Chutes & Ladders—Five Prime’s COO to succeed founder Williams as CEO

Chutes and Ladders

Welcome to this week's Chutes and Ladders, our roundup of hirings, firings and retirings throughout the industry. Please send the good word—or the bad—from your shop to Eric Sagonowsky (email) or Angus Liu (email) and we will feature it here at the end of each week.

Five Prime founder Williams makes way for new CEO

Five Prime logo
Aron Knickerbocker

Five Prime Therapeutics
Aron Knickerbocker will become CEO.

Lewis T. “Rusty” Williams, MD., Ph.D., Five Prime’s current president and CEO, who founded the company in 2001, announced in June that he plans to transition to the role of executive chairman. After a few months of search, the company has picked its COO Aron Knickerbocker for the top job, effective first thing next year. Knickerbocker joined Five Prime in 2009 after eight years with Genentech. He orchestrated a $1.74 billion licensing and collaboration deal with Bristol-Myers Squibb that pairs the biotech’s lead immuno-oncology candidate cabiralizumab with Opdivo. But not all of Five Prime’s partnerships turned out to be successful, including the termination of the FP-1039 deal with GlaxoSmithKline last year, which left Five Prime navigating the mesothelioma indication on its own. FierceBiotech

Sobi poaches Takeda exec to head legal affairs

Torbjörn Hallberg

Torbjörn Hallberg became general counsel.

Sobi has just revealed a new leadership structure in place of the current executive leadership team, and has tapped someone who earned a law degree in Sweden, the company’s home country, to lead its legal affairs team. Torbjörn Hallberg, who was most recently Takeda’s VP and general counsel of emerging markets, joined Sobi as general counsel. Torbjörn has extensive experience in licensing, mergers and acquisitions, with more than 15 years' experience of in-house counsel roles within pharma. Release

Merck KGaA promotes Truckenmiller to oversee U.S. market access

EMD Serono
Robert Truckenmiller

EMD Serono
Robert Truckenmiller was named SVP of market access & customer solutions.

Robert Truckenmiller joined EMD Serono, Merck KGaA’s biopharma business in North America, last July as VP of market access & customer solutions. Now, he has been promoted to the SVP of that sector, succeeding Scott Filosi, who was just moved to the new position of Merck KGaA’s head of global market access & pricing. Truckenmiller’s job includes overseeing the development of U.S. market access, payer contracting and reimbursement. Prior to EMD Serono, he held a similar U.S. market access role at UCB, where he spent 11 years. Release

> Mohamed Genead, M.D., gene therapy biotech GenSight’s CMO since just May, has been replaced by Barrett Katz, M.D. FierceBiotech

> As BioInvent intends to put someone with more scientific experience at its reins, current CEO Michael Oredsson will step down. FierceBiotech

> Magenta Therapeutics, a 2017 Fierce 15 winner, strengthened leadership team with several key hires: Charlotte McDonagh to VP of biotherapeutics, Cindy Driscoll to VP of finance, Karen Nichols to VP of regulatory and quality, Manisha Pai to VP of investor relations and communications, and Zoran Zdraveski to SVP, chief legal officer and corporate secretary. Release

> Dendreon, which was recently bought by China's Sanpower, made a slew of senior leadership appointments: Chris Carr has joined as CFO; Matt Kemp has been promoted to chief commercial officer; Christina Yi has been promoted to COO; Kevin Helmbacher joined as general counsel and SVP of legal and compliance; and Beth S. Mueller has joined as SVP of human resources. Release

> Hamburg, Germany-based Topas Therapeutics appointed Rupert Sandbrink, M.D., Ph.D., as chief development officer and CMO. Release

> Harpoon Therapeutics welcomes industry veterans Susan Dana Jones, Ph.D., and Rachael Lester to the positions of SVP of product development and VP of corporate development, respectively. Release

> BlueRock Therapeutics, which is developing cell-based therapies for degenerative disease, announced the establishment of its corporate headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and appointed cellular immunologist Tracey Lodie, Ph.D., as SVP of translational immunology, and Andrea Brener has become head of human resources. Release

> Selecta Biosciences made two additions to its leadership team as it advances its lead candidate toward phase 3: John Leaman, M.D., was named CFO and head of corporate strategy, and Stephen Smolinski was named to the newly created role of chief commercial officer. Release

> CytoSen Therapeutics hired Jak Knowles, M.D., who was recently focused on biotech venture capital and finance, as CEO. Release