Chutes & Ladders—Eli Lilly diabetes head Conterno set to step down

Parachute landscape

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 Blankenship, and we will feature it here at the end of each week.

Lilly USA, diabetes chief Enrique Conterno bows out after 27 years

Eli Lilly
Enrique Conterno will step down.

Eli Lilly's top U.S. executive is on the way out. Conterno, who heads up Lilly's worldwide diabetes business as well as Lilly USA, is retiring after 27 years at the company. Mike Mason, himself a 30-year Lilly vet, will take the reins from Conterno Jan. 1, the drugmaker said Wednesday. Conterno's departure follows years of turmoil in Lilly's diabetes business as pricing pressure and new brand competition challenged its broad portfolio of meds. But amid those challenges, Lilly found a groove with some recent launches. Trulicity, its GLP-1 med, has stormed that market, while SGLT2 drug Jardiance, partnered with Boehringer Ingelheim, not only delivered blockbuster sales but also broke ground with the diabetes field's first-ever cardiovascular approval. FiercePharma

Trump to pick MD Anderson Cancer Center doctor as next FDA commish: WSJ

Stephen Hahn is the favorite to take over at the FDA.

President Donald Trump is set to pick oncologist Hahn, currently chief medical executive at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, as the next FDA commissioner, forgoing current leader Ned Sharpless. This is according to The Wall Street Journal, citing sources “familiar with the matter.” The sources told the WSJ the pick is expected to be confirmed next week, in time for the end of Sharpless’ acting tenure, which is up Nov. 1. The Senate would need to confirm a new commissioner. FierceBiotech

Amgen CFO David Meline, overseer of major restructuring, to retire

David Meline will retire from his role as CFO.

Meline, who officially became Amgen’s CFO July 21, 2014, just days before the restructuring announcement, will retire at the end of 2019, the company said Tuesday.  Taking his place will be Peter Griffith, who came from private equity and advisory firm Sherwood Canyon Group. Before that, he spent about 22 years as a partner with Ernst & Young, most recently as global vice chair of corporate development, responsible for the accounting and consulting firm’s international expansion. He was also once EY’s global managing partner for finance, having helped grow the firm’s annual revenues more than 25% to over $27 billion, according to Amgen. FiercePharma

> Smith & Nephew’s CEO, Namal Nawana, will step down at the end of the month after about a year and a half in the position over salary demands. Starting Nov. 1, Nawana will be replaced by the former CEO of Roche Diagnostics, Roland Diggelmann, who has served on the London-based devicemaker’s board as a nonexecutive director since March 2018. Nawana is set to stay on through Dec. 31 to assist with the transition. FierceBiotech

> Fierce 15 winner Kronos Bio has hired two new research program execs as it looks to put its recent funding haul to work. Christopher Lee, Ph.D., comes on board as vice president of program management, while Charles Lin, Ph.D., will serve as its VP of biology. Lee most recently served as senior director, research portfolio management, where he helped support teams working across early- and later stage clinical testing. Lin comes out of a stint at Baylor College of Medicine, where he served as an assistant professor in the department of molecular and human genetics. FierceBiotech

> Barbara Fox, Ph.D., is getting right back on the horse. Fresh off Tilos Therapeutics’ $773 million sale to Merck, Fox is taking the helm of another Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company: Rheos Medicines. Fox takes over from interim CEO Abbie Celniker, Ph.D., a partner at Third Rock Ventures, which launched Rheos with $60 million in March 2018. Celniker ceded the reins last September when Third Rock poached Dr. Sanjay Keswani from Roche, but took them up again this July when Keswani headed to Annexon Biosciences to become its chief medical officer. FierceBiotech

> San Francisco-based BlackThorn Therapeutics has promoted company co-founder William Martin, Ph.D., to CEO. Martin previously served as the company’s president and chief operating officer as well as its chief scientific officer. Release

> Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Elicio Therapeutics has hired Christopher Haqq, M.D., Ph.D., as CMO and executive vice president and head of R&D. Haqq was the first employee and CMO of Atara Biotherapeutics, and later its CSO. Release

> Holly May has been pegged as CMO of Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Avrobio. May joins Avrobio from Sobi, where she served as VP and head of commercial. Prior to Sobi, May held leadership roles at Sanofi Genzyme. Release

> Boston-based Akouos has appointed Rabia Gurses Ozden, M.D., as CDO. Most recently, Ozden served as the CMO at Nightstar Therapeutics. Prior to Nightstar, Ozden held leadership positions at Applied Genetic Technologies Corp. and GlaxoSmithKline. Release

> Justin Birtz has been named VP of people and culture at Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Cedilla Therapeutics. Birtz joins Cedilla from BitSight, where he was director of people operations. Release

> Israeli medtech Itamar Medical has named Jennifer Cook, M.D., to the newly created position of global medical director. Cook is an attending physician in charge of the cardiovascular intensive care unit at the University of Cincinnati. Previously, she was the associate professor, medical director, fellowship director and physician lead at the Banner University Medical Center at the University of Arizona. Release