Chutes & Ladders—New year, new CEO at Scorpion Therapeutics

 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 or Gabrielle Masson, and we will feature it here at the end of each week.  

Scorpion’s CEO, CMO out the door

Scorpion Therapeutics

It’s a new year and change is afoot at Scorpion Therapeutics, with both former CEO Axel Hoos, M.D., Ph.D., and CMO Michael Streit, M.D., hitting the exits. 

Scorpion Therapeutics CEO, Axel Hoos
Axel Hoos, M.D., Ph.D. (Scorpion Therapeutics)

Industry veteran Hoos has led the oncology company since July 2021, when he left GSK for Scorpion. At the time, Hoos had taken the reins from interim CEO Adam Friedman, M.D., Ph.D., who will now take back the top title, this time without the temporary designation. Friedman is part of Scorpion’s founding team and most recently served as the biotech’s president of corporate strategy and business development.   

The Boston biotech is also replacing Streit, who was the first to fill the company’s chief medical officer position. Streit joined in 2022 from Sanofi, where he had most recently served as vice president and senior project head. 

Adam friedman
Adam Friedman, M.D., Ph.D. (Scorpion Therapeutics)

Now, Mark Chao, M.D., Ph.D., will take over as CMO. He joins Scorpion from TenSixteen Bio, where he served as co-founder and CEO. 

But the changes don’t stop there. Scorpion has also promoted Erica Jackson, Ph.D., to chief discovery officer. She previously served as the company’s executive vice president of biology. Fierce Biotech 

CRISPR hunts for new CMO 

CRISPR Therapeutics

CRISPR Therapeutics Chief Medical Officer Phuong Khanh Morrow, M.D., is resigning—a decision that was announced six days after the company secured FDA approval for its Vertex-partnered gene therapy Casgevy.

The biotech has already kicked off the search for a new CMO, a spokesperson told Fierce Biotech.

“CRISPR Therapeutics has a seasoned leadership team with extensive experience managing clinical development for CRISPR’s programs and is well positioned to successfully manage the transition,” a spokesperson said via email.

Morrow, who has been with the company since May 2022, will officially depart Jan. 26. Her resignation was not the result of any disagreement with the gene-editing company, according to CRISPR Tx.

Before joining the Swiss-American biotech, Morrow spent more than 10 years in various leadership roles at Amgen. Fierce Biotech 

Long-time Evotec CEO steps down


Evotec’s CEO Werner Lanthaler has resigned from his role before his expected end of term, which was set for March 2026, citing personal reasons. 

Lanthaler, who has led the German biotech since 2009, will serve as a strategic advisor to Evotec’s board, which has launched a search for a permanent CEO. 

Until a successor is chosen, board member Mario Polywka will take on the role of interim CEO. Ploywka had served as Evotec’s chief operating officer from 2006 to 2018. Release 

> LianBio CEO Yizhe Wang, Ph.D., is headed for the exits in pursuit of new opportunities. Chief Investment Officer Adam Stone will be the interim chief while the search for a permanent replacement begins. Release

> Ex-Biogen CEO Michel Vounatsos has joined the board of Quris-AI. Former Merck regional president Yossi Ben Amram was also named president of the company. Release

> Vicore Pharma has hired Bertil Lindmark, Ph.D., M.D., to serve as chief medical officer, taking the reins from Rohit Batta. Lindmark joins from Galecto, where he also held the CMO role, and has previous experience as AstraZeneca’s global vice president of clinical development for respiratory and inflammation. Release

> Applied Therapeutics has named Constantine Chinoporos as its new chief operating officer and chief business officer. He’s been a strategic advisor for Apollo Therapeutics since February 2023 after past c-suite roles at other biotechs. Disclosure

> Innate Pharma CEO Mondher Mahjoubi has resigned to pursue a new gig at a larger pharmaceutical company, the European biotech announced. Chairman and co-founder Hervé Brailly will be the interim leader while the search for a replacement gets underway. Release

> SpliceBio will bring on Aniz Girach, M.D., as chief medical officer. Girach was previously CMO of fellow gene editing biotech ProQR until March 2023. Release

> New year, new gig for Nathan Dowden, who’s been promoted at Entrada from chief operating officer to president and COO. He’s been with the company since 2019 after working at Rubius. Release

> Relmada CMO Cedric O’Gorman, M.D., is leaving the company after one year. He previously was the chief medical officer at Alpha Cognition. Release

> After Zevra’s recent acquisition of Acer, Adrian Quartel, M.D., will become the new chief medical officer. He was the CMO of Acer and was the chief medical officer of Adamis before that. Release

> ARIAD Pharmaceuticals founder Harvey Berger, M.D., has been hired as the new CEO of Kojin Therapeutics. Kojin is backed by the likes of Leaps By Bayer and AbbVie’s venture arm. Release

> Included in Radionetics Oncology’s latest financing announcement was news that the biotech has brought on Paul Grayson as CEO. He was most recently president and CEO of fellow oncology company Tentarix Biotherapeutics. Release 

> Mineralys Therapeutics has tapped Minji Kim, Ph.D., to serve as chief business officer. Before Mineralys, she held the same role at Affamed Therapeutics and has past experience at Jounce Therapeutics, Curis and Hoffmann-La Roche. Release

> ProMIS Neurosciences is bringing on Neil Warma as interim CEO to replace Gail Farfel, Ph.D. Warma has been a director on the company’s board since 2022. Release

> Brii is bringing aboard former HemoShear CSO Brian Alvin Johns, Ph.D., for the same role. Before HemoShear, he was VP of discovery at Viiv and GSK. Release

> Heike Keilhack, Ph.D., is joining ROME Therapeutics as chief scientific officer. She previously was CSO and oversaw R&D of two now-clinical-stage PARP inhibitors at Ribon Therapeutics. Release

> Diagnostics vet Brian Kim is the new CEO of genomics company Mission Bio, the company announced. He previously was CEO of Fortis Life Science and held other leadership roles at Biosearch Technologies and PerkinElmer. Release

> SV Health Investors has appointed Nikola Trbovic as managing partner and Jamil Beg as partner. The two will help steer the firm’s biotech portfolio, which includes companies like Bicycle and Nimbus. Release

> CymaBay Therapeutics and former Chief Commercial Officer Lewis Stuart mutually agreed that Stuart would leave the company on Dec. 29. CymaBay’s VP Liver Franchise Lead Ben Kozub will assume leadership of commercial organization. Release

> Alaunos Therapeutics has tapped Dale Curtis Hogue, Jr., to serve as director of the immuno-oncology company. Hogue most recently founded Dune Lake Capital and previously worked as a senior analyst at Discovery Capital Management. Release

> Viatris has chosen Philippe Martin to lead the company’s research and development as chief R&D officer. Martin has clocked in past experience at Celgene and Schering-Plough (acquired by Merck). Release

> Noriyuki Kasahara, M.D., Ph.D., is moving from 4DMT’s board to its C-suite, being named chief scientific officer. Kasahara is a brain surgeon who previously worked at UCSF. Release

> Scribe Therapeutics’ next chief scientific officer and head of research and development will be Aarif Khakoo, M.D., who joins the CRISPR genetic medicines company from Calico Life Sciences. Also joining the biotech is Maria Mirotsou, Ph.D., as vice president of discovery biology. Release

> Eterna Therapeutics has picked Sanjeev Luther as its next CEO, as of Jan. 1. He succeeds Matt Angel, Ph.D. Luther has spent the past 30 years at various roles across biopharma, most recently as CEO at Cornerstone Pharmaceuticals. Release

> Henrik Luessen is the new chief business officer for German biotech Eleva, which has a moss-based platform that develops complex proteins for treatment of diseases. Release

> Ashvattha Therapeutics has named Mehdi Paborji, Ph.D., as senior vice president of technical operations to oversee CMC and manufacturing for the biotech’s nanomedicines. Release 

> Deka Biosciences has tapped Stanley Frankel, M.D., to serve as senior clinical advisor, interim chief medical officer and scientific advisory board member. The hematologist-oncologist joins Deka with past experience as SVP, global drug development for cell therapy for BMS following the 2019 acquisition of Celgene. Release

> HERVOLUTION Therapeutics has chosen J. Robert Coleman, Ph.D., to lead the biotech as CEO. Before joining HERVOLUTION, Coleman co-founded Codagenix and served as the company’s CEO for 12 years. Release

> ImPact Biotech has appointed clinical radiologist Eyal Morag, M.D., to be the company’s chief medical officer. Morag joins from Microbot Medical, where he was also CMO, and currently serves in scientific and medical advisory roles at Aidoc Medical, Vortex Imaging and HighRad. Release