Chutes & Ladders—Eikon adds more than a dozen new hires to clinical development unit

 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. 

Eikon fleshes out clinical development team amid dealmaking frenzy

Eikon Therapeutics

Last we heard of Eikon Therapeutics, roughly a year ago, the company had just bagged more than half a billion dollars in a series B round and the team was further exploring the potential of the single molecule tracking platform that attracted so much hype. But the mysterious biotech made its largest announcement yet this week, announcing multiple new deals that catapult it into the clinic. 

In conjunction with the deals, Eikon announced more than a dozen new hires to the clinical development team. The new team members will work under Chief Medical Officer Roy Baynes, Ph.D., who joined last year from Merck, hitching his ride to former colleague and Eikon CEO Roger Perlmutter, M.D., Ph.D. 

Among the newly added vice presidents are Mei Ling Chang-Lok, Ph.D., VP of regulatory; Suba Krishnan, M.D., VP and early development lead; and Sam Rebello, Ph.D., VP of clinical pharmacology. Eikon has also tapped former Gilead clinical leader Kevin O’Brien to spearhead clinical development operations and Harry Raftopoulos, M.D., to lead clinical oncology research. Story

Farallon's recommended directors are victorious at Exelixis' shareholder meeting


All three of Farallon’s recommended directors for Exelixis’ board were elected at the biotech’s annual shareholder meeting. It wasn’t much of a surprise, after the company ultimately backed two of the suggestions and a third targeted member announced he would not run for reelection. But it is the exclamation point on a contentious, but largely successful, activist effort from Farallon. 

The investment firm, which owns 7.8% of Exelixis’ outstanding shares, argued that the company was wasting R&D funds and not doing enough to create value out of its approved cancer drug cabozantinib (sold under the names Cabometyx and Cometriq). Farallon thanked shareholders in a statement for voting in favor of the three new board members—Tom Heyman, Dave Johnson and Bob Oliver—but left a warning for the existing incumbent board members.

“We expect the remaining incumbent directors to heed the clear message of this election and recognize that Exelixis must embrace change to achieve its full potential for patients and shareholders.” Release

New Bausch & Lomb CEO Saunders is promoting a number of staff on the business team

Bausch & Lomb

Bausch & Lomb’s new again CEO Brent Saunders is rejigging the eye specialist’s leadership team with the elevation of all business unit heads. Joining the company’s executive management team and reporting directly to Saunders will be Luc Bonnefoy, senior vice president, surgical; John Ferris, SVP, consumer; and Yang Yang, SVP, vision care. 

Joseph Gordon, president of Global Consumer, Surgical and Vision Care, will also move into the role of strategic adviser to Saunders. At the same, Executive VP and Chief Quality Officer Louis Yu, Ph.D., plans to retire later this summer, sparking a search for a replacement. 

Saunders returned to Bausch & Lomb as CEO in March, 10 years after his first stint in the role. He replaced retiring chief executive Joe Papa. Release

> President Joe Biden is reportedly set to tap Mandy Cohen, M.D., to lead the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, replacing Rochelle Walensky, M.D., who recently departed. Cohen previously served as the North Carolina secretary of health. WaPo

> MEI Pharma COO David Urso has been tapped as CEO with Daniel Gold, Ph.D., stepping down. Urso joined MEI in 2014 and was promoted to COO in 2018. Release

Caroline Loew, Ph.D., will take the reins of Alkermes' spinoff oncology business, Mural Oncology, the company announced this week. She most recently was CEO of Glimpse Bio following a stint at BMS as VP of R&D planning and strategy. Release

> Another longtime BMS vet, Heidi Wang, Ph.D., is taking the job at OBI Pharma, replacing chairman and CEO Yun Yen, M.D. Wang spent some 30 years at the Big Pharma in roles that included VP and head of global regulatory sciences for the oncology unit. Release

> Orphazyme CEO/CFO Anders Fink Vadsholt plans to step down but will stick around until Oct. 1 at the latest to aid an ongoing U.S. security class-action lawsuit that reached a settlement in April. He’s been in the dual role for a year and a half as the company restructured. The board is looking for a replacement. Release

> NMD Pharma is adding Daniel Brennan as senior vice president of corporate and commercial strategy. He comes from CNS-focused biotech Alentia Therapeutics, which he founded and where he served as president. Release

> Ondine Biomedical is adding another title to the resume of board member Simon Sinclair, M.D.: chief medical officer. Sinclair previously served in medtech and pharma roles at Johnson & Johnson and Merck & Co. and has been a member of the Ondine board since 2021. Release

> Liberate Bio is adding Shawn Davis, M.D., as CEO and Walter Strapps, M.D., as chief scientific officer. The biotech, which launched in 2022, picked up Davis from AstraZeneca and Strapps from his CEO role at Carver Biosciences. Release