Chutes & Ladders—Abeona fires CEO Carsten Thiel


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.

Abeona ejects CEO Carsten Thiel for ‘personal misconduct’

Abeona Therapeutics
CEO Carsten Thiel has been fired.

Thiel was sacked after an investigation into “allegations of misconduct towards colleagues,” and was replaced by head of R&D João Siffert. Thiel, formerly chief commercial officer and EVP at Alexion, had only been at Abeona for a few months after joining the company in April. In a strongly worded statement, Abeona said its decision stems from “personal misconduct that violated the company’s code of business conduct and ethics” and was not related to the condition of the company’s finances, operations or clinical programs. FierceBiotech


MHRA CEO to leave agency in wake of Brexit

Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency
Chief Executive Ian Hudson will step down in September 2019.

Hudson’s decision to leave in 10 months means the agency will have to deal with changing its leadership on top of changes from Brexit, with the U.K. due to leave the European Union at the end of next March. While the regulatory future of the MHRA is uncertain, there is a non-zero chance that Hudson will be departing an agency finding itself newly independent from the EMA, with his successor inheriting an expansion of responsibilities while mitigating the effects of Brexit on the nation's drug supply, approvals and other activities. FierceBiotech

Lilly's Robert Brown to lead Brickell Bio

Brickell Bio
Robert Brown will serve as CEO, starting Jan. 1, 2019.

Following over 30 years at Eli Lilly, Brown will take over for Brickell's current CEO and co-founder Reginald Hardy, who will retain his seat on the board of directors and serve as a special adviser. Brown currently serves as Lilly's chief marketing officer and senior VP, and has helped bring to market blockbuster products such as Taltz, Cialis and Cymbalta. The skin disease-focused Brickell plans to launch two pivotal phase 3 trials of its lead candidate in excessive underarm sweating in the first half of 2019, with an FDA submission planned for the second half of 2020. FierceBiotech

Janssen discovery head joins Incyte as its CSO jumps to Third Rock

Dashyant Dhanak, Ph.D., was named chief scientific officer, effective Dec. 10.

Janssen R&D's global head of discovery, Dhanak, will take over for Reid Huber, Ph.D., who has moved on to become a partner at Third Rock Ventures. The change follows some ups and downs for Incyte’s portfolio over the past year, which saw the axe fall on its late-phase epacadostat program. But this summer did see a long-fought FDA approval for Olumiant (baricitinib), Incyte’s rheumatoid arthritis tablet developed with Eli Lilly. Huber had been at Incyte since 2002, serving as senior VP for discovery biology and in other clinical development roles. FierceBiotech

> FSD Pharma tapped the marketing chief of its rival CBD company, GW Pharmaceuticals' Rupert Haynes, to serve as its new CEO. Haynes most recently helped guide GW's cannabinoid drug Epidiolex to an historic FDA approval for epilepsy. FiercePharma 

> Fierce 15 winner Kronos Bio snagged Regeneron Pharmaceuticals’ executive director of business development, Philip Gutry, to serve as chief business officer and manage the company’s clinical alliances. FierceBiotech

> Axovant appointed a slew of new executives after shifting gears to gene therapy, including Spark alum Parag Meswani as senior VP of commercial strategy and operations; NantKwest and Rocket Pharma's Greg MacMichael, Ph.D., as SVP of technical operations; Sarepta's Paul Korner, M.D., as SVP of clinical development; Voyager's Greg Stewart, Ph.D., as SVP of vector delivery and optimization; and Lysogene's Sean O’Bryan as VP of regulatory affairs. FierceBiotech

> Jason Ryan, formerly Foundation Medicine’s chief financial officer, has hopped to Magenta Therapeutics to become chief financial and chief operating officer, after playing a key role in Foundation’s $2.4 billion buyout by Roche this past summer. FierceBiotech

> Tocagen named Lori Kunkel, M.D., as acting chief medical officer after the departure of Asha Das, M.D., due to personal matters. Kunkel has been a Tocagen board member since 2015, and previously served as acting CMO at Loxo Oncology. FierceBiotech

> Inflazome has brought on Thomas Jung, M.D., Ph.D., to be its new chief medical officer. Jung previously spent 13 years at Novartis and its biomedical research institute, and served as CMO for Delenex Therapeutics and chief development officer for Auris Medical. FierceBiotech

> Former Aveo CFO David Johnston was found guilty of misleading investors about the prospects of the kidney cancer drug tivozanib. Johnston is currently CFO of ImmunoGen. FiercePharma