Chutes & Ladders—Ex-GlaxoSmithKline CEO Witty joins venture capital

Andrew Witty, GlaxoSmithKline's former long-standing CEO, joined Hatteras Venture Partners.

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.

Andrew Witty jumps into biotech venture capital

Andrew Witty

Hatteras Venture Partners
Andrew Witty became venture partner.

News of GlaxoSmithKline’s former CEO Andrew Witty joining North Carolina-based VC firm Hatteras and former R&D head Moncef Slaoui joining European VC Medicxi didn’t exactly come as surprises. After all, it has become a trend for former biopharma execs to jump into the venture capital sector. Former Novartis Pharmaceuticals head David Epstein and former Merck CMO Michael Rosenblatt, M.D., joined Flagship Pioneering not so long ago, ex-Pfizer CEO Jeff Kindler landed at Lux Capital in 2012 and former Sanofi chief Chris Viehbacher started his reign at Gurnet Point Capital in 2015, just to name a few. In fact, Witty’s mentor Bob Ingram, who was formerly CEO of Glaxo Wellcome and oversaw the merger that created GSK, is serving at Hatteras as a general partner. FierceBiotech

Aerie poaches yet another exec from Novartis’ Alcon unit

Aerie logo
Eric Carlson

Eric Carlson, Ph.D., joined as VP of R&D.

Eric Carlson, Ph.D., has become the latest in a string of former Alcon employees to land at Aerie. Carlson arrives at Aerie at a time when it just posted positive phase 3 data on its glaucoma drug Roclatan. Three other former Alcon executives have jumped ship to Aerie this year: Huan Sheng, M.D., Ph.D., left Alcon in February to work as Aerie’s director of clinical research and drug safety, Dale Seibt became VP of market access and Rick Halprin ended a 25-year career at Alcon for the role of director of professional affairs at Aerie. Novartis took control of Alcon in a $50 billion deal in 2010, but sales have not lived up to expectations and only started to grow this year since 2015. Also joining the eye disease specialist is Tori Arens—who used to work for Biogen and Eisai—as VP of drug product manufacturing. FierceBiotech | Read more on FiercePharma

Roivant taps Silicon Valley vet to run new trial AI company

Datavant logo
Travis May

Travis May will lead the newly founded company.

Add a new member to the Roivant family—Datavant, which focuses on employing artificial intelligence to improve the clinical trial process. Roivant has appointed Travis May, co-founder and CEO of LiveRamp, an identity resolution provider, to lead the company. Datavant was launched with initial financing led by Roivant and including a “significant personal investment” from May, and it has already compiled data from 85 different data sets comprising more than 20 million patient visits. Quite a few industry big names are also sitting on the new company’s advisory board, including Daniel Burch, M.D., CMO of PPD Biotech; Min Li, Ph.D., SVP and head of neurosciences R&D at GSK; as well as Bryan Spielman, former EVP at Medidata. FierceCRO

> Arvinas, a 2015 Fierce 15 winner that focuses on protein degradation, hired 18-year Bristol-Myers Squibb vet John Houston, Ph.D., as president and CEO. Release

> In another win for one of the "Vant" companies this week, Urovant Sciences announced the appointment of Avanir's CEO from 2007 to 2016, Keith A. Katkin, as CEO. Release

> Alexandre Sudarskis, CEO of Swiss transplantation medicine specialist Neovii Pharmaceuticals, will retire and will hand over the reins to current CCO Juergen Pohle first thing next year. Release

> Venture capital firm F-Prime appointed Joshua Grass to entrepreneur-in-residence, focusing on advancing life sciences company creation activities. Release

> Envigo made two new executive appointments: Craig Boyd, formerly EVP of Mayne Pharma’s U.S. specialty brands division, joined as chief commercial officer; and Lizanne Muller is now the company's president of EMEA Operations. Release

> W. Michael Korn, M.D., a Professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology/Oncology at the University of California, San Francisco, joined Caris Life Sciences as CMO. Release

> San Francisco-based Unity Biotechnology tapped Bob Goeltz, who was most recently CytomX Therapeutics' CFO, as its own CFO; Tamara "Tammy" L. Tompkins, most recently general counsel, chief administrative officer and operating partner at Khosla Ventures, was named general counsel; and Doug Rich, who was SVP of operations at Kythera Biopharmaceuticals, is taking a similar position at Unity. Release

> Adherium, a digital health company that improves medication adherence and patient outcomes, named medtech industry veteran Timothy A. Marcotte as its new CFO. Release