Chutes & Ladders—Voyager plucks another Biogen exec for top post

 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.

Voyager returns to Biogen’s orbit, plucking another executive

Voyager Therapeutics

Headshot of new Voyager CMO Toby Ferguson, M.D
Toby Ferguson, M.D. (LinkedIn)

You can always count on Al Sandrock to have his finger on the pulse of Biogen. The 21-year vet of the neuroscience pharma has returned (metaphorically speaking) to his old haunting grounds, leaving with fresh talent. Voyager announced it was hiring Toby Ferguson, M.D., as its chief medical officer, effective March 25.

Ferguson was most recently vice president and head of neuromuscular development at Biogen, where he joined in 2013. He started as a medical director and advanced to executive medical director, before taking his current position. 

His claim to fame was leading the team that produced SOD1 ALS med Qalsody, which received FDA accelerated approval based on the reduction of a disease biomarker. In light of Amylyx’s recent late-stage failure, Qalsody is arguably the most significant ALS treatment advancement in recent years. Voyager is currently working on a SOD1 gene therapy that’s entering IND-enabling studies. 

Before joining Biogen, Ferguson was an assistant professor of neurology at Temple University in Philadelphia. Release

Pfizer names new CSO for anti-infectives research unit 


Despite Pfizer making its oncology ambitions clear, the New York pharma does in fact have additional assets elsewhere, including anti-infectives. Much of that work centers on COVID treatment Paxlovid, with additional candidates aimed at RSV infection and complicated urinary tract infections. 

Now, the company is bolstering that team, hiring Isabel Najera, Ph.D., as chief scientific officer of the anti-infective research unit. She previously was the head of research for infectious disease at Janssen, before the pharma dismantled and divested from the work altogether. 

Najera cut her teeth at Roche, where she spent a total of 19 years across a number of different positions. She started in 1999 as a research scientist working on hepatitis C virology and spent the last four years there as the deputy head of discovery and head of clinical microbiology for inflammation, immunology and infectious diseases.

Rigel hires ex-Sangamo CMO for the same role 

Rigel Pharmaceuticals

Lisa Rojkjaer, M.D., is joining Rigel as executive vice president and chief medical officer, the biotech announced this week. She joins from Sangamo where she held the same role.

Rojkjaer at Sangamo for less than a year, from May 2023 to March 2024. She spent more than six-and-a-half years at two prior CMO gigs, with Viracta Therapeutics and Nordic Nanovector, respectively. She’s also spent more than six years across two stints at Novartis. Release

> FibroGen has tapped Deyaa Adib, M.D., to serve as the oncology company’s SVP and chief medical officer. Before joining FibroGen, Adib was Triumvira Immunologics’ CMO and previously held roles at Rain Therapeutics, Blueprint Medicines, Baxalta, ARIAD Pharmaceuticals, Aventis, Sanofi and Astellas Pharma. Release

> Jullian Jones, Ph.D., has joined MOMA Therapeutics to serve as the platform company’s chief business officer. Jones comes from Monte Rosa Therapeutics, where she also held the CBO title and oversaw the biotech’s recent partnership with Roche Pharmaceuticals. Release

> Capsida Biotherapeutics has promoted Rob Murphy from his role as VP of technical operations to chief manufacturing and quality officer. Murphy joined the biotech in 2020 and helped design, build and staff Capsida’s state-of-the-art gene therapy manufacturing site. Release

> Apellis Pharmaceuticals is appointing Philip Ferrone, M.D., to serve as the company’s chief medical retina adviser, effective March 18. Ferrone currently is, and will continue to be, the director of clinical research at Vitreoretinal Consultants in New York. Release

> Tim Clackson, Ph.D., is taking the top spot at IDRx, replacing founding CEO and co-founder Ben Auspitz, while Brad Dahms will step on as chief financial officer and chief business officer. Clackson and Dahms both join IDRx from Theseus Pharmaceuticals, where they served as CEO and CFO, respectively. Release

> GSK’s head of biologics and devices manufacturing Bill Dawson has been appointed the new chair of the Medicines Manufacturing Industry Partnership, an organization representing medicines manufacturers in the U.K. Dawson has been with GSK for nearly 8 years, and worked at Novartis before that, according to his LinkedIn. Release

> Corinne Le Goff has resigned from her position as IMUNON’s president and CEO, exiting to pursue another business opportunity. Executive Chair Michael Tardugno, who served as CEO before Le Goff, will assume daily leadership responsibilities until a successor is selected. Release

> VC 4BIO Capital has promoted Natalie Johnston, Ph.D., to principal, while appointing Abbas Hussain and Leszek Lisowski, Ph.D., to its advisory board. Previously, Johnston served as an investment associate for 4BIO, while Hussain most recently worked at Vifor Pharma and Lisowski helped establish two gene therapy companies: Exigen Biotherapeutics and Sendatu Therapeutics. Release

> Y-mAbs Therapeutics EVP, Chief Financial Officer, Secretary and Treasurer Bo Kruse is resigning, effective as of the day a successor is appointed or July 31, 2024. Kruse has been with the company for nearly nine years, according to his LinkedIn profile. Release

> Endeavor BioMedicines is bringing on two new leaders, appointing Enoch Kariuki as president and Vishaal Turakhia as chief financial officer. Kariuki most recently served as CEO of Lengo Therapeutics (acquired by Blueprint Medicines), while Turakhia was previously managing director at Piper Sandler’s healthcare investment banking group. Release

> Joseph Bertelsen is joining U.K.-based biotech Nuclera as chief commercial officer. He previously worked at the Institute for Protein Innovation, a research site in Massachusetts, where he was the director of commercialization. Release