Chutes & Ladders—Stanford president resigns after investigation

 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. 

Stanford president resigns after internal investigation

Stanford University 

Wikimedia Commons
Marc Tessier-Lavigne, Ph.D. (Wikimedia Commons)

Marc Tessier-Lavigne, Ph.D., has resigned from his post as president of Stanford University after months of sidestepping allegations that select research he oversaw was manipulated. His resignation came after a formal report from the university’s board of trustees, which outlined forms of scientific manipulation that Tessier-Lavigne failed to swiftly correct and evidence that the environment in his lab rewarded “winners” and diminished “losers.” In a statement, Tessier-Lavigne said, “I have never submitted a scientific paper without firmly believing that the data were correct and accurately presented.”  

At least one of the pieces or research stems from Tessier-Lavigne’s tenure at Genentech, where he served as chief scientific officer and executive vice president of research. He left in 2011 to become president of the esteemed Rockefeller Institute before leading Stanford in 2016. 

Of critical note, this story only came to light thanks to reporting from Stanford Daily freshman journalist Theo Baker. He first unearthed the investigation last November, at which time Tessier-Lavigne didn’t comment. Statement 

Former AbbVie strategy chief to lead Neumora


It could hardly get any busier for Neumora, as the Arch-launched neuroscience biotech laid out plans for three pivotal phase 3 trials for its depression drug navacaprant all slated to start in the next year. The news followed phase 2 data showing that the drug improved depression symptoms in patients with moderate to severe depression.

Guiding the company through this ramped-up clinical development period is Henry Gosebruch, former chief strategy officer at AbbVie. It’s one heck of a hire for a biotech that unveiled itself less than two years ago with $500 million in financing and a deal with Amgen. Gosebruch helped lead a number of transactions while at the Big Pharma, including its gargantuan Celgene acquisition. 

That experience is especially noteworthy after outgoing CEO and incoming executive chair Paul Berns confirmed that the company was receiving “inbound interest” on the acquisition of either navacaprant or the company as a whole. It’s a ripe M&A market, and a well-capitalized biotech with a late-stage asset has become the cream of the crop. Fierce Biotech 

BMS, not known for its neurology efforts, poaches Pfizer neuroscience exec

Bristol Myers Squibb

Is Bristol Myers Squibb gearing up for a considerable increase in neuroscience investment? We don’t know yet, and only time will tell, but one new hire speaks volumes. 

The company has poached Ken Rhodes, Ph.D., from Pfizer, where he was the VP of rare neurology and discovery biology. At BMS, he’ll lead all neuroscience research. Rhodes has one heck of a track record in the space, spanning Big Pharmas and biotechs alike, with neuroscience work a constant throughout. 

He started his career at Wyeth before it was bought by Pfizer and then spent four and a half years at J&J as a CNS team lead. He jumped to become the VP of neurology discovery at Biogen for nearly seven years, leaving to be chief scientific officer at Yumanity. He’d been in his role at Pfizer a little less than two years before accepting the BMS gig. 

But BMS’ neuroscience effort is pretty miniscule compared to its competitors, with no approved products and just four clinical-stage assets, all in phase 1. You have to imagine that the mandate for Rhodes is to bolster that pipeline. We’ll see! LinkedIn 

> Boston-based Jnana Therapeutics is welcoming industry vet George Vratsanos, M.D., aboard as chief medical officer and head of R&D. Vratsanos most recently served as J&J’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals’ SVP of translational science and medicine for the immunology therapeutic area, a division he formed. Release

> After former Amarin CEO Karim Mikhail resigned this spring, the pharma has tapped Patrick Holt to take the reins. Holt was most recently president of Cordis, Cardinal Health’s global interventional cardiovascular business, before it was bought out by Hellman & Friedman for $1 billion in 2021. Before that, he held executive roles at Merck and Allergan. Fierce Pharma

> IO Biotech has nabbed Qasim Ahmad, M.D., from Novartis, where he most recently held the role of SVP, head of clinical development and medical affairs for the Big Pharma’s oncology business arm. Ahmad will now serve as IO’s chief medical officer, succeeding Eva Ehrnrooth, M.D., Ph.D., who has held the role since 2017 and will transition to senior clinical adviser for the company. Release

> Passage Bio is restructuring, with Chief Financial Officer Simona King and Chief Technical Officer Alex Fotopoulos out the door, effective July 28. Upon their exit, the company’s current VP of finance Kathleen Borthwick will serve as SVP and interim chief financial officer. Release

> Velia Therapeutics has tapped industry expert John McHutchison, M.D., to be the biotech’s president and CEO. McHutchison is the former chief scientific officer and head of R&D for Gilead Sciences as well as the past CEO and president of Assembly Biosciences. Release

> LimmaTech Biologics is bringing on Franz-Werner Haas as its first CEO. Haas joins from vaccine developer CureVac, where he spent 11 years and most recently served as CEO after tenures as chief corporate officer and chief operating officer. Fierce Biotech

> Former Genentech and Altos Labs exec Ann Lee-Karlon, Ph.D., is joining EpiBiologics as CEO, president and board member. Lee-Karlon previously served as Altos Labs’ chief operating officer and spent 18 years at Genentech before that. Release

> ProKidney has appointed Bruce Culleton, M.D., to serve as EVP and president of clinical development and commercialization. Culleton joins the cell therapeutics company from CVS Kidney Care, where he was most recently VP and general manager. Release

> Atavistik Bio has selected Bryan Stuart to helm the biotech, succeeding interim CEO Jeff Goater, who is a venture partner at The Column Group. The newly minted CEO most recently held the top role at Fulcrum Therapeutics and has also served as CEO at Array BioPharma’s Yarra Therapeutics and Kastle Therapeutics. Release

> Lyndra Therapeutics President and Chief Operations Officer Jessica Ballinger is taking up the spot as the company’s president and CEO. Lyndra has also promoted Chief Medical Officer Richard Scranton, M.D., to chief medical officer and president of global product development, while bumping SVP of People and Operations Lindsay Beaupre to chief people and workplace operations officer. Release

> Larimar Therapeutics is ushering in Russell “Rusty” Clayton, D.O., as the company’s chief medical officer, taking the reins from Nancy Ruiz, M.D., who is retiring. Clayton most recently served as the principal at Aeremedea, where he worked with Larimar and several other companies. Release

> Filippo Petti has left his role as Celyad Oncology’s CEO and chief financial officer for the top job at Leucid Bio. Before Celyad, Petti spent several years as a healthcare investment banker and a research scientist. Release

> TRNA-based therapeutics biotech hC Bioscience has tapped Heather Hirsch, Ph.D., to serve as SVP of translational science and cancer biology. Hirsch most recently worked as VP of clinical translational sciences at IMV and has held past roles at Jounce Therapeutics and Merck. Release

> Triumvira Immunologics is shaking up its leadership team, bringing on Robert Williamson III as president, chief operating officer and board member; Jeffrey Erickson as VP of business development; and Chris Murray as VP of human resources. Williamson is an industry vet with more than 20 years of experience building, leading and advising biotechs; Erickson joins from PhaseBio Pharmaceutical, where he was senior director of corporate development; and Murray has held past roles at Lonza, Bellicum Pharmaceuticals and Taysha Gene Therapies, among others. Release

> Former CenExel CEO Tom Wardle has transitioned to executive chair of the board while Stuart Goldblatt joins as new CEO. Before CenExel, Goldblatt was president and CEO of Cliantha Research North America. Release

> Accession Therapeutics has brought on Stephanie Bewick, Ph.D., to the company’s newly created role of chief business officer, while also promoting Jez Gerry, Ph.D., from his position as head of preclinical development to chief operating officer. Before joining Accession, Bewick worked at Destiny Pharma and has held roles at Summit Therapeutics and Mayne Pharma. Release