Was it something he said? Biotech CEO who met Trump this month exits without a word

Daniel Menichella started the month as CureVac CEO, one of the privileged few to discuss the coronavirus response with U.S. President Donald Trump and kick-starting a vaccine trial against COVID-19.

Then, suddenly and with no explanation, Menichella is no longer chief executive of the Germany- and Boston-based mRNA biotech and has been immediately replaced by the man he, in fact, replaced: founder Ingmar Hoerr.

Confused? The company did little to clear things up. In a brief statement, that has, strangely, no quote from its former leader, the biotech said simply: “Ingmar Hoerr is replacing Daniel Menichella in his function as CEO.” That’s all she wrote.

Hoerr stepped down as CEO back in 2018, becoming the chair of the supervisory board, enabling then-chief business officer Menichella to take his place.

He went to work on a new-look R&D leadership team, with Dimitris Voliotis and Stefan Mueller coming on board as chief development officer and vice president of preclinical, respectively.

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Since then, he met with Trump alongside the biggest names in biopharma, started CureVac's coronavirus vaccine program and helped set up pacts with the likes of Eli Lilly, CRISPR Therapeutics and Genmab.

Now, he’s out. There’s no word as to whether he is moving on to another company, or retiring altogether.

“On behalf of the Supervisory Board, I would like to thank Dan Menichella very much for the great contributions he has done for CureVac in recent years," said returning chief Hoerr.

“Dan has been developing our business and advancing important product candidates including our phase 1 rabies program CV 7202, our phase 1 immuno-oncology therapy trial CV 8102 and the recent start of our coronavirus vaccine program.”

He added: “CureVac has a great team, extraordinary expertise and huge potential. Together, we will continue to focus fully on taking the company to the next stage of its development and advance our clinical product pipeline with the goal of bringing mRNA-based drugs to patients. The vaccine against COVID-19 plays a key role here.”