Chutes & Ladders—Gilead finds Christi Shaw replacement, taps Roche exec to fly Kite

 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. 

Gilead taps Roche exec to be Shaw replacement at Kite

Kite Pharma

Gilead Sciences has landed a new leader for cell-therapy-focused subsidiary Kite Pharma, naming Cindy Perettie as executive vice president of the company. Her appointment comes three months after Christi Shaw announced her departure. 

Cindy Perettie

Perettie joins after a wide-ranging career at Roche and Genentech, most recently leading the Swiss pharma’s molecular diagnostics team, which includes molecular labs, sequencing labs and blood screening. It’s just the tip of the iceberg, as her tenure began almost 20 years when she joined in 2004 as the project team leader for immunotherapy Avastin. It’s a product she helped oversee for the following six years before becoming VP of global regulatory operations and clinical/safety documentation in 2010. Since then, she’s had a hand in leading a number of other of oncology focuses for Genentech, including hematology and the HER2 franchise. 

Perettie said in a LinkedIn post that she was “humbled” by the progress Kite has made and looks forward to advancing the company’s portfolio. Kite’s lymphoma franchise is buoyed by Yescarta and Tecartus, which helped rake in $1.5 billion in revenue for Gilead’s cell therapies in 2022, a 68% increase from 2021. Fierce Pharma

FDA’s revolving door with industry spits out Billy Dunn 

Headshot of Billy Dunn


No, Billy Dunn, M.D., will not be headed to Biogen. The former head of the FDA’s Office of Neuroscience will instead join the board of directors at Prothena, a biotech building out a pipeline focused on protein dysregulation with therapies aimed at neurodegenerative diseases and amyloidosis. 

Dunn’s appointment comes a little less than three months after he called it quits on an 18-year career at the agency, helping launch the neuroscience office under the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. Prior to launching the office, Dunn took on increasing roles in the agency’s Division of Neurology Products. 

But his tenure was marred in his last two years after investigations from both Stat News and congressional leaders found that Dunn and the FDA maintained a too-cozy relationship with Biogen as it developed its Alzheimer’s med Aduhelm. A congressional report detailed how portions of Biogen’s briefing document submitted ahead of a critical advisory meeting were drafted by the FDA. Advisers voted against Aduhelm’s risk benefit profile, but the FDA granted accelerated approval anyway. Release

Recursion brings on Mauro as CMO   


Recursion has named David Mauro, M.D., Ph.D., as chief medical officer, a serial clinical development executive who’s now held five CMO roles in less than nine years. 

Mauro was most recently chief medical officer at Codiak BioSciences, which filed for bankruptcy earlier this year. Before that, he lead clinical development at Checkmate Pharmaceuticals before it was acquired by Regeneron. He had the same role at Advaxis and Prelude Therapeutics. Recursion says that Mauro has had a hand in guiding 25 candidates into phase 1 trials over the course of his career. 

His hiring at Recursion comes as the AI-focused drugmaker is progressing five assets through clinical development spanning cancer, rare diseases and other indications. Four other cancer treatments are in the preclinical or late discovery stage, with more than a dozen other programs waiting in the wings. Recursion previously culled one clinical-stage asset in October, ending work on a treatment for infantile GM2 gangliosidosis after delaying trial enrollment earlier in the year. Source

> President Joe Biden has confirmed his intent to nominate the current head of the National Cancer Institute and former cancer surgeon Monica Bertagnolli, M.D., to lead the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Bertagnolli will be the second woman ever to fill the NIH director role and the first permanent replacement for the federal institute since Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., retired in December 2021. Release 

> Sangamo Therapeutics has tapped Lisa Rojkjaer, M.D., to serve as chief medical officer, taking the spot of Bettina Cockroft, M.D., who is leaving the genomic medicine company to pursue other opportunities. Rojkjaer joins Sangamo from her CMO role at Viracta Therapeutics and has held previous positions at Nordic Nanovector, Novartis, MorphoSys and Novo Nordisk. Release  

> Replay has selected Arun Balakumaran, M.D., Ph.D., to be the DNA writing company’s chief medical officer. Balakumaran joins from Allogene Therapeutics, where he was CMO and SVP, and has clocked in time at Merck, Amgen and the National Institutes of Health. Release   

> Amy Broidrick is resigning from her role as Qualigen Therapeutics' president, chief strategy and operating officer and director. She's set to depart June 16. Release   

> Novartis has approved eight board members for its biosimilars business Sandoz that were recommended by the spinoff’s chair Gilbert Ghostine. The group includes Nestle Chief Financial Officer Francois-Xavier Roger; former Eli Lilly Chief Information and Digital Officer Aarti Shah, Ph.D.; Swiss dairy company Emmi’s former CEO Urs Riedener; Deutsche Lufthansa’s CFO Remco Steenbergen; former Procter & Gamble exec Yannis Skoufalos; former Danaher VP of Medical Affairs and Policy Shamiram Feinglass, M.D.; British consumer goods company Unilever’s chief legal officer Maria Varsellona; and former Novartis exec and CEO at Swiss CDMO Solvia Karen Huebscher, Ph.D. Fierce Pharma

> Zymeworks President and Chief Operating Officer Neil Klompas will be leaving the company June 30. Klompas has been with the clinical-stage biotech across several roles since 2007. Release   

> German VC MIG Capital has four new leaders to guide investment strategy, naming Fei Tian, M.D., Ph.D., Frederick Michna and Oliver Kahl, Ph.D., as principals. Andreas Kastenbauer has also been hired as a partner at the firm. Release  

> Leon-Nanodrugs, the Munich-based maker of a nanoparticle-producing platform, tapped Setu Kasera, Ph.D., to serve as its chief scientific officer starting May 15. Kasera, formerly the company’s head of science and engineering, replaces Frank Stieneker, Ph.D., who will stay on as an exclusive adviser to Leon. Release 

> Gina Ford is the new executive director of Women in Bio. Her nearly two-decade career in life sciences has included leadership roles at Ipsen, AcelRx, Crinetics and NephroSant, among others, and she’s also the principal owner and founder of biopharma consulting firm One Joule. Release 

> Fulcrum Therapeutics is back in balance after spending the first half of this year under an interim CEO. Effective July 1, Alex Sapir will take the reins of the rare disease drugmaker as CEO, president and a member of the board. The GSK and United Therapeutics alum previously led Dova Pharmaceuticals and, most recently, was CEO of U.K. biotech ReViral from 2019 until its acquisition by Pfizer last year. Release 

> Healthcare-focused Sofinnova Investments has found a new executive partner in Jakob Dupont, M.D. The oncologist’s resume includes stints as chief medical officer of Gossamer Bio and OncoMed Pharmaceuticals as well as leadership roles in the R&D teams at Atara Biotherapeutics and Genentech. He’s also on the boards of Apexigen and Imugene and is a scientific adviser to Ambrx. Release 

> Senisca, a spinout of the U.K.’s University of Exeter tackling age-related diseases, added three new members to its leadership team. Sarah Cole, Ph.D., a veteran of Takeda and Transine Therapeutics, has been named chief operating officer, and Tim Schmidt, Ph.D., who hails from GSK, UCB, TxCell and Sitryx, will serve as chief development officer. Meanwhile, Adam Clauss, Ph.D., will come aboard as VP of dermatology, following stints at Bioglan and Leo Pharma. Release