Chutes & Ladders—Google DeepMind vet to join GSK as VP of artificial intelligence

 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. 

Google DeepMind vet to join GSK as VP of artificial intelligence


 Danielle Belgrave
Danielle Belgrave (LinkedIn)

Bolstered by the recent ascension of Chat GPT and natural language models, incorporating artificial intelligence into drug development has been all the rage as of late. British pharma GSK is no exception and has made a critical hire to flesh out its efforts. 

The company has brought on Danielle Belgrave as vice president of artificial intelligence and machine learning. She was most recently at Google DeepMind, creating the health division with the deep learning unit. Her appointment was announced by Occam, the recruiting firm that helped bring her on. 

It’s actually Belgrave’s second stint with the company, having been a principal statistician with GSK for just less than a year in 2015. Now, less than 10 years later, she returns as an executive. In between, she spent four years as a research fellow in biomedical modeling at Imperial College London and a little more than three and a half years at Microsoft. Release 

Novartis radiopharma leader takes top job at Y-mAbs


Michael Rossi, who helped steer the U.S. business for Novartis’ radiopharma arm, has been named the new CEO of Y-mAbs Therapeutics. He’ll start Nov. 6.

Rossi spent more than three years at Novartis from 2019 to 2022, first as a general manger for the U.S. business of Advanced Accelerator Applications, Novartis’ radiopharmaceutical division, before becoming head of radioligand imaging. He left in July 2022, becoming president of Mirion Medical a few months later in October. The unit’s work centers on developing imaging products and products that help improve radiation therapy. 

His new gig will take him from diagnostics and medical tools to actual drug development. Y-mAbs has been developing cancer-fighting antibodies, including FDA-approved Danyelza for patients with high-risk neuroblastoma. The biotech is also developing the drug as a treatment for relapsed second-line osteosarcoma.

In addition to Rossi’s hiring, Y-mAbs co-founder, Thomas Gad, who’s been serving as interim CEO since last year, is being named chief business officer and VP of the board. His previous title, before adding on interim CEO duties, was president and head of business development and strategy. Release

Genentech vet tapped to be CMO of Cargo

Cargo Therapeutics

Clinical-stage biotech Cargo Therapeutics is bringing on Genentech vet Ginna Laport, M.D., to be chief medical officer, a critical hire as the company proceeds with a potentially pivotal phase 2 trial for its lead asset. 

Laport was previously the vice president and head of global development for lymphoma and chronic lymphocytic leukemia at Genentech, a role she held for nearly four years. Prior to that, she was the chief medical officer of Tempest Therapeutics. Before jumping to industry, Laport spent 14 years on the faculty at Stanford University School of Medicine focused on hematology, oncology and bone marrow transplants. 

Cargo is working on a couple of cell therapies, namely CRG-022, which is in a phase 2 trial to treat patients with relapsed or refractory large B-cell lymphoma who previously tried a CD19-targeting cell therapy. Release

> Flagship Pioneering’s Senda Biosciences and Laronde are merging into Sail Biomedicines. The new vessel will be helmed by Flagship CEO-Partner and Senda CEO Guillaume Pfefer, Ph.D., while Flagship Executive Partner John Mendlein, Ph.D., will serve as Sail’s executive chair. Fierce Biotech

> Epic Bio has elected Weston Miller, M.D., to be the company’s chief medical officer, starting Oct. 23. Miller joins from Graphite Bio and has held roles at Astellas Gene Therapies and Sangamo Therapeutics. Release

> Pliant Therapeutics has picked S. Mishima Gerhart as chief regulatory officer. She comes to Pliant from Taysha Gene Therapies and has previously held roles at Sanofi, Genzyme AbbVie, Reata Pharmaceuticals, Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Wyeth. Release

> Genascence has grabbed Ian Lachlan (Lachy) McLean, M.D., Ph.D., to serve as chief medical officer. Before joining the gene therapy company, the rheumatologist was Novome’s CMO and has held roles of increasing seniority at AstraZeneca, Merck, Genentech, Takeda and Travere. Release

> Summit Therapeutics has selected Manmeet Soni to be the company’s chief operating officer. Already a member of Summit’s board, Soni joins from Reata Pharmaceuticals up to its $7.5 billion acquisition by Biogen, where he was president, COO and chief financial officer. Release

> Cartherics has chosen Walid Azar, Ph.D., to serve as chief scientific officer. Before joining the cancer biotech, he was a molecular biologist at CSL, where he was part of the international R&D team. Release

> RegCell has tapped Michael McCullar, Ph.D., as its new president, CEO and representative director. McCullar previously served as the CEO of OnQuality Pharmaceuticals and has held leadership roles at Tolero Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma), Astex Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Otsuka Pharmaceuticals) and SuperGen. Release

> Bob Lechleider, M.D., is joining Immunome as the company’s chief medical officer. Before Immunome, Lechleider was CMO at OncoResponse and SVP of clinical development for Seagen. Release

> Catalyst Pharmaceuticals will be helmed by Richard Daly at the turn of the new year as founder, Chair and CEO Patrick McEnany retires Dec. 31. Daly most recently served as president of CARsgen Therapeutics Corporation and has held past leadership roles at Beyond Springs and Neuralstem. Release