Chutes & Ladders—Merrimack's CEO, CFO and president abandon ship


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

Merrimack's CEO, CFO and president abandon ship after canning clinical pipeline

Merrimack Pharmaceuticals
CEO Richard Peters, M.D., Ph.D., CFO Jean Franchi and President Gary Crocker have resigned.

Two months after safety issues put an end to its last clinical-stage program, the company’s CEO, chief financial officer and president are saying adieu. In April, its antibody-directed nanotherapeutic for solid tumors, MM-310, showed signs of causing neuropathy in a phase 1 study. Prior to that, the company pulled the plug on its MM-121 and MM-141 anticancer programs after they missed their endpoints. Merrimack had recruited Peters from Sanofi Genzyme in 2017, after it had lost its previous CEO, Robert Mulroy, in a 2016 restructuring that axed 22% of its staff at the time. Now, Merrimack stands with just two preclinical assets: MM-401, an agonistic antibody targeting TNFR2, and MM-201, an agonist-Fc fusion protein targeting death receptors 4 and 5. FierceBiotech

uBiome overhauls management, again, amid FBI probe

uBiome logo

Interim CEO John Rakow is leaving the company.

General Counsel Rakow will depart the company after serving two months as interim CEO. He was put in charge by the company's board, which placed founders and co-CEOs Jessica Richman and Zac Apte on administrative leave, following an FBI raid of its headquarters over billing practices. Going forward, uBiome will be managed by three directors from consulting firm Goldin Associates, which was brought in by the board to review the company’s operations. They include Curtis Solsvig as CEO, Robin Chiu as CFO and Karthik Bhavaraju as COO, all in an interim capacity. FierceMedTech

Cue the ‘revolving door’ criticism: Gottlieb joins Pfizer’s board

Scott Gottlieb

Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., has joined the board of directors.

Since resigning in early April, Gottlieb has nabbed a partnership at a VC firm and a think tank fellowship. Now, he'll also hold a seat on Pfizer's board, on its regulatory and compliance committee and its science and technology committee. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., subsequently wrote a letter to Gottlieb asking him to reconsider the move, saying it "smacks of corruption," and that Pfizer has “billions of dollars at stake in the decisions made by the agency you used to head and the employees you used to lead." FiercePharma

> Adaptimmune has named CFO Adrian Rawcliffe as its next CEO after co-founder James Noble retires in September. Rawcliffe joined in March 2015, about a year after the company launched an R&D pact with GlaxoSmithKline. He had worn various hats at GSK since 1998, most recently as senior VP of finance for the company’s North American pharma unit. He also helped oversee worldwide business development and R&D finance, and served as managing partner and president of SR One, GSK's venture capital arm. FierceBiotech 

> Carrick Therapeutics has appointed ex-Tesaro CFO Tim Pearson to lead the company from its new site in Boston, after working out of facilities in Dublin and Oxford, England. The company's board of directors decided to expand Carrick's operations in Boston to access U.S. capital markets and its talent pool, while continuing operations in Ireland and the U.K., according to Executive Chairman George Golumbeski, Ph.D. FierceBiotech

> Brendan Buckley, D.Phil., was appointed chief medical officer of Teckro, a tech-enabled clinical research startup. Buckley reunites with co-founders Jacek Skrzypiec and Gary and Nigel Hughes, who had previously set up Firecrest Clinical with Buckley in the 2000s. FierceBiotech

> ObsEva has brought on Elizabeth Garner, M.D., as CMO and as a member of the company’s executive committee, effective July 15. Most recently she was CMO and VP of clinical development at Agile Therapeutics. Before that, she was VP of medical affairs for women's health and preventive care at Myriad Genetics, and was a senior medical director for women's health at AbbVie. ObsEva's current CMO and head of pharmacovigilance, Elke Bestel, M.D., will be nominated as a VP and head of drug safety. Release

> Former Foundation Medicine CEO Troy Cox has joined the board of directors of Sophia Genetics. Before Foundation, Cox was a senior VP and officer at Genentech, where he led U.S. BioOncology. Release

> U.S. Pharmacopeia has brought on Mary Backstrom as VP of global biologics and Michael Purcell as VP of chemical medicines. Backstrom was previously VP of marketing strategy and insights at Parexel, while Purcell was VP of strategy and corporate development at J.M. Smith Corporation. Release 1 | 2 

> TrakCel, a developer of software for cell and gene therapy supply chain tracking, named Maryellen Papelian as senior director of customer delivery. Papelian previously helped direct enterprise applications at Editas Medicine, Bluebird Bio, Synageva and Haemonetics. Release