Chutes & Ladders—FDA names Chief Scientist Bumpus as new number 2

 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. 

FDA promotes Chief Scientist Bumpus to replace Woodcock

Food and Drug Administration

Well, that was quick! Two weeks ago FDA Commissioner Robert Califf, M.D., wrote in an all-staff memo that he’d announce a replacement for longtime official Janet Woodcock, M.D., "in the future." The future is now. 

Headshot of new FDA Principal Deputy Commissioner Namandjé Bumpus

Califf is promoting Chief Scientist Namandjé Bumpus, Ph.D., to be Principal Deputy Commissioner, the proverbial second-in-command at the FDA. She joined the agency in August 2022 from Johns Hopkins University where she was a scientist, professor and chair of the Department of Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences. She was admitted to the National Academy of Sciences in 2022 in recognition of her research in drug metabolism and antiviral pharmacology. 

She’ll be replacing an FDA fixture in Woodcock who clocked more than 30 years at the agency, which included leadership roles at CDER, CBER and a stint as interim commissioner. She plans to formally retire in early 2024. 

In Califf’s latest note to staff, he said Bumpus’ initial priorities will be seeing through previously announced organizational changes at the org, which include the Human Foods Program and the Office of Regulatory Affairs. Tweet

Amylyx brings on new CMO as life post-approval takes shape


Amylyx turned heads in the fall of 2022 when its treatment for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Relyvrio, secured full approval from the FDA. It’s been a more difficult year for the company and the drug, as European regulators have maintained that there’s not enough evidence to support approval. That’s placed renewed pressure on the rest of the company’s assets, with a new hire set to spearhead clinical development. 

The biotech has hired Camille Bedrosian, M.D., as chief medical officer, replacing Patrick Yeramian, M.D., who’s set to retire at the end of the year. Bedrosian comes with a wealth of rare disease-focused drug development experience, having been the CMO at Ultragenyx, Alexion and ARIAD Pharmaceuticals. She also serves on the board of Crinetics Pharmaceuticals and Rhythm Pharmaceuticals.

Much of the near-term focus will be on expanding the use of Relyvrio, also known as AMX0035. The company plans to launch a 600-person, placebo-controlled phase 3 trial for patients with progressive supranuclear palsy before the end of the year and is also studying the drug in patients with Alzheimer’s disease and Wolfram syndrome. Amylyx’s second asset, AMX0114, is expected to enter clinical trials next year. Release

Spyre, once Aeglea, promotes Turtle to CEO and hires a handful of ex-Prometheus execs

Spyre Therapeutics

Spyre may have been gobbled up in June, but its name will now live on. Aeglea BioTherapeutics formally changed its name to Spyre Therapeutics this week and promoted Chief Operating Officer Cameron Turtle to CEO. He joined the company at the time of the acquisition, moving over from Foresite Labs where he was a venture partner. Nearly half a dozen other leadership changes underscore Spyre’s focus.

Two former executives of Merck-bought Prometheus Biosciences, Deanna Nguyen, M.D., and MiRa Huyghe, are joining the company as SVP of clinical development and SVP of development operations, respectively. Ex-Prometheus VP and head of CMC, Brian Connolly, is joining as chief technical officer. 

Joshua Friedman, M.D., previous VP and head of translation science at Spark Therapeutics, is also joining to lead clinical development alongside Nguyen. Lastly, Paul Fehlner, Ph.D., previously Axcella’s chief legal officer, will be Spyre’s SVP and chief IP counsel. Release

> AC Immune has appointed immunologist Madiha Derouazi, Ph.D., to succeed Marie Kosco-Vilbois, Ph.D., as chief scientific officer when she retires at the end of the year. Derouazi joins from Speransa Therapeutics, where she had been CEO since it launched in 2021. Release

> London-based biotech Silence Therapeutics is shaking things up, promoting former VP and head of clinical science Curtis Rambaran, M.D., to chief medical officer, while former SVP and head of molecular design Marie Wikström Lindholm, Ph.D., will become chief scientific officer. Rambaran has been with the RNA-focused company since 2021, while Wikström Lindholm has been with Silence since 2017. Release

> Two Affimed C-suite members are departing for new horizons. CFO Angus Smith will be the financial chief at a Boston-based biotech while Chief Scientific Officer Arndt Schottelius is taking at CEO gig at a European biotech. Disclosure

> Madrigal Pharmaceuticals’ new Chief Information Officer Ronald Filippo comes from none other than Moderna, where he was responsible for technology leadership and digital transformation as the company launched the COVID-19 vaccine. Release

> CytoDyn is naming longtime adviser Jacob Lalezari as interim chief executive officer. He’s been a member of the company’s scientific advisory board and was interim chief medical officer in 2020. Release

> Gerry Farrell, head of FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies sites in Austin and Massachusetts, is retiring next week. He’ll be replaced on an interim basis by the company’s CFO, Vincent Romeo, before Keita Hirabayashi takes over permanently in April 2024. Release

> Sutro Biopharma is promoting Jane Chung to president and chief operating officer after she joined as CCO in 2021. She was president and general manager of AstraZeneca Canada before making the leap to Sutro. Release

> Clinical development vet and consultant Ken Kobayashi, M.D., has been named Chief Medical Officer of Pyxis Oncology. He previously held clinical development roles at Kinnate Biopharma and Pfizer. Disclosure

> enGene has added Ryan Daws to oversee the budget as chief financial officer of the genetic medicines company. He joins from Obsidian Therapeutics where he held the same role plus the head of business development post. Release

> Amirali Kia, Ph.D., will become vice president of data science at AI at Deepcell, a life sciences company that combines artificial intelligence and cell biology to make biological discoveries. Kia last served in a similar role at Harbinger Health. Release

> The U.K.’s Levicept has picked up Eliot Forster as CEO, eight months after his previous company F-Star was acquired by inovX Pharma. Meanwhile, Levicept’s founder Simon Westbrook will transition to chief scientific officer. Release

> Broken String Biosciences is tuning its executive suite with the appointment of Gavin Burns, Ph.D., as vice president of quality and operations. He previously served as associate director of quality at Illumina. Release

> Acadia Pharmaceuticals’ Doug Williamson, M.D., is leaving his post as executive vice president, head of research and development, barely a year into his tenure. The company said he was departing to “pursue other opportunities.” Release

> In a cost-cutting effort, Kintara Therapeutics has let Chief Scientific Officer Dennis Brown go effective November 20. He will continue on as a consultant. Release