Chutes & Ladders—Ex-CRISPR Tx CMO lands at Takeda

 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. 

Ex-CRISPR Tx CMO lands at Takeda


Well, that didn’t take long! Three days after Phuong Khanh Morrow, M.D., formally departed from CRISPR Therapeutics, the ex-chief medical officer landed at Takeda as the new head of the oncology therapeutic area.

Phuong Khanh Morrow
Phuong Khanh Morrow, M.D. (Takeda)

Her exit was announced shortly after CRISPR’s landmark FDA approval of sickle cell treatment Casgevy. The label was expanded shortly after to tack on beta thalassemia, months before the FDA’s deadline to decide on the indication.  

Morrow replaces Chris Arendt, Ph.D., in the role after he was promoted to chief scientific officer. Prior to joining CRISPR, she spent more than 10 years at Amgen, rising to vice president and therapeutic area head for hematology, GI/GU, oncology and bone. Her career began as an assistant professor at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. 

News of Morrow’s appointment came a day after Takeda shaved its early oncology pipeline, particularly in cell therapy. The Japanese pharma also axed a midphase immunocytokine. Fierce Biotech 

Lexeo adds Pfizer rare disease leader as development chief

Lexeo Therapeutics

Lexeo Therapeutics is making a number of executive changes, including tapping a former Pfizer executive to a top role. Sandi See Tai, M.D., previously head of development for Pfizer’s rare disease unit, will be Lexeo’s new chief of development. Her prior position was responsible for guiding internal portfolio strategy for rare diseases, including late-stage development of ATTR cardiomyopathy med tafamidis. 

But she’s not the only one taking on a new role. Lexeo is also moving its chief scientific officer, Eric Adler, M.D., to chief medical officer and head of research. He joined Lexeo in 2022 after working as a professor and lauded cardiologist at the University of California, San Diego. The former head of R&D at Reata Pharmaceuticals, Rajiv Patni, M.D., is also joining as a senior adviser to CEO Nolan Townsend and the board of directors. Reata was acquired by Biogen last year for $7.3 billion.

Last but certainly not least, Jenny Robertson is adding chief business officer duties on top of her legal oversight. She previously was the chief legal and administrative officer but will now be chief business and legal officer. Release

Merck’s pharmacokinetics and drug metabolism leader set to join Cartography 

Cartography Biosciences 

Dan Rock’s career has been built over time on different molecular foundations, helping design and optimize more than 16 clinical-stage molecules. He’ll take that experience—sharpened at two large pharmas—to Cartography, where he’s set to oversee all early research as chief scientific officer. 

Rock, Ph.D., was most recently vice president of pharmacokinetics, dynamics, metabolism and bioanalytics as Merck, in addition to the interim head of the cardiometabolic therapeutic area. All told, he spent four years at the New Jersey pharma. Before that, Rock spent 11 years at Amgen, ascending to a similar role as global head of pharmacokinetics and drug metabolism.

Cartography’s full pipeline has yet to be unveiled, but CEO Kevin Parker, Ph.D., said in a release announcing Rock’s hiring that he looks forward to working with him on a “differentiated pipeline of T-cell engagers and ADCs, with an initial focus on our lead CB21 program targeting colorectal cancer.” Release

> Alphabet’s health tech company Verily has appointed Myoung Cha to serve as chief product officer. Cha joins the alphabet company from Carbon Health, where he was president and chief strategy officer, and was Apple’s head of health strategic initiatives before that. Release

> Astellas Pharma is shaking things up a bit, tapping Nick Eshkenazi to take on the role of chief digital and transformation officer starting April 1. Eshkenazi joined the pharma in November as chief digital officer. Release

> Moderna’s SVP of international manufacturing Nicolas Chornetas will serve as site head of the Moderna Innovation and Technology Centre in the U.K. In the role, Chornetas will oversee Moderna’s manufacturing facility that is currently being built as part of a 10-year collaboration with the U.K. government. LinkedIn

> Iambic Therapeutics has tapped Neil Josephson, M.D., to serve as the biotech's chief medical officer, taking the reins from interim CMO Jackie Walling, Ph.D. Josephson joins Iambic from Zymeworks, where he was also CMO, and before that was vice president of clinical development at Seagen. Release

> SpringWorks Therapeutics’ chief development officer L. Mary Smith, Ph.D., has resigned, citing demands of her caretaker role for an ill family member. Smith will stay on as a senior strategic adviser for the company. Release

> TScan Therapeutics has tapped Dawn Pinchasik, M.D., to serve as the cell therapy biotech’s VP of clinical development. Pinchasik joins TScan from ElevateBio, where she was senior director of early development, and has previously worked at Rubius Therapeutics, Aileron Therapeutics, Onyx Pharmaceuticals and later at Amgen following its 2014 acquisition of Onyx. Release

> Memo Therapeutics is adding two new characters to its story, bringing on Kristie Clemmer as VP of clinical operations and Maartje Verschuur, Ph.D., as VP of CMC and supply chain management. Clemmer most recently served as AM-Pharma’s VP of clinical operations. Verschuur also joins from AM-Pharma with previous experience across Venn Life Sciences, Batavia Biosciences and AbbVie. Release

> Longtime Teva leader Jeffrey Arcara is headed over to Corvus Pharmaceuticals, where he will serve as chief business officer. Arcara previously worked at Teva Pharmaceuticals for 11 years, most recently serving as SVP, head of global marketing and portfolio and strategy for the innovative medicines and biosimilars business. Release

> Flagship’s Sail Biomedicines is bringing Kerry Benenato, Ph.D., on deck to serve as chief platform officer and replace Stuart Milstein, Ph.D., who has walked the plank in pursuit of other opportunities. Benenato most recently served as chief scientific officer of 76Bio and before that held roles at Moderna and AstraZeneca. Release

> Terns Pharmaceuticals has tapped Amy Burroughs to serve as CEO, effective immediately. Most recently, Burroughs held the top spot at Cleave Therapeutics, and she has previously worked at 5AM Ventures and Roche’s Genentech. Release  

> Disc Medicine’s chief business officer Jonathan Yu is swapping titles for chief operating officer as the biotech catches Jean Franchi to serve as chief financial officer. Franchi succeeds Joanne Bryce and most recently served as Replimune’s CFO, with previous experience across Merrimack Pharmaceuticals, Dimension Therapeutics (acquired by Ultragenyx), Good Start Genetics and Genzyme. Release

> PreludeDx has picked Chris Emery to serve in the newly created position of VP of strategic marketing and business development. Emery joins PreludeDx from HALO Precision Diagnostics, where he served as chief business officer of molecular diagnostics, and has past experience at Menarini, Abbott, Novartis and Labcorp. Release

> The nonprofit Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute has tapped Andrew Gardner, Ph.D., as the organization’s inaugural chief scientific officer and Christopher Taron, Ph.D., as senior director of protein science and innovation. Both leaders have more than two decades of experience at New England Biolabs. Release