Chutes & Ladders—Moderna CFO Gomez departs after just one day following unearthed investigation

 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.

Moderna CFO Gomez departs after one day on the job following investigation disclosure 


New Moderna CFO Jorge Gomez

Jorge Gomez lasted just 24 hours in his new role as Moderna's new chief financial officer, departing Tuesday after an internal investigation at his previous employer, Dentsply Sirona, came to light. 

It's an embarassing turn of events for all parties involved, including Moderna, who had announced Gomez's appointment just a month earlier; his first day was Monday. In a disclosure, Moderna said Gomez left after an internal investigation at Dentsply came to light which included financial reporting. Dentsply did not directly name Gomez in its own disclosure, but reported that "certain former and current members of senior management" were being investigated over their use of sales incentives to achieve executive compensation goals. The company also said it was investigating whether the incentives were "appropriately accounted for" in the third and fourth quarters of 2021. 

As a result, Moderna is bringing back on just-retired David Meline for the post. Evidently, rest is elusive, given it's the second time Meline has come out of retirement for Moderna since he first joined in June 2020. Fierce Pharma

Seagen CEO put on leave after domestic violence arrest 


Seagen co-founder and CEO Clay Siegall was put on administrative leave this week after he was arrested for domestic violence more than two weeks ago. The disturbing details disclosed in a police report allege a night full of booze, sex and ultimately, violence against his wife. 


According to police, the incident began in the early mornings of April 23, when Siegall walked in on his wife in bed with another couple. He then allegedly pushed her to the ground and dragged her, causing bruises and abrasions. His wife told police that she "lived day to day walking on eggshells.”

Siegall founded Seagen, then known as Seattle Genetics, in 1997 and has been CEO since 2002. Last year, his pay ballooned nearly 15% to $18.9 million. In a statement, Nancy Simonian, M.D., chair of the company's nominating and corporate governance committee said "we condemn domestic violence in all its forms" and are treating the allegations seriously. Seagen's chief medical officer, Roger Dansey, M.D., has been tapped as interim CEO while an investigation into the allegations continues. Fierce Pharma

Kim steps down from Inovio after "particularly challenging period" for the company

Former Inovio CEO Joseph Kim

Following persistent pitfalls in developing a COVID vaccine, Inovio co-founder and CEO Joseph Kim, Ph.D., is out, replaced by chief operating officer Jacqueline Shea, Ph.D. The leadership change is reflective of the company's failure to develop a COVID vaccine that included a 14-month clinical hold a poor efficacy versus the more transmissible omicron variant. 

The clinical hold was placed in September 2020 with the company providing scant details at the time other than that the hold was not due to safety issues and that the company would address the agency's questions. Evidently, there were many questions to answer, as the hold lasted more than a year. The company then reported in March that the DNA-based vaccine's efficacy could not hold up against the more transmissible omicron variant. Inovio is now pivoting, ending its phase 3 trial and developing the shot as a booster instead. 

Shea joined the company in 2019 and has more than 25 years of experience in the life sciences industry. Fierce Biotech

> ADC Therapeutics has settled on a new leader to replace founder Chris Martin, naming Novartis vet Ameet Mallik for the job. Mallik will looking to maintain momentum a year after the company nabbed approval for its lymphoma treatment. Fierce Pharma

> After being acquired by Cortexyme, Novosteo's CEO Dirk Thye, M.D., is staying on to run the combined company. Novosteo exec Karen Smith, M.D., Ph.D., is also staying put and elevating to chief medical officer. Fierce Pharma

> Adimab CEO Tillman Gerngross, Ph.D., is stepping back after 15 years and moving into a more strategic role chairing the company's boarding. He'll replaced by the company's general counsel, Philip Chase, who's previously held top counsel posts in the industry. Fierce Biotech

> Autoimmune biotech SciRhom is bringing on Boehringer Ingelheim exec Jan Poth as CEO to replace the company's co-founder. Poth wraps up a 20-year stint at the large German biopharma after elevating to therapeutic head of CNS and immunology. Fierce Biotech

> Boston Pharmaceuticals has tapped board member and Gurnet Point Capital partner Sophie Kornowski as interim CEO. Prior to joining Gurnet, she was EVP at Roche Partnering helping oversee the company’s M&A strategy. Release 

> Srini Ramanathan, Ph.D., is expanding his horizons as he jumps to become the new chief development officer at Roivant Sciences. He comes abroad from Horizon Therapeutics where he oversaw the company’s R&D, a broad task that included supporting the company’s pipeline in addition to business development activities. Release

> After six years at the company, Longeveron CEO Geoff Green is leaving for new opportunities, to be replaced on an interim basis by Chief Medical Officer K. Chris Min, M.D., Ph.D. Green joined in 2016 as the company’s SVP of clinical operations. Release

> Former top FDA chief Ke Liu, M.D., Ph.D is joining Marengo Therapeutics as chief development officer. He most recently worked at Sana Biotechnology after more than 17 years at the FDA, which included stints at the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research and the Oncology Center of Excellence. Release

> Cell therapy manufacturer Xcell Biosciences has a new chief technology officer, naming Shannon Eaker, Ph.D., for the job. He comes over after 11 years at Cytiva Cell and Gene Therapy. Release

> Abzena has tapped former Aptuit SVP Petra Dieterich as the company’s scientific lead. The partner research organization helps other companies discover and develop biologics including antibody-drug conjugates. Release

> Patrick Schneider, Ph.D., has been named Quantum SI’s new chief development officer following 16 years at MilliporeSigma. While at the Merck KGaA affiliate, he ascended to oversee the company’s business development and innovation. Release

> Following John Hutchinson’s retirement, NMD Pharma has hired Jorge A. Quiroz, M.D., as its new chief medical officer. He’ll oversee the company’s pipeline, most notably its phase 2 med for myasthenia gravis. Release

> Opus Genetics has a new chief development officer, naming Jennifer Hunt for the job. She’s made a few prior stops at other biotechs, including Genzyme, Voyager Therapeutics and CRISPR-focused Editas Medicine. Release

> French-based Step Pharma is fortifying its clinical leadership, naming Brian Schwartz chief medical officer and Maureen Higgins VP and head of clinical operations. The two have more than 55 years of combined work experience in life science industries. Release

> Elicio Therapeutics is making two new hires, bringing on Peter DeMuth, Ph.D., as chief scientific officer and Joy Seymour as VP of regulatory affairs. The company has seven early assets in its lymph-node-focused pipeline, so it has a few checkpoints to reach before nearing its most critical FDA filings. Release

> Zealand Pharma CFO Matthew Dallas is leaving following the company’s decision to reorganize its pipeline in late March. In a statement, the company said a search for a replacement is now underway. Release

> Benjamin Le Calvé is moving from Celyad Oncology to become the new CSO at Starkage Therapeutics. He’ll be tasked with overseeing the company’s discovery efforts as it continues to grow its cellular senescence platform. Release