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 Conor Hale, and we will feature it here at the end of each week.
NGM Bio gains Genentech/Lilly vet as new R&D chief, as Merck boosts R&D pact
Hsiao Lieu, M.D., was named senior vice president and chief medical officer.
NGM Bio announced it had poached a new R&D head the same day as Merck revealed that it was doubling down on its 2015 $450 million research pact with the company, extending it for another two years. At Genentech, Lieu served as VP of early clinical development for the Roche subsidiary's noncancer work, including in ophthalmology, metabolism, neurology and inflammation. Before that, he worked across several therapy areas at Eli Lilly. At NGM, he'll help oversee clinical development of its lead, midstage NASH hopeful, NGM282. He takes over for Alex DePaoli, M.D., who had been NGM's founding CMO and moves into a new role of chief translational officer. FierceBiotech
Forma nabs longtime Genentech commercial executive as CEO
Frank Lee will be CEO, effective March 27.
Lee takes the reins as the small molecule developer looks to advance its early-stage clinical pipeline closer to approvals and commercialization. Formerly SVP of global product strategy at Genentech, Lee also served as a therapeutic area head for the Big Biotech’s immunology, ophthalmology and infectious disease work, as well as VP of its HER2 breast cancer business and oral cancer treatments. At Forma, he takes over for founder and CEO Steve Tregay, who will continue on as a senior adviser after more than 10 years as head of the company. FierceBiotech
Nimbus builds out team with new heads of biology, preclinical development
Jennifer Rocnik, Ph.D., was promoted to VP of biology, while Alan Collis, Ph.D., was brought on as full-time VP of preclinical development.
Rocnik and Collis join Chief Scientific Officer Peter Tummino, Ph.D., Janssen’s former global head of lead discovery, who came on board last month. Rocnik was previously Nimbus' director of oncology biology, leading programs since 2015, after working on drug discovery teams at Sanofi and Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research. Collis, meanwhile, was executive director of drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics at Forma, and served stints at Novartis, Aventis and Pfizer, before joining Nimbus on a part-time basis last October. The appointments come as Nimbus looks to expand “the depth and breadth” of its pipeline, which includes programs in cancer, metabolic disease and autoimmune and inflammatory disorders. FierceBiotech
> Who'll follow Sanofi CEO Olivier Brandicourt? The company has begun planning for Brandicourt's departure, because he's two years shy of his 65th birthday, the company's age limit for the CEO post. Brandicourt has led Sanofi since April 2015, when he was brought in after the board fired Chris Viehbacher amid tensions over his leadership style. FiercePharma
> Gilead's ex-CEO, John Milligan, picked up a $26 million pay package for 2018 on his way out the door, $10 million more than his total 2017 compensation. The boost is partly tied to his separation agreement, but the company said half of his options are underwater, with many of his stock awards not worth anything yet. FiercePharma
> Mirum Pharmaceuticals has appointed Chris Peetz as CEO, to replace former chief Mike Grey, who will stay on as executive chairman of the board of directors. Peetz was named president and a board member when the company was founded last year, after serving as CFO and head of corporate development at Tobira Therapeutics. Release
> Drug accelerator Cydan brought on Yongchang Qiu, Ph.D., as VP of preclinical development and Ryan Tyler, Ph.D., as senior director of preclinical research. Qiu joins Cydan from Tesaro, where he headed up drug metabolism, pharmacokinetics and bioanalytical science, while Tyler worked in biology and drug discovery at Amathus Therapeutics and Proteostasis Therapeutics. The company also promoted its VP of development, Niels Svenstrup, Ph.D., to senior VP and appointed Cydan fellow Heather Halem, Ph.D., to “help evaluate and advance new treatments.” FierceBiotech
> Rexahn Pharmaceuticals' CMO, Ely Benaim, M.D., is making the jump to Novocure for the same job. There, Benaim will take on some of the responsibilities handled by retiring Eilon Kirson, M.D., Ph.D., who currently serves as CSO and head of R&D. Novocure will split scientific and medical affairs after Kirson departs at the start of May, with Benaim taking clinical operations and medical affairs, while Uri Weinberg, M.D., will handle preclinical development and other tasks. FierceBiotech
> ArunA Bio has hired Al Medwar to be its executive VP for corporate and commercial development. He joins after 11 years at BioDelivery Sciences, where he was a senior business development VP. Medwar also held roles as EMD Pharmaceuticals' head of oncology marketing and as marketing director of Triangle Pharmaceuticals. Release
> Stephen Tulipano has joined Stoke Therapeutics as CFO, after serving as CFO and treasurer of Aldeyra Therapeutics. He also spent five years as CFO of Javelin Pharmaceuticals and was director of corporate accounting at Biogen. Release
> Medical device lobby AdvaMed has named Jim Jeffries as its new head of public affairs and Pat Fogarty as VP, assistant general counsel and director of civil justice policy. Jeffries was most recently head of executive communications for late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen while at Vulcan and previously served as senior communications director for Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and the Senate health committee. Fogarty was formerly assistant general counsel and compliance officer at the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, known as BIO. Releases
> While Puma Biotechnology beat back PPD founder and ex-CEO Fred Eshelman’s attempt to grab more control over its board years ago, a federal jury has awarded Eshelman $22.3 million in damages for defamation during the proxy fight. The jury said Puma acted with actual malice by falsely stating in an investor presentation that Eshelman had been “replaced as CEO of PPD” after being “involved in clinical trial fraud.” FiercePharma
> Preliminary findings from Novartis’ internal probe and an independent expert panel said they found no inappropriate payments from the company to Greek government officials, following bribery allegations based on three whistleblower accounts. FiercePharma