Sangamo Therapeutics bags Cytokinetics' exec as new chief medical officer

After bagging a new R&D leader at the start of the year, Sangamo Therapeutics has hired a new chief medical officer for its gene editing and therapy work.

The biotech has hired Bettina Cockroft, M.D., as senior vice president and CMO. She will oversee all clinical development activities and ops for the company.

Cockroft comes from Cytokinetics, where she led clinical development of fast skeletal muscle troponin activators in diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and spinal muscular atrophy.

Before that, she was CMO at Auris Medical, while also having stints at Merck Serono and Novartis Consumer Health.

“Bettina brings over 20 years of clinical development experience, having worked across multiple therapeutic areas and leading programs in several countries,” said Adrian Woolfson, Ph.D., EVP of R&D.

“This is an important time to welcome Bettina to Sangamo, as we expect a steady flow of readouts from our ongoing clinical trials and expect to initiate additional trials in the coming year. We look forward to Bettina’s contributions and believe she will be a key player in helping us realize our mission of translating our groundbreaking science into genomic medicines that transform patients’ lives.”

RELATED: Ex-Pfizer I-O lead joins Sangamo as EVP of R&D

The biotech has had an up-and-down year, nabbing Woolfson the ex-Pfizer immuno-oncology exec at the start of the year (whom Cockroft will report to), but was then hit after posting lackluster data from a phase 1/2 trial of genome-editing therapy SB-913 in February.

The treatment failed to have the hoped-for effects on patients with the rare disease MPS II, causing investors to drive Sangamo’s stock down 30% on the day the news broke.

But then in the summer, it and partner Pfizer shared a positive update on the durability of responses to their hemophilia A gene therapy. The sneak preview gave some encouragement to those who believe it will outflank other assets including Spark Therapeutics’ (soon to be Roche's) SPK-8011 and BioMarin’s valrox.