Chutes & Ladders—Gene editing biotech Metagenomi adds CSO, CFO

 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. 

Gene editing biotech Metagenomi adds CSO, CFO


Metagenomi is bolstering its senior leadership ranks with a couple of new hires, naming Luis Borges, Ph.D., as chief scientific officer and Pamela Wapnick as chief financial officer. 

Borges joins from Century Therapeutics where he held the same role, guiding that biotech’s off-the-shelf, stem-cell-based natural killer and cell therapies. He was also the chief scientific officer of Cell Medica and SVP of research at Five Prime Therapeutics. He joins at a time when Metagenomi is rapidly nearing the clinic, with nine assets in the pipeline and two nearing IND-enabling studies.

Wapnick’s appointment is arguably more pertinent as the biotech reportedly considers going public. She’s a serial top biotech financier with previous stints at Diality, Capsida Biotherapeutics and Graybug Vision. In its announcement, Metagenomi notes that while at True North Therapeutics, Wapnick “completed preparations for an initial public offering before the company’s acquisition by Bioverativ.” Release

Ex-McKinsey leader André Andonian to lead new Flagship hub in Singapore

Flagship Pioneering

Flagship Pioneering is planting its—don’t boo us—flag in the Asia-Pacific region with a new hub based in Singapore. The outpost will be led by former senior McKinsey consultant André Andonian.

The launch of the new office comes shortly after Flagship began to flap its wings across international waters, opening a London office earlier this year. Flagship founder Noubar Afeyan, Ph.D., said the APEC location will help Flagship’s teams “broaden their impact on human health and the health of our planet through strategic partnerships across industry, academia, and healthcare systems in the region.”

Andonian is a well-established regional consultant, working across countries while at McKinsey. He’s served as senior partner and chairman of Japan and managing partner of Korea. Over the course of his career, he’s held top leadership posts across Asia, Europe and Japan. In his new role with Flagship, Andonian will advise on “broader global strategy, regional investor engagement, and institutional development.” Release

Assembly appoints Gilead vet to CMO role after $100M deal with pharma

Assembly Bio

On the heels of a new Gilead Sciences deal, Assembly Bio is tapping Gilead vet Anuj Gaggar, M.D., Ph.D., to serve as chief medical officer.

Gaggar joins the antiviral-therapeutics-focused company from Arrive Bio, an early-stage biotech he co-founded in 2019 and helmed as CEO. Before Arrive, the leader worked for nearly 10 years as a senior member for Gilead's clinical research team, most recently serving as VP of clinical research.   

While with the Big Pharma, Gaggar contributed to the registrational studies for antiviral Vemlidy, hepatitis C med Sovaldi and antiviral injection Veklury (remdesivir).

Just last month, Gilead paid out $100 million upfront for first dibs on all Assembly’s current and future programs. Release (PDF)

> Daiichi Sankyo Europe GmbH, the company’s European headquarters, has appointed Masahiro Kato to serve as managing director and Oliver Appelhans to be head of the European specialty business unit. Both Kato and Appelhans take over as Europe GmbH CEO Jan Van Ruymbeke prepares to retire in March after 11 years at the helm. Release

> Century Therapeutics has chosen Brent Pfeiffenberger to lead the immuno-oncology company starting Dec. 4, when interim CEO Greg Russotti, Ph.D.,will transition to the role of chief technology and manufacturing officer—an expanded title from his previous position as CTO. As for the new incoming CEO, Pfeiffenberger most recently served as chief operating officer at AstraZeneca’s Neogene Therapeutics. Release

> Centivax has chosen Jerald Sadoff, M.D., as chief medical officer, per a company spokesperson. Sadoff has more than 50 years of experience in vaccine development and most recently served as senior adviser of vaccine development for Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen infectious diseases and vaccines division, where he held several leadership roles for more than a decade.

> Teva Pharmaceutical has tapped R. Ananthanarayanan (Ananth), Ph.D., to serve as CEO of Teva Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (api), effective Nov. 27. The role marks a return for Ananth, who led the former Teva api and biologics operations organization from 2014 to 2018 before leaving to pursue other opportunities. Release

> Arbutus Biopharma President and CEO William Collier will be retiring at the end of this year. Michael McElhaugh, Arbutus co-founder and chief operating officer, will take on the top title on an interim basis starting Jan. 1, 2024. Release

> T-knife Therapeutics has tapped Simone Silva Steiner, Ph.D., to the role of chief technical operations officer. Steiner was most recently Tigen Pharma’s head of technical development and manufacturing and held manufacturing and quality roles at Novartis before that. Release

> Avalyn Pharma is shaking up its leadership team, announcing four new change-ups, including Craig Conoscenti, M.D., from Boehringer Ingelheim to serve as Avalyn’s SVP of clinical development. Jim Bishop has also departed Enzyvant Therapeutics to serve as Avalyn’s SVP of business operations, while Allison Trucillo, M.D., comes from Renalytix to serve as VP of medical affairs and Rebecca Boone steps in as VP of clinical operations after leading her own consulting company. Release

> Acelyrin has appointed Patricia Turney as its chief technical officer. Turney joins from Arcutis Biotherapeutics, where she served as SVP of operations, and held roles of increasing responsibility at Amgen before that. Release

> Spero Therapeutics has selected Esther Rajavelu to serve as chief financial officer and chief business officer. Rajavelu, who most recently served as Fulcrum Therapeutics’ CFO, is taking the place of interim CFO Stephen DiPalma. Release (PDF) 

> Texas-based OncoNano Medicine has promoted Kartik Krishnan, M.D., Ph.D., to the new role of president and head of R&D. Before joining OncoNano as chief medical officer in 2022, Krishnan was CMO at Arcus Biosciences. Release

> Poolbeg Pharma has poached three former Amryt Pharma executives as the company prepares to be acquired by Chiesi Farmaceutici. David Allmond will join Poolbeg as chief business officer, while John McEvoy will become SVP and chief legal officer, and Laura Maher will step on as VP of clinical operations. Poolbeg Chair Cathal Friel is the co-founder of both Poolbeg and Amryt. Release