Chutes & Ladders—Silverback names Synthorx vet Shawver to CEO post

Parachute landscape

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.

Shawver takes the wheel at I-O biotech Silverback Therapeutics

Silverback Therapeutics
Laura Shawver, M.D., will take over as CEO.

After Sanofi snapped up Synthorx for $2.5 billion in January, the latter’s CEO, Shawver, was out of a job. She wasted no time scoping out her next gig, eventually reuniting with an old colleague and landing at the helm of Silverback Therapeutics, a biotech working on a new kind of antibody-drug conjugate. Shawver has now teamed up with Peter Thompson, M.D., the OrbiMed partner who co-founded Silverback and Cleave BioSciences—the first biotech Shawver led—and who also invested in Cleave and backed Synthorx’s series C round in 2018. FierceBiotech

PTC Therapeutics elevates biotech buyout CEO to chief development officer

PTC Therapeutics
Matthew Klein, M.D., comes on board as CDO.

Klein “will be responsible for the development of our clinical stage programs,” the biotech said.This includes its early pipeline work around gene therapy, nonsense mutation, splicing and oncology, according to its site, with targets including Huntington’s disease, Angelman syndrome, relapsed/refractory acute leukemias, ovarian cancer and others. PTC markets Emflaza, a controversial Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) treatment, in the U.S. It sells another DMD drug, Translarna, in Europe, and Tegsedi, which treats polyneuropathy of hereditary transthyretin-mediated amyloidosis, in Latin America. FierceBiotech

Ex-BARDA chief decries science taking back seat to politics, demands investigation into Trump administration

Deposed chief Rick Bright is calling foul on the Trump administration.

Bright, a vaccine specialist, was deposed as the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority's leader and was moved this week to a new role in the National Institutes of Health at a time when his former employer is scrambling to help biopharma make a COVID-19 prophylactic available. Stat first reported the news, and while there was no direct word from Bright, there was a lot of speculation. Now, Bright issued a statement via his law firm, seen by FierceBiotech, about his departure, and it is scathing in its assessment of why he was let go. He said that he was pressured to funnel cash toward the old anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, one of several “potentially dangerous drugs promoted by those with political connections,” including President Donald Trump, although Brick did not mention the president by name in the piece.  FierceBiotech

> Baltimore-based Personal Genome Diagnostics has promoted CCO Megan Bailey to the CEO role. Bailey succeeds Douglas Ward, who has served as PGDx’s CEO since 2016. Release (PDF)

> New York City-based Immunic will say goodbye to CFO Sanjay Patel, who has resigned to pursue opportunities in the nonprofit sector. Glenn Whaley, Immunic's principal accounting officer and controller, has been promoted to the position of VP of finance. Meanwhile, Immunic’s current chairman, Duane Nash, will temporarily assume the role of executive chairman. Release

> Waltham, Massachusetts-based Regenacy Pharmaceuticals has named David Michelson, M.D., as CMO. Michelson served as consultant CMO since September. Prior to joining Regenacy, Michelson served as CMO for Proclara Biosciences. Release (PDF)

> Swiss drugmaker GeNeuro has tapped David Leppert, M.D., as CMO, effective May 1. Leppert replaces François Curtin, who is leaving GeNeuro go pursue an academic appointment at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. Release (PDF)

> Needham, Massachusetts-based Chiasma has appointed Anand Varadan as executive VP and CCO. Varadan served as Chiasma’s CCO until June 2016 and rejoined the company in early 2018. Previously, Varadan served as CCO at Karyopharm Therapeutics. Release

> German drugmaker MorphoSys has named Roland Wandeler, Ph.D., as CCO, effective May 5. Wandeler most recently served as corporate VP and general manager of Amgen's U.S. bone health and cardiology business unit. Release

> Belgian drugmaker Aelin Therapeutics has tapped Alexander Scheer, Ph.D., as CSO. Scheer joins Aelin from Erytech Pharma where he most recently served as CSO. Release

> San Francisco-based Aktana is fleshing out its executive team with the appointments of Pini Ben-Or as CSO, Colm Callan as CFO, Kate Terrell as chief people officer, Mike Weber as VP of product, Vishal Saxena as VP of global SaaS operations, Alan Kalton as VP of customer success and Eric Yip as VP of engineering. Release

> Swiss drugmaker Oculis S.A. has named Frédéric Pilotaz as VP of technology and pharmaceutical sciences. Pilotaz was most recently senior director and head of CMC and pharmaceutical operations at Nicox S.A. Release