she led global product strategy for the pharma group. Hardy was the former CEO of Roche-owned Genentech. 

BioMarin is no one-trick pony, but the company can’t escape the focus on Roctavian, the company’s one-time gene therapy for patients with hemophilia A that’s had a brutally sluggish rollout. Only three patients had been treated with Roctavian as of the end of 2023, almost a year and a half after being approved in Europe and six months after nabbing an FDA nod. BioMarin’s $2.9 million list price is probably not doing it any favors.

Before working in Roche’s pharma unit, Hubbard was the global head of diagnostics partnering for Roche Diagnostics. She spent more than 13 years at Genentech before joining the parent company. Release

Longtime BioNTech exec retires after 12 years


Sean Marett has helped guide BioNTech through some heck of a run, from a $270 million series A to the commercialization of its Pfizer-partnered COVID vaccine. He helped secure government contracts for vaccine doses and executed numerous deals, from licensing pacts to M&A. 

But he’s hanging it up (for now). The chief commercial and business officer will step back from his role at the end of June, continuing on as a specialist adviser through at least the end of the year. BioNTech says a new chief commercial officer will be named at the end of March, while Chief Legal Officer James Ryan, Ph.D., will add CBO duties. 

Helmut Jeggle, chairman of BioNTech’s board, described Marett as a “trusted partner” in a release. 

“He will have a lasting impact on the people and performance of BioNTech and will leave a company which is well-positioned to foster the next wave of innovations.” Release

After Flagship snagged GSK’s R&D chief, the Big Pharma poaches back


Flagship Pioneering made another megasplash in late 2023 when it plucked GSK’s R&D chief, John Lepore, M.D., to be a CEO-partner. He was the third such Big Pharma hire in recent years, behind the likes of Bristol Myers Squibb’s Rupert Vessy and AbbVie’s Michael Severino.  

But now, GSK is returning the favor, hiring Flagship CEO-Partner Chris Austin, M.D., as its new SVP of research technologies, set to start April 1. (Let’s hope for all our sakes that this isn’t one big joke.) 

In addition to being a partner at Flagship, Austin is the CEO of Vesalius Therapeutics, a biotech using AI and genetic data to find treatments for common illnesses. He’ll be replaced by John Mendlein, Ph.D., one of Flagship’s executive partners. Before joining Flagship, Austin spent more than 18 years at the National Institutes of Health, almost half of which was spent as the director of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences. Release

> Seagen’s Steve Alley, Ph.D., has joined ADC-focused MBrace Therapeutics as chief scientific officer. At Seagen, which was acquired by Pfizer last year, Alley served as executive director of translational sciences. Release

> EyePoint Pharmaceuticals has elected Ramiro Ribeiro, M.D., Ph.D., to succeed Dario Paggiarino, M.D., as chief medical officer. Ribeiro joins the retinal-disease-focused biotech from Apellis Pharmaceuticals, where he served as VP and head of clinical development. Release

> Osmol Therapeutic has tapped Ron Weitzman, M.D., to serve as interim chief medical officer, replacing Arthur DeCillis, M.D., who will join the biotech’s scientific advisory board. Weitzman most recently held the role as CMO at Tango Therapeutics and was the VP of clinical development at Exelixis before that. Release

> Starting March 18, Steven Lo will take over as Vaxart’s president and CEO, replacing interim leader Michael Finney, Ph.D. Lo most recently was CEO at Valitor and has past leadership experience at Zosano Pharma, Puma Biotechnology, Corcept Therapeutics and Roche’s Genentech. Release

> Werewolf Therapeutics Chief Scientific Officer Cynthia Seidel-Dugan, Ph.D., is leaving the pack, resigning from her position on March 29. Seidel-Dugan has held the CSO role at Werewolf for almost exactly five years, according to her LinkedIn profile. Release

> NeoVac has named Heinrich Haas, Ph.D., as its new chief technology officer to lead the development of the company’s lipid nanoparticle platform and RNA vaccine/therapeutic candidates. Most recently, Haas served as VP of RNA formulation and drug delivery for BioNTech, a role he held for nearly 10 years. Release

> In anticipation of transitioning to a clinical-stage company in 2025, U.K.-based Sitryx Therapeutics has brought on Ben Stephens as chief operating officer and hired Gordon Dingwall to serve as head of clinical operations. Stephens has previously served as finance director for Rinri Therapeutics and ViaNautis Bio, while Dingwall was previously VP of development operations at Mission Therapeutics. Release

> Vast Therapeutics has tapped Paul Bruinenberg, M.D., to serve as the company’s chief medical officer. Most recently, he was the senior medical officer for the TB Alliance and has also held leadership roles at Eagle Pharmaceuticals, Aradigm Corporation, Astellas and Roche. Release

> AI-driven Anagenex has appointed Adrian Schreyer, Ph.D., to the role of chief technology officer. Before Anagenex, Schreyer spent over 10 years at Exscientia, where he was a founding member and eventually took on the role of CTO. Release

> Moligo Technologies has chosen John Kuijpers to serve as chief business officer in efforts to speed up sales and business development activities. Before Moligo, Kuijpers was commercial director for human health at LGC Biosearch Technologies and has previously held roles at Pacific Biosciences and Illumina. Release

> Healthcare investment firm Ally Bridge Group is bringing aboard Zain Shekhani to serve as managing director and head of investor relations for private equity strategy. The firm also announced several internal promotions, including Kevin Reilly to managing director, head of medtech for ABG’s private equity strategy; Andrew Lam to managing director, head of biotech for private equity strategy; and Slanix Paul Alex to portfolio manager and president of public equity strategy. Release

> Clinical-stage biotech FibroBiologics has hired Ruben Garcia to serve as general counsel. He most recently served as SVP, general counsel and corporate secretary for AcelRx Pharmaceuticals and was senior corporate counsel and assistant secretary for Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical before that. Release