Chutes & Ladders—Bristol-Myers enlists new CSO after major Opdivo setback

Bristol-Myers has tapped Thomas Lynch as its new CSO as the company tries to recover from Opdivo setbacks.

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.

Bristol-Myers hopes a new CSO could turn R&D around

Thomas Lynch

Bristol-Myers Squibb
Thomas Lynch has become EVP and CSO.

It is probably not the best time—or is it—for Thomas Lynch to take on the responsibility of overseeing R&D at Bristol-Myers from retiring Francis Cuss. A recent setback saw the company’s star product Opdivo fail in a phase 3 trial as a monotherapy for patients with untreated advanced non-small cell lung cancer. The company’s share price was down more than 20% at the news. Lynch will be in charge of Opdivo follow-up research, mainly combo trials with treatments from its own CTLA4 drug Yervoy to cancer vaccines. Besides that, the company is also relying on him to realize the potential of the company’s 21 oncology programs, a difficult task especially when there’re other major players like Merck and Roche working in the same field. Now the question is, could Lynch take the company out of misery and the speculation that it might have to sell itself? FierceBiotech | FiercePharma

Another top exec departs Biogen

Adriana Karaboutis

Adriana Karaboutis leaves as EVP.

Michel Vounatsos just replaced George Scangos as Biogen’s CEO last December, now Adriana Karaboutis, the company’s EVP of technology, business solutions and corporate affairs is also leaving. Karaboutis joined Biogen in 2014 after a stint as chief information officer at Dell. Many former management team members also didn’t seem to have stayed long with the Cambridge, MA-based biotech. After a little more than four years at the job, Doug Williams left Biogen as its R&D chief in July 2015 for a startup; former corporate development and strategy chief Adam Koppel left in June 2016 after about two years with the firm; and chief information officer Matt Griffiths left at about the same time after just being with the company for about a year. The Wall Street Journal story

Editas bits farewell to its first employee Glucksmann

Alexandra Glucksmann

Editas Medicine
Alexandra Glucksmann will leave as COO.

Another Cambridge, MA-based company is also losing a key exec. The departure of Alexandra Glucksmann from Editas Medicine is more sentimental in that the COO joined the company in 2013 as the first employee. “Sandra has been instrumental in helping launch our company and organize us around our mission of harnessing the potential of CRISPR genome editing,” said Katrine Bosley, president and CEO of Editas. Also announced was the appointment of Kenneth LeClair as VP of technical development and manufacturing. Prior to that he was executive director of technical R&D of the recently disbanded Novartis cell and gene therapies unit. Baxalta oncology’s former VP of human resources Semiramis Trotto also joined as VP of human resources. Editas tapped Sanofi Genzyme’s former VP of rare disease clinical development Gerald Cox to become its CMO last October. Release

> Fosun Kite Biotechnology, a newly formed Chinese JV between Kite Pharma and Fosun Pharma to develop axicabtagene ciloleucel and other T-cell therapies for treatment of cancers, named Richard Wang, Ph.D., as its CEO. Release

> Deborah Dunsire, M.D., previously president and CEO of Millennium Pharmaceuticals (which later became Takeda Oncology), was recruited by startup XTuit Pharmaceuticals as president and CEO. FierceBiotech

> Miguel Forte, M.D., Ph.D., most recently chief operating and medical officer at TxCel, was tapped by Bone Therapeutics as its CMO. Release

> Tocagen announced the appointment of Mark Foletta as EVP and CFO, succeeding the retiring company co-founder Tom Darcy. Release

> Sven Rohmann, CEO and chairman of Helix BioPharma, in order to focus on the company's board, will be stepping down from his position as CEO, effective March 31, and Heman Chao, the company's CSO since December 2008, will take on additional responsibility as CEO. Release

> GW Pharmaceuticals appointed Scott Giacobello as CFO, while the company's former CFO Adam George was named to the newly created role of managing director of U.K. Release

> Poxel, a French company focused on type 2 diabetes, named Chirsophe Arbet-Engels, M.D., Ph.D., as CMO and EVP of late development & medical affairs. Release

> Austria-based immunotherapy company Hookipa Biotech recruited Igor Matushansky, M.D., Ph.D., a former professor at the Columbia University Medical Center, as its global head of R&D. Release

> Caldan Therapeutics, a spin-out company from the Universities of Glasgow and Southern Denmark, hired Mark Payton as CEO. Release (PDF)