Chutes & Ladders—FDA's vaccine office gets new leader as 2 officials head toward exit

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


FDA's Peter Marks adds interim director of vaccines office to his duties  

U.S. FDA
Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D., has taken over the agency's vaccines office on an interm basis.

The director of the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, Marks will head up the vaccines post as the agency's top two vaccine officials head toward the exit this fall after sharing their views on COVID-19 booster shots in a journal last month. He became acting director this week to "assure a smooth transition," he said in an email to colleagues Monday. Fierce Pharma


After leaving Ovid Therapeutics following a lead therapy flop, Amit Rakhit rockets toward Houston biotech Sporos Bioventures

Sporos Bioventures
Amit Rakhit, M.D., will be the new CEO of Houston biotech funder Sporos Bioventures. 

He joins the incubator behind companies like 2021 Fierce 15 winner Tvardi Therapeutics after having been chief medical officer and president at Ovid Therapeutics. He left the biotech in August after the company's lead therapy failed a phase 3 trial in Angelman syndrome. Fierce Biotech


Amicus Therapeutics CEO will become head of spinout Caritas

Caritas
John Crowley is switching from CEO of Amicus Therapeutics to CEO of its gene therapy spinout Caritas.

As part of a $600 million special purpose acquisition company deal, Caritas is becoming a separate company to focus on gene therapies for Batten, Fabry and Pompe diseases along with other disorders. Caritas will be led by Crowley and Amicus President and Chief Operating Officer Bradley Campbell will steer the ship. Fierce Biotech


> Michael Amoroso will join Precision Biosciences as CEO after stepping down from the CEO post at Abeona Therapeutics in mid-October. Release

> Genprex named Mark Berger, M.D., its first chief medical officer and Hemant Kumar, Ph.D., its first chief manufacturing and technology officer. Berger was previously CMO at Actinium Pharmaceuticals, and Kumar joins from Arcturus Therapeutics after serving as vice president and global head of manufacturing, supply chain and strategy. Release

> Ajax Therapeutics named Christina Riordan, Ph.D., vice president of preclinical development, and Craig Masse, Ph.D., was promoted to SVP of discovery research. Riordan was previously senior director of integrated drug development at Certara. Release

> Jessica Lee, M.D., Ph.D., is the new vice president of regulatory strategy for cell and gene therapy at CATO. Lee joins the CRO from AstraZeneca, where she was a medical director for immuno-oncology products. Release

> Actinium expanded its R&D team with the hires of Helen Kotanides, Ph.D., as vice president of translational research and preclinical development and Monideepa Roy, Ph.D., as vice president of corporate development. Kotanides joined from Eli Lilly, where she was senior research advisor for cancer immunobiology; Roy was previously vice president of corporate development and operations at Akamara Therapeutics. Release

> HiberCell named Jonathan Lanfear as chief operating officer. Lanfear joined the cancer biotech from Takeda, where he was in the Center for External Innovation. Release

> Medidata promoted Rama Kondru and Sastry Chilukuri to co-CEOs after serving as president and chief technology officer, respectively. Tarek Sherif and Glen de Vries, the company's co-founders, will move to chair and vice-chair of Dassault Systemes' Life Sciences and Healthcare, respectively. Release

> Jessica Ballinger was promoted to president and chief operations officer of Lyndra Therapeutics. Ballinger was previously just COO and joined in 2016. Release

> Cartesian Therapeutics named Miloš Miljković, M.D., its chief medical officer and vice president. The executive joined from the National Cancer Institute, where he was a staff clinician. Release

> Brii Biosciences named Coy Stout its senior vice president and head of U.S. market access and patient advocacy. Stout was previously vice president of U.S. commercial access at Gilead Sciences. Release

> Brandon Atkinson will be chief operating officer and Nick Nieslanik will be chief technology officer of Cleerly. They join the heart disease company from Summits Consulting and Teladoc Health, respectively, where they were CEO and vice president of engineering. Release

> Curebase named Katri Langel as senior director of program development for Europe. Langel was previously senior e-clinical delivery lead at Vitaccess and director of customer centricity at snapIoT. Release

> Verana Health made multiple hires, including: Shrujal Baxi, M.D., senior vice president of clinical and scientific solutions; Dominique Connolly, vice president of clinical data strategy; Michelle McGovern, general counsel; Almer Mendoza, vice president, controller; and Yana Nikitina, vice president of engineering. Release

> Behavioral health therapeutics company Cognoa named Tony Rimac as chief financial officer. He joins from precision neurology biotech Escape Bio, where he was also CFO. Release

> Roddy McIlwain is now senior vice president of sales and marketing for PharmaEssentia's U.S. operations. McIlwain was previously vice president of oncology and hematology sales at Jazz Pharmaceuticals. Release (PDF)

> Aura Biosciences selected Chris Primiano as chief business officer. Primiano joins from Karyopharm Therapeutics, where he served in roles including executive vice president, CBO, general counsel and secretary. Release

> Robert Brown is chief financial officer of Gynesonics. Brown was previously president and CEO of Ximedica. Release