Chutes & Ladders—3 weeks after leaving bluebird, CMO Davidson lands at Tessera

parachutes
(Pixabay)

                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 Fraiser Kansteiner, and we will feature it here at the end of each week.


Mission Bio, poised for growth, snags Thermo Fisher veteran Zhang as new CEO

Mission Bio
Yan Zhang takes the reins as chief executive.

Thermo Fisher veteran Zhang is taking over at genomics up-and-comer Mission Bio. She picks up the role from Charlie Silver, the company’s co-founder and CEO, who will remain at the company in an advisory role. During her 10-year run at Thermo Fisher, Zhang served as general manager of the company's reproductive health unit and microarray business. She also managed commercial organization in China for its genetic sciences and clinical next-generation sequencing units. Mission Bio is currently scaling up its single-cell multiomics platform Tapestri. The platform is designed to simultaneously detect DNA and protein changes in the same cell, which could help researchers learn how tumors grow and develop resistance to drugs. Fierce Biotech


Bluebird's chief medical officer flies the nest to gene writing biotech Tessera

Tessera Therapeutics
David Davidson, M.D., joins as chief medical and development officer.

Three weeks after flying the nest at bluebird bio, Davidson has touched down at gene writing biotech Tessera, where he'll fill the role of chief medical and development officer. Meanwhile, Flagship Pioneering's Hari Pujar, Ph.D., signs on as chief operating officer, while Pfizer and Moderna vet Lin Guey, Ph.D., joins as SVP of rare disease program strategy and operations. In January, investors bet more than $230 million on Tessera's gene writing approach, which it hopes will sidestep the limitations of gene editing and gene therapy. Davidson most recently served as CMO at bluebird. In March, a bluebird Securities and Exchange Commission filing revealed Davidson was leaving the company, though he'll stay on for six months as a consultant. Fierce Biotech


In-demand virtual trial firm Medable nabs Duke University's Tenaerts as CSO

Medable 
Pamela Tenaerts, M.D.comes on board as chief scientific officer.

Tenaerts joins Medable on the back of a strong 12 months, thanks to pandemic considerations that put its siteless trial approach on the map and helped the company score millions in funding. She joins from Duke University's Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative (CTTI), where she served as executive director. Before her CTTI stint, Tenaerts led European operations for cerebral ischemia-focused medical device firm CoAxia. At Medable, she'll help drive the company's decentralized trial platform. Specifically, she'll lead evidence collection around patient centricity, efficiency and quality in decentralized trials. The company says it will tap her clinical insight as it works to develop a master protocol approach to multi-study research. Fierce Biotech


> Gene therapy biotech Iveric Bio is bidding adieu to executive chair and board member David Guyer, M.D., who has been with the company throughout its 14-year run. As he departs Iveric's board, Guyer will return to venture capital firm SV Health Investors as a venture partner. He previously held the same role, plus partner, at the firm. He'll also stick around at Iveric as an adviser. Fierce Biotech

> CytoDyn's chief scientific officer Mahboob Rahman, M.D., Ph.D., is hitting the exit after just six months at the biotech. He joined in October from Australia's Mesoblast. In a SEC filing, CytoDyn revealed that “the last day of employment of Chief Scientific Officer, Mahboob U. Rahman, M.D., Ph.D., with CytoDyn Inc. was April 5, 2021.” It didn't say why he left nor who would replace him. Fierce Biotech

> MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research is losing founding director Tyler Jacks, Ph.D., after 19 years. The director role will be taken over by Matthew Vander Heiden, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of biology at MIT and a medical oncologist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. He became a member of the Koch Institute in 2010 and took over for Jacks on Thursday, MIT said. Jacks will continue to lead the Bridge Project, which unites bioegnineers, cancer scientists and clinical oncologists from the Koch Institute and the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center. Fierce Biotech

> Atara Biotherapeutics ushered Amie Krause into the role of senior vice president and chief people officer April 2. Since joining the company, Krause has been the driving force behind Atara’s human people department, advocating for employees across the organization. She doubles as a founding leader of Atara’s Women’s Alliance and is part of the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association. Before signing on with Atara, Krause held several top human resources roles at Amgen, including HR lead for the company’s global commercial operations in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

> Click Therapeutics has tapped Wall Street veteran Randall Stanicky as chief financial officer. Meanwhile, digital healthcare executive Lee Shapiro has joined Click’s board, and former biopharma exec Muzammil Mansuri, Ph.D., has grown his role to board chair. Stanicky joins with more than 20 year’s industry know-how in his pocket. Prior to his Click appointment, Stanicky led RBC Capital Markets’ large cap, specialty and generic pharmaceuticals team. He spent the bulk of his Wall Street career at Goldman Sachs. Shapiro, for his part, will also serve as chair of Click’s audit committee. Board chair Mansuri is currently a partner at F-Prime capital. Earlier in his career, he held top spots at pharma majors Sanofi and Gilead Sciences. Release

> Cambridge, Massachusetts’ Immuneering Corporation has found a new chief financial officer in Biren Amin, M.B.A. He signs on from Jefferies Financial Group, where he was managing director of biotechnology equity research. He’s served as a biotech industry analyst for nearly two decades. During his Wall Street stint, Amin covered small- and mid-cap biotechs focused on oncology, central nervous system disorders, ophthalmology and rare diseases. Back in 2013, Amin was named Best Stock Picker in Biotechnology. Release

> Cogent Biosciences, working on precision therapies for genetic diseases, has enlisted John Robinson, Ph.D., as chief scientific officer. Robinson will lead Cogent’s Boulder, Colorado-based research team as it quests to improve upon existing drugs and develop breakthrough therapeutics for tough-to-treat diseases. Robinson comes over from Pfizer, where he was vice president of medicinal chemistry. He served on Array BioPharma’s scientific leadership team for more than 15 years before that. Release

> Umoja Biopharma has named oncologist Nushmia Khokhar, M.D., chief medical officer. The company hopes to tap Khokhar’s clinical development expertise in what it expects to be a “milestone year,” Umoja co-founder and CEO Andy Scharenberg, M.D., said in a release. Khokhar was previously on team Autolous, where she was senior vice president and head of clinical development. Release

> Protein dysregulation expert Prothena Corporation has bestowed the chief medical officer mantle upon neurologist Hideki Garren, M.D., Ph.D. Garren is taking charge of Prothena’s clinical and medical organizations as the company works to advance its clinical pipeline. Most recently, he was vice president and global head of the neuroimmunology franchise at Roche. There, he spearheaded the phase 3 clinical programs for Ocrevus in multiple sclerosis and Enspryng in neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder. Release

> Myovant Sciences brought on Lauren Merendino as chief commercial officer April 5. She comes over from Genentech, where she was vice president of the neurological rare diseases unit. Armed with an FDA approval in advanced prostate cancer, Myovant has recently made the switch to a commercial company, and it will call upon Merendino’s decades of leadership experience as it charts a path to market. Release

> CDMO Recro Pharma is beefing up its business development team as it hunts for new clients. Recently, Recro added six new members to the fold, including sales representatives for its up-and-coming clinical trial services business. The company also tapped regional reps to extend its reach into Northern and Southern California, Boston and the Midwest. The team now stands 11 strong and is led by longtime global sales and marketing executive William Hirschman. The effort is already bearing fruit; Recro says it has expanded work with current clients and onboarded several new customers in the first quarter of the year. Release

> BioSkryb has tapped longtime industry veteran Sean Keohane as senior vice president of commercial operations. In his new role, Keohane will grow and lead BioSkryb’s sales and marketing team. Before joining BioSkryb, Keohane was vice president of U.S. marketing and sales at numares. He’s been in the biotech business for more than three decades and previously held roles at Roche, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Qiagen, Molecular Devices and more. Release