Chutes & Ladders—Novartis says hello to new pharma chief


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 Conor Hale, and we will feature it here at the end of each week.

Novartis says hello to new pharma chief Marie-France Tschudin


Marie-France Tschudin was promoted to president of Novartis Pharmaceuticals. 

In the game of musical chairs triggered by the exit of Sanofi CEO Olivier Brandicourt, Novartis lost its pharma chief, Paul Hudson. But Tschudin, who joined the company in January 2017 from Celgene, will take the baton and become one of the most highly placed women in the industry. She joins Novartis Oncology chief Susanne Schaffert and General Counsel Shannon Klinger on the Swiss drugmaker's executive committee, and that trio of female leaders makes Novartis' top management team more diverse, gender-wise, than those of most other Big Pharmas. Tschudin will have plenty to do as Novartis advances into gene therapies while rolling out new meds including Zolgensma, the most expensive drug ever at $2.1 million, and Mayzent, the first drug for secondary progressive multiple sclerosis. FiercePharma

With Sanofi CEO Brandicourt to retire, Novartis' Hudson steps in

Sanofi small logo

Following Brandicourt's retirement Sept. 1, Paul Hudson will take the reins.

The change in Sanofi's leadership comes as Brandicourt approaches his 65th birthday, the age limit the French drugmaker sets for its leaders. It also comes after several years of turmoil at the company that included a diabetes business torpedoed by pricing pressure and competition as well as a thin pipeline of new drug candidates. In response, Sanofi inked buyouts of Ablynx and Bioverativ to boost its rare disease presence and swapped its animal health assets for Boehringer Ingelheim's consumer healthcare business. Hudson, meanwhile, will relocate to Paris after a 28-year career at Schering-Plough, AstraZeneca and Novartis. FiercePharma

Amid BMS' R&D shuffle, F-star nabs its immuno-oncology executive

F-star logo

Louis Kayitalire will be chief medical officer.

After Bristol-Myers Squibb announced last week that it was changing up its R&D structure and personnel as it subsumes its new Celgene buy, one of its key executives jumped ship to the small British cancer biotech. Kayitalire, recently VP of immuno-oncology at BMS, will now oversee the clinical development of F-star’s lead product candidate, FS118, a LAG-3/PD-L1-targeting tetravalent bispecific antibody currently in a phase 1 testing. He will also lead the clinical strategy and operations for F-star’s pipeline of immuno-oncology bispecific antibody therapeutics. Kayitalire previously served as a VP at Celgene for three years. FierceBiotech

Grail finds a new CEO in former Juno chief


Hans Bishop was named CEO, effective immediately.

Just weeks after securing a breakthrough designation, honing its cancer detection strategy and presenting promising early results at ASCO, Grail is bringing on the former Juno Therapeutics helmsman as CEO as it inches its blood test toward the market. Grail's previous CEO, Jennifer Cook, stepped down due to family health reasons, according to the company. Bishop has served on Grail’s board of directors since August of last year and will hold on to his seat going forward. Additionally, the liquid biopsy maven brought on Amgen's health policy VP Joshua Ofman to be chief of corporate strategy and appointed Maykin Ho, of Qiming Venture Partners and a member of the biotech advisory panel of the Hong Kong stock exchange, as an independent director, sparking new IPO rumors. Grail's CFO, Renée Galá, also departed the company. FierceMedTech

> Roche promoted Thomas Schinecker, global head of its diagnostics division’s burgeoning centralized and point-of-care solutions arm. He will become CEO of Roche Diagnostics starting Aug. 1. He’ll take over from Michael Heuer, who plans to retire after holding the post on an interim basis since former CEO Roland Diggelmann stepped down. FierceMedTech  

> RSV-focused ReViral has named Alex Sapir as CEO, six months after he abruptly left Dova Pharmaceuticals. Former CEO Eddy Littler now steps into the chief operating officer position. FierceBiotech

> Alongside the completion of a $60 million series B round, Prelude Therapeutics brought on David Mauro to be its new chief medical officer. He joins the cancer biotech after holding the same position at Checkmate Pharmaceuticals as well as previous stints at Bristol-Myers Squibb, Merck and Advaxis. FierceBiotech

> Health communications firm Evoke has hired Barb Box, a 25-year pharma and health veteran, to build out its New York outpost. In addition, Evoke’s Philadelphia-based PR & Influence practice will merge with Kyne out of Dublin, doubling its size and rebranding as Evoke Kyne, one of the largest health communications agencies in the world. Box joins after 15 years at Weber Shandwick and 10 years before that at Golin Harris. FiercePharmaMarketing

> After watching its founder and former CEO John Kapoor be convicted on federal racketeering charges, Insys Therapeutics has settled with the Justice Department for $225 million to end criminal and civil investigations into an alleged kickback scheme for its powerful opioid spray Subsys. Insys will enter a five-year deferred prosecution with the federal government while a subsidiary will plead guilty to five counts of mail fraud. FiercePharma

> Celsius Therapeutics has named Tariq Kassum as president and CEO. Kassum succeeds interim CEO Alexis Borisy, who will remain chairman of the company’s board of directors. He joins from Obsidian Therapeutics, where he was a co-founder and served as chief operating officer and head of corporate development. He also spent seven years with Millennium Pharmaceuticals and Takeda, most recently as VP of business development and strategy for Takeda Oncology. Release

> Joseph Farmer was appointed chief operating officer of Akrevia Therapeutics. Farmer was brought on from Tesaro, where he was senior VP, general counsel and corporate secretary. Release

> Alice Tsang Shaw has joined the board of directors of Syros Pharmaceuticals. Shaw is the director of the Center for Thoracic Cancers, the Paula O'Keeffe Endowed Chair of Thoracic Oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital, co-leader of the Dana-Farber/MGH/Harvard Cancer Center Thoracic Oncology Program and a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. She is also co-leader of the Stand Up To Cancer Lung Cancer Dream Team. Release

> The transplantation-focused firm eGenesis has brought on Dermavant's chief business and strategy officer, Ariel Jasie, to be its new chief business officer and general counsel. Release

> Signant Health, formerly CRF Bracket, appointed Lawrence Miller as chief technology officer. Miller joins from Symphony Communication Services, a cloud-based secure collaboration company. Release

> Senti Biosciences tapped Laurent Fischer to be an independent member of its board of directors. Fischer is currently senior VP and head of the liver therapeutic area at Allergan and is also a senior adviser on the Frazier Healthcare Partners’ Life Sciences team. Release

> Lytix Biopharma has added Nobel laureate James Allison and oncologist Padmanee Sharma from MD Anderson Cancer Center as strategic advisers to the company. Allison is chair of immunology and executive director of immunotherapy at the MD Anderson Cancer Clinic at the University of Texas and won the Nobel Prize for his work on checkpoint inhibitors. Sharma is the scientific director of the immunotherapy platform and the co-director of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at MD Anderson. Release