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.
GSK marketing exec bolts for C-suite role at French biotech Valneva
The marketing head of one of GSK’s most valuable products is heading for the exits and taking on a C-suite role elsewhere. Dipal Patel, global commercial head of Shingrix, is set to become the chief commercial officer at Valneva.
And the timing from Valneva’s perspective makes good sense. The company is planning to finish a rolling FDA submission for its chikungunya shot before the end of the year, teeing up potential commercialization in 2023. If approved, it would become the first available vaccine against the mosquito-borne virus.
Patel hops into the role with more than 23 years of experience in the pharmaceutical business, at least 20 of which were at the British Big Pharma. While at GSK, she worked her way up from the ground floor, starting as a specialist representative in 2002 before moving into roles of increasing responsibility. In 2017, she was promoted to her first executive position as vice president and commercial head of the respiratory division in emerging markets. She became the vaccine commercialization head in January 2020. Fierce Pharma
Former GSK vice president in the oncology R&D division takes CSO role at Anagenex
Patel is not the only former GSK exec to move on for a more senior role. Ryan Kruger, Ph.D., who worked at GSK for 15 years before joining Foghorn Therapeutics, will be the chief scientific officer at Anagenex.
Kruger was most recently a vice president and head of biology at Foghorn Therapeutics. But he made a name for himself at GSK where he became VP and head of the cancer epigenetics research unit in the oncology R&D division. When he first joined the company in 2006, he was a principal scientist in the company’s Centres of Excellence for Drug Discovery unit. GSK was the only company Kruger knew, having joined right after completing his postdoctorate degree in 2005, until he left for Foghorn in March 2021. While there, he led a team of scientists through early translational research and clinical development.
Now at Anagenex, Kruger will be tasked with similar responsibilities related to the company’s small-molecule-developing platform. Anagenex uses machine learning to process billions of data points to produce compounds that it can then test, which is then used to inform the original algorithm as it spits out more compounds. Release
Former Janssen psychiatric lead Hough to oversee clinical development at Freedom
Since departing from Janssen in early 2020, David Hough, M.D., has bopped around a few different roles, including a stint as chief medical officer at PaxMedica and chair of the medical advisory board for Delia Therapeutics. Now, he’s back leading clinical development at Freedom Biosciences, a company looking to tackle psychiatric diseases with ketamine and psychedelic-based therapeutics.
Hough spent more than 15 combined years at Janssen and Johnson & Johnson, becoming the schizophrenia disease area head in 2011 before being named vice president and team leader for esketamine compound development. In that role, he oversaw compound strategy for J&J’s intranasal esketamine treatment Spravato.
Freedom Biosciences was co-founded by John Krystal, M.D., chair of the psychiatry department at the Yale School of Medicine. The company says Krystal contributed to patents licensed by Janssen that became the foundation for Spravato. In other words, Hough’s appointment is a homecoming of sorts. Release
> Respiratory disease company Savara has tapped Raymond Pratt, M.D., as chief medical officer. Pratt will immediately fill the CMO role, which has been empty since Badrul Chowdhury, M.D., Ph.D., resigned in September. Release
> Garuda Therapeutics has selected David DiGiusto, Ph.D., to serve as chief technology officer. DiGiusto joins from National Resilience, where he was CTO and SVP of stem cells and regenerative medicine. Release
> Trevi Therapeutics has appointed David Clark, M.D., to serve as chief medical officer for the Connecticut company. Clark joins Trevi from Allena Pharmaceuticals and has held leadership positions at Pfizer and GSK, among others. Release
> Acelyrin Chief Financial Officer Gil Labrucherie has stepped down for personal family reasons after serving in his post for five months. Before joining the immunology company, Labrucherie worked more than 16 years at Nektar Therapeutics. Mardi Dier will fill Acelyrin’s CFO position and also serve as the company’s chief business officer Acelyrin, joining from Ultragenyx. Mina Kim is also joining the team, coming from Zymergen to serve as Acelyrin’s chief legal and administrative officer. Release
> Code Biotherapeutics has chosen Alex Tracy, Ph.D., to serve as chief technology officer. Tracy joins the Pennsylvania biotech from BridgeBio Gene Therapy, where he held the same role. Release
> Rezo Therapeutics has launched with $75 million and co-founder Nevan Krogan, Ph.D., taking the helm as CEO. Krogan is a professor at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and director of the university’s Quantitative Biosciences Institute. Joining him is fellow UCSF Professor Sourav Bandyopadhyay, Ph.D., co-founder and chief scientific officer for Rezo. Former Biogen CEO and current Vir Biotechnology CEO George Scangos, Ph.D., also helped co-found Rezo and will serve as chair, while fellow co-founder and CEO of Kronos Bio Nobert Bischofberger, Ph.D., will join the board. Release
> Massachusetts Biotech Lucy Therapeutics has tapped Julia Gaebler, Ph.D., to lead fundraising, growth and partnership activities for its preclinical compounds as chief business officer. Gaebler joins from Milestone Pharmaceuticals, where she served as VP of commercial strategy and portfolio planning. She has also held positions at Hoffmann-La Roche, Amylin and Biogen. Release
> Matthew Young has joined Longitude Capital, a healthcare VC firm, to serve as managing director. Previously, Young was chief operating officer and chief financial officer at GRAIL, which Illumina acquired in 2021 for $8 billion. Before that, he served as Jazz Pharmaceuticals’ EVP and CFO. Release
> After six years as director of the UK Dementia Research Institute, Bart De Strooper, M.D., Ph.D, has announced plans to step down so he can focus on his research at the UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology. De Strooper will remain in his role until the UK DRI—which plans to conduct an international search for a new leader—names a successor. Release
> Chemomab has tapped Matthew Frankel, M.D., to serve as chief medical officer and VP of drug development. Before Chemomab, Frankel served as VP of clinical development and medical affairs for specialty pharma at Boehringer Ingelheim. Prior to that role, he was VP and head of immunology and dermatology medical unit at Novartis. Release