Spark's CMO set to leave as post-Roche takeover exits continue

Spark Therapeutics’ outgoing Chief Medical Officer Kathy Reape (Spark Therapeutics)

Spark Therapeutics’ chief medical officer Kathy Reape is set to leave the biotech. Reape is one of the senior Spark staffers hitting the exit in the aftermath of Roche’s $4.3 billion takeover. 

Kathy High, Spark’s co-founder and R&D head, is the highest-profile person to depart the biotech in the wake of Roche’s takeover, but FierceBiotech has learned she is not the only person to decide their future lies elsewhere. Perhaps most notably, Reape is set to follow High out of the door. 

“We can confirm that Kathy Reape, M.D., has made us aware that her time with Spark Therapeutics is coming to an end and we can confirm she is leaving the company. Dr. Reape has been a valuable member of Spark in her time with the company and leaves behind a skilled team of professionals who will continue advancing our important work for patients and families,” a spokesperson for Roche said.

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Reape joined Spark as head of clinical R&D in 2016, rising to the position of CMO two years later. The role gave Reape oversight of clinical, pharmacovigilance and medical affairs activities at Spark. With Spark now part of Roche, Reape has decided to end her four-year stay at the gene therapy specialist. 

Spark is yet to publish a job advert for the CMO post but has begun the process of filling other gaps in its leadership team. Listings for a head of regulatory affairs and head of quality assurance went live last week.

Dan Takefman has served as Spark’s head of regulatory affairs since 2014, when he ended a 15-year spell at the FDA. The head of quality assurance position is currently held by Michael Cowan, who joined Spark from Aralez Pharmaceuticals in 2016.

Roche is yet to confirm whether Takefman or Cowan are leaving Spark. However, the source who told FierceBiotech of Reape’s departure also said Spark’s head of regulatory affairs is leaving the biotech. 

In confirming the departures of High and Reape, Roche has consistently noted the depth of talent at Spark. However, the post-takeover period is a time of change for Spark. As it stands, Spark, which has around 450 employees, is recruiting for 69 positions. Some of the job adverts are seeking new people to fill existing positions, such as the head of regulatory affairs post. In other cases, Spark is recruiting for newly created positions, including that of head of technology automation.

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