Chutes & Ladders—Ex-Pfizer R&D head Abraham joins Vividion


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 Kyle Blankenship, and we will feature it here at the end of each week.

Ex-Pfizer oncology R&D lead lands at Fierce 15 winner Vividion Therapeutics

Vividion Therapeutics
Robert Abraham, Ph.D., will join Vividion from Pfizer.

Abraham, Pfizer's longtime cancer research head, has moved over to 2017 Fierce 15 winner Vividion Therapeutics, a biotech looking to increase the number of proteins small molecules can target. Last April, it got off an $82 million series B financing round. Its platform is based on the work of Benjamin Cravatt, Phil Baran and Jin-Quan Yu at the Scripps Research Institute and is designed to identify new sites in the proteome—which is distinct in each cell—that can be drugged. Vividion spun out of Scripps back in 2017; it’s still pretty quiet on specifics of its pipeline, but it's looking to work on cancer and immunology through its selective small-molecule therapeutic platform. Abraham will now help lead these efforts. It’s a major get for the small biotech and will likely be a bit of a culture shock for Abraham, who joins Vividion from a 10-year tenure at Pfizer where he most recently served as senior vice president and group head, oncology R&D. FierceBiotech

Another Takeda/Shire R&D exec jumps ship as Pharvaris nabs Peng Lu as its new CMO

Peng Lu, M.D., Ph.D., will join as CMO.

Lu comes from Shire after it has been subsumed into Japanese Big Pharma Takeda and follows a whole host of other execs who have hit the exit amid the merger. At Shire, she led the team that finished up the phase 3 pivotal hereditary angioedema (HAE) studies that led to the approval of Takhzyro (lanadelumab‐flyo) for the prevention of HAE attacks, which can cause life-threatening swelling of the airways or intestinal tract. This dovetails well with her new role at the Leiden, Netherlands-based biotech, which is working on an oral B2-receptor antagonist for HAE, with its tech also being earmarked for other disease areas. As CMO, she will oversee global clinical development and regulatory strategies for Pharvaris, which is looking to do things differently in the space: Current treatments for HAE are given by injection or intravenous infusion. FierceBiotech

Enterprise Therapeutics nabs Novartis VC exec as new CMO

Enterprise Therapeutics
David Morris
, M.D., will join as CMO. 

Morris, who will continue to serve as the Novartis Venture Fund's operating partner, will lead Enterprise’s development strategy and drive its two lead respiratory programs through the clinic. These are ETD002, a first-in-class TMEM16A potentiator, and ETD001, an ENaC blocker, both of which are hoping to help cystic fibrosis patients. Before moving into the VC world of Novartis, Morris held various leadership roles in its pharma unit, including development franchise head of respiratory, development franchise head of primary care and global head of clinical operations, analytics and regions. He’s also served a stint in director-level roles in respiratory discovery research and translational medicine at Roche. FierceBiotech

> Diffusion Pharmaceuticals’ co-founder and chief scientific officer John Gainer is set to leave the drug development company. Gainer invented the trans bipolar carotenoid family of molecules worked on by Diffusion but is now planning to leave the company next month. In a regulatory filing, Diffusion revealed Gainer has indicated his intention to resign on March 12. The resignation will deprive Diffusion of the knowledge of a scientist integral to its history and research. FierceBiotech

> New York-based ArTara Therapeutics has named Blaine Davis as chief financial officer. Prior to joining ArTara, Davis served as VP and head of investor relations and corporate communications at Insmed. Previously, Davis held multiple executive leadership positions at Endo, including senior VP and general manager of specialty pharmaceuticals, president of Endo Ventures and senior VP of investor relations and corporate communications.  Release

> Atlanta and Miami-based Vivex Biologics has appointed Chad Kolean as chief financial officer. Prior to Vivex, Kolean served as CFO and treasurer for Titan Spine and previously served as CFO and treasurer for Cellectar Biosciences. Release

> Rentschler Biopharma SE has tapped Grace Kim as VP of business development for North America and APAC. Kim most recently served as VP at Northway Biotechpharma and previously held a senior leadership position with Samsung Biologics. Release

> South San Francisco-based Encoded Therapeutics has pegged Salvador Rico, M.D., Ph.D., as chief medical officer and promoted Martin Moorhead, Ph.D., to chief technology officer. Rico joins Encoded from Audentes Therapeutics, where he led clinical development of the company’s pipeline of gene therapies for neuromuscular disorders. Release