Chutes & Ladders—Lilly's US leader takes charge of key diabetes and obesity unit

 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. 

Lilly’s US leader takes the reins of critical diabetes and obesity unit

Eli Lilly

With Eli Lilly on the precipice of one of its most consequential FDA approvals ever, the company is making major executive moves.  

Patrik Jonsson
Patrik Johnsson (Eli Lilly)

The company’s head of obesity and diabetes, Mike Mason, is retiring, according to an announcement, just months before the Indianapolis pharma is expected to hear word from the FDA on diabetes med Mounjaro. It's expected to join the likes of Novo Nordisk’s Wegovy as a treatment for obesity. Replacing Mason is Patrik Jonsson, president of the company's U.S. region, who will keep both titles when assumes the new position Jan. 1. 

He will relinquish his duties leading Lilly’s immunology unit, however. The company’s chief scientific officer and head of Lilly Research Laboratories, Daniel Skovronsky, M.D., Ph.D., will take over. Skovronsky will be aided by new hire Mark Genovese, M.D., tapped as the senior vice president of immunology. He was the former senior VP of inflammation development at Gilead Sciences and also a professor at Stanford University. 

Lilly’s oncology chief David Hyman, M.D., is also getting a title bump, rising to chief medical officer while keeping his cancer oversight duties. To round out the executive rearrangement, Jennifer Oleksiw is being promoted to group vice president and global chief customer officer, and the company's EVP of corporate affairs and communications, Leigh Ann Pusey, is leaving for a new opportunity in the nation’s capital. Fierce Pharma 

Deja vu: Flagship plucks another Big Pharma R&D leader

Flagship Pioneering 

Tell me if you’ve heard this story before: A big-time pharma R&D leader heads for the exits, only to wind up as a top partner at venture creation firm Flagship Pioneering. Well, that tale as old as time (read: the last few years) has added a new chapter. Flagship is adding ex-GSK research leader John Lepore, M.D., to its ranks as CEO-partner, shortly after his departure was announced from the British Big Pharma. He’ll start by taking over ProFound Therapeutics, which last week announced that Klaus Urbahns, Ph.D., would join as CSO. Urbahns was the site head for EMD Serono’s R&D site in Billerica, Massachusetts, which had layoffs earlier this year. 

Lepore’s arrival is the third in a recent line of BIg Pharma research leaders to jump to Flagship. Former Bristol Myers Squibb R&D chief Rupert Vessey became Flagship’s chief scientist earlier this year, and Michael Severino jumped from AbbVie last year to lead gene editing biotech Tessera. Fierce Biotech 

Gilead’s Kite names new global research chief

Kite Pharma

New Kite CEO Cindy Perettie has made one of her largest hires since taking the reins, naming Priti Hegde, Ph.D., as the global head of research. The two are reuniting after both working at Foundation Medicine. 

Hegde was previously the chief scientific officer at Foundation, steering early research and development of the biotech's genomic profiling work. She’ll now be subbing diagnostics for cell therapy, with Kite looking to maintain its footprint among an ever-growing list of competitors looking to crack CAR-T development. 

The company is bolstered by FDA-approved therapies Yescarta and Tecartus, which Kite is working on growing. Yescarta is currently in development as a second-line treatment for high-risk follicular lymphoma, a first-line treatment for high-risk large B-cell lymphoma and a second-line treatment for large B-cell lymphoma in the outpatient setting. Tecartus is being tested as a treatment for pediatric acute lymphocytic leukemia and rare B-cell malignancies. Kite-772 is also in development to treat relapsed and refractory multiple myeloma.

Perettie, who joined Kite at the end of May, was the CEO at Foundation while Hegde was CSO. Release

> Shephard Mpofu, M.D., has left Novartis after 20 years for immunology-focused Acelyrin, where he will take on the role as SVP of development. Mpofu most recently served as Novartis’ chief medical officer for its gene therapy franchise. Release

> Artbio has appointed Nick Pullen, Ph.D., to be chief scientific officer. Before Artbio, Pullen was Jnana Therapeutics' SVP and head of research, and also previously held leadership positions at Celgene/BMS and Pfizer. Release

> Jeremy Sokolove, M.D., has left GSK for Odyssey Therapeutics, where he will serve as chief medical officer. Before joining the immuno-oncology biotech, Sokolove was GSK’s SVP and head of clinical pharmacology and experimental medicine; he also previously served as AbbVie’s head of immunology translational science. Release

> UniQure is losing a fifth of its employees, including Chief Scientific Officer Ricardo Dolmetsch, Ph.D., who will be retained as a scientific consultant until the end of the year. Richard Porter, Ph.D., will take his place with the combined role of chief business and scientific officer. Fierce Biotech

> Swiss biotech Asceneuron has tapped Barbara Angehrn Pavik for the top spot as Dirk Beher, Ph.D., co-founder, original chief scientific officer and CEO since 2014, transitions to the role of chief scientific advisor. Angehrn Pavik has held leadership roles at Amgen, Onyx, Exelixis, CSL's Vifor and was the founder and CEO of Stepstone Pharma. Release

> Aadi Bioscience has appointed Dave Lennon, Ph.D., to lead the company, taking the reins from Interim CEO Scott Giacobello, who will continue in his role as chief financial officer.  Lennon joins the oncology biotech from Satellite Bio, where he served as CEO, and has 15 years of experience at Novartis under his belt. Release

> Kezar Life Sciences is undergoing a 41% workforce reduction, sending Chief Medical Officer Noreen Henig, M.D., and CEO John Fowler out the door as well. Christopher Kirk, Ph.D., a co-founder of Kezar who served as president and chief scientific officer until this April, will take on the CEO role, while Zung To, senior vice president of clinical development operations, will assume responsibility for clinical trials and drug development operations. Fierce Biotech

> Amid a layoff round, Syros Pharmaceuticals’ CEO Nancy Simonian, M.D., has announced her upcoming retirement. Conley Chee, who currently serves as chief commercial officer and chief business officer, will succeed Simonian starting Dec. 2. Fierce Biotech

> Broken String Biosciences has looped in two new leaders: Vincent Smith, Ph.D., as chief technology officer and Jessica Rich as VP of business. Before joining the genomics company, Smith held executive-level roles at Base Genomics and Exact Sciences Innovation, while Rich has senior leadership experience from Bionano, Synthego and 54gene. Release 

> Aura Biosciences is bringing on Jill Hopkins, M.D., to serve as chief medical officer and president of R&D—replacing former CMO Cadmus Rich, M.D.—and Mark Plavsic, Ph.D., to serve as chief technology officer. Hopkins joins after serving as Novartis’ SVP and global head of ophthalmology and exploratory development, as well as CEO of Novartis’ Gyroscope Therapeutics, while Plavsic joins from Fate Therapeutics, with past experience at Lysogene, Sanofi Genzyme, AstraZeneca, Q-One Biotech and Life Technologies. Release

> Twist Bioscience has tapped Mark Buck to serve as SVP of operations. Before joining Twist, Buck was the corporate SVP of operations and global supply chain at Excelitas Technologies Corporation. Release

> U.K. biotech Myricx has chosen Francesca Zammarchi, Ph.D., to serve as chief scientific officer. Zammarchi joins from ADC Therapeutics, where she spent 10 years, most recently as head of preclinical pharmacology. Release

> Araris Biotech has selected Dragan Grabulovski, Ph.D., to lead the company as acting CEO while founding CEO Philipp Spycher, Ph.D., transitions to the chief scientific officer spot. Grabulovski is an adviser for his practice Grabulovski Consulting Services and the former CSO and co-founder of Covagen, which was acquired by Johnson & Johnson’s Cilag GmbH International in 2014. Release

> Alpine Immune Sciences has appointed Wolfgang Dummer, M.D., Ph.D., to serve as chief medical officer, succeeding Andrew Sandler, M.D. Dummer joins from Rigel Pharmaceuticals, where he was CMO, and has past leadership experience at BioMarin and Roche’s Genentech. Release

> Nuvig Therapeutics is welcoming Alan Glicklich, M.D., aboard as chief medical officer. Glicklich just departed Chinook Therapeutics, where he was also CMO, and has held past roles across Bird Rock Bio, Arena Pharmaceuticals, Bristol Myers Squibb, Sanofi-Aventis and Regeneron. Release