Chutes & Ladders—Novartis R&D chief Jay Bradner leaves after 7 years

 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.

Novartis R&D chief Bradner departs after 7 years


After more than seven years, Jay Bradner, M.D., is leaving his post atop Novartis’ R&D unit, deciding to pursue other ventures outside of the Swiss Big Pharma. Bradner’s departure comes amid an organizationwide shrinking announced a few months ago, which has included plans to cut 8,000 jobs globally.

Still, Bradner’s departure is one of the more significant amid this overhaul; he’s been only the second leader of the Novartis Institute for Biomedical Research, taking the baton from Mark Fishman, M.D., who ran the output in its first 13 years. In a LinkedIn post, Bradner says he will “forever be grateful” for being put in the position. 

But clearly Novartis was prepared for the departure, announcing in the same breath that it was plucking top Merck executive Fiona Marshall, Ph.D., for the job. Marshall currently heads up discovery sciences, preclinical development and translational medicine and will immediately become one of the only women to lead R&D at a large pharma. The cascade of career changes has led to the promotion of George Addona to Marshall’s role at Merck. He previously was VP of quantitative biosciences. Release

Pfizer fills inaugural chief marketing role with Verily exec 


Pfizer has filled its chief marketing officer position, tapping Andreas "Drew" Panayiotou for the newly created job. Announced by Angela Hwang, group president of Pfizer biopharmaceuticals, Panayioutou will make the switch over from Verily, a life sciences company that’s a subsidiary of Alphabet. He previously was chief marketing officer there, a position that similarly was new at the point he was hired. 

Panayiotou’s return to pharma is a bit of a coming home after he launched his career as a product director at Johnson & Johnson in the late 90s. Since then, he’s held a variety of product and marketing related positions at large corporations including Coca-Cola, Disney and Best Buy. 

In a LinkedIn post, Hwang said Panayiotou will “help transform our customer engagement model and marketing excellence.” Panayiotou shared the post, saying he “can’t imagine anything more exciting.” A start date was not included in Hwang’s initial post. Fierce Pharma

I-Mab’s president departs for same role at manufacturing outpost, strategy chief also leaves 


I-Mab’s president Zheru Zhang has stepped down from his position and seat on the board to take the same role specifically at I-Mab Hangzhou, a manufacturing outpost of the company. The news was disclosed in I-Mab’s second-quarter earnings report. I-Mab Hangzhou is the byproduct of an initial 2020 investment by I-Mab into the Hangzhou Qiantang New Area, an industrial zone approved in April 2019. And in January, I-Mab announced an expanded collaboration, which the company said was done to locally produce its MorphoSys-partnered med felzartamab. Zhang’s move was made effective this week. 

Possibly even more noteworthy, however, was the departure of Chief Strategy Officer Jielun Zhu. Tucked into the same earnings report—which was issued Aug. 30—the company said Zhu resigned at the end of July. The company did not name an interim replacement for the position.

Prior to being named CSO, Zhu was I-Mab’s chief financial officer for three years. Prior to that, he held a variety of roles at international banks and investment firms focused on the Asian markets, including Jefferies, Deutsche Bank and UBS. Release

> Precision Biosciences is reformulating its executive team, putting co-founder Jeff Smith in charge of research programs and asking Chief Scientific Officer Derek Jantz, Ph.D., to handle larger strategy decisions. Cindy Atwell, former senior vice president of business development and alliance management, has been promoted to chief business officer. Fierce Biotech

> Avid Bioservices has tapped Pramthesh Patel, Ph.D., to serve as the company’s vice president of process development for mammalian cell business. Prior to Avid, Patel spent 23 years at GSK, most recently as senior director. Release

> Francesco Bibbiani, M.D., has been appointed as SVP and head of development for Dyne Therapeutics. The leader comes from Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical and has held prior roles at PTC Therapeutics and Eisai. Release

> MorphoSys’ Malte Peters, M.D., head of R&D and board member, will be retiring at the end of this year. Peters will be succeeded by Tim Demuth, M.D., Ph.D., on Oct. 1. Demuth joins MorphoSys from Pieris Pharmaceuticals, where he served as chief medical officer. Release

> Ocugen has brought on Robert Hopkins, M.D., as its new chief medical officer. Hopkins joins from Adaptive Phage Therapeutics—where he also served as chief medical officer—and has held past leadership roles at Merck and the FDA, among others. The biotech has also promoted Arun Upadhyay, Ph.D., former SVP of R&D, to serve as Ocugen’s chief scientific officer. Release

> Galera Therapeutics has announced Eugene Kennedy, M.D., as its new chief medical officer. Kennedy comes from his role as chief medical officer at Innovative Cellular Therapeutics and will succeed Jon Holmlund, M.D., who is retiring at the end of this year. Release