Chutes & Ladders—J&J's medtech chief exits after almost 30 years

  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. 

J&J’s medtech chief departs after nearly 30 years

Johnson & Johnson

Ashley McEvoy Johnson & Johnson
Ashley McEvoy (Johnson & Johnson)

Johnson & Johnson’s year of transition and restructuring is not slowing down, this time marked by the departure of a longtime key executive. Ashley McEvoy, worldwide chair of the medtech division, is leaving the company in the first quarter of next year. She’s not retiring, though, noting without details that she’ll be pursuing “new opportunities.”  

In a stroke of serendipity, McEvoy is leaving a unit that brought in $27 billion in 2022 after 27 years. She joined the company in 1996, working 10 years in the consumer health business, including a short stint as president. She moved over to medical devices in 2009, becoming worldwide president of the subsidiary Ethicon. In 2018, she took the helm of the entire medtech division.

Replacing her will be another seasoned veteran, Tim Schmid, who leads the medtech team’s Asia-Pacific division. His time at the company even exceeds McEvoy's, joining the sales department in 1993. But, like McEvoy, he joined Ethicon in 2009 and was named chief strategic customer officer in 2016. Fierce MedTech 

Ex-Gyroscope CEO leads new biotech out of stealth with $245M 

Aiolos Bio

Khurem Farooq struck gold while at the helm of Gyroscope Therapeutics, selling the company to Novartis for $800 million upfront with $700 million in biobucks on the table.

Now, he’s back in the biotech world, leading Aiolos Bio out of stealth with one of the highest raises of the year. The company is equipped with $245 million in series A capital, money that went toward buying a lead severe asthma med from Chinese biotech Jiangsu Hengrui Pharmaceuticals that’s gearing up for a phase 2 trial. The asset has so far been tested in more than 100 people in phase 1 studies across China and New Zealand, the majority of whom were healthy volunteers.

For Farooq, the opportunity brings him back to an earlier career focus, reminiscent of his days at Genentech when he led the immunology and ophthalmology units. Joining him at Aiolos is Tony Adamis, M.D., who also helped lead immunology, ophthalmology and infectious diseases at Genentech. Fierce Biotech 

BrainStorm ditches CMO after withdrawing FDA application 

BrainStorm Cell Therapeutics

It’s hardly come as a surprise that changes are afoot at BrainStorm Cell Therapeutics after FDA advisers resoundingly rejected the benefit of its amyotrophic lateral sclerosis treatment, NurOwn. Earlier this month, the company said it withdrew its approval application in coordination with the FDA, which seemed all but guaranteed to reject it otherwise. 

The biotech has now laid off 30% of its team to conserve cash for potentially more trials and is laying off Chief Medical Officer Kirk Taylor, M.D., as well. The company said that Taylor’s work centered largely on building a medical affairs team and preparing for a potential launch, which is now stalled indefinitely. Taylor had been with the company for less than six months, joining in May. He previously spent nearly four years at EMD Serono as a senior vice president overseeing medical affairs for the North American region. Before that, he held leadership roles at Verastem Oncology and Finch Therapeutics. 

BrainStorm says the layoffs and restructuring are meant to help afford, in part, a new phase 3b, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. The moves will “cut total resource consumption by approximately half,” the company says. Fierce Biotech 

> Fibrocor Therapeutics has tapped William Newsome III, Ph.D., to helm the biotech, while welcoming Piet Wigerinck, Ph.D., on as chief scientific adviser. Newsome is one of the co-founders of Fibrocor, while Wigerinck has served as Galapagos’ longtime chief scientific officer. Release

> Cell therapy company Garuda Therapeutics has chosen Panteli Theocharous, Ph.D., to serve as chief therapeutics officer. Theocharous previously served as global head, cell and gene therapy strategy lead for Thermo Fisher Scientific’s PPD. Release 

Opthea CEO Megan Baldwin, Ph.D., is transitioning to the role of founder and chief innovation officer, with Frederic Guerard taking the reins as the company gears up to become a commercial-stage organization. Guerard has served as Graybug Vision's CEO and Novartis' worldwide business franchise head of ophthalmology, among other roles. Release

> Eledon Pharmaceuticals has elected Eliezer Katz, M.D., to serve as chief medical officer. Before Eledon, Katz served in the same role at eGenesis and has previous experience at Viela Bio (acquired by Horizon Therapeutics), MedImmune and Pfizer. Release 

> Vistagen Therapeutics has promoted Joshua Prince from his role as SVP of business operations to chief operating officer. Before joining the company in 2021, Prince held roles at CSL Behring, Teva Pharmaceuticals and AstraZeneca. Release

>  Quince Therapeutics Chief Business Officer and principal financial officer Brendan Hannah is also taking on the role of chief operating officer. Hannah joined Quince in March from Novosteo, where he was chief operating officer. Release

> Two new leaders—Brian Cunningham and Kenneth Rankin—have joined Elevar Therapeutics as the company waits to hear back from the FDA regarding approval for its first-line therapy for unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma. Cunningham, who joins from Novocure, will serve as VP of sales, while Rankin, who joins from CTI Biopharma, will be the company’s VP of market access. Release

> Q32 Bio has chosen Saul Fink, Ph.D., to serve as chief technology officer and oversee CMC activities. Right before Q32, Fink was Normunity’s SVP of pharmaceutical and nonclinical development, and he has also held leadership roles at Goldfinch Bio and Bristol Myers Squibb. Release  

> 3T Biosciences has hired Bryan Irving, Ph.D., as chief scientific officer and Estelle Marrer-Berger, Ph.D., as chief development officer. Previously, Irving was a senior advisor at Frazier Life Sciences and CSO at Amunix Pharmaceuticals until it was acquired by Sanofi, while Marrer-Berger has 20 years of industry experience, including time at Big Pharmas Novartis and Roche. Release 

> Galimedix Therapeutics has appointed Luciana Summo, Ph.D., to the newly created role as VP of R&D operations. Prior to joining Galimedix, Summo held roles at Omeicos Therapeutics, TME Pharma (formerly Noxxon Pharma) and Berlin-Chemie AG/Menarini Group. Release