Chutes & Ladders—Embattled Juno taps new R&D head

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.

Juno taps Genentech alum Agarwal as new R&D chief

Juno Therapeutics logo
Sunil Agarwal

Juno Therapeutics
Sunil Agarwal, M.D., became president of R&D

Juno pulled the plug on its lead CAR-T therapy last month after patient deaths, and now, it has recruited a new R&D chief in hopes of recouping and revamping its R&D activities, which will all be brought under this one leader. Sunil Agarwal, M.D., formerly Genentech’s SVP and global development head of ophthalmology, metabolism, neuroscience, immunology and infectious diseases, has been tasked with the job. His most recent title was CMO and EVP of Ultragenyx. “His drug development experience, instincts, and scientific judgment will be important for our next phase of growth,” said Juno CEO Hans Bishop of Agarwal. It seems like Juno has a thing for Roche/Genentech members—in late January it poached Corsee Sanders, Ph.D., a global clinical operations veteran who used to serve at Roche and Genentech, as its EVP and head of development operations. Release

Merrimack promotes Drummond to head of research

Daryl Drummond

Daryl Drummond, Ph.D., was named head of research.

Daryl Drummond, Ph.D., joined Merrimack in 2009 as part of the buyout of Hermes Biosciences, where he had served for nine years as director of liposomal R&D. A major project he was working on was Onivyde, which was later sold to Ipsen. That deal saw Merrimack shed its approved product and accompanying commercial infrastructure to retool as a clinical-phase cancer biotech. It soon welcomed former Sanofi Genzyme SVP and head of global rare diseases Richard Peters, M.D., Ph.D., as president and CEO. Now Drummond seems a natural fit to take up the lead of Merrimack’s research group as the company’s focus has returned to R&D. FierceBiotech

Mitch Gold leads the newly merged, soon-to-be-public Alpine


Alpine Immune Sciences
Mitch Gold continues as CEO.

Alpine and Nivalis have agreed to merge into a new Alpine, and Mitch Gold is once again the CEO of a public biotech, five years after he left Dendreon as CEO when Provenge didn’t hit expected sales numbers. Nivalis, which has been in limbo following a phase 2 flop, is contributing its Nasdaq listing and just under half of the combined $90 million capital. Michael Carruthers, the Nivalis CFO who oversaw the process after the rest of the C-suite left in January, explained that Alpine's offer stood out because the company is “already very well capitalized … unlike many companies that indicated interest in pursuing a strategic transaction with Nivalis.” FierceBiotech

> Ipsen promoted Alexandre Lebeaut, M.D., as EVP of R&D and CSO. Release

> Gary G. Gemignani is succeeding retiring Bernard Denoyer as EVP and CFO at Synergy. Release

> RXi Pharmaceuticals will replace retiring Chief Development Officer Pamela Pavco, Ph.D., with Gerrit Dispersyn, Dr. Med. Sc., effective April 24. Release

> The Michael J. Fox Foundation promoted Sohini Chowdhury to deputy CEO. Release

> The Cancer Research Institute has tapped AstraZeneca VP and head of immuno-oncology global medical affairs Aiman Shalabi, Pharm.D., as CMO. Release

> Cancer immunotherapy-focused Advaxis named Anthony A. Lombardo as chief business officer. Release

> Patricia S. Andrews succeeded Boston Biomedical's founder Chiang J. Li, M.D., as the company's CEO. Release

> SynteractHCR added three senior execs to its management team: Heather Davis, executive director of U.S. project management; Zia Haque, executive director of clinical data management; and John Whitaker, Ph.D., executive director of biostatistics. Release

> Reinhard Kandera, former CFO of vaccine company Valneva, was appointed CFO of Hookipa Biotech. Release

> Bio-Path Holdings hired William Hahne, M.D., to the newly created position of VP of clinical research. Release