Chutes & Ladders—GSK vaccine exec Reichman splits to take biotech CEO post

                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.

Another GSK vaccine exec jumps ship for biotech CEO role

Amir Reichman is stepping down.

Reichman is leaving his post as head of global vaccines engineering core technology at GSK to eventually head up operations at BiondVax Pharmaceuticals. Reichman will split duties with BiondVax’s founder and CEO Ron Babecoff until March 2 as he wraps his time at GSK. Reichman joined GSK in 2015 as part of a multibillion-dollar deal that saw GSK trade off its oncology assets for Novartis’ vaccines unit. Reichman held various positions at Novartis in its vaccine supply chain unit before becoming director of GSK’s global vaccines supply chain and then head of global vaccines engineering core technologies and asset management at GSK Vaccines. His departure comes as GlaxoSmithKline’s highest-profile vaccine effort—a COVID-19 shot developed in tandem with Sanofi—has encountered delays thanks to weak data in older adults. Fierce Biotech

Covance boosts Franklin to lead its cell and gene therapy unit

Maryland Franklin, Ph.D., jumps to head of cell and gene therapy.

Franklin is moving up from site lead and executive director of scientific development at the Ann Arbor, Michigan, facility of Covance—LabCorp’s contract research organization business—to run its cell and gene therapy business. It remains a tricky position to pull off, but cell and gene therapy is very much taking off across R&D throughout life sciences and is a major part of Covance’s business, too. In the past five years, Covance has run more than 500 preclinical studies and nearly 100 clinical programs for cell and gene therapy candidates. It’s also supported development of three FDA-approved CAR-T cell therapies and two FDA approved gene replacement therapies, Steve Anderson, Ph.D., chief scientist at the company, said. Fierce Biotech

Gilead's Kite Pharma unit nabs Marincola to head up its cell therapy research 

Kite Pharma 
Francesco Marincola, Ph.D., will join as head of cell therapy research.

Marincola will replace Peter Emtage, Ph.D., who left the company several months back to tackle venture capital work at Versant. In his role as senior vice president and global head of cell therapy research, Marincola will be at the center of an exciting new approach to treat blood and, increasingly, some solid cancers. When his role kicks off Feb. 1, Marincola will lead all of Kite’s research organization across hematological malignancies and solid tumors. He joins Kite from Refuge Biotechnologies, where he was president and chief scientific officer. There, he worked on its synthetic biology strategies for adoptive cell therapy products and lead programs based on nuclease-deactivated CRISPR circuits. Fierce Biotech

Verastem’s new chief medical officer, Frank Neumann, M.D., Ph.D., hit the exit, effective immediately, after two weeks on the job. Neumann is off to “accept a position at another company,” according to Verastem’s statement. It didn’t clarify which company, but Neumann said in a release that he aims to continue work on cell therapy. Fierce Biotech

Rallybio signed on Steven Tuch to head up corporate development. He comes off an almost nine-year sting at BMO Capital Markets, where he rose to the position of head of U.S. equity capital markets originations. Fierce Biotech

The FDA has a new commissioner. Janet Woodcock, M.D., officially took the position just hours after U.S. President Joe Biden was inaugurated. She served in the FDA commissioner’s office from 2005 to 2008 and most recently worked as part of Operation Warp Speed.

Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Avrobio tapped Diana Escolar, M.D., as chief medical officer. Escolar was previously CMO at miRagen Therapeutics and also served as chief medical officer at Akashi Therapeutics. Release

Blink Science named Eric Doherty as the company’s new president. Doherty previously held senior level sales and marketing roles at companies like GlaxoSmithKline, Abbott Laboratories, Uvanta Pharmacy Systems and GLOCK International. Release

The RSA Group, a U.K.-based life sciences executive search firm, tapped Eleanor Davies as managing partner. Prior to joining RSA, Davies founded and led a healthcare practice at Blackwood Group. Release

Asklepios BioPharmaceutical signed on Katherine High, M.D., in the newly formed role of president, therapeutics. She will also serve on the company’s board of directors. High was a visiting professor at Rockefeller University and previously served as head of R&D at Spark Therapeutics. Release

> MiRagen Therapeutics will change its name to Viridian Therapeutics and has tapped Jonathan Violin, Ph.D., as president and CEO. Violin previously served as president and chief operating officer at the company and succeeds Lee Rauch as CEO, who remains a strategic adviser for the company. Viridian also named Barrett Katz, M.D., as chief medical officer. Katz joins from BridgeBio Pharma, where he held leadership positions in two subsidiaries. Release

Eisai tapped Richard Woodman as chief clinical officer of its oncology business group. Woodman will also serve as a member of the oncology executive leadership team. Before joining Eisai, Woodman was chief medical officer and head of research and development at Oncova Therapeutics. Release

Chiesi USA has announced the internal appointments of Jason Beyer as VP and business unit lead of the company’s neonatology and cystic fibrosis business unit, and Jay Meyer as VP and business unit leader of its cardiovascular hospital business unit. Beyer joined Chiesi in 2009 as product manager in the neonatology therapeutic area, while Meyer joined in the company in 2014 as national sales director before shifting to lead cardiovascular sales in 2016. Release

The U.K.’s Domainex named David Cronk as the company’s new chief of staff. Meanwhile, it promoted Ray Boffey to executive director of medicines research. Cronk joins on after 15 years as science director of Charles River Laboratories. Boffey, meanwhile, has worked with Domainex since 2010, with over 20 years of drug discovery experience in CRO and biotech companies. Release

Alector’s chief business officer, Sabah Oney, Ph.D., is stepping down to pursue other opportunities. Chief Operating Officer Shehnaaz Suliman, M.D., will serve as interim CBO. The transition will be made effective Feb. 1; Oney will remain an employee and adviser to Alector until May 3. President. Release

Boston-based biopharma Imara named Kenneth Attie, M.D., as senior vice president and chief medical officer. Attie previously serve as VP of medical research at Acceleron Pharma for more than 10 years. Release

Applied Molecular Transport tapped Douglas Rich as chief technical officer. Rich most recently served as senior vice president, operations at UNITY Biotechnology, where he led clinical operations, quality, supply chain and more. Release

Needham, Massachusetts-based Chiasma hired on John Doyle as its new chief financial officer, effective Jan. 19. Chiasma’s current president and principal financial officer, Mark Fitzpatrick, will remain with the company in a consulting role through June 30. Doyle joins from Verastem, where he was VP of finance and investor relations. Release

NexImmune tapped Robert Knight as chief medical officer. Prior to joining the company, Knight led the Yescarta clinical program at Gilead’s Kite unit and, prior to that, spent 16 years at Celgene as VP, clinical research. Release