Chutes & Ladders—Jay Bradner is back at Big Pharma to lead R&D at Amgen

 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. 

Jay Bradner returns, now leading Amgen’s R&D effort, with Reese moving to CTO


Jay Bradner, Novartis
New Amgen R&D chief Jay Bradner
​ (Novartis)

Jay Bradner, M.D., is back! The former Dana-Farber physician-scientist has returned to an executive after just more than a year off, joining Amgen as chief scientific officer and head of R&D. He was previously president of the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, a gig he held for seven years before departing at the end of October 2022. He was replaced by Fiona Marshall, M.D., who herself was previously a top scientist at Merck. 

While at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute before Novartis, Bradner’s lab made discoveries that spurred the launch of new biotechs, including C4 Therapeutics. Harvard credits him with co-founding five biotechs. 

As a part of the announcement, former R&D chief David Reese, M.D., will now be the company’s chief technology officer. Amgen CEO and Chairman Bob Bradway said in a release that Reese will be responsible for widening the company’s use of AI and machine learning to the entire organization. 

Reese has been with Amgen since 2005 and has led the R&D team since 2018. Fierce Biotech

Magargee swiftly sheds interim CEO role at Genentech, named permanent hire 


It took Genentech a little more than a month to settle on a permanent CEO, committing to interim leader Ashley Magargee, who will officially take the reins at the beginning of the new year. 

Magargee was given the interim mantle after Alexander Hardy bolted to lead BioMarin, a vacancy that opened after longtime CEO Jean-Jacques Bienaimé departed. The executive domino fall could’ve certainly continued if Genentech decided to pluck an external option, but they instead stuck with the nearly 20-year vet of the company. 

Magargee joined the South San Francisco drug developer in 2004 working on the market access team within the oncology unit. She worked her way up to a national sales director role before veering into larger and larger leadership roles following Roche’s acquisition of the company. In late 2021, Magargee became SVP and head of the oncology business group, Genentech's most extensive therapeutic unit, before being named head of the commercial portfolio in 2022.

Her hiring follows a handful of other critical executive changes at Roche, with a new CEO and head of the pharmaceuticals unit being named since the summer of 2022. Fierce Pharma

Moderna’s commercial chief steps aside amid sluggish COVID vax sales


It’s been a difficult year for the once-dazzling COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers, as Moderna and Pfizer have struggled to find their footing in a dampened commercial market. Now, Moderna’s commercial chief is stepping aside.

Arpa Garay had been in the chief commercial officer post for less than two years after jumping over from Merck in 2022. But she’s leaving the position, with no immediate plans for the Flagship-founded biotech to replace her. Garay is expected to leave “in the coming months,” according to the company, and will stay on as an advisor during the transition. CEO Stéphane Bancel will take over sales and marketing while President Stephen Hoge will oversee pipeline commercial strategy and medical affairs.  

Moderna reported a $1.3 billion write-off in the third quarter due to expired and unused doses of its COVID vaccine, more than than $900 million write-off Pfizer had for its own shot. The company also slightly amended its full-year vaccine sales guidance to “at least” $6 billion. Moderna had previously guided that it expected to earn $6-8 billion. Fierce Pharma

> As Pfizer closes its merger with Seagen, the Big Pharma has restructured, forming the Pfizer Oncology Division that will be led by Chris Boshoff, M.D., Ph.D., who has served as the pharma’s oncology R&D chief for the last six months. Part of the reorganization includes splitting non-oncology commercial business into two arms—one overseeing operations in the U.S. and the other for the rest of the world. Aamir Malik, who has been Pfizer’s business innovation chief for more than two years, is set to lead the U.S. division. Furthermore, Angela Hwang, who has been at Pfizer for 27 years, including the last five as chief commercial officer, is slated to leave the company. Fierce Pharma

> Totus Medicines is tapping Nassim Usman, Ph.D., to lead as president and CEO as co-founder, founding CEO and Chief Scientific Officer Neil Dhawan, Ph.D, transitions to the role of CSO and head of R&D. Before Totus, Usman served as president, CEO and board member at Catalyst Biosciences (now Gyre Therapeutics). Release

> Rare disease biotech Electra Therapeutics has tapped marketing and drug launch expert Kathy Dong to serve as CEO. Dong—who has past experience at Novartis and Gilead, among others—takes the reins from founding CEO Adam Rosenthal, Ph.D. Fierce Biotech

> BioXcel Therapeutics has promoted SVP and Chief Research & Development Officer Vincent O’Neill, M.D., to serve as EVP, chief of product development and medical officer.  The biotech has also tapped Rajiv Patni, M.D., to the newly created position of strategic clinical advisor to BioXcel’s CEO and board. Patni most recently served as chief R&D officer at Reata Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Biogen). Release

> IMUNON has selected Sebastien Hazard, M.D., to serve as chief medical officer. Most recently, Hazard served as Bicycle’s SVP and head of clinical development; in the past, he held roles at GSK, Tesaro (acquired by GSK), Genentech, F. Hoffmann-La Roche, Roche, Novartis, and as an advisor to the head of the French Drug Agency and the French Health Minister’s cabinet. Release

> Nucleus RadioPharma has named Kathy Spencer-Pike the CDMO’s chief commercial officer. Spencer-Pike has clocked in decades of commercial experience across McKesson, Novo Nordisk, Sanofi and Pfizer. Release

> CHARM Therapeutics has promoted Sarah Skerratt, Ph.D., to the spot of chief scientific officer and tapped Laura Hare to serve as chief people officer and head of business operations. Before CHARM, Skerratt held senior roles at Merck Sharp & Dohme, Vertex, Convergence/Biogen and Pfizer, while Hare joins from F-star Therapeutics, where she served as SVP of corporate operations and people. Release

> Programmable genomic integration company Tome Biosciences has launched with $200 million and Rahul Kakkar, M.D., to serve as president and CEO; Matt Barrows as chief technology officer; John Finn, Ph.D., as chief scientific officer; Edward Freedman, as chief operating officer and Diane Wong as chief of people & culture. Release

> Aiolos Bio has appointed two new leaders, bringing on René van der Merwe as chief medical officer and Tapan Maniar, Ph.D. as chief business officer. In the past, van der Merwe has served for AstraZeneca’s MedImmune, DBV Technologies, and most recently at Galvani Bioelectronics, a collaboration between GSK and Verily Lifesciences. Maniar joins from Bain Capital Life Sciences and has past experience at Genentech and McKinsey & Company. Release

> California-based Corsair Pharma has chosen George Mahaffey to helm the company. Most recently, Mahaffey served as president and CEO for Mindera Health. Release

> Neumora Therapeutics has tapped Jason Duncan to serve as chief legal officer. Before Neumora, Duncan served as Albireo Pharma’s chief legal officer, general counsel, secretary to the board of directors and head of program management. Release

> Cell and gene therapy manufacturing solutions company Astraveus has appointed Lars Henrik Peeck as chief business development officer. Before joining Astraveus, Peeck served as Merck Life Science KGaA’s senior director and R&D head for upstream and process & materials. Release

> cTRL Therapeutics has chosen Ruben Rodriguez, Ph.D., to serve as the biotech’s head of research. Rodriguez most recently was InstillBio’s global head of research and worked at Kite Pharma before that. Release

> Allarity Therapeutics has fired CEO James Cullem and tapped Thomas Jensen to take the top role. Since July 2022, Jensen has served as Allarity’s SVP of investor relations and was previously the company’s SVP of information technology. Release

> Clay Siegall, Ph.D, has been chosen to serve as chair of Tourmaline Bio’s board. Siegall is the current president, CEO and chair for Immunone, and previously served as President and CEO of Seagen before resigning in May 2022. Release

> French biotech EG 427 has hired Don Haut, Ph.D., as its next chief business officer in conjunction with the opening of a new U.S.-based headquarters. Haut was most recently the CEO of Carmine Therapeutics after being the CBO at AskBio, helping steer its multi-billion-dollar acquisition by Bayer. Release