Chutes & Ladders—Califf returns to FDA after narrow Senate confirmation

                          Chutes and Ladders
Welcome 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 Kyle LaHucik, and we will feature it here at the end of each week.

Senate confirmed Robert Califf as FDA commissioner, a post he held under President Barack Obama, to fill role held on interim basis for 391 days

Robert Califf
(Duke University School of Medicine)

Food and Drug Administration 

Robert Califf, M.D., is back at the helm of the FDA.

The U.S. Senate confirmed Califf by a narrow margin, 50-46, to run the FDA, a post he held in the last year of former President Barack Obama's administration, from February 2016 to January 2017. The Duke-trained cardiologist fills the country's top health regulator post as many leaders have called for a permanent chief. Janet Woodcock, M.D., has filled the interim post for 391 days. Some Democrats called Califf out for his ties to the pharma industry and the FDA's approval of opioid drugs under his watch. Many Republicans opposed his confirmation. After his previous stint at the helm of the FDA, Califf went on to work for Google's parent company, Alphabet, as a chief of medical strategy. Fierce Pharma

Director of Vaccine Research Center, which contributed to Moderna's COVID-19 jab, to retire at end of March

John Mascola, M.D., director of the Vaccine Research Center

Vaccine Research Center

John Mascola, M.D., will depart the post of director the Vaccine Research Center (VRC) at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the end of March.

Mascola helmed the center for more than eight years. He first joined the center, which is part of the National Institutes of Health, as deputy in 2000. During his nearly 22-year career at the VRC, Mascola helped with the development of investigational vaccines and treatments for Zika, Ebola and malaria. The center's collaboration with Moderna was the most high-profile part of his tenure, though, as the VRC's work on helping develop the vaccine was called into question by the biotech. Moderna claimed Mascola and other VRC leaders did not "co-invent" the mRNA sequence that is crucial to sparking the immune response against SARS-CoV-2. Ultimately, Moderna, which has raked in billions of dollars from the vaccine, decided to halt further pursuit of the patent. Fierce Biotech

2seventy bio poached former Turnstone Biologics chief translational officer Steven Bernstein as chief medical officer

Steven Bernstein
(2seventy bio)

2seventy bio
Steven Bernstein, M.D., is now chief medical officer at 2seventy bio, the severe genetic disease biotech that spun out of bluebird bio last November.

Bernstein, an oncologist, was previously chief translational officer at Turnstone Biologics, a clinical-stage biotech focused on viral immunotherapies against cancer. He started there as SVP of clinical research after heading up Bristol Myers Squibb's immuno-oncology, translational research and development program. Fierce Biotech

> Merck promoted Arpa Garay to head of global human health marketing and Jannie Oosthuizen to head of human of health U.S. Fierce Pharma

> President Joe Biden named longtime National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., as his new science adviser. Biden also named Alondra Nelson, Ph.D., to director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Fierce Biotech

> Milestone Pharmaceuticals, focused on cardiovascular meds, named David Bharucha, M.D., Ph.D., its new chief medical officer after serving as VP of R&D at AbbVie's Allergan. Bharucha replaces Francis Plat, M.D., who transitions to chief scientific officer. Release

> Portage Biotech, an immuno-oncology company, named Brian Wiley its chief business officer and promoted Joseph Ciavarella to chief accounting officer. Release

> Leo Pharma named Brian Hilberdink its new U.S. president after serving as SVP of sales at Novo Nordisk. Release

> Avalo Therapeutics promoted Chief Scientific Officer Garry Neil to CEO and Chief Accounting Officer Chris Sullivan to chief financial officer. Mike Cola and Schond Greenway left the CEO and CFO posts, respectively, to take up positions elsewhere. Release

> Cristina de Min, M.D., is the new chief medical officer of autoimmune biotech Topas Therapeutics. She joins the German biotech from Novimmune, where she was also CMO. Release

> In conjunction with its $35 million series A, Renibus Therapeutics named Frank Stonebanks its CEO as co-founding chief executive Al Guillem transitions to executive chairman. Release

> Robert McRae is now SVP of operations and strategic development at gastrointestinal biotech Palisade Bio after serving as VP of operations and strategic alliances at Viracta Therapeutics. Release

> Coherus BioSciences promoted Paul Reider to chief commercial officer of the immuno-oncology biopharma. Release

> AI Therapeutics named Brigette Roberts, M.D., its CEO after serving in the role as acting CEO since May 2021. Release

> Currently in the chief commercial officer post, Magnus Tolleshaug will also serve as interim CEO of Vistin Pharma as Kjell-Erik Nordby is on sick leave. Release

> Tony Kingsley is the new CEO of Stablix Therapeutics to fill the post held on an interim basis by Carlo Rizzuto, partner at founding investor Versant Ventures. He joins the protein stabilization biotech after serving as chief executive and president of Scholar Rock. Release

> Avadel Pharmaceuticals named Douglas Williamson its new chief medical officer after holding the SVP and head of U.S. R&D post at Lundbeck, where he was also deputy CMO. Release

> Valérie Worrall is the new chief financial officer of biopharma Pharnext after holding the same role at orthopedic imaging company EOS Imaging. Release