Chutes & Ladders—Lilly vet Bilenker and Novartis' Engelman unite to forge new cancer biotech

(AscentXmedia)

                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.


Ex-Lilly R&D lead Bilenker launches new cancer biotech with Novartis' oncology R&D head Engelman

Treeline Biosciences
Josh Bilenker, M.D., and Jeff Engelman, M.D., Ph.D., become CEO and CSO at the new company, respectively.

Two big names in oncology R&D have joined forces to stand up Treeline Biosciences, which “will prioritize molecular targets in oncology that are validated but difficult to drug," the fledgling biotech said in a mission statement. Bilenker served as Eli Lilly's cancer R&D chief until the start of the year. He earned that post after Lilly snapped up his startup Loxo Oncology for $8 billion. Engelman, for his part, was Novartis’ vice president and global head of oncology and also directed cancer drug discovery at the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research. Bilenker is stepping up to the plate as chief executive officer, while Engelman will become Treeline's chief scientist. The company is keeping a low profile for now, but did make its backers public. Treeline's series A was led by Arch Venture Partners, GV and OrbiMed with help from Access Industries, Ajax Health/Zeus and Casdin Capital. Fierce Biotech


GV hires industry veteran Lynch to coach biotech CEOs, identify new investments

GV
Dan Lynch comes on board as GV's first executive venture partner.

GV has created the role of executive venture partner and tapped serial biotech chairman Lynch to fill the post. In his role, Lynch will be on deck to coach and advise executives at GV’s portfolio companies. Lynch has sat in the chairman seat at several biotechs. In 2007 and 2008, he joined in that capacity at Stromedix and Avila Therapeutics, both of which were acquired in 2012. More recently, Lynch picked up the role at Xilio Therapeutics. Meanwhile, Lynch spent the first 15 years of his career at Bristol Myers Squibb before taking up the chief financial officer post at ImClone, via a brief stint at Derby Cycle. He rose to CEO at ImClone and helped steady the company and get Erbitux approved in the wake of an insider trading scandal. Fierce Biotech


MiMedx taps Fresenius, J&J vet Stevens as SVP of quality and regulatory affairs

MiMedx 
Dirk Stevens, Ph.D., will join as SVP of quality assurance and regulatory affairs.

Stevens will come on board at MiMedx as senior vice president of quality assurance and regulatory affairs on May 3. Stevens joins the company during an "inflection point" for amniotic tissue biologics—MiMedx's bread and butter—he said in a release. The company is focused on the use of amniotic tissue as a platform for regenerative medicine. Stevens signs on from Smith & Nephew, where he oversaw regulatory submissions, compliance and commercial quality assurance. Before his stint there, Stevens led quality systems and regulatory affairs for Fresenius Medical Care. Release


Antios Therapeutics has welcomed Katie Laessig, M.D., as senior vice president, global regulatory affairs, and Karen Fusaro as senior vice president, clinical operations. Their appointments will build out Antios' drug development team, working on an active site polymerase inhibitor nucleotide for chronic hepatitis B. Laessig joins the team from IQVIA, where she was VP, therapeutic strategy, strategic drug development. Fusaro comes from Melinta Therapeutics, where she oversaw all clinical, regulatory and pharmacovigilance activities for four antibiotic programs. Release

Genesis Therapeutics tapped Will McCarthy as its chief business officer. He joins from gene therapy company Generation Bio, where he held the same role. Prior to that, McCarthy was chief business officer at Ignyta, a company focused on genetically defined cancers, and held that post until the firm was bought by Roche in 2018. Release

> Clinical-stage immuno-oncology company Medicenna Therapeutics has summoned Kevin Moulder, Ph.D., to fill the role of chief scientific officer. Moulder recently held top posts at PolyProx Therapeutics and Tusk Therapeutics, where he directed development of the company's anti-CD25 antibody. Earlier in his career, Moulder led the CD23 program at GlaxoSmithKline. Release

> Cytek Biosciences has called upon Allen Poirson, Ph.D., to serve as senior vice president of marketing and corporate development. At Cytek, Poirson will lead the marketing department and help the company chart its growth strategy, "including through potential partnerships and strategic investments in complementary businesses, services, products or technologies," Cytek said. He comes from AI-powered drug discovery and development company twoXAR Pharmaceuticals, where he was senior vice president of biopharmaceutical business development. Release

> Clinical-stage immuno-oncology firm Surface Oncology has signed on Henry Rath as chief business officer. Meanwhile, the company promoted Alison O’Neill, M.D. to chief medical officer and Jessica Fees to chief financial officer. Before joining the Surface team, Rath held posts at TScan Therapeutics, Seres Therapeutics, Amgen, Catabasis and Baxter Biopharmaceuticals. Release

> Translate Bio has named Brendan Smith chief financial officer, Greg Troiano chief manufacturing officer, and Jim Sullivan as senior vice president, pulmonary discovery. Smith joined as CFO on April 19. Meanwhile, Troiano joined Translate as SVP of technical operations in May 2020, while Sullivan entered his role in January. Release

> Clinical-stage CohBar will welcome Joseph Sarret, M.D., J.D. as chief executive officer and director on May 3. Sarret most recently served at Corium International as chief business officer. Before that, he was SVP, strategic accounts at Solazyme. Release

> Fledgling ophthalmic company Orasis Pharmaceuticals tapped Paul Smith as president and chief operating officer. He'll help lead the company toward its commercial pivot, Orasis said in a release. Smith was previously the vice president and business unit head for the U.S. eye care pharmaceutical portfolio at Novartis. Release

> Triumvira signed on Teresa McRoberts as chief financial officer, while Andreas Bader, Ph.D., is moving up to the role of chief scientific officer and Jon Irvin to senior vice president of finance. Prior to joining Triumvira, McRoberts was portfolio manager, SVP and senior analyst at Alger Management. Release