Chutes & Ladders—Former AbbVie R&D chief Severino tapped to lead Flagship-launched Tessera

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

Former AbbVie R&D chief Severino departs to lead Flagship-launched Tessera

Tessera Therapeutics

Tessera Therapeutics CEO
(Tessera Therapeutics)

Former AbbVie R&D chief Michael Severino has found his new home, being named CEO of Tessera Therapeutics after departing the Chicago-area Big Pharma for Flagship Pioneering in April. The announcement follows Flagship teasing out plans to tap Severino as the leader of an undisclosed company when he was initially announced as a CEO and partner at the firm. Now, Severino will be in charge of building up the company and allocating the latest $300M series C round it just closed. 

It's a massive change of scenery for Severino, who leaves a company in AbbVie that was recently projected to be the world's largest pharmaceutical company in a matter of years. Tessera, on the other hand, is in its infancy after being unveiled in 2020, two years after launching. The brainchild of Flagship General Partner Geoffrey von Maltzahn, Tessera is looking to pave new ground in gene writing by creating gene editing technology with numerous capabilities, from insertions to writing whole RNA into full-length genes. Since launching, the company has raised more than $500 million and currently has more than 200 employees. After raising its latest fundraising round, von Maltzahn told Fierce Biotech the company would continue to aggressively invest in the platform and build out its own manufacturing capabilities, with the hope of being operational within the next 18 months. Fierce Biotech

Pfizer taps Anderson to be new vaccine R&D chief following Jansen's retirement


Pfizer vaccine R&D chief Annaliesa Anderson

Just over a month after the retirement of Kathrin Jansen, Ph.D., was announced, Pfizer has found its new vaccine R&D chief, naming Annaliesa Anderson, Ph.D., for the job. Anderson follows big footsteps after Jansen capped off a 13-year career with the Big Pharma by overseeing the company's collaboration with BioNTech on a COVID-19 vaccine. She also helped lead development of the company's pneumococcal vaccine franchise. 

But Anderson comes equipped with more than 20 years of pharmaceutical research experience, including 15 years at Pfizer. After nine years at Merck, she joined Pfizer in 2007 as the director of bacterial vaccines, ultimately elevating herself to SVP of chief scientific officer of bacterial vaccines and hospital. In that position, she's overseen the development of the company's slate of bacterial vaccine programs, including streptococcus pneumonia and C. difficile. Last but not least, Anderson helped craft Pfizer's FDA-approved COVID treatment, Paxlovid. 

She is set to take over the nearly 1,000-person unit on Aug.1 following Jansen's retirement. Fierce Pharma

Japan-based Shionogi announces executive reorganization of U.S. output 


Japanese pharmaceutical company Shionogi is shuffling the executive team of its U.S. subsidiary, naming a new CEO, CCO, CFO and chief global operations officer. 

The company's new leader, Nate McCutcheon, was promoted from chief commercial officer, a role he was tapped for in May 2021. Now, he'll be tasked with leading the U.S. arm of a company with two FDA-approved meds and a COVID-19 treatment that U.S. officials have reportedly discussed buying. In addition to McCutcheon's move, the company is shifting Tadashi Hara from CFO to the newly created role of chief global operations officer; he'll be replaced by Masahiro Fujita, M.D., Ph.D. Margaret Borys is joining the company as COO after a three-year stint in the same role at Fractyl Health. Before that, Borys spent more than five years at Sanofi, rising up the ranks to VP and head of U.S. diabetes biologics. 

The effort to bolster U.S. operations follows a deliberate corporate strategy (PDF) unveiled in 2030 to focus commercialization efforts in Japan, China and the U.S. The executive changes take effect on July 1. Release

> Gene therapy-focused Passage Bio is parting ways with President and CEO Bruce Goldsmith, Ph.D., effective immediately. In an unusual move, the company has tapped its top lawyer Chip Cale on an interim basis while it looks for a permanent search. Goldsmith will stay on as an adviser during the transition period. Release

> Bayer is fortifying the executive leadership of its U.S. team, naming Brian Branca as its new chief financial officer, promoting him from VP and treasurer. The company also announced Marina Hong as SVP and head of U.S. human resources. Release

> Almost two months after ProQR's chief scientific officer left amid a wave of layoffs, the company has found a replacement, naming Gerard Platenburg to the role. Platenburg is a co-founder of the company and was its chief innovation officer for eight years. Release

> Tom Pulles, M.D., is joining Khondrion as its chief medical officer as it progresses its lead asset, sonlicromanol, through the clinic to treat a range of mitochondrial diseases. He joins after more than five years at Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical, most recently as head of medical affairs. Release

> Antev is hiring Steven van Os, M.D., as its chief medical officer, almost two years after he left his role at Astellas as senior director of global development oncology. Van Os' top responsibility in the job will be advancing Antev's prostate cancer treatment, teverelix, through the clinic.

> OncoNano has landed on a new clinical chief, brining on Kartik Krishnan, M.D., Ph.D., as chief medical officer. Krishnan comes aboard from Arcus Biosciences where he oversaw the initiation of a number of phase 3 trials. Release

> Four years after co-founding RallyBio, a tenure that included taking the company public, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Fryer is retiring. He'll stay on through the hiring of a successor and subsequent transition period. Release

> R&D vet Jill Mooney, Ph.D., has a new gig, joining ElevateBio as SVP of R&D to see out the company's scientific ambitions. She comes from Synthorx where she had a similar role, following other stints at Fate Therapeutics, Adaptive Biotechnologies and Janssen R&D. Release

> DTx Pharma and its slate of early stage assets have a new head of clinical operations with Michael Huang coming on as chief medical officer. Prior to DTx, Huang held leadership roles at AmMax Bio and Spruce Biosciences. Release

> Black Diamond is bringing on Sergey Yurasov, M.D., Ph.D., as chief medical officer, the third company in a row he's held the position. Before Black Diamond, Yurasov was CMO at Nuvation Bio, where he helped oversee development of the company's small molecule cancer treatments. Release

> Transition Bio is inching its way toward building out its initial pipeline, nabbing $50 million in series A funds and hiring Shilpi Arora, Ph.D., as SVP of discovery research. Prior to Transition, Arora led discovery work and translational biology at Exo Therapeutics. Release

> David Kendall, M.D., has been appointed chief medical officer at Zealand Pharma, a move that adds a seasoned research executive to Zealand leadership team. As for Kendall, it's the latest career switch in a career that's spanned industry, advocacy and academia. Release

> Engineered cell manufacturer Sana Biotechnology has made made a couple of new hires, naming Snehal Patel as SVP and head of manufacturing and Julie Lepin SVP and head of regulatory, safety and quality. The company is coming off a bonkers $588 million IPO last year and just signed on to 80,000 square feet of new manufacturing space. Release

> After leading late stage development at Dicerna Pharmaceuticals (now owned by Novo Nordisk), Kerry Russell, M.D., Ph.D., is jumping to Terns Pharmaceuticals as chief medical officer. It's Russell's first time in the executive role after more than nine years in senior clinical development roles. Release

> Immunotherapy shop Sensei Biotherapeutics has a new chief business officer, naming Patrick Gallagher for the job. He arrives with nearly 20 years of experience spanning numerous biotechs ranging from Flagship Pioneering firms to AbbVie. Release

> STipe Therapeutics, focused on developing therapies aimed at the interferon pathway, has tapped Richard Sainson as chief scientific officer. The company is approaching three years since raising a 20 million euro series A and details remain slim on any R&D progress. Release

> Cell therapy-centered SQZ Biotechnologies has landed on Marshelle Smith Warren as chief medical officer. She was most recently in the same role at Viracta Therapeutics overseeing development of the company's therapies aimed at Epstein-Barr virus associated lymphoid malignancies. Release

> Rezolute is promoting SVP of Clinical Development Brian Roberts, M.D., to chief medical officer. Prior to joining Rezolute he held other clinical development roles at Cymabay and Fibrogen. Release