Chutes & Ladders—Vertex appoints BMS vet Atkinson to head manufacturing

 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.

Vertex hires BMS vet Atkinson to shore up manufacturing for bustling cell and gene therapy pipeline

E. Morrey Atkinson will join as senior VP and head of commercial manufacturing and supply chain.

Atkinson is the first major C-suite hire under new CEO Reshma Kewalramani, who took the helm earlier this year after switching from the chief medical officer role. His hiring will add an experienced hand in cell and gene therapy manufacturing as Kewalramani steers Vertex's growing and diversified pipeline to the commercial stage. Until June, Atkinson was senior vice president of global manufacturing operations at Bristol Myers Squibb and helped lead the manufacturing integration team for Bristol's $74 billion Celgene merger that closed in November. In his previous roles at Eli Lilly and Cook Pharmica (now Catalent), Atkinson specialized in biologics manufacturing and led clinical production for some of the earliest viral vectors used in cell and gene therapies.  FiercePharma

Mahanthappa graduates from Scholar Rock, hires Taris CEO Kingsley as new chief

Scholar Rock

CEO Nagesh Mahanthappa, Ph.D., is stepping down to become scientific adviser.

In Mahanthappa’s place from Aug. 1 comes Tony Kingsley, formerly president and CEO at the now Johnson & Johnson-acquired Taris Bio. The change-up is so he can “lead through next phase of clinical development growth and commercial preparedness,” the biotech said in a statement, following a fairly common move where a startup starts thinking about selling drugs, rather than just pure early clinical work. The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based biotech says it is currently “on-track” for clinical data readouts in 2020 and 2021 from an SRK-015 phase 2, which is being tested in spinal muscular atrophy, and its cancer immunotherapy hopeful SRK-181, which is in phase 1. FierceBiotech

Vor Biopharma adds Lilly veteran Slapak as chief medical officer

Christopher Slapak, M.D., will join as CMO. 

Slapak has served as Vor’s interim chief medical officer since July 2019 as part of his work as an independent consultant advising on scientific and medical aspects of oncology drug development. For more than 20 years, he held leadership roles at Eli Lilly, including positions as distinguished Lilly Scholar and VP of early-phase research. He oversaw the global clinical development of all early-stage oncology compounds for Lilly and ImClone (which was acquired by Lilly in 2008), including the successful early-stage development of Verzenio. Release

> Boston-based Cerevel has hired Kathleen W. Tregoning as chief corporate affairs officer. Tregoning was most recently the executive VP for external affairs at Sanofi. Prior to Sanofi, Tregoning spent more than 10 years at Biogen, first as VP of public policy and government affairs and then as senior VP of corporate affairs. Release

> Watertown, Massachusetts-based EyePoint Pharmaceuticals has named Jay S. Duker, M.D., as chief strategic scientific officer. Duker stepped down from his seat on EyePoint's board to take the position on a part-time basis while continuing his ongoing retinal practice. Release

> Citius Pharma has appointed Myron S. Czuczman, M.D., as CMO and executive VP. Czuczman most recently served as therapeutic area head and VP of the clinical R&D global lymphoma/CLL program at Celgene. 

> San Diego-based Viacyte has appointed Brittany Bradrick as chief financial officer. Bradrick joins ViaCyte from Insulet Corporation, where she was VP of strategy and corporate development. Release

> Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Flagship Pioneering has named Guillaume Pfefer, Ph.D., as CEO-Partner of Flagship Pioneering. In this capacity, Pfefer will also serve as CEO of Kintai Therapeutics, a Flagship Labs-founded company. Release

> Princeton, New Jersey-based Taiho Oncology has hired Stephen Yoder, M.D., as VP of business development. Yoder joins Taiho from Bristol Myers Squibb, where he most recently served as head of the company's hematology and cell therapy search and evaluation team in business development. Release

> San Francisco-based Nurix Therapeutics has named Jason Kantor as senior VP of finance and investment strategy. Kantor was most recently a senior biopharma analyst at Artisan Partners. 

> New Hope, Pennsylvania-based Orchestra BioMed has tapped Jagdish Parasrampuria, Ph.D., as VP of pharmaceutical development. Parasrampuria most recently served as scientific director of drug product development at Janssen R&D. 

> San Diego-based Cibus has promoted internal counsel Rosa Cheuk Kim to VP of legal. Cheuk Kim served as Cibus’ patent counsel for nearly 10 years.