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 Max Bayer or Gabrielle Masson, and we will feature it here at the end of each week.
Madrigal’s executive overhaul not done yet
New Madrigal Pharmaceuticals CEO Bill Sibold, just days into the role, has a critical new position to fill with Chief Commercial Officer Remy Sukhija heading for the exits. Sukhija had been with the company since April 2020. The company says he’s leaving to explore external opportunities but that he also qualifies for compensation associated with being terminated without cause.
Two weeks ago, ex-Sanofi executive Sibold took the helm, with longtime CEO Paul Friedman stepping down. Friedman steered the ship for seven years, leading the company through its recent new drug application for its nonalcoholic steatohepatitis med resmetirom. The drug has the potential to be the first such approved treatment, with the FDA slated to decide its fate by mid-March 2024.
That prospect makes the timing of Sukhija’s departure even more interesting. And it comes as the company’s share value has dipped in the last month, down more than 16% from $180.83 to $151.27. Disclosure
Ex-Novartis CMO Tsai to lead biotech
Former Novartis Chief Medical Officer John Tsai, M.D., is moving to the biotech world, becoming CEO of London-based Forcefield Therapeutics. The company is working on treatments for heart health following post-myocardial infarction in order to prevent further heart failure. It's buoyed by funding from Syncona, where Tsai has been an executive partner since May.
It's new territory for Tsai, who’s played in the Big Pharma arena since the turn of the century. He aptly was the cardiovascular team leader for Pfizer from 2000 to 2006 before spending 11 years at Bristol Myers Squibb. In 2017, Tsai was named the chief medical officer at Amgen, a role he kept when he moved to Novartis in May 2018.
Tsai’s departure was announced just a couple of months before the company initiated plans for a larger restructuring that was estimated to eliminate some 8,000 jobs. The Swiss Pharma rehired Shreeram Aradhye, M.D., to lead global drug development when Tsai exited. Release
Caren Deardorf named Editas’ new commercial and strategy chief
Editas Medicine has landed on a new chief commercial and strategy officer, naming Caren Deardorf to the role. She’ll lead the company’s commercial strategy and execution in addition to overseeing life cycle management efforts.
Deardorf was the chief commercial officer of two prior biotechs: Magenta Therapeutics and Ohana Biosciences. Magenta’s efforts sputtered in early February after the death of a patient in a trial testing its leukemia drug left the company at the end of the clinical road. Ohana met a similar face in 2021, a year and a half after being launch by Flagship Pioneering.
Prior to those roles, Deardorf was the VP of product development and commercialization at Biogen, helping lead the launch of Spinraza. Release
> After 13 years at Merck KGaA, Klaus Urbahns, Ph.D., has left to become ProFound Therapeutics’ chief scientific officer. Urbahns most recently served as Merck KGaA’s head of EMD Serono R&D Institute, global head of discovery and development technologies, co-chair of the discovery-research committee and member of the Merck Ventures investment board. Release
> PureTech has picked Robert Lyne to join as chief portfolio officer by January 2024. Lyne joins from Arix Bioscience, where he most recently served as CEO. Release
> IQVIA has tapped Richard Staub III to serve as president of its research and development solutions business unit, taking the spot from Costa Panagos, who is retiring after 24 years with the company. Staub transitions to his new role from his former position as senior adviser to IQVIA’s chair and CEO. Release
> Pacira BioSciences’ CEO and chair David Stack is retiring, though he has pledged to stay on until the board finds a successor. Stack has led the company focused on non-opioid pain management for 16 years. Release
> hC Bioscience has selected Jose Lora, Ph.D., to serve as the tRNA company’s chief scientific officer. Before hC Bioscience, Lora served as chief scientific officer for Intergalactic Therapeutics and enGene. Release
> Strata Oncology has chosen Goz Alhir to be the company's SVP of commercialization. Alhir has served in various roles across Eli Lilly, Onyx Pharmaceuticals, NanoString Technologies, Adaptive Biotechnologies and Caris Life Sciences. Release
> Morphic Holdings’ CEO Praveen Tipirneni, M.D., is taking a leave of absence after suffering from an emergency medical event. The leader is expected to return, and the company doesn’t anticipate changes to its operations. Release
> Turbine has tapped Bob Silverman to serve as the company’s first chief business officer. Before joining Turbine, Silverman served in CBO roles at Alloy Therapeutics, Rejuveron Life Sciences and C2i Genomics, and he spent almost three decades with Roche earlier in his career.
> The Institute for Clinical and Economic Review, an independent, nonprofit research institute, has selected Daniel Ollendorf, Ph.D., as chief scientific officer and director of health technology assessment methods and engagement. Ollendorf served as ICER’s CSO from 2007 to 2018 and is currently a leader at Tufts Medical Center. Release
> SaNOtize’s board has hand-picked Steven Basta to serve as CEO, replacing co-founder Gilly Regev, Ph.D., who will transition to chief strategy and innovation officer. Basta joins the Canadian company with a track record of experience across Mahana Therapeutics, Menlo Therapeutics, AlterG, Merz Aesthetics and BioForm Medical. Release