Chutes & Ladders—Zimmer Biomet calls on Medtronic vet Jamali to lead spinout


                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 Fraiser Kansteiner, and we will feature it here at the end of each week.

Zimmer Biomet taps former Medtronic exec to lead new spine, dental spinoff

Zimmer Biomet
Vafa Jamali will take the reins as CEO of Zimmer's new spinout.

Jamali is on deck to lead Zimmer Biomet’s upcoming spinout, as the company looks to shave off its spine and dental product divisions by the middle of 2022. Through the formation of the new publicly traded company, Zimmer hopes to home in on its core markets in joint replacement, sports medicine, trauma care and surgical products. Jamali will sign on as CEO of the spinout, temporarily dubbed “NewCo,” after serving as senior vice president at Medtronic through last October. He also served as president of the medtech giant’s respiratory, gastrointestinal and informatics divisions. Most recently, Jamali was chief commercial officer of Rockley Photonics, an integrated optical chip maker with a focus on healthcare, wearables and machine vision applications. Fierce Biotech

Life after Warp: Slaoui not slowing down, creating his own biotech galaxy

Centessa Pharmaceuticals 
Moncef Slaoui comes on board as chief scientific officer.

Slaoui has big ambitions for his post-Operation Warp Speed career, stating last month that he was ready to “move on and go back to my private life and private business.” His next step is Centessa Pharmaceuticals, an amalgamation of 10 biotech companies starting with $250 million and BMS veteran Saurabh Saha, M.D., Ph.D., in the lead. Centessa’s name is based on the words “centric” and “asset,” which also describes the company’s M.O. "Our operations will be driven by an asset-centric approach, whereby each Centessa Subsidiary is solely focused on the execution of its programs with oversight from the highly experienced Centessa management team," co-founder Francesco De Rubertis, Ph.D., said. The company’s programs span cancer, hematology, immunology, inflammation, neuroscience and rare diseases. Fierce Biotech

Affinia beefs up R&D team with big names out of Editas, Novartis

Affinia Therapeutics 
Charles Albright, Ph.D., joins as chief scientist, while Petra Kaufmann, M.D., signs on as chief medical officer.

Albright will take up the post of chief scientific officer at gene therapy biotech Affinia Therapeutics, while Kaufmann signs on as chief medical officer. Kaufmann will join her former AveXis (now Novartis Gene Therapies) compatriot Rick Modi, who serves as CEO at Affinia. While at the company, Kaufmann led clinical development for Zolgensma, the gene therapy for spinal muscular atrophy. She joined AveXis after a long stint in academia and the National Institutes of Health, where she held multiple roles, including director of the Office of Rare Diseases Research. Meanwhile, Albright previously led Editas’ gene editing technology as the company’s top scientist. Prior to that, he spent more than a dozen years at Bristol Myers Squibb, where he became the vice president of the company’s genetically defined diseases and genomics unit. Fierce Biotech

> jCyte has named Samir Mody as chief commercial officer, while Friedrich Asmus signs on as SVP, clinical development and medical affairs. Meanwhile, the company has also tapped Joel Centeno as SVP, manufacturing, quality and supply chain. Mody comes over from Medtronic, where he was vice president, CRHF strategy, health economics and reimbursement. Asmus previously served as VP of clinical development at ophthalmology biotech ProQR Therapeutics, while Centeno comes over after stints at Boston Scientific, Hologic and AltheaDx. Release

> Antios Therapeutics has tapped Tamra Adams as chief financial officer, a newly created executive position at the company. Before joining Antios, Adams founded Accounting Concepts, which provided CFO, accounting, and financial services to emerging growth companies in the biopharmaceutical and information technology industries, including Engage Therapeutics. Release

> OncoSec has enlisted Bridget O'Keeffe, Ph.D., as vice president of clinical development from Feb. 18. Most recently, O'Keefe was senior director of clinical development for Nektar Therapeutics. Prior to that, she held roles at Exelixis, Genentech, Clovis Oncology, Achaogen and Calithera. Release

> Lyra Therapeutics signed on Robert Kern, M.D., as chief medical officer. Kern will maintain his current role as the George A. Sisson professor and chair, department of otolaryngology, head and neck surgery, at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Kern joined the Northwestern faculty more than 20 years ago and became chair of the department of otolaryngology in 2006. Release

> Westlake Village BioPartners named Peter Calveley as chief operating officer. Calveley spent 12 years in investment banking, serving as managing director in the investment banking group SVB Leerink, where he was responsible for companies in the biotech sector in the Western U.S. and Canada. Release

> Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Cue Biopharma tapped Matteo Levisetti, M.D., as senior vice president of clinical development from Feb. 22. Levisetti joins from DNAtrix, where he served as chief medical officer. He was also chief medical officer at Dauntless Pharmaceuticals and held roles at Big Pharmas Roche and Pfizer. Release

> Ireland's Avadel Pharmaceuticals has named Richard Kim to the newly minted role of chief commercial officer, in which he'll oversee the U.S. commercial launch of the company’s lead program. Prior to joining Avadel, Kim worked at Intercept Pharmaceuticals, most recently in the role of president of U.S. commercial & strategic marketing. Release

> Coherus BioSciences is tapping McDavid Stilwell as chief financial officer. Stilwell is succeeding current CFO Jean-Frédéric Viret, Ph.D., who is stepping down on March 7 "to pursue another opportunity." Stilwell joined Coherus in 2020. Prior to that, he was senior vice president, communications and investor relations at Sangamo Therapeutics. Release

South San Francisco's Day One Biopharmaceuticals named Charles York II as chief operating and financial officer, while Natalie Holles joins the company's board of directors. York signs on from Aeglea BioTherapeutics, where he was chief financial officer and head of corporate development and served as a member of the leadership team since 2014.