Chutes & Ladders—Teva snags new CEO in mere weeks

  Chutes and LaddersWelcome to this week's (and last 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. 

Teva finds new CEO just weeks after Schultz’s retirement announcement

Teva Pharmaceuticals 

Kåre Schultz
Kåre Schultz ((News Oresund/CC BY 2.0))

After only a few weeks of searching for a new CEO, generics mammoth Teva Pharmaceuticals has ended its mission to replace current top exec Kåre Schultz

Former Sandoz chief Richard Francis will take the reins from Schultz on the first day of 2023, though Schultz’s contract wasn’t set to expire until November of next year.

Francis is a biopharma veteran currently serving as CEO of both gene therapy company Purespring Therapeutics and heart function specialist Forcefield Therapeutics. He also served as the leader of Novartis’ generics unit Sandoz from 2014 to 2019, which Novartis officially unveiled plans to spin out this summer. 

Before Sandoz, Francis served as a senior executive at Biogen for 13 years, including a spell as leader of the Big Biotech’s U.S. business. Fierce Pharma

CEO exits SQZ Biotechnologies amid layoffs, CFO to follow

SQZ Biotechnologies 

As SQZ sends 60% of its staff packing, CEO and founder Armon Sharei, Ph.D., has exited after nearly 10 years at the helm. The biotech’s board has tapped Howard Bernstein, M.D., Ph.D., former chief scientific officer and current director, to lead as interim CEO, effective immediately. Additionally, Chief Financial Officer Micah Zajic is set to follow in Sharei’s footsteps with plans to leave his role Dec. 31.

The company expects to pay out $5 million in costs tied to the restructuring, consisting mainly of severance and other employee-related costs. The initial cost-saving measures are expected to extend the biotech’s cash runway into 2024.

“As we navigate an unprecedented operating environment, we plan to be disciplined with our capital and pursue opportunities where we see great potential promise,” Bernstein said in a Nov. 30 release. Fierce Biotech

Ex-Roche exec Levin heads to oncology diagnostics company

Mainz Biomed

Former Roche executive Amy Levin is joining Mainz Biomed, stepping into the role of VP of regulatory affairs. 

Levin joins the molecular genetics diagnostic company from Big Pharma Roche, where she served as the director of international regulatory affairs for Roche Molecular Diagnostics after holding many roles of increasing responsibility at the company. Levin has also served in other regulatory positions across multiple biotechs.

Now, at Mainz Biomed, Levin will lead regulations for clinical trials and quality initiatives of in vitro diagnostics. She will also contribute to the FDA submission process for ColoAlert, the company’s DNA-based detection test for colorectal cancer. Release

> Leonardo Faoro, M.D., has left Exelixis to serve as Quanta Therapeutics' chief medical officer. Before Exelixis, Faoro worked at OncoMed Pharmaceuticals and Genentech. LinkedIn

> insitro has tapped former Amgen vet Philip Tagari to serve as its chief scientific officer starting in early 2023. Tagari exits Amgen after 24 years, serving as VP of the Big Pharma's research-therapeutic discovery unit for the last decade. Release

Starting in the new year, Alvotech CEO Mark Levick will step down and Founder and Executive Chair Robert Wessman will take over. Meanwhile, Teva's former EVP and global head of R&D Hafrun Fridriksdottir will step into the role of Chief Operating Officer. Release

> Janneke van der Kamp
is leaving Novartis to join Grünenthal to serve as its chief commercial officer, effective March 1. She most recently served as Novartis’ head of pharma for Europe. Release 

> Pfizer bid farewell to Darrin Beaupre, M.D., Ph.D., most recently a senior VP and head of early oncology development and clinical research at the Big Pharma. Beaupre was named chief medical officer of precision medicine company Ideaya Biosciences, effective Nov. 21. Release 

> Michel Wurm, M.D., is replacing Anne Leselbaum, M.D., as BioSenic as interim chief medical officer while the company hunts for a permanent CMO. Both leaders worked together during the processes of the merger between Bone Therapeutics and Medsenic, which started in May 2022. Release

> Alongside a $96 million series A launch, Cajal Neuroscience has unveiled several C-suite executives, including CEO Ignacio Muñoz-Sanjuán, Ph.D. Muñoz-Sanjuán is also president and co-founder of the nonprofit Factor-H and joins from the CHDI Foundation, where he was VP of translational biology. Cajal co-founder Ian Peikon, Ph.D., will step into the role as chief scientific officer, while former Celgene/Bristol Myers Squibb leader and Cajal co-founder Andrew Dervan, M.D., will serve as chief operating officer. The biotech has also tapped Julie Harris, Ph.D., who joins from the Allen Institute for Brain Science, to serve as VP of preclinical biology. Release 

> Quell Therapeutics has appointed Luke Devey, Ph.D., to serve as chief medical officer. He joins the cell therapy company from Janssen, where he served as VP and head of translational science for its immunology unit. Before Janssen, he held positions at Celgene and GSK. Release  

> Microbiotica CEO Mike Romanos is leaving the company he co-founded after six years to pursue a role as associate dean of enterprise in the faculty of medicine at Imperial College London. He’ll be replaced Jan. 1 by Tim Sharpington, currently chief operating officer of the microbiome-based therapeutics developer. Release 

> Aeglea BioTherapeutics has selected Jeffrey Goldberg to lead the biotech as president and CEO. He previously served as president and CEO at Immunitas until 2021, and prior to that, was founding chief operating officer at Akcea. Release 

> Ahead of the launch of its newly approved advanced ovarian cancer drug, ImmunoGen has appointed Daniel Char as senior VP and chief legal officer. Char comes to the company from Evelo Biosciences, where he was general counsel and secretary. He previously held roles at Targanta Therapeutics, Idenix Pharmaceuticals and Biogen. Release 

> Donghoon Lee has been named CEO and president of both SK Biopharmaceuticals and the South Korean pharma’s U.S. subsidiary, SK Life Science, effective Jan. 1. Lee, currently executive VP and head of the biotech-focused investment center of SK’s parent company, will take over the dual role from Jeong Woo Cho, Ph.D., who will become the companies’ president of future growth. Release 

> French gene therapy biotech EG 427 tapped Cornelia Haag-Molkenteller, M.D., Ph.D., to serve as chief medical officer. Haag-Molkenteller, a board-certified urologist, most recently held the same title at Urovant Sciences and before that spent a decade at Allergan, where she was VP of clinical development and head of its internal medicine, women’s health and urology therapeutic areas. Release 

> New year, new Aclaris Therapeutics. Come Jan. 1, the biotech will switch up its C-suite: Neal Walker, D.O., who co-founded Aclaris and has served as chief executive since its 2012 founding, will step aside to allow Doug Manion, M.D., currently the company’s president and COO, to take the reins. Walker will stay on as chair of the board of directors, replacing Christopher Molineaux, who will instead become lead independent director. Meanwhile, Walker’s co-founder Frank Ruffo will retire from a decadelong tenure as CFO, to be replaced by Kevin Balthaser, who joined Aclaris in 2017 and most recently served as its VP of finance. Release 

> Co-founder and former CEO of Polyneuron Pharmaceuticals Ruben Herrendorff, Ph.D., will helm the recently founded NXI Therapeutics. The privately-held biotech is focused on new therapeutic modalities for autoimmune diseases and pathologic immune activation after organ/stem cell transplantation. Release

> Frank Mathias, Ph.D., is set to take the helm at Oxford Biomedica as CEO in March 2023. He’ll join the viral vector developer following a stint as chief executive of German CDMO Rentschler Biopharma that began in 2016. Release 

> Almirall has tapped Mercedes Diz to serve as VP of corporate strategy. Before Almirall, Diz has worked in roles across Pfizer, Allergan, DuPont Pharma and Johnson & Johnson. Release   

> Syncona’s co-founder and CEO Martin Murphy will step into the role of chair Jan. 1, 2023, while Chief Investment Officer Chris Hollowood will take the helm as CEO the same day, a spokesperson told Fierce Biotech via email. 

> Swedish biotech Medivir has chosen Pia Baumann, M.D., as its chief medical officer, starting Feb. 20, 2023. She most recently comes from AstraZeneca, where she served as VP of global medical franchise, and has also held roles across Takeda, Incyte and Ariad Pharmaceuticals. Release 

> Advanced Clinical has tapped Ravi Karra, M.D., to be VP of the CRO’s oncology unit. Karra has worked closely with regulatory bodies such as the FDA and EMA and has been involved in trial designs that use translational research data, including molecular and imaging biomarkers. Fierce Biotech