Chutes & Ladders—Unity names Biogen vet Ghosh to CEO post


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 Kyle Blankenship, and we will feature it here at the end of each week.

Biogen's early R&D chief Ghosh leaves to take Unity CEO post

Unity Biotechnology
Biogen early R&D chief Anirvan Ghosh will join as CEO. 

Ghosh joins the longevity biotech after three years leading a 350-person team at Biogen. During his stint at Biogen, Ghosh oversaw the advance of 10 preclinical programs into the clinic and the execution of studies as advanced as phase 2 clinical proof-of-concept trials. Ghosh leaves Biogen with nine programs in phase 1, up from five as of the middle of 2018. Unity noted the expansion of Biogen’s clinical pipeline under Ghosh in a statement to disclose his appointment. At Unity, Ghosh will inherit a far smaller pipeline. Unity has one asset in the clinic, osteoarthritis prospect UBX0101, and a clutch of programs in lead optimization and IND-enabling studies. FierceBiotech

Former Biogen CEO Scangos to be BIO'S COVID-19 czar: report

Vir Biotechnology
CEO George Scangos will lead BIO's COVID-19 response team. 

Scangos has been handed the reins to lead the biotech industry’s battle against the novel coronavirus COVID-19. Scangos is the former CEO of Biogen who now leads a biotech that, in partnership with China’s WuXi Biologics, is looking to help make a treatment for the disease (and also saw its shares shoot up on the news). U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is heading up the government’s response to the coronavirus, but Scangos has been tapped by BIO to help lead its efforts to research therapeutics and diagnostics to stave off the spread of the virus. "The role is still evolving, but it is clear someone needs to pick up the reins. It is only natural for us here at Vir to take on a leadership role,” Scangos said in an interview with Reuters. FierceBiotech

Altavant nabs Boehringer, Gilead alum as new CMO

Altavant Sciences
Howard Lazarus, M.D., will come on board as CMO. 

Lazarus, who will take the newly created CMO role at Altavant, comes from Boehringer Ingelheim, where he was a member of the leadership team focusing on interstitial lung diseases such as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). He has also served in medical affairs leadership roles at Gilead and was involved in the company's approved and pipeline programs for pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) and IPF. Lazarus will now help run the biotech’s pipeline, which includes rodatristat ethyl and ALTA-2530. The former is a tryptophan hydroxylase inhibitor, in midstage testing for PAH, a disorder with increasing biopharma focus. The latter, ALTA-2530, is an interleukin-1 receptor antagonist under development for bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome, a life-threatening complication of lung transplantation and a disease for which there are currently no approved therapies. FierceBiotech

> Theramex has appointed Robert Stewart as CEO, taking over for former helmsman Anish Mehta, who has decided to step down for personal reasons. Metra helped Theramex successfully complete the first phase of its carve-out from Teva. Stewart was previously CEO at Amneal and also served as group COO at Allergan.

> Swiss biotech AB2 Bio has named Michael Soldan, Ph.D., as its CEO. Soldan joins from Fresenius Kabi, where he was CEO of the global biosimilars business and previously worked with Merck Group. Release (PDF)

> South San Francisco-based Senti Biosciences has tapped Jose Iglesias, M.D., as CMO. Iglesias has previously held multiple CMO and clinical development leadership roles at companies such as Abraxis, Celgene, Eli Lilly, Boston Biomedical, Apobiologix, Biothera Pharmaceuticals and Bionomics. Release

> Swiss biotech Oculis S.A. has named Marcia de Souza Lima, M.D., as CMO. Before Oculis, de Souza Lima served as VP and head of global medical affairs for the global ophthalmology franchise at Shire. Release

> WindMIL Therapeutics has appointed Patrick Fabbio as CFO, effective March 30. Fabbio is currently executive VP and CFO at Progenics Pharmaceuticals. Before that, he served as the CFO for electroCore Medical. Release

> Belgian biotech Celyad has appointed Stephen Rubino, Ph.D., chief business officer. Rubino was most recently chief business and strategy officer at Omega Therapeutics. Prior to that, Rubino served as global head of business development and licensing and new product marketing for Novartis' cell and gene therapies business unit. 

> Irish biotech Prothena has named Brandon Smith as CBO. Smith was most recently COO at Iconic Therapeutics and before that was senior VP of corporate development and strategy at Impax Laboratories.

> Mountain View, California-based twoXAR Pharmaceuticals has named Mark Eller, Ph.D., as senior VP of R&D and Anjali Pandey, Ph.D. as senior VP of nonclinical R&D and chemistry. Eller most recently served as senior VP of research and clinical development at Jazz, and Pandey held the CSO positions at BridgeBio Pharma subsidiaries TheRas and Ferro Therapeutics. Release

> U.K.-based H.E.L Group has tapped Qing (Steven) Chen as China general manager. Chen joins with over 20 years’ experience in senior management, including general manager roles in the Chinese divisions of Bruker Optics and, most recently, Nanophoton Corporation. Release

> Exelixis is promoting from within with the elevations of senior VP of human resources Laura Dillard to executive VP of human resources and senior VP of commercial P.J. Haley to executive VP of commercial.