Chutes & Ladders—WuXi taps veteran operations head Dong to lead new vaccines unit

    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.

WuXi Biologics taps veteran insider to head fledgling vaccine CDMO business

WuXi Biologics
Jian Dong will head WuXi's new vaccines CDMO unit.

Dong, the former head of the WuXi's flagship Chinese biologics facility, will join as CEO for its under-construction vaccines unit headquartered in Ireland, the CDMO said last week. Dong will take the reins once WuXi Vaccines opens in 2021 at its 167,000-square-foot, three-story manufacturing facility in Dundalk, Ireland. In October, WuXi said the facility would produce $150 million worth of vaccines a year for 20 years as part of a $3 billion deal with an unnamed partner. Dong joined WuXi in 2014 and took the lead on manufacturing and engineering operations at the CDMO's Chinese WuXi City facility in 2015. He previously held roles at Eli Lilly, among other drugmakers, and specialized in vaccine production and facility qualification, WuXi said. FiercePharma

Life science incubator Paragon Biosciences grabs new CEO for investment arm

Paragon Biosciences
Kerensa Jimenez hops aboard as the CEO of its capital markets group, Paragon Health Capital.

Jimenez already has a connection to the firm, coming from being MD at Octagon Capital Group, a merchant bank that has led numerous transactions for Paragon portfolio companies over the past several years.Now, she comes on board as chief will “spearhead all financings, mergers and acquisitions advisory services, and capital planning for Paragon Biosciences' portfolio of innovative life science companies,” the firm said in a statement. Her new remit of companies include: cell and gene therapy biotech Castle Creek Biosciences; Emalex Biosciences, which focuses on rare neuro disorders; protein engineering company Evozyne; rare disease focused Harmony Biosciences (which just set terms for its $100 million IPO); AI diagnostic firm Qlarity Imaging; and Skyline Biosciences, which is working on therapies to treat oral precancerous lesions. FierceBiotech


Spark Therapeutics nabs CMO from new owner Roche

Gallia Levy, M.D., Ph.D., joins as CMO. 

Levy becomes Spark’s new chief medical officer, filling in a gap the biotech has had post-merger with Roche. She comes from being Genentech’s VP and global head of its rare blood disorders franchise in product development. Here, she led clinical work on Roche’s hemophilia A treatment Hemlibra; this will more than dovetail with her new work at Spark, she will now oversee work on hemophilia treatment SPK-8011, a gene therapy, that will expand Roche’s own portfolio and perhaps allow for a one-shot-and-done treatment for the bleeding disorder. FierceBiotech

> AbbVie and Roche alum Janet Hammond, M.D., Ph.D., has nabbed the chief development officer role at infectious disease biotech Atea Pharmaceuticals. The Boston-based private biotech landed a huge $215 million series D financing round in March, which it is using toward a phase 2 trial of its oral purine nucleotide prodrug in people hospitalized with moderate cases of COVID-19. FierceBiotech

> Bedford, Massachusetts-based Anika Therapeutics has appointed Michael Levitz as executive VP, CFO and treasurer. He succeeds Sylvia Cheung, who will "continue with the Company in an advisory capacity for a period following the succession effective date to assist with a smooth transition," Annika said. Prior to joining Anika,  Levitz served as senior VP, CFO and treasurer of Insulet Corporation. Release

> Marietta, Georgia-based MiMedx Group has named Robert B. Stein, M.D., Ph.D., as executive VP of R&D. Stein previously worked as president of R&D for Agenus. Release

> Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Werewolf Therapeutics has tapped Ellen Lubman as its chief business officer. Lubman previously worked as chief business officer at Impel NeuroPharma. Prior to that, she was VP of external science and innovation at Allergan. Release