Chutes & Ladders—Nura Bio uncloaks with Seth at the helm

parachute jump

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

Nura Bio uncloaks with $73M and Biogen vet Alpna Seth as CEO

Nura Bio
Alpna Seth, Ph.D., will join as CEO. 

After a couple of years as Vir Biotechnology’s chief operating officer,Seth is taking the wheel at Nura Bio, a company working on neuroprotective drugs that could be useful for a range of conditions from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis to Alzheimer’s disease. Nura is launching with $73 million in series A funding from The Column Group, Samsara BioCapital and Euclidean Capital that will propel its lead program, an SARM1 inhibitor, toward the clinic. It will also support multiple discovery-stage programs against different targets. Nura’s early pipeline is based on the work of its scientific co-founders Marc Freeman, Ph.D., of Oregon Health and Science University, and Steven McKnight, Ph.D., of UT Southwestern. Fierce Biotech

European cancer biotech Merus nabs Sanofi I-O chief Andrew Joe

Andrew Joe, Ph.D., has been tapped as chief medical officer. 

Joe will oversee all clinical and regulatory strategy and activities at Merus. This includes working on its pipeline of multispecific antibodies, including the biotech’s lead program, zenocutuzumab for neuregulin 1 fusion cancers. He comes over from Sanofi, where he worked on Libtayo with Regeneron in skin, lung and other cancers. Joe has some serious background, having worked on Merck’s blockbuster checkpoint inhibitor Keytruda, specifically on expanding its indications, whilst previously serving at Novartis, helping its approval of Zykadia in ALK-positive lung cancer, and at Roche, helping with the Swiss major’s approval of Zelboarf in BRAF-mutant metastatic melanoma. Fierce Biotech

Parexel hiring spree continues as it nabs China, U.S. and Europe regulator alumni

The company has named a trio of "technical vice presidents," including Jorge Camarero, Ph.D. 

Camarero, a veteran of the European Medicines Agency, will be joined by Yajie Li, M.D., who joins Parexel after being a senior clinical reviewer with the Center for Drug Evaluation in Beijing; and Lucas Kempf, M.D., a veteran of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research and the National Institutes of Health. The new hires will serve as “technical vice presidents” and essentially will use their insider regulatory and life science experience to help Parexel’s clients through the regulatory process, “including navigating rapidly evolving landscapes related to regulatory meetings and submissions, compliance and market access,” according to a statement from the CRO. Fierce Biotech

> Westlake Village, California-based Arcutis Biotherapeutics has hired on Patrick Burnett, M.D., Ph.D., as chief medical officer, effective Aug. 1. Burnett replaces Howard Welgus, M.D., who is retiring from Arcutis, but will continue as a strategic advisor to the company and has been elected to the company’s board of directors. Release

> I-Mab has named Ivan Yifei Zhu as chief commercial officer, effective Aug. 10. Zhu most recently served as VP and general manager of the sales division of Qilu Pharmaceutical Group and previously worked as chief commercial officer at BeiGene. Release

> Marietta, Georgia-based MiMedx Group has tapped Rohit Kashyap, Ph.D., as executive VP and chief commercial officer, effective Aug. 3. Most recently, Kashyap served as president of global commercial at Acelity. Release

> Pittsburgh-based NeuBase Therapeutics has brought on William Mann, Ph.D., as its chief operating officer. Mann most recently served as the president and CEO of Helsinn Therapeutics. 

> San Diego-based Engrail Therapeutics has tapped Kimberly Vanover, Ph.D., as chief scientific officer; and Eve Taylor, Ph.D., as VP of clinical development. Stephen Cunningham, M.D., previously executive VP of development and chief scientific officer, will assume the role of chief development officer. Release

> Acadia Pharmaceuticals has hired Mary-Lacey Reuther as VP of government affairs and policy. Reuther was most recently senior director of federal affairs at Astellas Pharma.