Chutes & Ladders—Gilead promotes Riva to oncology EVP before early CAR-T nod

Gilead boosted oncology chief Alessandro Riva to senior leadership right before Kite gained an FDA approval for its CAR-T therapy.

Chutes and Ladders

Welcome to this week's Chutes and Ladders, our roundup of hirings, firings and retirings throughout the industry. Please send the good word—or the bad—from your shop to Eric Sagonowsky (email) or Angus Liu (email) and we will feature it here at the end of each week.

Gilead promotes oncology chief Riva right before Kite's CAR-T nod


Gilead Sciences
Alessandro Riva, M.D., became EVP of oncology therapeutics.

BD&L Summit

Deal-Making Insights for the Life Sciences Industry

Bringing together key deal-makers and serving as an open forum for cross-functional business development and legal teams to share valuable insights and actionable strategies on successfully managing alliances, licensing agreements, and M&A deals.

Weeks after closing a $11.9 billion deal for Kite Pharma and its cell therapy, Gilead Sciences elevated Alessandro Riva’s rank from SVP to EVP, still leading the company’s burgeoning oncology sector. Just a day after the announcement was made, the FDA greenlighted Kite’s CAR-T therapy Yescarta (axi-cel) six weeks before deadline. The nod put Gilead right behind Novartis, which won the first-ever CAR-T approval back in August, and which happens to be Riva’s former employer. Riva previously spent 12 years leading Novartis’ global oncology department, before jumping ship to become Gilead’s head of hematology and oncology, a post left by Philippe Bishop 15 months after arriving from Genentech. Back then, the unit just experienced a few clinical setbacks, but now, with the Kite buy, it’s deemed as a potential growth point that could salvage Gilead from its declining hepatitis C business. FiercePharma | Read more on FiercePharma

Moderna loses 3 top R&D leaders

Moderna logo
Matthew Stanton

Matthew Stanton left as head of chemistry.

There are still questions around whether Moderna and its mRNA projects could live up to expectations associated with some $2 billion investments it has attracted so far, and the fact that the biotech continues losing top executives isn’t helping. A trio of officials, Matthew Staton, Ph.D., who was head of chemistry; Barry Ticho, M.D., Ph.D., who once headed up CV and metabolic diseases; and Arian Pano, Ph.D., who led clinical development at a Moderna venture for rare diseases, have left the company. Earlier this year, Moderna has also lost its top attorney right in the middle of a legal fight; and Saqib Islam, who joined Moderna last March as CBO from Alexion, where he served as EVP and chief strategy and portfolio officer, also disappeared from Moderna’s leadership team. Boston Business Journal story

Bayer poaches Pfizer official for consumer health commercial operations leadership

Bayer logo
Brenda Raphael

Brenda Raphael will become SVP and GM of the Therapeutics Business Unit of Consumer Health Commercial Operations North America.

Brenda Raphael has more than 20 years of experience in leading successful billion-dollar, consumer-focused brands, says Natalie Bartner, president of Bayer’s North America Consumer Health. Now, jumping ship from Pfizer, where she was GM of U.S. Brands in Pharma, the marketing veteran has joined the Bayer business as SVP and GM of the Therapeutics Business Unit. Raphael's experience spans pharmaceuticals and consumer products. Prior to Pfizer, she also held senior positions at the Coca-Cola Company and Procter & Gamble. Release

> Christopher Winter, who led Pfizer's U.S. oncology research as site lead and research cluster head on overcoming immunosuppression, joined Boston-based Silicon Therapeutics as R&D chief. FierceBiotech

> CRO Clinipace's founder and 14-year president and CEO, Jeff Williams, will step down, handing the reins to Jason Monteleone, who founded CRO-focused Pivotal Financial Consulting. FierceCRO

> As its RSV F vaccine still lingers in phase 2, Novavax loses its CFO and Treasurer, Barclay “Buck” Phillips. Release

> Numerate, a California-based in silico rug design company, has acquired DeepCrystal’s small-molecule design platform, and named the latter's founder, Patrick Hop, as principal engineer of deep learning. Release

> Massachusetts-based Tetraphase Pharmaceuticals, which develops novel antibiotics, appointed Kamalam "Kam" Unninayar CFO. Release

> Israeli stem cells selection tech company Cellect Biotechnology brought on Ronit Bakimer-Kleiner to replace Yaron Pereg as chief development officer. Release