Art Krieg leads Checkmate as it comes out of stealth mode with $20M

Chutes and Ladders

Welcome to this week's Chutes and Ladders, our roundup of hirings and retirings throughout the industry. Please send the good word--or the bad--from your shop to Eric Sagonowsky (email) or Amirah Al Idrus (email | Twitter), and we will feature it here at the end of each week.

Art Krieg leads Checkmate as it comes out of stealth mode with $20M

Checkmate Pharmaceuticals
Art Krieg was named CEO.

Checkmate Pharmaceuticals came out of stealth mode this week with Art Krieg as its CEO, announcing that it had raised $20 million from Sofinnova Ventures and venBio and that it will put the money to use trialing CYT003. The candidate, licensed from Cytos Biotechnology, has been shown to have a clean safety profile and could play a role in assisting anticancer therapies such as Bristol-Myers Squibb's ($BMY) Opdivo and Merck's ($MRK) Keytruda. Krieg, who was ousted after just 6 months as CSO at the turbulent Sarepta ($SRPT), has also served as CSO of Pfizer's ($PFE) oligonucleotide therapeutics unit from 2008 to 2011. "We're going to keep the company very small," he said, adding that a development team and a group of CROs will handle studies under Checkmate's direction. Story

BeiGene names Liang its chief financial, strategic officer

Howard Liang was named chief financial and strategic officer.

China's BeiGene, working to develop molecularly targeted and immuno-oncology therapies for cancer, announced the appointment of Dr. Howard Liang as its chief financial and strategy officer. A former Wall Street analyst and biopharma scientist, Liang will lead Beigene's U.S. office in the greater Boston area. Prior to the appointment, Liang spent 10 years as managing director and head of biotechnology equity research at Leerink Partners and in other senior analyst positions at A.G. Edwards and JMP Securities. Before joining Wall Street, Liang spent 8 years at Abbott Laboratories ($ABT) as a senior scientist. "We are thrilled and fortunate to have Howard join the BeiGene team," said BeiGene CEO John Oyler. "His breadth of biotechnology knowledge from a financial and drug discovery experience is particularly well suited to the current and future needs of our company as we build a global biopharmaceutical company." Release

Aratana taps Yarno to chair board of directors

Aratana Therapeutics
Wendy Yarno was named board chair.

Aratana Therapeutics ($PETX) elected Wendy Yarno as its new board chair, replacing Jay Lichter, who resigned from the board. Yarno has served on Aratana's board since 2013 and previously served as chief marketing officer for Merck ($MRK) as part of a 26-year career at that company. Additionally, Yarno has served as Merck's SVP of human resources and vice president of Johnson & Johnson's ($JNJ) Ortho McNeil Pharmaceutical's Women's Health Care franchise. "Aratana has had a great deal of recent success in its development pipeline," Yarno said. "With this success, the company has moved closer to its objective of having six products on the market next year. I look forward to applying my expertise during this exciting time of growth for Aratana." Release

California cutbacks: Boston Sci to close two facilities, Abbott cuts 160+ employees. Story

Merck tallies 36,000 job cuts in 5 years of restructuring. Story

Accelovance is adding 70 jobs in Wales after a big EU buy. Story


> Advaxis ($ADXS) appointed former Secretary of Homeland Security and former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge to its board of directors. Release

> HemisphereX ($HEB) Biopharma named Thomas Equels as president. Release

> Rich Fante joined Innocoll ($INNL) as chief commercial officer and head of business development. Release

> Cantex Pharma appointed Juan Rodriguez as chief financial officer and Karen Ivester as vice president of clinical operations. Release

> Pamlico Biopharma elected Dr. Mark Corrigan to its board of directors. Release

> Ischemix added Dr. Peter Milner to its board of directors. Release

> CRISPR Therapeutics added Samarth Kulkarni as its chief business officer and Michael Bruce as a senior vice president. Release

> Marathon Pharma appointed Babar Ghias as chief financial officer. Release

> Greg Kitchener joined BioPharmX as chief financial officer. Release

> BioDelivery Sciences ($BDSI) appointed Scott Plesha as senior vice president of sales. Release

> Dimension Therapeutics added Georges Gemayel and Arlene Morris to its board of directors. Release

> Celmatix appointed Daniel Farkas as chief clinical laboratory officer. Release

> Cellular Biomedicine Group ($CBMG) named Yihong Yao, formerly of AstraZeneca's ($AZN) MedImmune, as chief scientific officer. Release

> Rich Pharmaceuticals appointed Richard Salvador to its board of directors. Release

> Horizon Pharma ($HZNP) named George Hampton as executive vice president, global orphan business unit and international operations. Release

> Transgenomic ($TBIO) appointed Scott Patterson, Dr. Bruce Johnson and Dr. Paul Waring to its new clinical-commercial advisory board. Release

> Chad Cohen joins Adaptive Biotech as chief financial officer. Release

> MannKind ($MNKD) named Dr. Raymond Urbanski as chief medical officer. Release

> Chiasma appointed Anand Varadan as chief commercial officer. Release

Med Tech

> Monteris Medical appointed James Reinstein to its board of directors. Release

> BrainScope appointed Dr. Leslie Prichep as chief scientific officer, Kerstin Schultz as president and chief operating officer, Laurie Silver as chief financial officer and Angad Singh as chief technology officer. Release

> Invuity ($IVTY) named James Mackaness as chief financial officer. Release


> Check-Cap appointed William Densel as CEO and director. Release

> Roka Bioscience ($ROKA) added Nicholas Valeriani to its board of directors. Release

> BioMark Diagnostics named Thomas Malcolm as chief scientific officer and head of U.S. operations. Release

Animal Health

> Parnell Pharma added Peter Croden to its board of directors. Release


> The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative tapped Dr. Mark Feinberg as president and CEO. Release