Chutes & Ladders—Pfizer Chairman Read heading for the exit


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.

Pfizer's Read to retire at year's end, handing chairmanship to CEO Bourla

Chairman Ian Read will hand over his seat at year's end.

Read, who stepped out of the CEO role in January, plans to give up the executive chairman's job and retire at the end of the year. CEO Albert Bourla will take on the chairman's role when Read leaves. Read joined Pfizer in 1978, became CEO in 2010 and joined the board the following year. Last year, the drugmaker announced he'd move from chairman and CEO to executive chairman, with former COO Bourla stepping up to the top C-suite job. The outgoing chairman said in a statement he believes "Pfizer’s best days are yet to come—which is an exciting thought for patients and their families across the globe.” FiercePharma

Trump set to pick MD Anderson's Hahn as FDA chief: reports

Stephen Hahn, of MD Anderson Cancer Center, is the rumored front-runner for FDA chief.

President Donald Trump is poised to nominate Hahn as the next commissioner of the FDA, according to BioCentury. Hahn, a radiation oncologist, is chief medical executive of the MD Anderson Cancer Center and reportedly the preferred pick of Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. Multiple reports have now identified Hahn as the most likely person to replace Scott Gottlieb as the next permanent commissioner of the FDA. Early last month, Politico Pro named Hahn as the “clear frontrunner,” adding that he was the only one of the three finalists to meet with Trump in person. FierceBiotech

After major Alzheimer's flops, Biogen's R&D chief Ehlers hits the exit

R&D head Michael Ehlers, M.D., Ph.D., is out.

Troubled Big Biotech Biogen is losing R&D head Ehlers as its chief medical officer takes over the role. Alfred Sandrock Jr., M.D., Ph.D., will continue on as CMO while adding Ehlers’ executive vice president of R&D responsibilities. He leaves Oct. 11. Usually people in these positions “retire,” though invariably end up at a biotech or VC down the line. No such cliché here, as Ehlers has “decided to step down … to pursue a new career opportunity.” In a departing quote, he did say this new role was “in venture capital and biotech.” Just as news broke he was leaving Biogen, he was named CSO at life science fund Apple Tree Partners, and CEO of its gene therapy funded biotech Limelight Bio. FierceBiotech

> After serving as an adviser there for over two years, former FDA Commissioner Robert Califf is moving to Google’s parent Alphabet in a full-time capacity. He’ll help oversee the healthcare endeavors of the tech giant as well as the work of its sister company, Verily. According to a post from Califf’s longtime home at the Duke University School of Medicine, the former vice chancellor of data sciences will serve as Alphabet’s new head of medical strategy and policy, effective Nov. 18. FierceBiotech

> Terrie Curran, former president of global inflammation and immunology at Celgene, will take over as CEO at Phathom Pharmaceuticals. Curran replaces David Socks, who will also become interim chief financial officer and continue on as a board member. FierceBiotech

> CEOs of Big Pharma companies have their own way of cozying up to the world’s second-largest pharmaceutical market—by getting themselves Chinese names. Want to know what each chief's Chinese name means? Here's our list. FiercePharma

> Sanofi plans to open a shared services center in Budapest and employ 350 people there. The site will start with 100 workers and provide business support services such as accounting, finance and human resources in seven languages. Sanofi currently employs more than 2,000 people in Hungary at three manufacturing plants, a logistics site and a global strategic unit. The company plans to grow employment to 350 by 2022. FiercePharma

> Carmen Bozic, M.D., Vertex's newly minted head of global medicines development and medical affairs, will take over as CMO on April 1, when Reshma Kewalramani moves up to the CEO seat. Bozic started her industry career at Biogen, spending 20 years at the company before moving on to Vertex, where she led global clinical development as a senior vice president before being promoted to her current position. In April, she will add CMO responsibilities to her duties as executive vice president for global medicines development and medical affairs. The company also appointed a new chief regulatory officer, Nia Tatsis, Ph.D., who joined Vertex in 2017 after working at the Wistar Institute, Pfizer and Sanofi. Before leading global regulatory affairs as an SVP at Vertex, Tatsis did the same for Sanofi Genzyme’s immunology, rare diseases, multiple sclerosis and oncology unit. FierceBiotech

> A week after leaving Akcea, Sarah Boyce is now the CEO of Avidity Biosciences. Boyce started her career in Big Pharma, embarking on a self-training course as a sales representative at Merck before moving on to Roche and Novartis, where she spent a decade moving up the ranks. She had a couple of stints at Alexion and Forest Labs before landing at Ionis, where she was chief business officer for three years before taking the same position at Ionis’ spinout Akcea in 2018. FierceBiotech

> Basking Ridge, New Jersey-based electroCore has pegged Daniel Goldberger as CEO. Prior to joining electroCore, Goldberger served as executive chairman of Repro Med Systems, CEO of Milestone Medical and director and CEO of Xtant Medical Holdings. Release

> John Cox, who shepherded Bioverativ through its $11.6 billion acquisition by Sanofi, will now take the reins at Torque Therapeutics, a biotech working on T-cell therapies for blood cancers and solid tumors. Cox wore various hats at Biogen, eventually becoming the executive vice president of pharmaceutical operations, technical development, quality and engineering and the development and commercialization of the company’s biosimilars. He led Bioverativ’s spinout from Biogen in 2016 as well as its Sanofi buyout in 2018. FierceBiotech

> Six months after getting off a $50 million series A round, Atlas Venture-incubated startup Dyne Therapeutics has named Joshua Brumm as CEO. Formerly CFO and COO at microbiome biotech Kaleido, Brumm becomes Dyne's president and chief after his former company gained a $100 million IPO earlier this year. FierceBiotech

> Los Angeles-based Sensydia Corporation has tapped Anthony Arnold as CEO, president and director. Arnold most recently served as president and CEO of SetPoint Medical. Prior to SetPoint, Arnold held leadership roles with Smith+Nephew, Medtronic and Boston Scientific. Release

> Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Verve Therapeutics has named Andrew Bellinger, M.D., Ph.D., as the company’s CSO. Bellinger is a general cardiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and is board-certified in cardiovascular medicine and internal medicine. Prior to joining Verve, he co-founded and served as chief scientific officer of Lyndra Therapeutics. Release

> Solentim has named Mark Truesdale, Ph.D., as its newest CMO. Truesdale most recently served for seven years at Thermo Fisher Scientific, during which time he held the position of senior director of global marketing for its food protection business. Prior to this, Truesdale spent 14 years with Genetix in a number of roles. Release

> Boston-based Jnana Therapeutics has named Alnylam veteran Caroline Stark Beer as its CBO. Beer previously served as head of business development at Alnylam and before that worked in business development at Amicus Therapeutics. Release

> In a C-suite shakeup, Boston-based Halloran Consulting Group has promoted Greg Dombal to president, Tania Zieja to CFO and Katie McCarthy to CDO. In addition, Halloran has increased its headcount to over 90 full-time employees with key principal hires in the regulatory, clinical and quality practices. Dombal will retain his role as COO, and Laurie Halloran will continue in her role as CEO and chairwoman of the board. Release

Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Vor Biopharma has named Sadik Kassim, Ph.D., as CTO. Kassim is a former executive director at Kite Pharma and before that served as CSO at Mustang Bio. Vor also named Tirtha Chakraborty, Ph.D., as VP of research. Chakraborty joins from Sana Biotechnology, where he served as the VP of cell therapy research. Prior to Sana, Chakraborty was the head of hematology at CRISPR Therapeutics. Release

> After bagging a new R&D leader at the start of the year, Sangamo Therapeutics has hired Bettina Cockroft, M.D., as senior vice president and CMO. She will oversee all clinical development activities and ops for the company. Cockroft comes from Cytokinetics, where she led clinical development of fast skeletal muscle troponin activators in diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and spinal muscular atrophy. FierceBiotech

Zimmer Biomet announced that Carrie Nichol has joined the team as VP, controller and chief accounting officer. Prior to joining Zimmer Biomet, Nichol served as senior VP, controller and chief accounting officer of Endo International.