Chutes & Ladders—Ex-FDA commissioner goes back to biotech investing


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

Ex-FDA commissioner goes back to biotech investing

Scott Gottlieb

New Enterprise Associates
Former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb was named a "special partner" at his previous VC firm.

Less than two months after stepping down as commissioner, Gottlieb has slipped right back into his old ways at NEA, where he spent about a decade before taking on the lead role at the FDA in 2017. Now, he will help NEA funnel increasingly large sums into earlier-stage biotechs in the hopes they can knock on the FDA’s door someday, with Gottlieb’s knowledge of the agency's inner workings sure to help pave the way to regulatory approvals. FierceBiotech

Seattle Genetics taps pharma veteran as first chief commercial officer

Seattle Genetics
Seattle Genetics CCO Robin Taylor

Seattle Genetics
Robin Taylor aims to bring in global product launch experience as CCO. 

Well on its way to becoming a multiproduct oncology company, Seattle Genetics has decided it's time to bring on its first chief commercial officer. Taylor—who helped roll out AstraZeneca's Imfinzi, as well as Tecentriq, Alecensa, Avastin and Herceptin while at Genentech—joins Seattle Genetics after it received two new FDA indications for its Adcetris cancer drug for a total of six, including one application that was approved in just 11 days. In addition, the company has three more programs in pivotal trials for solid tumors. Adcetris sales increased 55% last year, to $477 million, and the company said the drug could top $1 billion globally by the end of 2019. FiercePharma

Affimed parts ways with CSO, scraps T-cell engager program

Martin Treder stepped down as chief scientific officer.

Seven months after the FDA hit it with a clinical hold, the German company has terminated its phase 1 bispecific T-cell engager program to instead focus on innate cell engagers, and its plans to combine them with other modalities to treat cancer. It will do so without the full-time involvement of Treder, who plans to pursue new opportunities while acting as a consultant. Affimed's chief operating officer, Wolfgang Fischer, will oversee CSO operations in the interim. FierceBiotech

CSL Behring poaches former manufacturing exec from Biogen

CSL Behring
Paul McKenzie has taken the COO post at CSL Behring, the drug and plasma unit of Australia's CSL Ltd.

Biogen announced McKenzie’s departure in an 8-K filing several weeks ago, after the flop of its Alzheimer’s disease candidate aducanumab. He'll take over global supply chain operations at CSL as it adds production for the U.S. and European markets, as well as the company's plans to increase its albumin production capacity in Australia. McKenzie joined Biogen in 2016 as executive VP of pharmaceutical operations and technology. FiercePharmaManufacturing

> Akrevia Therapeutics has named René Russo as CEO and a member of the board of directors. Russo was previously president and CEO of Arsanis after serving as chief development officer. Before that, she spent 12 years in R&D roles at Cubist Pharmaceuticals and also held positions at Bristol-Myers Squibb. Release

> Pfizer early oncology development VP Pamela Garzone was appointed the first chief medical officer of Calibr, the drug development arm of Scripps Research. Garzone joins as Calibr’s pipeline moves toward the clinic, including a bispecific antibody for prostate cancer and a "universal" CAR T-cell therapy spanning different indications. Release

> Wende Chen joined the China- and Asia-focused Everest Medicines as chief commercial officer and will also serve as an operating partner for the company's founding investor, CBC group, formerly known as C-Bridge Capital. Chen previously served as VP of corporate affairs, market access and channel management at Roche Pharma China, following his time as national sales director for Pfizer China and as senior VP at AstraZeneca. Release

> Blood test developer Epic Sciences has named Chockalingam "Palani" Palaniappan as chief technology officer to help build out its clinical platform in a range of cancer indications. Palaniappan was previously a board member and executive VP of innovation and development at Terumo BCT's Global Blood Management division. Earlier this year, Epic picked up Myriad's oncology chief, Lloyd Sanders, to serve as CEO. Release

> Glooko has brought on Mark Clements full-time as chief medical officer after he served on the company's medical advisory board since its inception in 2015. Clements is an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine. Release

> Celsius Therapeutics has hired Greg Ryslik to serve as chief data officer and Michael Boretti to be chief business officer. Ryslik was previously VP of data science at FierceMedTech Fierce 15 winner Mindstrong Health, as well as a data science leader at the electric vehicle companies Faraday Future and Tesla Motors. Boretti was Epizyme's VP of business development and also held multiple roles at Aveo Oncology, including VP of corporate development and alliance management. Release

> Personalized medicine software platform developer Vineti opened a new regional headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland, to target the expanding cell and gene therapy corridor on the East Coast. Release