Chutes & Ladders—Ex-Gilead CMO Andrew Cheng to lead Akero

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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.



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Former Gilead CMO Andrew Cheng to lead Akero Therapeutics

Andrew Cheng

Akero Therapeutics
Andrew Cheng
, M.D., Ph.D., was named president and CEO.


Gilead's chief medical officer for just six months, Cheng joined Akero not long after it raised $65 million to move its lead NASH candidate into phase 2 trials in the middle of next year. Akero also announced plans to relocate its headquarters from Cambridge, Massachusetts, to San Francisco, where Cheng is based. FierceBiotech

Sanofi trades executives with Bayer in restructuring

Sanofi small logo

Bayer’s pharmaceuticals head, Dieter Weinand, joins Sanofi to lead a new primary care unit, while Sanofi's head of diabetes and cardiovascular, Stefan Oelrich, takes Weinand's old job.

You've heard of asset swaps in biopharma before, but what about an executive swap? While Sanofi did not confirm a deal engineered between the two European companies, Bayer said separately that Weinand is moving for family reasons, with the new job based in New Jersey. Weinand knows Sanofi CEO Olivier Brandicourt from when Brandicourt led the Bayer HealthCare business from 2013 to 2015, and the two previously worked together at Pfizer. Oelrich, meanwhile, officially began his career with Bayer in 1992 and spent 20 years at the company before joining Sanofi as general manager in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. FiercePharma

Crescendo names ex-Roche leader as CMO

Crescendo Biologics
Pavel Pisa, M.D., Ph.D., will be chief medical officer.

Pisa previously served as the group head of translational medicine at Roche, where he worked on the development of Avastin and Gazyva. He also integrated Roche’s discovery and translational medicine groups, and helped set up a global immunotherapy working group with Genentech. He joins Crescendo not long after it raised $70 million to move its bispecific T-cell activator into the clinic. FierceBiotech

Medivir adds Darzalex R&D experience to its clinical team with new CMO

Linda Basse, M.D., Ph.D., was appointed chief medical officer.

Basse joins Medivir from Zealand Pharma, where she served as medical director for the past 14 months. But she is better known for the six years she spent at Genmab, where she helped bring the Johnson & Johnson-partnered cancer drug Darzalex into the market. Similarly, Medivir's own partnership with J&J helped secure approval for Olysio. Now, the Swedish biotech's prospects rest on remetinostat, a HDAC inhibitor, as the star of its new cancer-focused pipeline. FierceBiotech

> Oxford University's regenerative drug discovery spinout OxStem Limited appointed Georg Terstappen as chief scientific officer. Terstappen previously served as head of platform technologies and science at GlaxoSmithKline’s R&D center in Shanghai, helping to oversee preclinical drug development. FierceBiotech

> Surface Oncology’s Detlev Biniszkiewicz, Ph.D., and Scott Chappel, Ph.D., have both jumped to MPM Capital as executive partners to help identify and oversee new investments in oncology startups. In addition, Chappel had been appointed CSO for MPM’s portfolio company iTeos Therapeutics earlier this summer. FierceBiotech

> The exosome therapeutics company Codiak BioSciences named Robert Brenner, M.D., as executive VP and head of R&D. Brenner joins from Orionis Biosciences, where he was CMO. Before that, he served as president and CEO of AlloCure, and was senior VP of medical affairs at AMAG Pharmaceuticals. Release

> Teva appointed John Nason as president of Teva Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients, as well as the company's biologics operations. Nason joined Teva in 2015 as senior VP of European technical operations, after a variety of leadership roles at Bristol-Myers Squibb over a period of 12 years. Release

> Halozyme Therapeutics brought on Benjamin Hickey as chief commercial officer. At Bristol-Myers Squibb, Hickey most recently served as general manager of U.K. & Ireland operations following a 17 year career. Halozyme also named BMS' Bernadette Connaughton to its board of directors. Connaughton most recently served as president of intercontinental, including work in China, Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe and the Middle East. 

> Welwaze Medical named former advisory board member Carlos García Iragorri as its new CEO. Iragorri has served as president of Novartis' for the Latin America/Canada Region as well as president of its operations in Asia-Pacific, Africa and the Middle East. He has also served as an area director for Central and Eastern Europe for Eli Lilly & Co. Release (PDF)

> Takeda announced plans to move U.S. headquarters from the Chicago area to Boston, near Shire's operations, affecting about 1,000 employees. FiercePharma

> Epic Sciences named Katherine Atkinson as chief commercial officer. Atkinson was previously VP of business development at Edico Genome after working for Illumina overseeing molecular biology/PCR sales, inside sales, Latin America and global channel partners. Release

> Tarveda Therapeutics appointed Jeffrey Bloss, M.D., as CMO and Steven Hamburger, Ph.D., as VP of regulatory affairs and Laura Mei as VP of clinical operations. Bloss joins Tarveda from Aegerion, where he was CMO and VP of medical affairs. Hamburger previously served as VP of regulatory affairs and quality assurance at Berg, while Mei was executive director of global clinical operations and head of the metabolic franchise at Alexion Pharmaceuticals. Release

> Allurion Technologies has brought on Chris Tomosivitch, as chief financial officer; Benoit Chardon as VP of sales & marketing; Wayne Medeiros as director of quality assurance; and Melody Bi as director of regulatory affairs. Tomosivitch was previously CFO at Boston Heart Diagnostics. Chardon has held executive positions at Filorga, Zeltiq, Galderma and Allergan. Medeiros has spent 10 years at Cardinal Health, most recently as a senior manager for quality engineering. And Bi was a principal regulatory specialist for Smith & Nephew's advanced surgical division. Release

> Aura Biosciences hired Julie Feder as CFO, and Kylie Reynolds as VP of finance. Feder was previously CFO at Verastem, after serving as CFO at the Clinton Health Access Initiative. Reynolds joins from Forma Therapeutics, where she was senior director and controller. Release

> Tmunity Therapeutics named Graeme Bell as CFO and executive VP. Bell previously served in CFO roles at Intellia Therapeutics, Anacor Pharmaceuticals, and at Merck in U.S. and U.K. operations. Release

> Akcea Therapeutics is laying off 10% of its workforce after the FDA rejected a filing for volanesorsen. An agency advisory committee narrowly voted in favor of the ultra-rare lipid disorder drug in May. FierceBiotech

> Regeneron plans to supersize its campus expansion in Upstate New York, investing $800 million and adding 1,500 jobs. The project includes about 350,000 square feet of manufacturing space, 240,000 square feet for offices and labs and a 1,000-car parking garage. FiercePharma

> Novartis is officially moving Alcon's headquarters from Fort Worth, Texas, to Switzerland ahead of its planned spinoff in the first half of 2019. After the move, the company will have up to 700 employees across the country. FiercePharma

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