Chutes & Ladders—CRISPR Therapeutics finds new CMO in Sanofi leader

 Chutes and LaddersWelcome to this week's Chutes & Ladders, our roundup of significant leadership hirings, firings and retirings across the industry. Please send the good word—or the bad—from your shop to Gabrielle Masson and it will be featured here at the end of each week. 

CRISPR Therapeutics plucks Sanofi leader for CMO spot

CRISPR Therapeutics

Naimish Patel
Naimish Patel, M.D. (LinkedIn)

Almost exactly five months after CRISPR Therapeutics’ former chief medical officer P.K. Morrow announced her impending departure, the gene editing company has found a replacement in Naimish Patel, M.D. 

Patel, who will step on as CMO starting May 28, joins the biotech from Sanofi, where he most recently served as the global development therapeutic area head of immunology and inflammation. Before that, Patel was the French pharma’s vice president and global program head of dupilumab, now known as Dupixent. 

Julianne Bruno
Julianne Bruno (CRISPR Therapeutics)

CRISPR Therapeutics has also promoted Julianne Bruno to the role of chief operating officer. Bruno has been with the company since 2019 and most recently served as senior vice president and head of programs and portfolio management. Release 

Novartis taps leader for newly created AI and science role 


Novartis has tapped former Chief Patient Experience Officer Eden Wells to serve in a newly created role designed to drive the company’s innovation strategy. 

Under her new title as chief insights and decision science officer, Wells will lead a new Novartis division. The team will use generative AI and advanced analytics to gain insight into how human behavior impacts care decisions, outcomes and delivery. Novartis will then use the knowledge gained to inform both pipeline prioritization and customer experience, according to an emailed company release.

Wells has served on Novartis’ leadership team for more than four years and worked at Roche’s Genentech for 11 years before that. Earlier in her career, she worked as a senior manager of global medical information at Novartis. LinkedIn 

Cour finds permanent CMO in Acelyrin alum

Cour Pharmaceuticals

As its first immune-mediated disease candidate approaches the late-stage development phase, Cour Pharmaceuticals has appointed a new chief medical officer.

Paul Peloso, M.D., most recently held the CMO title at Acelyrin. Before that, he headed up Horizon Therapeutics’ rheumatology therapeutic area, served as medical director of AbbVie’s clinical development group and put in seven years as executive director of clinical research at Merck.

He’s taking over the role at Cour from Roy First, M.D., who has served as the company’s acting CMO for the last five years, CEO John Puisis said in the announcement. Puisis noted that Peloso’s appointment comes shortly after Cour locked down $105 million in series A financing and amid the company’s plans to continue advancing its lead candidate, targeting myasthenia gravis, in phase 2 trials. Release  

> Lyra Therapeutics announced cost-cutting layoffs of 87 employees that included John Bishop, Ph.D., its chief technology officer. Bishop had served in the role since February 2023; before that, he held the same title at Forma Therapeutics through its acquisition by Novo Nordisk. Fierce Biotech

> Jenny Marlowe, Ph.D., is the new chief development officer for Chroma Medicine, a maker of epigenetic therapeutics. Marlowe arrives with nearly two decades of experience in drug development, including a decade spent at the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research plus leadership roles at bluebird bio, AavantiBio and Solid Biosciences. Release

> Alto Neuroscience has added Michael Hanley as its new chief operating officer. Hanley joins the psychiatric drug maker after nearly four years at Aeglea BioTherapeutics, where he served first as chief commercial officer, then as chief business officer. Rounding out his more than 20 years of experience in biopharma are stops at Esteve, Horizon Therapeutics and Lundbeck as well as a decade-long stint at Takeda. Release

> Kronos Bio has a new chief operating and financial officer. Taking on the dual role is Deborah Knobelman, Ph.D., who was previously chief financial officer and head of corporate development for Senti Bio. Release

> Oruka Therapeutics, which is developing new treatments for chronic skin diseases, has added two new members to its leadership team. Joe Senn, Ph.D., an alum of Moderna, Takeda and more, has been named senior VP of nonclinical research and development, while Rajiv Panwar, Ph.D., formerly of Disc Medicine and Magenta Therapeutics, was tapped as VP and head of chemistry, manufacturing and controls. Release

> As it gears up two submit two investigational new drug applications next year, Atalanta Therapeutics is bolstering its executive team. Serena Hung, M.D., has been appointed chief medical officer following stints at Biogen, Wave Life Sciences and Arkuda Therapeutics. Meanwhile, Atalanta selected Jeffrey Young to serve as CFO; he most recently held the same title at Axial Therapeutics. Release 

> On May 20, the FDA Oncology Center of Excellence formed the OCE Equity Program as an expansion of Project Equity, according to a release emailed to Fierce Biotech from an FDA spokesperson. The program is designed to improve trial access for people of rural areas, sexual and gender minorities along with individuals with financial, linguistic or cultural barriers to healthcare services. The OCE named Nicole Gormley, M.D., and Tamy Kim as directors of the new program. Gormley is the OCE’s associate director for equity advancement and director of the Division of Hematologic Malignancies 2 in the FDA Office of Oncologic Diseases, while Kim is the OCE director for regulatory affairs and policy.

> Rachel Sha is the new CEO of Vaxess Technologies, developer of a skin patch that could be used to deliver vaccines and therapeutics. Sha’s two-decade career in biopharma includes several-year stops at both Sanofi and Genzyme. She took over the top role at Vaxess from co-founder Michael Schrader, who had held the title for more than a decade. Release

> FDA oncology division director Harpreet Singh, M.D., has left the agency to join CRO Precision for Medicine as chief medical officer. Singh spent eight years at the FDA, ending her tenure there as a director of Division of Oncology 2, a department that regulates the development of drugs to treat thoracic head and neck cancers, rare neurological cancers and pediatric solid tumors. Fierce Biotech