Chutes & Ladders—A new Spark, in CEO form, at Roche's gene therapy biotech

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

After 9 years steering the ship, Roche's Spark CEO Marrazzo to depart April 1 to make way for operating chief

Jeff Marrazzo, Spark Therapeutics

Spark Therapeutics

Jeffrey Marrazzo will exit his perch as CEO of Roche's Spark Therapeutics April 1. 

Since co-founding Spark in 2013, Marrazzo has helped Spark snag the first FDA approval for a gene therapy for a genetic disease, go public, exit to Roche for $4.8 billion and spearhead a gene therapy manufacturing center in Philadelphia. The biotech has also inked multiple deals with Pfizer, CombiGene, Senti Bio and others. Taking over his role will be Chief Operating Officer Ron Philip, a 10-year Pfizer vet who joined Spark in 2017. Fierce Biotech

Adagio CEO Tillman Gerngross exits without explanation as the company goes soul searching during COVID-19 treatment push


Adagio Therapeutics

Tillman Gerngross, Ph.D., is out the door of Adagio without reasoning.

The biotech used ominous language in disclosing his exit: "agreed in principle to resign." Taking over for Gerngross is Chief Operating Officer David Hering, who joined last year after leading Pfizer's mRNA franchise during its COVID-19 vaccine launch. Now, he's the interim CEO of a biotech that is attempting to get COVID-19 treatments to market after raising heaps of capital during the pandemic. Fierce Biotech

Mnemo Therapeutics poaches Bayer EVP Robert LaCaze to be CEO May 1 as founding CEO Alain Maiore steps into COO role

Mnemo Therapeutics CEO Robert LaCaze

Mnemo Therapeutics
Robert LaCaze will become CEO of Mnemo May 1.  

LaCaze is wrapping up a six-year stint at Bayer, where he was most recently EVP and head of the Big Pharma's strategic business unit for oncology. Before Bayer, he was a 26-year veteran of Bristol Myers Squibb, where he worked up to SVP and head of product and portfolio strategy for global commercialization. Come May, he'll take over the CAR-T biotech as founding CEO Alain Maiore steps into the chief operating officer post. Fierce Biotech

> Poseida Therapeutics named ex-Novartis rare disease and gene therapy VP Brent Warner its president of gene therapy. Fierce Biotech

> Siemens diagnostics leader Deepak Nath, Ph.D., will become CEO of Smith & Nephew April 1 as Roland Diggelmann will step down from the devicemaker. Fierce Medtech

> Jatin Shah, M.D., is the new chief medical officer, EVP and global head of development at Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma Oncology after serving in the CMO post at Karyopharm Therapeutics. Release

> Ovid Trifan, M.D., Ph.D., is the new chief medical officer of Totus Medicines and the cancer biotech also hired Wei Chen, Ph.D., as chief scientific officer. Trifan spent the past 10 months as CMO at TRexBio and Chen joined from CuraSen Therapeutics, where he was a senior leader. Release

> Stem cell therapy developer Ncardia named Andy Holt its chief commercial officer after he was EVP of commercial development and manufacturing at Bayer's AskBio and its CDMO subsidiary Viralgen. Release

> ANI Pharmaceuticals boosted its rare disease business unit with Mary Pao, M.D., Ph.D., as chief medical officer and Elizabeth Powell as its chief compliance officer. Pao was previously head of clinical affairs at W2O Group, and Powell came from a 24-year career at Merck, where she most recently served as managing counsel and executive director of U.S. commercial and compliance legal. Release

> Eye-disease-focused Aerie Pharmaceuticals named Gary Sternberg, M.D., its chief medical officer after serving as acting CEO at RainBio and before that CEO and co-founder of Stargazer Pharmaceuticals. Release

> Adrian Quartel, M.D., is the new chief medical officer at Acer Therapeutics after serving in the same post at Adamas Pharmaceuticals. Release

> Wave Life Sciences named Anne-Marie Li-Kwai-Cheung its SVP of regulatory affairs and compliance and policy.

> Myricx Pharma, focused on cancer treatments, made a slate of hires. Zahid Bashir is the new chief medical officer; Richard Rutter, Ph.D., is the head of biology; and Francesco Falciani, Ph.D., is head of bioinformatics. Release

> Avenge Bio named Douglas Carlson its chief operating and financial officer after serving in similar roles at Ikena Oncology. Release

> Brian Leising is the new VP of manufacturing at Opus Genetics, a retinal disease biotech that he joined after serving as director of manufacturing quality at Novartis Gene Therapies. Release

> Colin Stubberfield, Ph.D., is the new SVP of drug discovery at PrecisionLife after serving as chief research officer of e-Therapeutics. Release