Chutes & Ladders—Merck vet Guindo returns to the fold after Biogen marketing stint

  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, and we will feature it here at the end of each week.

Biogen vet Guindo returns to Merck & Co. to spearhead human health marketing

Merck & Co.


Merck & Co.’s game of C-suite musical chairs continued this week as the Kenilworth, New Jersey-based drug giant said it was slotting Biogen vet Chirfi Guindo into its human health division’s chief marketing officer role. Guindo will pick up the torch from Arpa Garay, who left Merck just two months into the job after jumping ship to Moderna.

As Merck’s human health commercial chief, Guindo will help guide long-term strategy for the company’s vaccines, oncology pipeline and more, Merck said in a statement. The role should feel somewhat familiar to Guindo, meanwhile, given that he started out at Merck back in the 1990s. Over a 25-year run at the company, Guindo worked on marketing for its HIV portfolio, and he also led Merck’s human health business in Canada, the Netherlands and South Africa.

At Biogen, Guindo had been EVP and head of global product strategy and commercialization, and he led global strategy, marketing and commercialization for the big biotech’s neurology business, which included the beleaguered Alzheimer’s disease med Aduhelm. Fierce Pharma

PathAI co-founder Khosla charts new course as CTO of Iterative Scopes

Iterative Scopes


After helping stand up PathAI half a decade ago, the startup’s founder and chief technology officer Aditya Khosla, Ph.D., is pivoting to take on the same role at Iterative Scopes, where he’ll be in charge of machine learning, product management and software engineering teams.

The MIT spinout is currently waiting on FDA clearance of its first artificial-intelligence-powered software tool and continues to develop new ones. Meanwhile, Khosla has also joined Iterative Scopes’ board of directors.

Iterative Scope’s first offering is called Skout, which uses computer vision technology to analyze camera feeds in real-time throughout a colonoscopy. Skout hunts for polyps and other suspicious tissues that could potentially hint at early signs of colorectal cancer.

Skout scored a CE mark in Europe in November. That same month, Iterative Scopes submitted the technology for FDA review in the States.

Khosla, meanwhile, co-founded PathAI in 2016 with Andrew Beck, M.D., Ph.D., right after earning his Ph.D. in computer science from MIT. Despite the Iterative Scopes switch, Khosla said in a recent LinkedIn post that he’ll continue to chip in at PathAI as an advisor. Fierce Medtech

Ellume’s U.S. president pivots to American Gene Technologies as biotech’s HIV gene therapy trial rolls on

American Gene Technologies

Jeff Boyle

Clinical-stage biotech American Gene Technologies has snagged the architect behind Ellume’s U.S. organization to lead R&D as the company holds out for the first signs of efficacy on its HIV gene therapy prospect, which could come in 2022’s third quarter. Jeff Boyle, Ph.D., will don the mantle of chief science officer at American Gene, where he’ll also chip in on developments in monogenic disease and immuno-oncology.

Boyle hails from Ellume, where he was president of Ellume USA. American Gene Technologies credits Boyle with building Ellume’s U.S. organization “from the ground up,” which included the build-out of an automated manufacturing facility for COVID-19 home tests carried out in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Defense.

Boyle has also served on the boards of the Maryland Technology Council and BioHealth Innovation, American Gene Technologies pointed out.

Before his stint at Ellume, Boyle wore a number of executive hats at Qiagen. Release

> Vascular integrity outfit Adrenomed tapped Steffen Stürzebecher as its new chief medical officer on June 20. Stürzebecher is replacing Jens Zimmermann, who’s retiring after becoming Adrenomed’s CMO in Dec. 2017. For the past two months, the new and former CMOs have been working together on “further substantiating Adrenomed’s regulatory strategy and design of their upcoming pivotal trial,” the company said in a release. Release

> QurAlis has enlisted Anne Clem Whitaker as chair of its board of directors, where she’ll take over from Jonathan Fleming, the biotech said this week. Whitaker comes equipped with more than three decades of leadership and commercialization experience in pharma, biotech, consumer products and medical devices. Aside from past executive stints at Big Pharmas Sanofi, GSK and Bausch Health, Whitaker currently serves as managing partner of the board and private equity advisory firm Anne Whitaker Group. Release

> Contract research organization BioAgilytix Labs’ new chairman and CEO, Euan Menzies, joins after serving as CEO and chairman of multiple software and business services companies. He was chairman and CEO of Bioclinica before it merged with ERT (now Clario) in April 2021, for instance. At BioAgilytix, Menzies is taking over for Jim Datin, who is retiring from his executive management role but sticking around as a non-executive member of the board. Release

> Autoimmune arriviste Landos Biopharma has enlisted Gregory Oakes as president and chief executive officer. He’ll take over for Tim Mayleben, who has served as interim president and CEO since Nov. 2021. Mayleben, for his part, will continue to serve as a member of the company’s board of directors. Oakes served most recently at Vifor Pharma, where was an executive vice president and president of North America. Release

> Börje Haraldsson, M.D., Ph.D., is taking over as CEO of kidney cancer specialist Oncorena, which he helped found. He’ll pick up the torch from Lars Grundemar, who is leaving the company. Since Feb., Haraldsson has worked at Oncorena as chief scientific officer and as part of the company’s management team. Before that, he held a management post at Novartis in Basel, Switzerland. Release

> Drug discovery outfit Skymount Medical has recruited Bruce Forrest, M.D., as its new chief medical officer. The 30-year industry vet previously served as a division senior vice president at New York Big Pharma Pfizer, and before that at Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, Skymount said in a release. Release

> Acer Therapeutics’ Tanya Hayden has leveled up her role at the company to chief operating officer. Meanwhile, Harry Palmin, who’d been juggling both COO and chief financial officer titles, will continue to serve as CFO. Hayden’s new role will see her support operational and commercial growth and effectiveness, as well as establishing, improving and scaling the company’s executional operations. Hayden entered the Acer fray in 2021 as VP of program and strategic alliance management. Release

> D. Robert Hale is parting ways with Bausch Health, where he’s resigned from his role as an independent director of the company’s board of directors in order to “focus on other business obligations” tied to his company ValueAct Capital, Bausch said this week. Hale had been on Bausch’s board since 2015, and previously served as chair of the finance and transactions committee. He also held posts on the talent and compensation committee and, most recently, the special transaction committee. Release

> Oragenics has found a new leader in Kimberly Murphy, who’s signing on with the infectious-disease-focused biotech as president and CEO. Murphy has been on Oragenic’s board of directors since 2020. Most recently, Murphy was vice president of the influenza franchise and served as global vaccine commercialization leader at GSK. She also served as VP and global marketing head for GSK’s shingles vaccine Shingrix. Release