Chutes & Ladders—Gilead CEO continues top-level revamp with 3 more exec exits

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

Gilead CEO continues top-level revamp with three more exec exits


Gilead Sciences
CSO and R&D chief John McHutchison, M.D., Chief Patient Officer Gregg Alton and EVP of Human Resources Katie Watson are leaving the company.

New CEO Daniel O’Day has already replaced some key leaders at the company, but he’s not stopping there. Alton and Watson's departures end double-digit tenures at Gilead, where they have worked since 1999 and 2003, respectively. McHutchison, meanwhile, joined Gilead from Duke University in 2010 as senior VP of liver disease therapeutics. He took on the top research job last year when longtime R&D head Norbert Bischofberger, Ph.D., stepped down to return to smaller biotechs. Since he took over in early March, O’Day has installed Bristol-Myers Squibb's Johanna Mercier as commercial chief, displacing Laura Hamill after less than a year, and more recently brought on Eli Lilly's Christi Shaw for the newly created CEO post at its Kite Pharma subsidiary. But O'Day still has more shoes to fill: In April, longtime CFO Robin Washington said she would retire next year. FierceBiotech | FiercePharma

GSK snares ex-Novartis, AstraZeneca CFO as chairman

GlaxoSmithKline small logo

Jonathan Symonds was reportedly tapped to lead GSK as chairman.

The former chief financial officer and dealmaker at Novartis and AstraZeneca will replace the outgoing Philip Hampton, according to reports, as GSK begins to navigate the expected split between its consumer health and pharma businesses. Currently deputy group chairman of HSBC, Symonds previously oversaw Novartis' acquisition of Alcon and also helped separate ICI's chemical and pharmaceutical divisions, giving birth to AZ forebear Zeneca. He also helped plan out AZ's $15 billion acquisition of MedImmune. FiercePharma

Immusoft names former Amgen biologics head as CSO

Robert Hayes, Ph.D., was named chief scientific officer.

The former head of biologics at Amgen is joining the cell therapy startup as it works to move a treatment for mucopolysaccharidosis type I into clinical testing. The Seattle-based Immusoft hired Hayes from Phylogica, an Australian developer of oncology therapies for intracellular targets, where he spent two years as CSO. Prior to that, at Amgen, Hayes was in charge of a 160-person team that handled a range of early-stage activities including lead identification, optimization and the transition to upstream process development. FierceBiotech

> Executive pay varies dramatically among the world’s top biopharma companies, and so do the perks. A special report from FiercePharma tracked the private aircraft use of the top 13 execs over last year, some spending up to a sky-high $1.5 million. FiercePharma Special Report

> GlaxoSmithKline hired Kim Branson from Genentech to oversee its artificial intelligence efforts to mine data for novel drug targets. Branson headed up AI at Genentech’s early clinical development unit for about a year before joining GSK as global head of AI and machine learning. The appointment is the latest in a series designed to revitalize its R&D operations through technology. FierceBiotech

> Evoke continues to expand with the hire of Jennifer O’Dwyer as its new president of North America. She takes over for Tom Donnelly, who moved to the newly created position of chief growth officer across all Evoke Group brands. O’Dwyer was previously associate partner and director of client services at CDM New York for nearly 13 years. FiercePharmaMarketing

> Fierce 15 winner Pandion Therapeutics named Rahul Kakkar, M.D., as CEO as it looks to bring its antibody candidates to the clinic. Kakkar recently served as the founding executive of Corvidia Therapeutics. He succeeds co-founder Anthony Coyle, Ph.D., who is leaving the company. Additionally, co-founder Jo Viney, Ph.D., was promoted to president and will maintain her role as CSO. Release

> Escient Pharmaceuticals tapped Kristin Taylor, Ph.D., as VP and head of clinical development. Taylor joins from Zafgen, where she held the same role and helped lead efforts on therapies for Type 2 diabetes and obesity. Release

> Cancer diagnostic developer Seer has named former Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services administrator and FDA Commissioner Mark McClellan as well as Duke University health policy leader Robert Margolis to its board of directors. The news was announced alongside a $17.5 million series C round to advance its proteomic liquid biopsy platform. Release

> Stimwave Technologies, maker of a bioelectric pain relief implant, has brought on Regina Groves and Marc Loev to serve on its board of directors. The company also named James Rallo as chief financial officer. Groves most recently served as CEO of Reva Medical and previously held positions at Medtronic, Kaiser Permanente and McKinsey & Company, while Loev served as CEO and vice chairman of National Spine and Pain Centers. Rallo formerly was president and CFO of Liquidity Services and was CFO of Sleep Services of America. Release

> Inovio Pharmaceuticals is cutting 28% of its workforce and swinging the ax to a bladder cancer program a few months after AstraZeneca’s MedImmune unit walked away from some of its R&D work with the biotech. FierceBiotech

> The entire staff from Compass Strategic Consulting has joined Certara’s Evidence & Access group. That division of the consultancy was formed through the acquisition of Analytica Laser, which had partnered with Compass previously. Release