Chutes & Ladders: GSK names Brian McNamara head of consumer health JV

white and orange parachute

Chutes and Ladders

Welcome to this week's Chutes and Ladders, our roundup of hirings, firings and retirings throughout the industry. Please send the good word--or the bad--from your shop to Eric Sagonowsky (email) or Angus Liu (email), and we will feature it here at the end of each week.

Brian McNamara take JV reins from GSK-CEO-bound Emma Walmsley



Brian McNamara becomes head of GSK-controlled JV

GSK is going through some frequent position swaps these days. Its former Consumer Healthcare Europe and Americas chief, Brian McNamara, fills the vacancy as head of the GSK-controlled consumer health JV left by GSK CEO-to-be Emma Walmsley. McNamara assumed the position with plenty of previous consumer health experience: He joined GSK last year when GSK and Novartis joined forces on a JV, having previously spent 11 years at Novartis in consumer roles and 16 years at Procter & Gamble. He’ll report to current honcho Andrew Witty until Walmsley heads upward next March. Witty said that McNamara's experience makes him “the clear choice to build on the current momentum we are seeing in our business,” a momentum to pump high volume through the traditionally low-margin businesses of consumer health and vaccines, while exiting pharma spaces where pricing pressure can play spoiler to sales. FiercePharma

Google Translate creator Franz Och leaves Human Longevity for Illumina’s Grail


Franz Och

Franz Och becomes head data scientist.

Just as Google Translate’s neural machine translation made headlines in the digital technology world this week, Franz Och, its creator, also made an eye-catching move in the field of biotech. The German computer expert is leaving his post as chief data scientist at Human Longevity to join Illumina-founded cancer screening company Grail at a similar position. He will team up with former Google senior VP Jeff Huber, who is Grail’s CEO. FierceBiotech

Bayer commercial vet Habib Dable to head Acceleron


Habib Dable

Habib Dable to lead Acceleron.

Acceleron Pharma hires top Bayer executive Habib Dable to lead the company as it’s in Phase III testing of its lead candidate, luspatercept, a TGF-β family ligand trap that promotes late-stage erythropoiesis in collaboration with Celgene. He is to replace retiring co-founder, President and CEO John Knopf as of December 1. The incoming Acceleron head has been with Bayer for more than 20 years, currently holding the position of president for pharmaceuticals for Bayer in the U.S. and previously the global head of specialty medicine. FierceBiotech

> Peter George, who helped establish Clinigen in 2010, is stepping aside as chief executive to a non-executive position, making room for current deputy and former COO, Shaun Chilton. FierceBiotech

> Neon Therapeutics hired former Novartis cancer expert Hugh O’Dowd as its new CEO. FierceBiotech 

> SQZ Biotech nabbed $16 million and recruited former Novartis exec Kris Elverum as its CBO. FierceBiotech

> Karl Keegan was named Atlantic Healthcare’s CFO. Release

> Bavarian Nordic appointed Dr. Christopher Heery as its CMO. Release