Chutes & Ladders—Sean Harper and Beth Seidenberg unite to run $320M VC fund


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.


Sean Harper and Beth Seidenberg unite to run $320M VC fund

Sean Harper

Westlake Village BioPartners
The former head of R&D at Amgen, Sean Harper, M.D., will help lead investment activities.

Harper is teaming up with Kleiner Perkins' Beth Seidenberg, M.D., to lead the new West Coast venture capital shop, which has $320 million to play with. Harper left Amgen earlier this year “to pursue opportunities in the early-stage biotechnology community.” Instead of committing to a single startup, as others who have previously migrated away from big biotech companies, he aims to help incubate several early-stage drug developers at once. Seidenberg previously served as Amgen's CMO before spending the past 13 years at Kleiner Perkins. They will also be joined by Kleiner Perkins COO Scott RylesFierceBiotech

Agios crowns Jackie Fouse as CEO to spearhead leukemia launches

Jackie Fouse

Agios Pharmaceuticals
Celgene veteran Jackie Fouse, Ph.D., will serve as chief executive.

Most recently executive chair of Roivant's skin-focused Dermavant subsidiary, Fouse had been seen as a possible pick for the soon-to-be-open CEO position at Gilead, being vacated by John Milligan at the end of the year. Instead, she will succeed longtime Agios chief David Schenkein, who will become executive chairman next February, as the company launches its AML drugs Tibsovo and Idhifa, the latter being developed in partnership with Celgene. FierceBiotech | FiercePharma

Hospital-backed Civica Rx nabs Amgen veteran as CEO

Civica Rx
Martin VanTrieste, former chief quality officer for Amgen, will be CEO.

First announced in January as Project Rx, Civica was formed by a group of hospitals committed to manufacturing their own drugs to battle shortages and high costs. VanTrieste has signed on to run the operation, backed by over 120 U.S. hospital groups, without pay. Civica will first focus on 14 hospital-administered generic drugs in chronic shortage. FiercePharma

Lilly hands oncology baton to R&D executive Anne White

Eli Lilly

Eli Lilly & Co.
The company has promoted Anne White to senior VP and president of Lilly Oncology. 

Formerly VP of portfolio management for Lilly’s Chorus and next-generation R&D units, White takes over for Sue Mahony as she retires, following her announcement in May. Before that, White held various jobs inside and outside of Lilly, including COO of oncology, in her 25 years of biopharma experience. FiercePharma

Third Rock Ventures’ Rheos Medicines named Sanjay Keswani, M.D., as CEO. Rheos emerged in March with $60 million in funding for autoimmune treatments, led by Third Rock partner Abbie Celniker, Ph.D., who will continue as chair of the board. Keswani joins Rheos from Roche, where he served as SVP and global head of neuroscience, ophthalmology and rare diseases. FierceBiotech

Gossamer Bio poached Bristol-Myers Squibb’s immunology and cancer R&D executive Luisa Salter-Cid, Ph.D., to serve as its new chief scientific officer. Salter-Cid will oversee pipeline work a few months after its $230 million series B—less than a year after its $100 million series A. FierceBiotech

SpringWorks Therapeutics moved up its chief business and chief financial offer Saqib Islam to serve as its CEO. FierceBiotech

Drug delivery company Suono Bio named Lisa Ricciardi as chief executive. The company’s founding chief executive, Carl Schoellhammer, will take on the role of COO and serve on the board. FierceBiotech

Sanofi VP and senior medical officer Riccardo Perfetti, M.D., Ph.D., has jumped to Applied Therapeutics, a New York-based early-stage biotech focused on metabolic diseases, to serve as CMO.

Endocrine therapy developer Radius Health brought on Charles Morris to be its new CMO and oversee the company’s expansion into oncology. Morris most recently served as chief development officer for cancer gene therapy company PsiOxus Therapeutics and previously helped lead the development of Faslodex at Zeneca, before it merged to form AstraZeneca. FierceBiotech

Citoxlab, a CRO for nonclinical research, has tapped Christophe Berthoux as chief executive for its European operations. Previously, Berthoux was chief executive of U.K.-based clinical SMO Synexus and has held a number of positions at Charles River Laboratories. FierceBiotech

Moderna Therapeutics hired former FDA official Wellington Sun, M.D., to be head of vaccine strategy and regulatory affairs. Moderna's former vaccines head, Giuseppe Ciaramella, Ph.D., stepped down to become CSO at Beam Therapeutics. At the agency, Sun helped oversee approvals for 28 new vaccine applications in infectious diseases, plus more than 100 applications for new indications. FiercePharma

Twentyeight-Seven Therapeutics brought on Shomir Ghosh, Ph.D., to be its CSO. Ghosh most recently served as CSO and founding scientist at IFM Therapeutics after serving as VP of drug discovery at GSK’s short-lived immunology spinout Tempero Pharmaceuticals. FierceBiotech

After a business review unveiled in July, GlaxoSmithKline is aiming to cut 650 jobs across its U.S. business, including 450 field sales positions, plus 100 each at its U.S. headquarters in Philadelphia and its commercial hub in North Carolina. FiercePharma

In addition, a scientist who worked at GSK's R&D unit in Philadelphia has pleaded guilty to attempting to steal confidential research and funnel it to conspirators in China. Yu Xue was accused of sending information to associates Tao Li and Yan Mei, co-founders of Renopharma, according to the Department of Justice. She was fired by GSK after charges were brought in 2016. FierceBiotech

Reuters is reporting that a management review at Bayer could result in job cuts and outsourcing the company’s drug-testing services, months after a German business weekly said that up to 1,000 positions could be on the chopping block. FierceBiotech

Theranos, the one-time Silicon Valley biotech star valued at more than $9 billion, has ultimately run out of money, employees and time. It will formally disband in the coming months, according to an email to shareholders by Theranos general counsel and CEO David Taylor, obtained by The Wall Street Journal. FierceBiotech