Chutes & Ladders—Roivant founder ditches board for White House bid

 Chutes and LaddersWelcome 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 Max Bayer or Gabrielle Masson, and we will feature it here at the end of each week. 

Roivant Sciences founder ditches company board for White House bid

Roivant Sciences

D.C.-vant? Washington-vant? Commander-in-vant? The names don’t particularly roll off the tongue, but they’re reflective of the new grandiose ambition of Roivant founder Vivek Ramaswamy. The entrepreneur-turned-anti-woke-pariah announced a formal run this week for the White House, becoming the third Republican candidate to enter the field. As a part of the decision, Ramaswamy departed from Roivant’s board. 

Vivek Ramaswamy
Vivek Ramaswamy (

His pursuit of arguably the most significant political office in the world comes less than 10 years after Ramaswamy launched Roivant. The company has since spun out more than 20 “vant” subsidiaries, which essentially act as small spinouts focused on the development of a specific drug or disease area. Existing vants include dermatology-focused Dermavant and Immunovant, which is tailored to … you probably guessed it. 

But you won’t hear much about Roivant in Ramaswamy’s launch video, which is focused squarely on what he bemoans is a nationwide “identity crisis” and the “woke left.” It’s much of the same views that Ramaswamy has championed for years as he’s made himself one of the key figures fighting against the intersection of social politics and corporate life. He won’t be the only former entrepreneur in the race, however, taking on the current polling favorite and former President Donald Trump. Fierce Biotech

Top FDA oncology deputy departs for new biotech

Food and Drug Administration 

Julia Beaver, M.D., has departed the FDA to take on a new role as senior vice president of clinical development at Treeline Biosciences. Beaver was previously chief medical officer of the FDA’s Oncology Center for Excellence and acting deputy director of the Office of Oncologic Diseases. Her departure was confirmed by the agency. 

treeline, FDA
Julia Beaver (LinkedIn)

Beaver’s move marks her first foray into industry after working for nine and a half years at the FDA following nine years at Johns Hopkins. The cancer professor and regulator now heads up clinical development at one of the buzziest biotechs in the business. Treeline has raised almost half a billion dollars including a $261 million series A. 

Ironically, the CEO of Treeline is a former regulator himself. Josh Bilenker, M.D., was a medical officer at the agency before launching Loxo Oncology in 2013, which was ultimately sold to Eli Lilly for $8 billion in 2019. According to Bilenker’s LinkedIn, he started working on Treeline in April 2021. LinkedIn  

Medidata names new top executives 


Pascal Daloz
Pascal Daloz (LinkedIn)

Medidata announced that it had tapped Pascal Daloz to be its new chief executive, finding a permanent replacement after an 18-month search. Daloz, who was influential in Dassault Systèmes acquisition of Medidata in 2019, replaces co-CEOs Rama Kondru and Sastry Chilukuri. The company also announced it had tapped former chief commercial officer Michael Pray to be chief operating officer.  

The two major hires come a year and a half after Kondru and Chilukuri were named interim co-CEOs of the life science software provider. Just weeks later, Medidata’s co-founder, Glen de Vries, died in a plane crash in New Jersey. De Vries launched the company in 1999 and sold it to Dassault in 2019. And his love of aviation was emblematic in the fact that he was one of a handful of people to join Amazon founder Jeff Bezos on a Blue Origins flight earlier in 2021. 

In its hiring announcement, Medidata says Pray will be responsible for day-to-day operations at the company and will report directly to Daloz. Fierce Biotech

> Moderna’s Juan Andres will be retiring in May after working at the Big Pharma for more than six years. Andres is currently president of strategic partnerships and enterprise expansion for the company, and has also served as chief technical operations and quality officer. Prior to Moderna, Andres held leadership roles at Eli Lilly and Novartis. Release 

Having already drastically reduced head count, ObsEva has now turned its sights on the company’s U.S.-based leadership. The women’s-health focused biotech waved goodbye to CEO Brian O’Callaghan, Chief Commercial Officer Clive Bertram, Chief Clinical Officer Brandi Howard and Chief Transformation Officer Luigi Marro. Clancy and O’Callaghan are among five board members who will be stepping down. The biotech has already began a search for a CEO who will be based at the company’s home of Switzerland. Fierce Biotech

> CymaBay Therapeutics Chief Medical Officer Dennis Kim, M.D., resigned Feb. 20, effective immediately. Release

> Precision BioSciences is shaking up its leadership team, promoting VP of CMC Neil Leatherbury to SVP, head of CMC. Meanwhile, Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer Derek Jantz, Ph.D., has announced his intentions to eventually step away from his current day-to-day responsibilities and will instead take on the role of chief science advisor. Additionally, Co-Founder and Chief Research Officer Jeff Smith, Ph.D., will tack on leadership of the Precision's joint steering committees with Eli Lilly and Novartis and serve as head scientific lead for potential new business development partners. Release

> Arthur Levin, Ph.D., is transitioning out of his role as Avidity’s chief scientific officer to the board of directors and the role of distinguished scientist and strategic leader. Levin is a founding member of Avidity, and his spot as CSO will be taken up by Chief Technical Officer Michael Flanagan, Ph.D., who will remain in his current role as well. Release  

> NextPoint Therapeutics has appointed Leena Gandhi, M.D., Ph.D., to serve as chief medical officer and oversee development of its precision immuno-oncology programs. Gandhi previously worked at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, where she was director of the Center for Cancer Therapeutic Innovation, and has also previously served as Eli Lilly’s VP of immuno-oncology development. Release

> After ending all cardiology work, Quantum Genomics is reorganizing its board of directors, restructuring staff and conducting another strategic review. Frédéric Duchesne resigned from his role as independent administrator, while founder and President Lionel Ségard has been ousted and will be replaced with CEO Jean-Philippe Milon. Fierce Biotech

> Chester Wong is jumping from Big Pharma to biotech, exiting his role as director of business development for Amgen to become Cartography Biosciences’ VP and head of business development. Wong will help the biotech, which emerged last summer, form key industry relationships that advance its pipeline of next-gen cancer immunotherapies. Release   

> After a business review, Graphite Bio is writing off a sickle cell therapy and cutting half its staff—including two executives. Chief Business Officer Philip Gutry and Chief Scientific Officer Jane Grogan, Ph.D., are slated to leave the company at the end of the second quarter. Fierce Biotech

> Transcend Therapeutics has emerged with a $40 million series A and several C-suite leaders. The biotech working to develop meds for neuropsychiatric diseases is led by co-founder and CEO Blake Mandell, who has spent most of his career working in venture capital. Fellow co-founder Kevin Ryan, who is also the founder and CEO AlleyCorp, will serve as chair for Transcend, while third co-founder Ben Kelmendi, M.D., will hold the spot as chief scientific adviser. Meanwhile, Martin Stogniew, Ph.D., who has led development at six biotech startups, will take on the role of chief development officer. In the spot of SVP of clinical development is Amanda Jones, who most recently led clinical development at Axsome Therapeutics. Release  

> Impel Pharmaceuticals is reducing its head count by 16% to save cash, with Chief Medical Officer Stephen Shrewsbury, M.D., also heading out the door at the end of March. Fierce Biotech  

> Alongside the launch of a new wet-dry lab, Relation Therapeutics has tapped Edith Hessel, Ph.D., to fill its chief scientific officer spot. Hessel is a former GSK R&D exec and helped build out the Big Pharma’s Refractory Respiratory Inflammation Discovery Performance Unit. Release 

> Starting March 1, Taiwan-based BRIM Biotechnology will have a new CEO at the helm. Dr. Wen-Chyi Shyu is taking the reins from Dr. Haishan Jang, Brim’s CEO and chair. Shyu has clocked in experience for many Big Pharmas, including Bristol Myers Squibb and Takeda, and will help the biotech expand internationally. Meanwhile, globally known entrepreneur Andrew Lin will take over as company chair. Release

> Kate Broderick will become Maravai Life Sciences’ chief innovation officer of the newly created office of science and innovation. Broderick joined Maravai’s TriLink Biotechnologies in July 2022 as SVP of R&D and, before that, spent 15 years at Inovio Pharmaceuticals. Release 

> AI-driven Genomenon has tapped John Battles to serve as its VP of engineering. Battles has more than 25 years of experience in the field, with past roles at Genomind and Q2 Solutions, among others. Release