Avanir Pharmaceuticals taps Rohan Palekar for CEO role

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.

Avanir Pharmaceuticals taps Rohan Palekar for CEO role

Avanir Pharmaceuticals
Rohan Palekar was named CEO.

Avanir Pharmaceuticals named Rohan Palekar its CEO this week, replacing the outgoing Keith Katkin​, who will transition to a role on the board of directors. Palekar first joined Avanir in March 2012 as chief commercial officer; he was appointed COO in March 2015. He brings more than 20 years of biopharma experience to the role; before his Avanir positions, he served as chief commercial officer at Medivation ($MDVN) and spent 16 years at Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) in various management roles. "I am excited by the opportunity to lead Avanir as we continue to successfully commercialize our first FDA-approved product, Nuedexta, transition to a two-product company with the potential near-term approval of our migraine candidate, AVP-825, and advance the development of our pipeline of products for CNS disorders," he said in a statement. Avanir was purchased by Otsuka in December 2014 for $3.5 billion. Release

Allan Shaw named CFO at Syndax

Syndax Pharmaceuticals
Allan Shaw was named CFO.

Syndax Pharmaceuticals has selected Allan Shaw to serve as CFO, treasurer and secretary, the company announced this week. Shaw will bring more than 20 years of experience to the company and join Dr. Briggs Morrison, former AstraZeneca ($AZN) R&D head, on the leadership team. Shaw is a three-time public company CFO and most recently served as managing director at global professional services company Alvarez & Marsal. He joins Waltham, MA-based Syndax during an eventful period; its anticancer drug entinostat is in the midst of a Phase III trial and the company recently raised $80 million in a crossover round. "We are very pleased to welcome Allan to the Syndax senior management team during an exciting period for the company," Morrison said in a statement. "His breadth of experience, including corporate finance, capital markets and strategic transactions, will be critical in financing and supporting our business initiatives as we continue to develop our lead candidate entinostat in multiple cancer indications and expand our clinical pipeline." Release

Dr. Craig Granowitz to serve as chief medical officer at Amarin

Amarin Pharmaceuticals
Dr. Craig Granowitz was named CMO.

Dublin, Ireland-based Amarin Pharmaceuticals ($AMRN) has named Dr. Craig Granowitz to serve as chief medical officer, a role in which he'll be responsible for leadership of medical affairs, drug safety and medical communications. Before joining Amarin, Granowitz served as SVP and head of global medical affairs and global human health at Merck ($MRK). From 2003 to 2008, he served as group vice president and head of global medical affairs for Schering-Plough, and co-founded Proliance Pharmaceuticals before that. "Craig's experience leading impactful scientific exchange and outreach together with his extensive network and influence with physicians will be valuable as we work to further educate healthcare professionals regarding the efficacy and safety of Vascepa today and the future," Amarin CEO John Thero said. Along with the Granowitz appointment, Amarin expanded the role of Steven Ketchum, R&D president, to include the responsibilities of chief scientific officer. Release

Johnson & Johnson is axing 3,000 jobs in a bid to save $1 billion and revive its lagging medical devices business. Story

Nephron is laying off 250 employees in Orlando between March 18 and April 1. Story


> Akorn ($AKRX) appointed Greg Lawless as chief human resources officer. Release

> DiaMedica appointed Todd Verdoorn as vice president of neuroscience. Release

> OncImmune named Greg Stanley as president of commercial operations. Release

> Recipharm appointed Anke Mollowitz as key account director for Europe. Release

> PDS Biotechnology appointed Dr. Robert Shepard as chief medical officer and Panna Dutta as vice president of drug development and manufacturing. Release

> Todd Lynch joined BioAgilytix Labs as senior vice president and chief financial officer. Release

CRF Health appointed Claudine Paccio as its senior vice president of delivery services. Release

California Life Sciences Association hired Kelly Bryant as its senior director of business development. Release

Akcea Therapeutics appointed Dr. Louis St. L. O'Dea as its chief medical officer. Release

Nitin Apte joined Materia as president and CEO. Release

AmpliPhi Biosciences appointed Steve Martin as chief financial officer. Release

CollabRx brought on Adrienne Craig-Kennard as vice president of global business development and strategic alliances. Release

Glidewell Laboratories named Neil Park its director of clinical affairs. Release

Michael Martino joined HemaFLO Therapeutics as its CEO. Release


> Merck KGaA added Udit Batra and Walter Galinat to its board of directors; Bernd Reckmann will retire on April 29. Release

Med tech

> Presbia appoints Gerald Farrell to its board of directors. Release

> Richard Moss joined SI-BONE as general manager, U.K. and Ireland, and Silvio Tarantino joined as finance director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Release


> Averica Discovery named Cynthia Berger as vice president of operations. Release

> AMRI ($AMRI) appointed Dawn Von Rohr as senior vice president of its API unit. Release