Chutes & Ladders—Former Merrimack CEO becomes new chief at Yumanity


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

After exiting Merrimack, former CEO becomes new chief at Yumanity

Richard Peters headshot

Richard Peters was named CEO of the Fierce 15 winner.

Troubled Merrimack Pharmaceuticals had recruited Peters in 2017 from Sanofi Genzyme to lead the company through its rebirth as a clinical-stage R&D biotech. But he hit the exit two weeks ago, after layoffs and clinical failures, followed out by several other C-suiters. Now, he looks to Yumanity for a more positive career move as he takes the reins from founder Tony Coles, who will become executive chair in September. FierceBiotech

Lilly Bio-Medicines chief steps aside, leaving key launches behind

Christi Shaw

Eli Lilly & Co. 
Chief Christi Shaw will exit her role at the end of August.

Early into the Big Pharma's important launch of its cluster headache med Emgality—and amid the rollouts of other key drugs and growth drivers—Eli Lilly's bio-medicines chief will be replaced by Patrik Jonsson, the company's top executive in Japan. Shaw, who took up the post at Lilly in April 2017 after leaving Novartis a year before for family reasons, also heads up commercialization for the plaque psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis drug Taltz, which saw sales grow 68% last year to $937 million. In addition to Shaw's move, Lilly said its SVP and general counsel, Mike Harrington, would retire at the end of the year. FiercePharma

23andMe therapeutics leader leaves for board roles at up-and-comers

Richard Scheller headshot

Richard Scheller, Ph.D., has left his role as chief scientific officer.

23andMe’s former therapeutics foreman has left his hands-on role at the sequencing company and landed on the boards of two of the biggest money raisers of the year. At BridgeBio, which secured nearly $350 million with its IPO, Scheller now holds the title of chairman of R&D, a part-time position. Meanwhile, Maze Therapeutics also claimed him for its board of directors, following its $191 million series A round this February. Scheller will continue on as a board member of 23andMe as well, where he helped recruit former Achaogen CEO Kenneth Hillan to take over as therapeutics head while Scheller remained CSO. FierceMedTech

> The U.S. has requested that Switzerland hand over Chinese scientist Gongda Xue, who is accused of helping his sister steal trade secrets from GlaxoSmithKline. Swiss authorities arrested Xue in May for allegedly receiving those secrets from his sister, conducting tests at his workplace in Basel and sending the results to associates in China. FierceBiotech

> Shortly after entering into an Alzheimer’s disease collaboration with Eisai, Tiaki Therapeutics has named serial biotech CEO Suzanne Bruhn as its new chief. The Dementia Discovery Fund formed and seeded Tiaki to support efforts to identify modulators of microglial function. Bruhn previously helped lead the neurodegenerative disease-focused Proclara Biosciences, and served as CEO of Promedior for several years. FierceBiotech

> Skyhawk Therapeutics nabbed Peloton’s former VP of biology, Tai Wong, as its own VP of oncology biology. Wong, who leaves as biotech is subsumed by Merck, also served a 19-year stint at Bristol-Myers Squibb, most recently as group director in oncology drug discovery. FierceBiotech

> Less than two years after former Shire CFO Jeff Poulton left the biopharma world for an agricultural startup, he's returned and landed at Alnylam. Starting Aug. 13, he'll replace financial chief Manmeet Soni, who’s held the role since May 2017 and has been described by one analyst as “arguably the best CFO in mid-cap biotech.” FiercePharma

> Healx appointed British biopharma vet Neil Thompson, Ph.D., as its chief scientific officer. Thompson started at Wellcome, eventually became director of the immunology platform at GSK and also led the biology team at Astex Pharmaceuticals. FierceBiotech

> Purdue Pharma has named Julie Ducharme as its chief scientific officer as the company tries to expand beyond opioids such as OxyContin. Ducharme spent the past two years as managing director for R&D at Mundipharma. The Sackler family that owns Purdue reportedly controls Mundipharma through trusts. FierceBiotech

> Klick Health's hiring spree continues, with Daniel Drexler joining as managing director from WPP’s The Neighborhood agency, which was initially created for anchor client Johnson & Johnson. In the past few months, MDC Partners and Mediavest vet Dave Leitner stepped in as senior VP of media, and FCB Health’s Rich Levy was named chief creative director. FiercePharmaMarketing

> > AZTherapies has tapped Jay Mohr to be its chief operating officer, chief business officer and head of commercial development, as it moves its lead Alzheimer's program through phase 3. Mohr joins from Locust Walk Partners, where he was co-founder and managing director, and he has previously served in leadership roles at Gloucester Pharmaceuticals, Variagenics, Serono and Schering-Plough. Release (PDF)

> Christopher Thibodeau was appointed chief operating officer of molecular diagnostic developer OncoCell MDx. He joins from MDxHealth, where he most recently served as COO, after holding positions at Agendia, Numira Biosciences, LabCorp and Ventana Medical Systems. Release

> Annexon Biosciences has brought on Sanjay Keswani, FRCP, as chief medical officer, Jennifer Lew as CFO and Lesley Stolz, Ph.D., as CBO. Keswani previously served as global head of neuroscience, ophthalmology and rare diseases R&D at Roche. Lew was most recently CFO of Aduro Biotech, and Stolz previously ran Johnson & Johnson Innovation's West Coast JLABS work. Release

> AI-driven digital pathology company Deep Lens hired Kevin Whiteley as VP of provider sales. Whiteley joins from Leica Biosystems, where he was VP of market and business development. Release

> Ailene Bui has joined Lark Health as head of employer sales. Bui was a regional VP of sales and operations in the San Francisco area at Hinge Health, and previously served as a sales leader on Fitbit’s Health Solutions team. Release

> After laying off 114 of its 229 staff, including its COO and a lab director, the struggling and scrutinized uBiome was forced to halt the testing of samples gathered from its at-home microbiome sequencing test, according to reports. FierceMedTech

> Parexel shut down a San Diego office back in April, and three workers were axed while 37 others were offered work-from-home jobs, based on "a review that showed low employee utilization of the available space over an extended period of time," the company said. FierceCRO

> Charles River Laboratories has set early 2020 for the opening of its Charles River Accelerator and Development Lab, aka CRADL, in South San Francisco. It aims to provide flexible lab and vivarium spaces that can be rented by pharma and biotech researchers. FierceCRO