Chutes & Ladders—Ex-Sanofi executive to head up translational medicine at LEO Pharma

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-Sanofi executive to head up translational medicine at LEO Pharma

LEO Pharma
Thomas Hultsch will serve as head of translational medicine.

Hultsch will build LEO Pharma’s translational medicine presence in the U.S. and Europe, which includes overseeing the creation of a new translational medicine unit in Boston. Hultsch most recently led translational medicine at Sanofi US as a senior director. He has also headed up R&D at Allergopharma and served as a clinical lead for dermatology programs at Sanofi Genzyme. Hultsch’s appointment comes six months after LEO Pharma agreed to acquire Bayer’s prescription dermatology business, which pulled in €280 million ($328 million) in 2017 sales. FierceBiotech

Calico brings on Amgen R&D leader to head early drug development

Calico Life Sciences
Aarif Khakoo, M.D., was named head of drug development.

As Amgen’s head of translational medicine and VP of global development, Khakoo led a team of about 100 in early clinical development just across the street from Calico’s labs, at Amgen’s site in South San Francisco, California. In the newly created role at Alphabet's life sciences discovery arm, he will help lead early-stage candidate selection and preclinical studies of potential molecules and shepherd them through phase 2 development. FierceBiotech

Lonza CEO Richard Ridinger announces retirement, replacement


Marc Funk was named the new CEO, effective March 1. 

Richard Ridinger is retiring after seven years as CEO with plans to serve in a variety of nonexecutive positions at different companies, according to the company. Lonza's current chief operating officer of its pharma and biotech division, Marc Funk, has been named as his successor. Ridinger will stay on through the end of April, before transitioning to an advisor through the end of 2019. Release

> FDA staff returned to paid work after the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. But with temporary funding set to lapse Feb. 15 and President Donald Trump skeptical another deal can be reached, the agency may be plunged back into a shutdown in less than three weeks. FierceBiotech

> Staff at the European Medicines Agency have lowered the flags outside their London offices as they prepare to move to Amsterdam, symbolically saying goodbye to the city it has called home since its creation in 1995. The EMA is set to leave its offices March 1 and start gradually moving staff into its temporary home in Amsterdam about 10 days later. FierceBiotech

> Ferring Pharmaceuticals named Sophie Opdyke, Pharm.D., as VP and general manager of its oncology division. Opdyke most recently served as VP of immuno-oncology at Pfizer. At Ferring, she will help lead the potential commercial launch of an investigational gene therapy for bladder cancer patients. Release

> Portola Pharmaceuticals brought on Sheldon Koenig as executive VP and chief commercial officer. Koenig was senior VP and head of the cardiovascular franchise for Sanofi. Release

> Apellis Pharmaceuticals appointed Thomas Lackner as senior VP and head of Europe. Lackner was previously responsible for developing a commercial strategy for Prothena Biosciences in Europe for their first global launch in hematologic rare disease. Release

> Immuno-oncology developer Maverick Therapeutics has promoted its co-founding scientist Robert DuBridge, Ph.D., to executive VP of research and chief technology officer, as well as its preclinical pharmacology leader Chad May, Ph.D., to senior VP of research and development. DuBridge previously founded Full Spectrum Genetics, while May joined Maverick from Pfizer where he was senior director of targeted immunotherapy. Release

> Michael Rasche joined Metabolon as president of international business. Previously, Rasche was chief commercial officer at Definiens and corporate VP of global commercial operations at Ayoxxa. Release

> MassBio launched Project Onramp, a program that matches low-income students from across Massachusetts to well-paid summer internships at local biotech companies. FierceBiotech

> Aduro Biotech laid off about 37% of its workforce, to refocus its resources behind a handful of lead programs, including assets targeting the STING and APRIL pathways in cancer. FierceBiotech

> Singapore-based Aslan Pharmaceuticals is set to cut its headcount by 30%, halving operational costs, after its oral pan-HER inhibitor varlitinib failed to improve outcomes in a phase 2 study in metastatic gastric cancer. FierceBiotech