Chutes & Ladders—GSK chairman bows out as company prepares for split-up


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 Conor Hale, and we will feature it here at the end of each week.

GSK chairman bows out as company prepares for split-up

GSK's vax revenues jump in 2015 while profit, margin slip

Chairman Philip Hampton is stepping down.

Hampton, who joined after GSK's asset swap with Novartis upped the ante in consumer health, is stepping down as the British drugmaker prepares to split up the business.The news comes a month after CEO Emma Walmsley unveiled plans to combine its over-the-counter business with Pfizer’s and then pull out of consumer health via a spinoff. Hampton, formerly chairman of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group, joined GSK in 2015 at a turbulent time—right after China slapped the company with a $490 million fine in a high-profile bribery case—and while the company's operations in at least 10 countries faced corruption allegations. FiercePharma

CEO Katrine Bosley signs off from CRISPR pioneer Editas

Editas small logo

Editas Medicine
Katrine Bosley will depart as president and CEO.

Just a few months after getting the all-clear to start its first CRISPR trial and a large payment from Allergan, Bosley announced she will step down from the company and its the board effective March 1. She will stay on as an adviser through 2019. In the interim, board member Cynthia Collins, who briefly headed up Human Longevity, will serve as CEO. Bosley's reasons for leaving and whether she has another job lined up are not being made public. FierceBiotech

Roche dispatches strategy executive to take helm of Genentech


Alexander Hardy will be CEO starting March 1.

After Roche lost top pharma executive Dan O’Day to Gilead, the cancer giant tapped Genentech head Bill Anderson for the post, leaving a gap at the top. Hardy currently serves as head of global product strategy for Roche, after heading up Asia-Pacific for Roche's pharma outfit. After first joining Genentech in 2005, he helped lead patient access and commercial operations for therapeutic areas including HER2-positive cancer, influenza and neuroscience. FiercePharma

Vertex fires COO Ian Smith for unspecified code of conduct violation

Vertex logo

Vertex Pharmaceuticals
Ian Smith was fired as COO and interim CFO.

Vertex said it had fired Smith, effective immediately, for “personal behavior that violated Vertex’s code of conduct and values,” without providing details on the particular offense. The Boston biotech did stress that Smith’s exit was “unrelated to the company’s financial and business performance." Smith was shown the door after a “prompt and comprehensive” probe conducted with help from law firm WilmerHale. Vertex’s code of conduct provides guidelines on a number of topics, including bribery, participation in politics, harassment and more. FiercePharma

> Sangamo Therapeutics named Adrian Woolfson, Ph.D., as its EVP of R&D as it works to advance its pipeline. Woolfson has spent more than a decade working on early and late-stage oncology drug development at Bristol-Myers Squibb, Pfizer and most recently as CMO at neoantigen cancer vaccine biotech Nouscom. FierceBiotech

> A few days after leaving Insmed to take up an “employment opportunity on the West Coast,” Paul Streck, M.D., has popped up at Washington-based Alder BioPharmaceuticals, in the same CMO role. Alder is preparing to file for approval of its CGRP inhibitor eptinezumab for migraine sometime this quarter. FierceBiotech

> Immunocore lifer Samantha Paston has left to head up research at Scancell, which is developing anticancer candidates and vaccines based on two immunotherapy platforms. Paston joined Avidex, which became Immunocore via an acquisition and spinout, straight after earning her doctorate in 2006. FierceBiotech

> Optum says David Smith, its VP of corporate strategy, violated his noncompete agreement when he jumped ship for the closely watched new healthcare venture from Amazon, JPMorgan and Berkshire Hathaway. The healthcare services company, part of health insurance giant UnitedHealth, sued for breach of contract and misappropriation of trade secrets. FiercePharma

> According to two agency experts cited by analysts at Jefferies, reviews at the FDA could come to a halt if the partial government shutdown continues for too long. While the FDA still has around a month of funding for reviewers gathered from user fees, the agency may have to begin narrowing its focus to urgent activities relating to public safety. FierceBiotech

> eGenesis has brought on Paul Sekhri to serve as president and CEO of the biotech focused on transplantation and multiplexed gene editing. Sekhri succeeds Julie Sunderland, who has served as interim CEO since December 2017. He joins from Lycera, where he was president and CEO. Before that, he was group executive VP of global business development and chief strategy officer for Teva Pharmaceuticals. Release

> Altavant, a Roivant Sciences company focused on pulmonary arterial hypertension, appointed Lyn Baranowski as chief operating officer. Baranowski was previously senior VP of corporate development and strategy at Melinta Therapeutics, where she helped the company through its first FDA approval, public listing through its acquisition of Cempra and its acquisition of its infectious disease unit from The Medicines Company. Release

> Carmelo Mastrandrea was named vice president of sales at Cardiac Dimensions, a developer of minimally invasive treatments for heart failure. Mastrandrea most recently served as VP of sales for bioresorbable stent developer REVA Medical. He also held global sales management positions at Biosensors International, Biotronik, Guidant and Avintos. Release

> About 900 of Pfizer's union employees in Ireland have rejected a labor court recommendation that they accept the Big Pharma's offer in a dispute over benefit pensions. They will now vote before the end of the month on whether to take some kind of labor action, according to the Irish Times. FiercePharmaManufacturing