Crescendo names ex-Roche leader Pisa as CMO

Pisa ended his 12-year stint at Roche in February and began working as a biotech consultant. (Pixabay)

Crescendo Biologics has named Pavel Pisa, M.D., Ph.D., as its chief medical officer. Pisa is the former group head of translational medicine at Roche, where he worked on the development of oncology drugs including Avastin and Gazyva. 

For most of his time at Roche, Pisa specialized in moving drugs into and through the clinic. In these translational research roles, Pisa ushered anti-CD20 antibody Gazyva through early-phase testing and beyond, and later oversaw a 15-person team that moved a handful of candidates into the clinic every year. Along the way, Pisa integrated Roche’s discovery and translational medicine groups and helped to set up its global cancer immunotherapy working group with Genentech.

That background makes Pisa a good fit for Crescendo, where he will oversee the advance of CB307 and other assets into human testing. CB307 is a PSMA-CD137 bispecific designed to activate T cells in proximity to tumor cells, not healthy tissues. The potential of the drug and the rest of Crescendo’s pipeline enabled the British biotech to raise a $70 million (€57 million) series B earlier this year.

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The series B gave Crescendo the money to move into the clinic. Since then, the biotech has worked to add the expertise it needs to make this transition. Crescendo took an early step toward that goal in July when it appointed Igor Matushansky, M.D., Ph.D., as nonexecutive director. Matushansky is the CMO of Hookipa Biotech and previously held senior clinical positions at Daiichi Sankyo and Novartis.

Pisa ended his 12-year stint at Roche in February and began working as a consultant to biotechs the following month. Seven months later, Crescendo has persuaded Pisa to move into biotech for the first time. Prior to starting at Roche in 2006, Pisa mostly worked at Karolinska University Hospital.

Crescendo CEO Peter Pack, Ph.D., sees this experience benefiting his company.

“Pavel is the ideal person to drive our lead programme, CD137-PSMA, and our follow-on pipeline of immune modulators through the clinic. He brings with him truly exceptional experience as a clinical developer of oncology biologics, having previously led so many programmes for Roche in the IO field,” Pack said in the statement. 

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