Chutes & Ladders—Seagen finds new leader after 6-month vacancy

 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. 

Seagen has found a new leader after 6 months, putting Siegall drama in the rearview


It’s been a tumultuous few months for Seagen, to say the least. First, former CEO and co-founder Clay Siegall resigned in May following domestic abuse allegations from his wife stemming from a drunken evening at the couple’s home. Siegall was arrested and charged with a fourth degree misdemeanor assault charge. 

Shortly after, the company became the subject of persistent rumors of being acquired by Merck & Co., a deal that’s evidently stalled over the price. Navigating this was Chief Medical Officer Roger Dansey, M.D., who was installed as interim CEO following Siegall’s resignation.

Now, the company has a permanent leader, naming former Novartis Pharmaceuticals CEO David Epstein for the job. Epstein led the Novartis division from 2010 to 2016 before joining Flagship Pioneering as an executive partner. His departure from the Swiss Big Pharma came when the company decided to build a standalone oncology unit, leaving Epstein without a gig. All told, he spent more than 25 years at Novartis. 

With his appointment, Dansey is moving back in his former CMO role, in addition to new responsibilities as president of R&D. Fierce Pharma 

Biogen taps Sanofi vet as CEO with all eyes on lecanemab


Right around the time that Seagen was thrust into its own CEO search, Biogen was faced with a similar task. In early May, Michael Vounatsos announced he would be stepping down, a year after the controversial accelerated approval of the company’s Alzheimer’s disease treatment Aduhelm. In early 2022, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said it would only cover similar treatments, significantly limiting the commercial prospects for Aduhelm without full approval. 

Since his announcement, news about potential replacements was relatively barren, with the exception of former Johnson & Johnson R&D head Mathai Mammen, M.D., Ph.D., who Stat reported was a top candidate. But those negotiations reportedly fell through over the degree of board control.

Now, a new leader is confirmed, with Biogen selecting former Sanofi CEO Christopher Viehbacher. The longtime pharma executive was an executive at GSK before running the French operation from 2008 to 2014, a tenure that ended dramatically with the board ousting him. Afterward, Viehbacher launched his own venture capital firm, Gurnet Point. Earlier this year, 40% of Biogen investors surveyed said that the new CEO should have a successful track record of successful dealmaking. Fierce Pharma

Former Sage Therapeutics CEO takes on role leading new biotech incubator


Jeffrey Jonas, former CEO of Sage Therapeutics, has bolted to take a new job leading the biotech incubator ABio-X. His hiring was announced by the CBC Group, a healthcare private equity group that runs the incubator and recently directed $150 million toward it. 

Jonas previously transitioned from being Sage’s CEO to the company’s chief innovation officer. Last quarter, the company announced he’d be transitioning away from the role, although he remains a member of the board. Now we know where he’s landed. 

CBC describes ABio-X as growing “companies at the convergence of groundbreaking technologies and innovative science.” Some of CBC’s early investments have incubated  Ensem Therapeutics, which is developing small-molecule precision oncology treatments, and Adcentrx Therapeutics. Another, Ensem Therapeutics, closed out a $67 million series A in April. 

Now tasked with blossoming young biotechs’ potential, Jonas will likely lean on his year’s of R&D experience, which includes five years at Shire Pharmaceuticals where he was SVP of R&D and president of Shire Regenerative Medicine. Release

> Teva Pharmaceuticals CEO Kåre Schultz plans to retire when his contract runs up next fall, he told The Wall Street Journal. Schultz will turn 62 in May and is planning to step down so he can spend more time with his family. He’s been with Teva for five years, working through a company turnaround and opioid litigation. Teva is actively looking for a replacement. Fierce Pharma 

> Big Pharma vet Lykke Hinsch Gylvin, M.D., has departed Novartis for Boehringer Ingelheim, snagging the title of chief medical officer and head of global medicine. She brings more than 20 years of experience to the table, including a year in her most recent role as vice president of global medical franchise and head of neuroscience at Novartis. Boehringer was searching for a new CMO since Mehdi Shahidi, M.D., exited in February. Fierce Pharma 

> Post-Pfizer split, Biohaven is bringing on two new execs to lead drug development efforts in epilepsy and neuropsychiatric conditions. Former Bristol Myers Squibb exec Irfan Qureshi, M.D., has also jumped aboard as chief medical officer, while Tanya Fischer, M.D., Ph.D., will step on as chief development officer and head of translational medicine. Fischer previously held the role of vice president of CNS development at Alnylam Pharmaceuticals. Fierce Biotech

> Zai Lab’s Alan Sandler, M.D., has exited the company for Mirati Therapeutics, where he will take up position as EVP and chief medical officer. Sandler has more than 30 years of experience under his belt, most recently serving as Zai Lab's president and global head of oncology and clocking in hours with Roche’s Genentech before that. Mirati has also said founder, President and R&D head Charles Baum, M.D., Ph.D., will retire in the second quarter of 2023. Baum previously served as Mirati’s president and CEO from 2012-21. Release

> Oblique Therapeutics has tapped Christer Nordstedt, M.D., Ph.D., to lead the Swiss biotech starting Dec. 1. Nordstedt most recently served as pharma manufacturer Vivesto’s interim CEO and has logged experience at Teva Pharmaceuticals, Orion Corporation, Eli Lilly, Roche and AstraZeneca, among others. Release

> Los Angeles-based Aadi Bioscience has announced two leadership shake-ups, including the naming of a new CEO. Current founder, President and CEO Neil Desai will step down after 11 years at the helm and assume the role of executive chair, while Chief Operating Officer Brendan Delaney will take the reins as president and CEO starting Jan. 1, 2023. Release

> Scholar Rock has selected Jing Marantz, M.D., Ph.D., as chief medical officer. Marantz most recently served as Krystal Biotech’s EVP and chief business officer and has previously held leadership roles at Acceleron Pharma, Alnylam, Alexion, Biogen, ARIAD and Millennium Pharmaceuticals. Release

> Atsena Therapeutics has tapped Lis Leiderman, M.D., as its chief financial officer and chief business officer. Before Atsena, Leiderman served as CFO and head of corporate development at Decibel Therapeutics and has previously held leadership roles at Complexa and Fortress Biotech. Release

> After a 22-year run with Bristol Myers Squibb, Adam Dubow has left his role as the Big Pharma’s chief compliance and ethics officer to become a member of Day One Biopharmaceuticals’ team as general counsel. Release   

> Fulcrum Therapeutics has made two new leadership appointments, selecting Santiago Arroyo, M.D., Ph.D., to serve as chief medical officer, and Jeff Jacobs, Ph.D., as chief scientific officer. Arroyo has nearly two decades worth of experience across Momenta Pharmaceuticals, Boston Pharmaceuticals, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Pfizer, Eisai and Schwarz Biosciences, while Jacobs joins with more than 25 years of experience, most recently as CSO at Goldfinch Bio. Release

> Fusion Pharmaceuticals has tapped Dmitri Bobilev, M.D., to serve as chief medical officer. Bobilev joins Fusion from Checkmate Pharma, where he was VP and head of clinical development until the company was acquired by Regeneron earlier this year. Release

> Tango Therapeutics has plucked Aaron Weitzman, M.D., from Exelixis, where he served as VP of clinical development. Weitzman—who has also worked at Genentech, Novartis and Eli Lilly—will step on as Tango’s chief medical officer. Release

> Immune Therapeutics CEO, President and Director Stephen Wilson, Ph.D., has resigned. A day later, Clifford Selsky, Ph.D., M.D., resigned from his position as a director of Immune. The company’s board has started searching for a replacement CEO. In the meantime, Immune Chief Operating Officer Kelly Wilson will take on the roles of interim CEO and interim president. Release

> Atriva Therapeutics has tapped Nigel Horscroft to serve as its new chief scientific officer. Horscroft has over 20 years of experience across Pfizer, Pike Pharma, CureVac and MRM Health and succeeds founding CSO Oliver Planz, Ph.D., who now chairs the scientific advisory board. Release

> Former Genzyme executive John Neylan III, M.D., is joining Akari Therapeutics as chief medical officer. It’s not his first time in the role, having held the same position at Angion Biomedica Corporation and Keryx Biopharmaceuticals. Release

> Zai Lab is bringing aboard former Pfizer chemist Peter Huang as chief scientific officer. He previously worked at Zentalis for more than seven years, elevating himself to SVP of discovery research. Release

> VectorY Therapeutics is hoping its new leader will bring clinical victory, promoting Sander van Deventer to CEO. He was previously the company’s chief technology officer, a job he took five years after launching the VC firm Forbion Capital Partners. Release 

> Big Pharma vet Mark Rutstein, M.D., is jumping to Daiichi Sankyo as the new head of global oncology clinical development. He previously led the late-stage program at Bristol Myers Squibb for its oncology agents, a job that followed previous gigs at Bayer, Eli Lilly and Amgen.