Chutes & Ladders—Ex-Seagen CEO takes new role less than a year after arrest

  Chutes and LaddersWelcome 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 Max Bayer or Gabrielle Masson, and we will feature it here at the end of each week. 

Ex-Seagen leader Siegall to be new CEO of Purdue University spinout less than a year after arrest


Co-founder and former CEO of Seagen Clay Siegall is back in the biopharma world less than a year after he was arrested and booked on fourth-degree domestic assault charges. He’s been hired as the new CEO of MorphImmune, a new biotech spun out of Purdue University. 

Seagen CEO Clay Siegall

The company said in a statement to Fierce Biotech that its own outside counsel and an executive search committee each conducted their own reviews of Siegall. Seattle-area prosecutors declined to charge him in December, reportedly citing contradictory evidence among witnesses. MorphImmune said in a statement that, “Dr. Siegall is uniformly recognized not only as a highly passionate and dedicated person … but also a colleague whose workplace demeanor and values are entirely consistent with those of MorphImmune.” 

Siegall led Seagen—once known as Seattle Genomics—for 24 years before resigning a few weeks after his arrest. The company was just sold to Pfizer for $43 billion, the highest pharma acquisition since Bristol Myers Squibb bought Celgene. Fierce Biotech

Shanker is beamed up to new CSO role 

Beam Therapeutics

Beam Therapeutics has landed on a new chief scientific officer, naming Gopi Shanker, Ph.D., for the role. His hiring comes as the company is looking to keep pace with gene editing competitors both in the clinic and in the early discovery process.

Shanker joins after years of Big Pharma experience that preceded his latest role as chief scientific officer of rare-disease-focused Tevard Biosciences. Prior to that, Shanker was at the Novartis Institute for Biomedical Research for eight years, working up the ranks before being named head of the neuroscience disease area. On his LinkedIn profile, Shanker describes that role as being responsible for the “Neuropsychiatry, Neurodevelopmental disorders, Neurodegeneration and Neuroinflammation portfolio.” Beam said in a release that he was also instrumental in a number of partnerships, including Novartis’ acquisition of Cadent Therapeutics. 

Before joining Novartis, Shanker spent another eight years at Amgen, working on in vitro molecular pharmacology for a number of disease areas including neurology, pain and migraines. Release 

Founding CEO of Inozyme slated to depart 


Axel Bolte, founding CEO of Inozyme, is heading for the exit after helping launch the rare disease company. He’ll continue to serve on the board and work as a senior adviser. Under his leadership, the company has developed a lead clinical-stage asset, INZ-701, that’s currently being tested in at least four indications. 

Replacing Bolte is Douglas Treco, Ph.D., who co-founded and led Ra Pharmaceuticals, which was bought by UCB for $2.5 billion in 2020. Ra discovered and developed zilucoplan, which is currently being reviewed by regulators at the FDA and EU. Prior to Ra, Treco founded co-founded Transkaryotic Therapies, which also had a successful exit, being bought by Shire in 2005. Treco also sits on the board of CRISPR Therapeutics. 

In addition to the CEO transition, Inozyme announced the hiring of Matthew Winton, Ph.D., as chief operating officer. He was most recently senior vice president and head of the multiple sclerosis franchise at Biogen. Release

> Francesco Marincola, M.D., has flown from Kite Pharma to Sonata Therapeutics, where he will serve as chief scientific officer. The leader joins the Flagship biotech after serving as SVP and global head of cell therapy research at Gilead’s Kite as well as holding roles at Refuge Biotechnologies, AbbVie, Sidra Medical and Research Center, the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute. Release

> Allogeneic cell therapy company Wugen’s CEO Dan Kemp, Ph.D., has stepped down to pursue other opportunities, with Kumar Srinivasan, Ph.D., taking the reins as president and CEO. Srinivasan most recently served as EVP and chief business officer at Turning Point Therapeutics and also has experience across AstraZeneca, Probiodrug, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and TorreyPines Therapeutics. Release   

> PTC Therapeutics’ long-standing and founding CEO Stuart Peltz, Ph.D., is stepping down after 25 years at the helm. In his place steps Chief Operating Officer Matthew Klein, M.D., who has been with PTC since 2019. Peltz, who is retiring, will serve as a senior consultant and join PTC’s scientific advisory board. Release

Celyad Oncology has a new CEO starting April 17. The CAR-T biotech has tapped Georges Rawadi, Ph.D., to lead the way, filling the head role held by interim CEO Michel Lussier. Rawadi has more than 20 years of industry experience, including at Celyad, serving in the role of VP of business develoipmet and intellectual property from 2014 to 2018. Release

> In efforts to cut costs, Evofem Biosciences has implemented layoffs that include sending Chief Commercial Officer Katherine Atkinson out the door. Fierce Biotech

> Former Thermo Fisher Scientific exec Mark Stevenson has joined equity firm General Atlantic as an senior adviser. Stevenson most recently served as Thermo Fisher's EVP and chief operating officer and is currently a member of the company's scientific advisory board.

> Three people have resigned from Gamida Cell’s board of directors, including former Chair Robert Blum. The board immediately selected Shawn Cline Tomasello, who has been on the board since 2019 and is the former chief commercial officer for Gilead’s Kite Pharma, to serve as the company’s new chair. Board members Anat Cohen-Dayag, Ph.D., and Naama Halevi-Davidov, Ph.D., have also resigned. Release    

> Bayer subsidiary Vividion Therapeutics has promoted Matt Patricelli, Ph.D., to chief scientific officer. Patricelli joined Vividion in 2016 and previously served as the company’s SVP of early discovery sciences. Release   

> Jasper Therapeutics has tapped Daniel Adelman, M.D., to serve as acting chief medical officer. The adjunct professor of medicine for the University of California, San Francisco has previously held several leadership roles across biopharmas such as Aimmune Therapeutics, Alvine Pharmaceuticals, Sunesis Pharmaceuticals, Pharmacyclics and Genentech. Release  

> Silvia Ragno, Ph.D., has joined Dutch biotech Azafaros as its chief operating officer, while Henrik Torp Nielsen has stepped into the head financial role. Ragno co-founded Stargazer Pharmaceuticals and served as chief operating officer for the company while also previously clocking in time at Novartis Pharmaceuticals UK. Nielsen also has experience at Novartis, holding roles such as European head of business development finance and oncology along with Nordic chief financial officer of oncology and head of commercial and medical finance. Release   

> Jeff Myers, M.D., Ph.D., will become Beyond Air’s newest chief medical officer March 27, taking the reins from Andrew Colin, M.D., who will transition to the role of senior medical director of global clinical leadership. Myers joins the medical device and biopharma from Revolo Biotherapeutics, where he also served as CMO. Release