Dynavax continues to shed staffers as CSO to leave with no replacement plan

dynavax
Dynavax Technologies shed its immuno-oncology programs and CEO earlier this year and will now lose its chief scientific officer. (Dynavax)

Zombie biotech Dynavax Technologies will lose its chief scientific officer in December, but after a host of cuts, it won’t be looking for a new one.

In an 8-K SEC filing today, the California-based biotech said Robert Coffman, Ph.D., “submitted notice of his retirement from the company, effective December 1, 2019.”

In the brief filing, it added: “Given that the company has restructured to principally align its operations around its vaccine business, the company has no immediate plans to replace Dr. Coffman.”

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There has been increasingly less for him to do, and fewer research staff to oversee: Back in May, Dynavax said it was pulling out of immuno-oncology R&D, laying off 82 staff and parting company with its CEO.

The actions created a slimmed-down commercial-stage company focused on selling hepatitis B vaccine Heplisav-B, which the FDA approved last year. (In Dynavax's most recent update in August, the drug made $8.3 million in the second quarter.)

The company tied its fate to TLR9 agonist SD-101 and other cancer assets at the start of 2017, when the company responded to back-to-back Heplisav-B rejections by laying off 38% of its staff and pivoting toward immuno-oncology.

With its cuts back in May, Dynavax effectively undid its prior pivot and once again put HEPLISAV-B at the heart of its plans.

All work on the I-O programs has been stopped, putting people involved in research and clinical development out of work and seemingly making Coffman’s position redundant.

This also saw Eddie Gray, who joined Dynavax as CEO in 2013, leave his post. Dynavax’s board appointed David Novack and Ryan Spencer, respectively the senior vice presidents of operations and commercial, to temporary co-president positions to lead the company while it searches for a new CEO, a search that is still ongoing.

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