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 Conor Hale, and we will feature it here at the end of each week.
Gilead's top executives stepping down
CEO John Milligan, Ph.D., and Chairman John Martin, Ph.D., announced they will leave the company.
The loss of its two top executives will set Gilead up for a new direction, as it searches for a successful franchise outside of its deteriorating sales in hepatitis C. Milligan will step down as CEO at the end of the year, about two years after taking on the position, while Martin will leave after a new CEO is named. FiercePharma
Amgen R&D head Harper to leave for new pastures
Executive VP of R&D Sean Harper, M.D., steps down.
Harper is walking away from the Big Biotech and its $3-billion-plus research budget to pursue new opportunities in startups and early-stage companies. Amgen’s senior VP of translational sciences and oncology, David Reese, M.D., will take his place, effective immediately. Harper has led Amgen’s research work since taking over for Roger Perlmutter in 2012. FierceBiotech
BMS commercial chief jumps ship ahead of Opdivo launch
Chief Commercial Officer Murdo Gordon will step down in early August.
Gordon will move to Amgen, to take over for the retiring Anthony Hooper as executive VP of global commercial operations. Before taking the CCO position at BMS, he served as SVP of U.S. oncology, U.S. president and head of worldwide markets. The news comes as the company awaits an approval decision for its Opdivo in first-line lung cancer. FiercePharma
> Clinical Innovations hired Richard Ji as VP of operations, to help streamline and expand the manufacturer of labor and delivery devices. Ji was formerly VP of catheter solutions at Becton Dickinson, after joining BD in 1995. FierceBiotech
> Shefali Agarwal joined Epizyme to be its new CMO and oversee development of tazemetostat. Agarwal most recently served as CMO at SQZ Biotech and also held roles at Curis and Tesaro. Release
> Albireo Pharma appointed Patrick Horn, M.D., Ph.D., as CMO. He succeeds Paresh Soni, M.D., Ph.D., who will continue as a consultant to the company. Previously, Horn served as SVP for medical and clinical development at Orphan Technologies and as head of clinical pharmacology at Abbott Laboratories. Release
> Adverum Biotechnologies brought on Katherine Bock as VP of investor relations and corporate communications. Bock previously led corporate development and investor relations at Nevro and also served as the CEO's chief of staff. Before that, she worked at Lazard as an associate in its healthcare investment group. Release
> Gamida Cell named Tzvi Palash as chief operating officer and John Schick as VP for market access. Palash joins from Protalix Biotherapeutics, where he served as COO, while Schick served as senior director of payer relations at Kite Pharma. Release
> Sanofi's head of human resources, Roberto Pucci, announced plans to retire at the end of the year after nearly a decade with the company. Caroline Luscombe will take over the role Oct. 1. Luscombe previously held HR roles at LafargeHolcim, Syngenta, and General Electric. Release
> Global contract developer and manufacturer Almac Group appointed three VPs to its pharma business unit: Thermo Fisher Scientific's Jonas Mortensen was brought on to lead business development; Almac's previous head of operations, Grainne Hughes, was promoted to VP of business support operations; and Almac's head of logistics, Mark English, was moved up to VP of packaging and logistics operations. Release
> CRO Syntactx expanded its regulatory affairs team, bringing on Marlene Barton as department head, Chie Iwaishi as senior director, and Darlene Garner as manager. Barton worked at Cordis before starting her own consultancy, while Iwaishi held roles at Cordis and Bausch + Lomb Japan. Garner served at QA Consulting, Sulzer Intermedics and Cyberonics. Release
> Human Longevity accused its former CEO and co-founder, J. Craig Venter, of sharing secrets with competitors and planning to poach investors and employees, in a lawsuit against his eponymous institute. Venter left HLI in May. FierceBiotech
> Pfizer plans to build a $465 million sterile manufacturing plant at its site in Michigan, which is expected to add 450 new jobs when fully operational. The big biotech aims to break ground this spring for the 400,000-square-foot facility. FiercePharma