Chutes & Ladders—Pfizer CEO Ian Read hands reins to COO Albert Bourla

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.

CEO Ian Read hands Pfizer's reins to COO Albert Bourla

Pfizer logo


Chief Operating Officer Albert Bourla will become CEO as Ian Read moves to executive chairman, effective Jan. 1, 2019.

Read’s exit caps a tenure that began with former chief Jeff Kindler’s sudden and dramatic departure in December 2010. The years since have seen moves toward a slimmer, sleeker Pfizer—with the selling of its Capsugel unit, the megablockbuster patent losses of Lipitor and Viagra, and a failure to buy AstraZeneca. According to the company, Read has presided over 30 FDA approvals and total shareholder returns of 250%, plus a pipeline with at least two-dozen new launches lined up through 2022. Bourla will take over a year to the day after moving into the newly created role of COO after leading Pfizer's Innovative Health business. FiercePharma

Nimbus moves up CFO Keiper to CEO spot

nimbus therapeutics

Nimbus Therapeutics

Finance chief Jeb Keiper was promoted to president and CEO, effective immediately. 

Keiper joined the former Fierce 15 winner in 2014 as chief business officer and helped oversee the company’s haul of over $775 million from venture capital funding rounds and partnerships. He takes over for CEO Donald Nicholson, Ph.D., who will move on to entrepreneurial opportunities in what the company described as a “planned transition.” Before joining Nimbus, Keiper served as VP of business development at GSK Oncology, following a decade at GlaxoSmithKline in BD roles. FierceBiotech

Synlogic names Brennan as permanent CEO

Aoife Brennan was named permanent CEO; she took the job on an interim basis when Jose Carlos Gutiérrez-Ramos resigned in May.

The appointment caps Brennan’s quick rise through the ranks of the biopharma industry. She took up her first position in 2008 as associate medical director at Tolerx. Two years later, Brennan was promoted to medical director, and a year after that, she joined Biogen as director of clinical research. Biogen made Brennan senior director of medical research less than two years later and promoted her to VP of its rare disease unit about 18 months after that. FierceBiotech

> Momenta Pharmaceuticals is cutting 110 staff—around half of its workforce, including half of its executive team—as it ends its foray into biosimilars and refocuses on novel drugs for immune disorders. The company plans to slash $250 million off its costs over the next five years. FierceBiotech

> The digital therapeutics company Click brought on Randall Kaye, M.D., as chief medical officer and Austin Speier as chief strategy officer. Kaye joins from SSI Strategy, where he was CSO while also serving as CMO for central nervous system biotech Axsome Therapeutics. Previously, he was CMO at Avanir Pharmaceuticals. Speier comes from Precision for Medicine, where he was VP for emerging technologies. FierceBiotech

> Karim Dabbagh, Ph.D., was appointed president and CEO of the microbiome therapeutic company Second Genome, after serving as CSO since 2014. He replaces Glenn Nedwin, Ph.D., following his retirement. Release

> Joint replacement and spinal surgery company Medacta International has promoted EVP Francesco Siccardi, son of the company's founder and longtime CEO Alberto Siccardi, to be its first new chief executive in nearly 20 years. The elder Siccardi will become president of the board of the Swiss family-run company. FierceBiotech

> Ipsen named Yan Moore as head of oncology, and Alexander McEwan as its head of radiopharmaceuticals, effective Nov. 1. Moore previously served as CMO and senior VP of R&D at BioCancell Therapeutics, while McEwan was a professor in the department of oncology at the University of Alberta, Edmonton. Release

> Appili Therapeutics brought on Armand Balboni to be its inaugural chief scientific officer. Balboni is a partner at the investment advisory firm Bloom Burton & Co. Release

> David Gascoigne joined GNS Healthcare as COO. Previously at IBM he was a partner in cognitive analytics and big data platforms after serving as general manager of analytics services for IQVIA across its real-world evidence, commercial and technology divisions. Release

> Harpoon Therapeutics appointed Natalie Sacks, M.D., as CMO. Sacks most recently served as CMO of Aduro Biotech after being VP of clinical development at Onyx Pharmaceuticals. Release

> CASI Pharmaceuticals named George Chi as CFO. Chi most recently served as VP of finance at Flavors Holdings, a subsidiary of MacAndrews & Forbes Incorporated and the parent of Merisant Company and Mafco Worldwide Corporation. Release

> Tobias Hägglöv was named CFO of Recipharm AB. He joins from LEAX, following roles at Electrolux, SAS and Accenture. Release

> Synteract has tapped Lisa Dilworth to be its VP of rare and orphan diseases and Elisabeth Schrader as executive director of program strategy for pediatrics and rare diseases. Dilworth was director of therapeutics expertise, scientific affairs and rare disease at PRA Health Sciences, while Schrader comes from Syneos, where she was executive director of clinical development. FierceBiotech 

> Global marketing firm McCann Health named Sam Taylor as head of its GlaxoSmithKline pharma and consumer business. FiercePharma

> Novo Nordisk plans to cut 250 jobs in the U.S. in the face of ongoing pricing pressure. The news comes days after swinging the ax on 400 R&D jobs in China and Denmark. FiercePharma

> Bayer is letting go more than 225 workers at its plant in Berkeley, California, which produces the recently approved weekly hemophilia treatment Jivi. The German drugmaker said it is reorganizing the manufacturing of its hemophilia factor VIII replacement therapies to gain efficiencies. FiercePharma