Chutes & Ladders—Top BIO lobbyist quickly exits after BIOSECURE reversal

 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. 

Top BIO lobbyist swiftly departs after BIOSECURE reversal 

Biotechnology Innovation Organization 

At one of the most consequential times for the biotech industry, the top lobbyist at the top trade organization is gone. Nick Shipley, BIO’s chief advocacy officer, left the organization last week, a spokesperson confirmed. He’s replaced by Aiken Hackett, BIO’s VP of federal government relations.  

Aiken Hackett
Aiken Hackett (BIO)

Shipley’s departure comes after BIO recently flip-flopped on its stance regarding the BIOSECURE Act, legislation filed in the U.S. House of Representatives that looks to clamp down on specific China-based contractors, namely WuXi AppTec, that are widely used by drug developers for manufacturing know-how. BIO was originally against the bill before siding with lawmakers. 

Shipley’s departure is also part of a wider reorganization, according to internal memos obtained by Stat. Evidently, new CEO John Crowley is shaking up the lobbying group a few months into his tenure after he started in December. Fierce Pharma 

Top Karuna leaders launch new venture after BMS buyout 

Seaport Therapeutics 

If there were any doubt that Boston’s Seaport district is a hotbed of new biopharma real estate, the launch of Seaport Therapeutics should seal the deal. 

The new biotech technically didn’t spin out of Karuna Therapeutics, but it may as well have. The company was co-founded by Steven Paul, M.D., Karuna’s chairman and former CEO who previously co-founded Sage Therapeutics and Voyager Therapeutics, and now-former PureTech Health CEO Daphne Zohar. PureTech helped assemble Seaport just as it did Karuna, with Zohar departing to be the new CEO of Seaport and Paul the inaugural board chair. 

The two are looking to build a second neuropsychiatric success story after Karuna was bought by Bristol Myers Squibb for $14 billion. The deal closed earlier this year with BMS expecting a decision from the FDA on Karuna’s lead schizophrenia drug in September. Fierce Biotech 

Orna snaps up top Kite exec as CMO 

Orna Therapeutics 

Circular RNA biotech Orna Therapeutics is hiring Frank Neumann, M.D., Ph.D., as its next chief medical officer, going to Gilead Sciences' well to bolster its ranks.

Neumann joins from Gilead-owned Kite Pharma, where he was SVP and global head of clinical development. He’ll also join biotech venture capital firm MPM BioImpact, which launched Orna. Before joining Kite, Neumann was CMO at Verastem and head of oncology clinical research at bluebird bio. 

Orna’s lead asset is a discovery-stage anti-CD19 CAR. It has additional assets in the works in partnership with fellow MPM company ReNAgade Therapeutics. Release

> Nvelop, a gene editing startup founded in 2022 by genetic medicine luminaries David Liu, Ph.D., and Keith Joung, M.D., Ph.D., has emerged from stealth with $100 million in seed funding. The company is helmed by two former bluebird bio executives: CEO Jeff Walsh, who previously served as bluebird’s chief strategy officer; and Chief Scientific Officer Melissa Bonner, Ph.D., who served as bluebird’s SVP and head of research until joining Nvelop in September 2023. Fierce Biotech

> FundaMental Pharma has tapped Dirk Beher, Ph.D., to lead the neurodegenerative disease company, taking the CEO title from FundaMental co-founder Thomas Schulze, M.D. Beher is the former CEO and co-founder of CNS-focused Asceneuron and has past experience at Merck Sharp & Dohme, Amgen and Merck Serono. Release

> Preclinical biotech Nuevocor has named John Lee, M.D., Ph.D., as chief medical officer. Lee most recently held the same position at PhaseBio Pharmaceuticals and clocked in time at Quintiles and Bristol Myers Squibb before that. Release

> Chrystal Louis, M.D., is succeeding TScan Therapeutics’ Debora Barton, M.D., who has served as the company’s chief medical officer since July 2022 and is departing for personal reasons. Louis joins from Zentalis Pharmaceuticals, where she served as SVP of hematology clinical development, and has previously held roles at CRISPR Therapeutics, Bristol Myers Squibb, Celgene (acquired by BMS) and Merrimack Pharmaceuticals. Release

> Bayer subsidiary Asklepios BioPharmaceutical has appointed Mansuo Shannon, Ph.D., as the company’s new chief scientific officer. Shannon joins from Eli Lilly’s Prevail Therapeutics, where she also held the CSO title, and succeeds Asklepios co-founder R. Jude Samulski, Ph.D., who served as CSO since the company formed in 2001. Release 

> Invivyd's board of directors has tapped Jeremy Gowler to serve as interim CEO, effective immediately, to succeed former leader Dave HeringRelease 

> Eye care company Oculis has named Snehal Shah president of R&D. He joins from Iveric Bio, where he was chief regulatory and product strategy officer and led the team to an FDA approval of Izervay in an advanced form of age-related macular degeneration. Release

> Axplora CEO Sylke Hassel is stepping down, with Martin Meeson taking over the role. Meeson most recently helmed Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies. Release

> G.ST Antivirals has chosen Ronald Bruce Turner, M.D., as the biotech’s lead asset enters a phase 2 rhinovirus study. Turner previously served as a professor of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Virginia Medical School. Release