Chutes & Ladders—GSK, Centessa part ways with Slaoui over sexual harassment allegations

                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 Fraiser Kansteiner, and we will feature it here at the end of each week.

GSK cuts ties with Slaoui over sexual harassment allegations as CEO Walmsley vows to rename R&D site

Galvani Bioelectronics; Centessa Pharmaceuticals
Moncef Slaoui, Ph.D., is out as chairman of the board and chief scientific officer, respectively.

GlaxoSmithKline said Wednesday that it had terminated Slaoui as chairman of the board of its majority owned Galvani Bioelectronics after an employee leveled allegations of sexual harassment that took place several years back at GSK. The company received a letter from the employee in February, and an ongoing GSK investigation has so far “substantiated the allegations,” according to a company statement. In a letter to employees, CEO Emma Walmsley said, “these issues are profoundly important to me” and that she was “shocked and angry about all of this," adding that she wouldn't tolerate any abuse of leadership. Fledgling mega-biotech Centessa Pharmaceuticals also cut ties with Slaoui, just a month after tapping him as chief scientific officer. Meanwhile, fellow Galvani board member Christopher Corsico, M.D., SVP of development at GSK, will replace Slaoui as chair, GSK said. “I would like to apologize unreservedly to the employee concerned and I am deeply sorry for any distress caused,” Slaoui said in a statement Wednesday. Slaoui left GSK in 2017 after nearly 30 years. More recently, he attracted both acclaim and controversy during his time as co-leader of the U.S. government’s Operation Warp Speed effort to hurry COVID-19 vaccines to market. Fierce Pharma

Gilead's virology lead and remdesivir developer Brainard jumps ship to run AlloVir

Diana Brainard, M.D., will take charge as CEO.

Brainard will take charge of cell therapy firm AlloVir on May 17, joining from Gilead Sciences, where she was most recently senior vice president and head of the company's virology therapeutic area. During her 10-year run at Gilead, she oversaw the development and launch of its hugely successful hepatitis C franchise and last year helped turn Ebola drug remdesivir into the first approved treatment for SARS-CoV-02. Brainard is taking over at AlloVir for David Hallal, who will step down as CEO but remain onboard as executive chair. Hallal will continue to lead ElevateBio, which is the largest shareholder in AlloVir. Brainard signs on less than a year after the startup nabbed an IPO worth $276 million to fund development of allogeneic T-cell treatments for viral diseases. In addition to its leading candidate, Viralym-M, AlloVir has a COVID-19 drug in the pipeline. ALVR109, made of CD4+ and CD8+ virus-specific T cells generated from healthy donors, was hit with a hold last year, but the FDA cleared an IND for it in September, and it will clearly be a major area of focus for Brainard in the short term. Fierce Biotech

Merck names longtime insider Litchfield its new CFO as Davis moves up the command chain

Merck & Co. 
Caroline Litchfield will pick up the CFO baton April 1. 

Merck treasurer Litchfield will take over as chief financial officer April 1, replacing current CFO Rob Davis, who's moving up to president. Davis is slated to become CEO July 1. Litchfield has been with Merck since 1990 and previously led finance for its human health business from 2014 to 2018. Litchfield is donning the CFO mantle as Merck homes in on its Organon spinoff, which is on track to take the company's biosimilars, women’s health and some legacy brands into a separate shop late in the second quarter. Then there's the ongoing $1.85 billion acquisition of autoimmune disease specialist Pandion Therapeutics, which is expected to close by the end of June. Meanwhile, Merck is on a quest to diversify its revenue streams beyond immuno-oncology heavyweight Keytruda, and Litchfield will take on some of that responsibility. Fierce Pharma

> Inflammatory disease biotech Inotrem has named Sven Zimmermann as CEO He will take over next month, replacing Jean-Jacques Garaud, M.D., who founded Inotrem and served as its CEO over the past six years. Garaud will move into the role of executive vice president and head of scientific and medical affairs at the biotech. Most recently, Zimmermann was CFO at Swiss biopharma MetrioPharm. Fierce Biotech

> Fate Therapeutics' longtime chief scientific officer, Daniel Shoemaker, Ph.D., will depart June 30 following 12 years at the company, half of which were spent as CSO, the cell therapy biotech said. Bob Valamehr, Ph.D., chief research and development officer of Fate and scientific leader of its induced pluripotent stem cell product platform since 2010, will continue to lead all R&D activities, the company said. Fierce Biotech

> The FDA must bid adieu to its principal deputy chief Amy Abernethy, M.D., Ph.D., who's leaving the agency after just two years. The unexpected exit comes as the search for a permanent FDA commissioner wears on. Abernethy was considered a contender for the job earlier in the process. She joined the FDA in late 2018 from Flatiron Health, where she was chief medical and scientific officer, plus senior VP of oncology. As second-in-command and acting chief information officer at the FDA, Abernethy oversaw tech and data modernization and launched the agency's COVID-19 accelerator project to boost real-world data gathering. Fierce Pharma

> Immuno-oncology biotech Medigene is losing its chief medical officer and chief development officer Kai Pinkernell, M.D., at the end of the month. Pinkernell is departing “for personal reasons,” according to a company statement, with René Goedkoop, M.D., Medigene’s vice president of clinical affairs, set to become acting CMO. Pinkernell will stick around as an adviser to the company for six months. Fierce Biotech

SiteOne Therapeutics, focused on developing treatments for conditions involving hypersensitivity of the central nervous system, has tapped John Mulcahy, Ph.D., as its chief executive officer. He will replace Stan Abel, who is slated to become board chairman. Mulcahy is one of the scientific co-founders of the company. Previously, he was the vice president of research at SiteOne. He is also the co-inventor and has co-authored the core patents and publications of the company's technology platform. 

> Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Immuneering has named Carolina Garcia Rizo, Ph.D., MBA, chief business officer. Before coming onboard at Immuneering, Rizo was chief business officer at Just Biotherapeutics, where she was responsible for business development, strategy and finance leading to its acquisition by Evotec. Release

> Laboratory informatics solutions and services provider LabVantage Solutions has enlisted Mikael Hagstroem as chief executive officer. Hagstroem joins from MetricStream, where he was CEO and president. There, he led the company's transformation to a software as a service model, launched its Integrated Risk Management Platform and championed integration of AI features into the platform. Release

> Gamma Biosciences has named Gabe Longoria as chief commercial officer of Astrea Bioseparations. Formerly the global head of commercial at Horizon Discovery, Longoria is slated to join Astrea April 5. Meanwhile, Marc Hummersone came on board as senior director of research and development in January. Release

Applied Molecular Transport has signed on Earl Douglas as general counsel. He'll oversee all legal activities of the company and become a member of the AMT executive team, reporting to chief executive officer and co-founder Tahir Mahmood, Ph.D. Douglas most recently served as general counsel at Kiverdi. He was also general counsel and corporate secretary at BioMimetic Therapeutics, Spinal Dynamics and OPX Biotechnologies, all of which were later bought out. Release

Acepodia has named Jimmy Lai as chief financial officer. Lai joins with more than 30 years of financial management and capital markets experience both in the U.S. and in China. He has helped take three companies public and served as chief financial officer for multiple U.S.-listed companies. He currently serves as an independent director and audit chairperson for multiple NYSE-listed companies. Release

Maze Therapeutics tapped Atul Dandekar as chief strategy officer. Most recently, he was vice president, global franchise head for ophthalmology at Genentech and Roche, where he was responsible for leading the global ophthalmology business. Meanwhile, Maze has also added three new members to its board of directors. Release

Translate Bio has named Rand Sutherland, M.D., M.P.H., as president starting March 22. Sutherland most recently supported the strategic and operational direction of global medical affairs at Sanofi Genzyme, where he led teams focused on medical evidence generation and engagement across the unit’s specialty care therapeutic areas. Before joining the industry, Sutherland was professor of medicine at the University of Colorado and chief of pulmonary and critical care medicine at National Jewish Health in Denver. Release

Follicum has named Kim Arvid Nielsen, M.D., as its new CEO, effective April 6. He will replace current chief Jan Alenfall, who will continue to work at the company for at least six months in the newly established position as chief scientific officer. The company’s R&D director, Maria Ekblad, will maintain her current role. Nielsen previously held a number of senior roles in smaller life science enterprises as well as global pharmaceutical companies, including Cytovac, Scandion Oncology, Serendex, Bayer, Pharmion, Ferrosan and Serono Nordic. Release