FDA's Robert Califf cleared for agency's top job

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.

FDA's Robert Califf cleared for agency's top job

Robert Califf was confirmed as commissioner.

Dr. Robert Califf, President Barack Obama's pick to lead the FDA, won Senate confirmation this week and is slated to take the reins at the agency. Voting 89-4, senators handily approved the nominee, ignoring criticisms by some about Califf's industry ties and the FDA's policies on approving painkillers. Califf assumes the top job from his previous position of deputy FDA commissioner for medical products and tobacco; he's been up for the promotion since being named deputy in 2014 by ex-FDA director Margaret Hamburg. Under Hamburg, the FDA approved a record number of new drugs and introduced pathways to speed promising medicines to market. Those decisions triggered criticism that the agency has become too friendly with industry while putting patients at risk, an issue Califf will inherit. Prior to joining the FDA, he served as founding director at the Duke Clinical Research Institute, an organization with more than 1,000 employees and a budget of more than $100 million. Story

Werner Baumann named next Bayer CEO; Dekkers exits April 30

Werner Baumann was named CEO.

Bayer's chief strategy officer, Werner Baumann​, was named the company's next CEO, starting May 1, replacing the outgoing Marijn Dekkers, slated to exit the company on April 30 after 7 years. Baumann, who joined Bayer in 1988, has worked with Dekkers throughout his tenure and will likely build on the healthcare focus the company has adopted, Reuters sources said; however, he could branch into other nonpharma areas through M&A. Baumann has been integral in the company's recent purchases, including its Schering buyout and the Merck ($MRK) consumer health acquisition; sources said he "won't hesitate" to do another fitting deal. Since joining Bayer, Baumann has worked in corporate finance in Germany, served as a controller and managing director in Spain, run business planning and administration for a diagnostics unit in New York, and, in 2002, relocated to Germany for multiple executive leadership stints. Dekkers joined consumer company Unilever ($UN) as chairman. Story

AdvaMed lures BIO exec Scott Whitaker as its next CEO

Scott Whitaker was named CEO.

Scott Whitaker, formerly the chief operating officer of BIO, will join medical devices association AdvaMed as CEO starting on April 4. At BIO, Whitaker managed the group's day-to-day operations, as well as advocacy, policy, communications, revenue businesses and the BIO International Convention. AdvaMed's members range from small to large companies, producing devices, diagnostics and health information systems. "It is a tremendous privilege to join AdvaMed and represent such an innovative and life changing industry," Whitaker said in a statement. "Given the many health care challenges throughout the world, it is critical that we work together to create a policy and regulatory environment that will allow this industry to continue to discover, develop and deliver innovative medical technologies to patients." Prior to BIO, Whitaker served in several leadership roles at the Department of Health and Human Services. Release

GlaxoSmithKline is opening expanded operations and adding 55 jobs in Scotland. Story

Novartis found a buyer to save 270 jobs at a German plant previously slated for closure. Story


> OvaScience ($OVAS) appointed Paul Chapman as chief operating officer. Release

> Scilex Pharmaceuticals hired Dr. Kalpana Patel as senior director of medical affairs, Christine Rosser as senior director of regulatory affairs, and Damon Burrows as vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary. Release

> Ascendis Pharma ($ASND) appointed Dr. Jonathan Leff as chief medical officer. Release

> Metamark Genetics named Jerry Williamson as president and CEO. Release

> Prothena ($PRTA) appointed David McNinch as chief commercial officer. Release

Capricor Therapeutics ($CAPR) appointed Dr. Leland Gershell as its chief financial officer. Release

Berg appointed Michael Kiebish as its chief precision medicine officer. Release

John Temperato joined Melinta as its president and chief operating officer. Release

Intersect ENT ($XENT) brought on David Lehman as general counsel. Release

Neurovive hired Erik Kinnman as the company's CEO. Release

AvroBio of Cambridge, MA, launched with Geoff MacKay at the helm. Release

Hemispherx ($HEB) let its CEO, Dr. William Carter, go, citing a new strategic direction for the company. Story | Release

Niall Murphy and Pierre Schwich joined Pharnext as its chief scientific officer and chief financial officer, respectively. Release

Mylan ($MYL) appointed Anthony Mauro as its chief commercial officer. Release

Vertice Pharma brought on Scott Meyers as its chief operating officer. Release

Sue MacLeman joined MTPConnect as the company's CEO. Release

Robert Donofrio joined Neogen as its director of microbiology. Release

Pherecydes Pharma appointed Guy-Charles Fanneau de La Horie as its CEO. Release

Bruker hired Anthony Mattacchione as its CFO. Release

Dr. Paul Mintz joined Verax Biomedical as its senior vice president and chief medical officer. Release

Med tech

> Mark Toland joined Corindus Vascular Robotics as CEO from Boston Scientific ($BSX), where he served as senior vice president of corporate accounts and global healthcare solutions. Release

> Gynesonics named Taraneh Farazi as vice president of clinical affairs. Release

Animal Health

Philippe Brianceau joined Jaguar Animal Health as its chief veterinary officer. Release