Chutes & Ladders—Replimune, prepping for market, taps Genentech oncology vet as CCO

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

Genentech oncology exec jumps to Replimune to get cancer-killing meds to market

Sushil Patel, Ph.D., will step up to the chief commercial officer plate in May.

Patel is the Genentech exec who led the development of Tecentriq in lung cancer. That oncology know-how will play nicely at oncolytic virus biotech Replimune, as it strives toward treatments that not only replicate within tumors and kill them, but also boost the effects of checkpoint inhibitors like the one Patel helmed. In a few weeks' time, he'll take the lead on the company's “go to market” strategy, laying the groundwork for the launch of its lead program, RP1, currently tied up in registrational trials in cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma, the second-most common form of skin cancer, and patients with melanoma for whom PD-1 blockers did not work. During his lengthy Genentech tenure, Patel wore many hats, including global oncology franchise head for lung cancer, skin cancer and rare/agnostic tumor types, as well as the franchise head for global product strategy.  Fierce Biotech

Humanigen opens up CMO role, drops AstraZeneca vet to push on with COVID hopeful

Adrian Kilcoyne, M.D., takes up the newly-minted role of chief medical officer.

 Kilcoyne picks up the newly-minted role of chief medical officer as Humanigen endeavors to get a new COVID-19 drug onto the market. Less than a month ago, the company's pandemic hopeful lenzilumab was found to increase the rate of ventilator-free survival in hospitalized COVID-19 patients in a phase 3 trial. Lenzilumab targets a cytokine called GM-CSF, believed to be the culprit behind the immune system overaction known as cytokine storm. Beyond COVID-19, Humanigen is still weighing lenzilumab's prospects in graft-versus-host disease, chronic myelomonocytic leukemia and as a CAR-T treatment. Kilcoyne will also work on another drug in Humanigen's pipline, ifabotuzumab, in solid tumors. At British Big Pharma AstraZeneca, whose own pandemic efforts have recently been put under a harsh spotlight, Kilcoyne was vice president of oncology global medical affairs, as well as head of evidence generation and external alliances. Fierce Biotech

Gossamer Bio CSO hits the exit after turbulent year, research exec steps up

Gossamer Bio
Luisa Salter-Cid, Ph.D., heads for the exit on April 30.

At the end of the month, Bristol Myers Squibb veteran Salter-Cid will pass the mantle of chief scientist to Gossamer's senior vice president of research and translational biology, Laura Carter, Ph.D.. Salter-Cid entered Gossamer's web in 2018, while Carter's gig kicked off in 2019. She came over from Lycera, where she oversaw development of the company's immunology and immuno-oncology programs. Salter-Cid will pursue “new endeavors,” recently re-appointed CEO Faheem Hasnain said in a statement. Hasnain took back over from Sheila Gujrathi, M.D., in November, after the company’s DP2 inhibitor, GB001, failed phase 2 studies in asthma and chronic rhinosinusitis. The company still envisions a “viable clinical development path” for GB001, though it will need a partner to get there, it said in February. Fierce Biotech

AstraZeneca is saying goodbye to Charles Ferté, M.D., Ph.D., senior director and global project leader of oncology R&D. “While I am very excited about the new opportunity (stay tuned!), I am sad to leave AstraZeneca today," Ferté said on Twitter. He didn't explain his departure, and AstraZeneca's response to Fierce Biotech was simply, “[w]e don’t have a statement on this.” Fierce Biotech

> Zymeworks' first chief medical officer, Diana Hausman, M.D., is moving on to pastures new. She'll pass the torch to Neil Josephson, M.D., who now oversees the Canadian biotech's global clinical trials. In his official capacity as senior vice president, clinical research, Josephson will man the CMO fort on an interim basis. He came over from Seagen in 2019, right around the time Zymeworks locked up a suite of high-profile pacts, including a hefty $1 billion deal with Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen unit. Fierce Biotech

> Genetic medicines company Homology Medicines has promoted Tim Kelly to chief operating officer. Kelly moves up from his previous role of chief technical operations officer, in which he led construction of the company's internal manufacturing facility, which Homology stood up in just 12 months from design to operation. Prior to joining Homology, Kelly held senior positions at Sarepta Therapeutics, Biogen, UCB and Shire, where he helped develop the first commercially approved, single-use bioreactor manufacturing system. Release

> CERo Therapeutics, working on autologous engineered immune cell therapies, signed on CMO Remus Vezan, M.D., Ph.D., to lead its clinical development push, while John Rossi, M. Sci., joins as senior vice president and head of translational medicine. Both Vezan and Rossi are bringing some serious CAR-T know-how to the table, which CERo will leverage to quickly advance its T cell engineering platform and next-gen cell therapy products. Vezan comes over from Gilead's Kite, where he was most recently executive director of clinical development. There, he spearheaded clinical development of more than 20 CAR-T trials, including those for Yescarta and Tecartus. Rossi also joins from Kite, where he led the company's cell therapy clinical pharmacology team and had a hand in Yescarta and Tecartus' development and approval. Release

> Sera Prognostics has welcomed Benjamin Jackson to the team as general counsel. In his new role, he'll develop Sera's internal legal and intellectual property capabilities as it makes the pivot from clinical to commercial-stage company. Jackson has represented Myriad Genetics for the past 15 years, starting as a law clerk with an intellectual property focus. He eventually moved up to the role he's taking at Sera. The diagnostics company focuses on maternal and neonatal health. Sera's offerings include its precision medicine PreTRM test, which can alert doctors to a woman's risk of premature delivery. Release

> Vera Therapeutics has brought on Genentech vet Celia Lin, M.D., as chief medical officer. Meanwhile, Tad Thomas, Ph.D., joins the team as senior vice president and head of product development and manufacturing, while Joseph Young, MBA, signs on as SVP of finance. At the Roche subsidiary, Lin most recently wore the hat of senior medical director in charge of phase 3 global study execution and regulatory filing in orphan disease. She was also global development lead for a small molecule in multiple sclerosis and oversaw work on various monoclonal antibody, bispecific and complement inhibition projects across a suite of therapeutic fields. 

> Lonza, lending its manufacturing muscle to the COVID-19 fight, named Jennifer Cannon, Ph.D., senior vice president and global head of the CDMO's mammalian biologics business, where she'll spearhead strategy and growth. Before joining Lonza, Cannon was vice president of operations commercial development at AbbVie. She also worked in Ajinomoto's contract manufacturing organization as vice president of commercial operations.

> EQRx is bulking up as it pursues its mission of remaking medicine. The company tapped Jami Rubin as chief financial officer and signed on chief customer officer Kent Rogers, who'll tune the company's commercial pitch for its portfolio in oncology and immunoinflammatory diseases. Rubin spent 25 years as an equity analyst focused on large-cap and specialty pharmas, and previously led the healthcare business unit as a partner at Goldman Sachs. Rogers comes on board from United Health Group's OptumRx, where he was senior vice president of industry relations. In that role, he focused on formulary and procurement contracting with pharma manufacturers for both commercial and government programs. Release

> CAR-T up-and-comer Celyad Oncology has enlisted Charles Morris, M.B.B.S., BMSc, as chief medical officer. A medical oncologist, Morris signs on with more than 20 years' cancer med development know-how. He joins from Radius Health, where he also filled the CMO seat. His track record includes top posts at PsiOxus Therapeutics, ImmunoGen and Allos Therapeutics. Release

> Amylyx Pharmaceuticals has called upon Chris Aiello to serve as head of Canada and general manager. He comes aboard as Amylyx moves full speed ahead on the approval process for its amyotrophic lateral sclerosis hopeful AMX0035. In his new role, Aiello will help prep for the drug's launch in Canada and oversee operations there. He most recently led the businesses for Sanofi Genzyme Canada's rare disease and rare blood disorders units. Before that, he was the general manager of Canada for Bioverativ, later bought out by Sanofi Genzyme. Release

> Ovid Therapeutics, working on medicines for rare neurological diseases, welcomed Robert Langer, Sc.D., as chairman of its scientific advisory board. Langer ranks among the 10 Institute professors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He's written more than 1,500 scholarly articles and—according to Google Scholar—is the "most cited engineer in history," Ovid said in a release. His resume also includes a stint as Chair of the FDA's science board. Release

> Adare Pharma Solutions has signed on Ludger Roedder as president of Adare Biome. In the newly-minted role, Roedder will take charge of the company's entire microbiome business. Before joining Adare, Roedder was chief business officer at BRAIN AG, where he helmed the company's global commercialization push.   Release

> Cytocom ushered in Stephen Wilson, Ph.D., as head of Global Innovations on April 19. He's tasked with seeking out new indications for the company's pipeline of immunotherapy candidates for autoimmune, inflammatory and infectious diseases, as well as cancers. Wilson is also on deck to help build a network of experts around its Advanced Immunomodulating Multi-Receptor System drug discovery and development platform. He takes up the Cytocom baton after a 25-year run at the La Jolla Institute for Immunology, where he was the research facility's chief operating officer. Release

> NexImmune has created the role of senior vice president of corporate affairs and enlisted Chad Rubin as its first. He'll take the reins on corporate communications and chip in on the company's investor and capital markets activities. Rubin joins the team from leading life sciences investment company Solebury Trout, where he was a managing director. NexImmune is looking to shake up immunotherapy by harnessing the body’s own T cells to create a "specific, potent, and durable" immune response. Release

> Proteomics firm Quantum-Si has called upon Claudia Napal Drayton to don the CFO mantle. She picks up as chief financial officer as the company homes in on its merger with HighCape Capital Acquisition. Most recently, she held the same position at CHF Solutions, where she helped push the company into the commercial realm. Drayton also held top posts at Medtronic, including CFO and senior finance director of the device maker's integrated health solutions business. Release

> Nimbus Therapeutics added a trio of new hires to its development team. Avinash Phadke, Ph.D., comes on board as VP of chemistry, manufacturing and controls; Bhaskar Srivastava, M.D., Ph.D., joins as VP of early clinical development; and Ajay Upadhyay enters the fold as VP of clinical operations. Phadke joins after an 18-year stint at Achillion Pharmaceuticals, while Srivastava comes from Janssen, where he was senior director of early development for translational science and medicine in immunology. Upadhyay signs on after serving as president at the consulting firm October Global Solutions. Release

> Biomolecular condensates company Dewpoint Therapeutics will usher Isaac Klein, M.D., Ph.D., into the role of chief scientific officer on May 3. As a physician-scientist and medical oncologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Breast Oncology Center, Klein has published extensively on the role of condensates in cancer, Dewpoint said. He was previously a researcher in the Rick Young lab at the Whitehead Institute of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where his research focused on decrypting condensates' roles in cancer, transcription, and drug activity. Release

Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct a mistake that listed Sushil Patel as the CMO at Replimune. Patel will serve as chief commercial officer.