Chutes & Ladders—Gilead Sciences names Dickinson to CFO role


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 elevates M&A architect Dickinson to CFO. Could more deals be next?

Gilead Sciences
Andrew Dickinson will take over as CFO.

Dickinson, who joined Gilead in 2016 as EVP of corporate development and strategy, will assume the CFO role Nov. 1, taking over from retiring financial chief Robin Washington. At least two teams of analysts viewed the internal promotion of Dickinson as a sign of increased focus on M&A and partnerships at the Big Biotech. Dickinson orchestrated Gilead’s $11.9 billion acquisition of Kite Pharma in 2017, which marked Gilead’s venture into cancer and cell therapy. And in July, Gilead splashed $3.95 billion upfront and $1.1 billion in equity investment for an expanded 10-year R&D pact with Galapagos. The two currently have JAK1 inhibitor filgotinib, which just came out of a phase 3 trial in rheumatoid arthritis with flying colors, on the horizon. FiercePharma

MedImmune's top cancer researcher jumps ship to small biotech

Ronald Herbst, Ph.D., has been named CSO at Pyxis Oncology.

Herbst, MedImmune’s vice president of research and head of oncology R&D, has followed a series of other AstraZeneca and its biologics arm staffers out the door. Pyxis is working on developing a new family of antibody-based immunotherapies based on the tumor microenvironment, is preclinical, hoping to plug the gap made by current immuno-oncology therapies and move I-O forward. This comes amid a host of changes at Herbst’s old company and its parent in cancer research and R&D more generally: AZ earlier this year made a new bet on oncology, putting down nearly $7 billion on an antibody-drug conjugate out of Japanese pharma Daiichi Sankyo's pipeline as it looks beyond its also-ran checkpoint inhibitor Imfinzi. FierceBiotech

Aeglea, long-term Eli Lilly veteran nabs CMO job at Checkmate

James Wooldridge, M.D., nabbed the CMO spot at Checkmate.

Wooldridge comes from Aeglea BioTherapeutics, where he oversaw development programs in cancer and rare genetic diseases and which earlier this year got off a cut-price IPO. Before this, he spent 11 years at Eli Lilly, serving as its chief scientific officer for immuno-oncology. Moving over to Checkmate, I-O will once again become the mainstay of his work, with the focus squarely on CMP-001. Last year, the biotech unveiled phase 1 data at the American Association of Cancer Research congress showing its lead asset, in combination with Merck’s big seller Keytruda, reversed PD-1 resistance in advanced melanoma patients who had already failed a prior anti-PD-1 treatment. FierceBiotech

> Micro cap anti-infective biotech Aridis Pharmaceuticals has gained a new chief medical officer in the form of former Takeda Vaccines exec Paul Mendelman, M.D. Mendelman, who for now is CMO on an interim basis, takes over from Wolfgang Dummer, who has hit the exit for “personal reasons,” the biotech said, but gave no extra information nor a departing quote (which typically would be given out in these sort of press releases). Dummer became Aridis' CMO just 18 months ago, coming off a stint as VP of clinical development at rare disease specialist BioMarin; before this, he spent 11 years over at Genentech. FierceBiotech

> John Ratliff said this month he is leaving his former post as CEO of Covance and moving up to lead LabCorp Diagnostics amid a change at the very top of the CRO’s parent company. This has led Paul Kirchgraber, currently senior vice president and head of Covance’s clinical trial testing solutions, to step up to become its new chief; both roles are effective Nov. 1 this year. FierceBiotech

> Israeli biotech BiomX has named Merav Bassan, Ph.D., as its newest CDO. Bassan was most recently VP and head of translational sciences at Teva and previously served as VP of project leadership with the drugmaker. Bassan has also held smaller roles with Teva and other biotechs. Release

> Orchestra BioMed has appointed Juan Lorenzo as VP of product development for Focal Therapies and Paul Goode, Ph.D., as VP of product development at Bioelectronic Therapies. Release

> Maple Grove, Minnesota-based StemoniX has appointed Andrew (Andy) D. C. LaFrence as its CFO. Prior to joining StemoniX, LaFrence served as senior VP and CFO of Biothera Pharmaceuticals from May 2018 to July 2019, and for five years prior to that as VP of finance and information systems and CFO at Surmodics. 

> Uniondale, New York-based Angion BioMedica is fleshing out its corporate team with the appointments of Kevin Norrett as senior VP and CCO; Tracy Mayne, Ph.D., as VP of medical affairs; Daniel Iazzetti as VP of human resources; and David Upchurch as VP of technical operations. 

> Bedford, Massachusetts-based Stoke Therapeutics has appointed Robin A. Walker, J.D., as senior VP and chief legal officer and Joan Wood as head of human resources. 

> San Francisco-based Aligos Therapeutics has appointed Matthew W. McClure, M.D., as executive VP and CMO. McClure most recently worked as CMO at Second Genome, and before that held positions at InterMune, Roche, Portola, Alios and Johnson & Johnson's Janssen.