President Obama nominates Califf as next FDA commissioner

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.

President Obama nominates Califf as next FDA commissioner

Dr. Robert Califf was nominated to serve as commissioner.

Dr. Robert Califf, widely seen as former FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg's choice to replace her, moved one step closer to filling the agency's top job this week with a nomination from President Barack Obama. Having conducted clinical research as the founding director of Duke University's in-house CRO, Califf is well known throughout the industry; he has gone on record encouraging collaboration between drugmakers and regulators for effective drug development. Though partisan politics could play a role in the appointment, one FDA veteran noted that Califf "is one of the few candidates who could sail through the confirmation process because of his universally recognized talents." Story | White House statement

AbbVie taps JPMorgan M&A banker Gosebruch for CSO role

Henry Gosebruch was hired as CSO.

AbbVie ($ABBV) named former JPMorgan banker and M&A hotshot Henry Gosebruch its chief strategy officer this week as it looks to diversify revenue beyond best-seller Humira. Gosebruch, one of JPMorgan's top pharma dealmakers, rose to his role after starting at the bank in 1994 as an intern. Throughout his career, he advised on transactions such as Forest Labs' sale to Actavis, Merck's ($MRK) purchase of Cubist and the failed AbbVie tie-up with Shire ($SHPG). In an emailed statement to FiercePharma, AbbVie spokesman Greg Miley said the appointment is "about enhancing our focus and recognizing the increasingly important role that corporate strategy and business development will play in our future." Story

NIMH Director Insel heads to new Google Life Sciences

Google Life Sciences
Dr. Tom Insel joined the company.

Dr. Tom Insel stepped down as director of the National Institute of Mental Health this week to join the newly formed Google Life Sciences team, seeking to apply the company's ambitions to the mental illness realm. While Google hasn't revealed any projects for mental illnesses, the fact that its life sciences team would launch a "major exploration into mental health … is by itself a significant statement," Insel said in a statement. He served as NIMH director for 13 years and, in his farewell statement, said "to be able to work on such important problems with such talented people has been the high point of my professional career." Story | Statement

PRA is adding 150 jobs amid a Pennsylvania expansion push. Story


Makindus hired Michael Celano as its chief financial officer. Release

Celyad ($CYAD) brought on Dr. Frederic Lehmann as its vice president of immuno-oncology. Release

Dynasil appointed Linda Zuckerman as its new CEO of Xcede Technologies. Release

Genepeeks appointed Jeffrey Field as its chief commercial officer. Release

Michael Maclean joined PureTech as its chief financial officer. Release

Abivax appointed Dr. Antonino Ligresti and Dr. Dominique Costantini to its board of directors. Release

Tyme Technologies appointed Dr. Mario Eisenberger to be a member of its medical advisory board. Release

Aelan Cell Technologies brought stem cell expert Meenakshi Gaur into its stem cell clinical program. Release

Jounce Therapeutics appointed Kim Drapkin as chief financial officer. Release

Voyager Therapeutics added Dr. Steven Hyman to its board of directors. Release

Silver Creek Pharmaceuticals added Dr. Ross Breckenridge to its board of directors. Release

Synlogic appointed Bharatt Chowrira as president. Release

Spero named Dr. John Tomayko as chief medical officer. Release

Ignyta ($RXDX) appointed Igor Bilinsky as general manager of immuno-oncology and senior vice president of special operations. Release

Vaseem Mahboob will succeed Shelley Thunen as Endologix's ($ELGX) chief financial officer. Release

Accuray ($ARAY) promoted Kevin Waters to chief financial officer. Release

Lawrence Kenyon joined Oncobiologics as chief financial officer. Release

BioBlast Pharma ($ORPN) appointed Tom Dubin to its board of directors. Release

Kastle Therapeutics appointed Michael Shih as vice president of business development and chief legal counsel. Release

Huya Bioscience named Dr. Gloria Tsi-Yie Lee as chief medical officer. Release

Nuevolution appointed Henrik Simonsen as chief financial officer. Release

Tokai Pharmaceuticals ($TKAI) named Lisa Taylor as senior vice president of commercial development. Release

Medivir ($MVIR) merged its research and development operations into one unit, to be headed by Richard Bethell, who was named EVP of research & development. Release

Triangle Research Labs has hired Maureen Bunger as technical sales manager and Katherine Witt as head of marketing. Release

ContraFect ($CFRX) named Dr. Cara Cassino as chief medical officer. Release


VBI Vaccines ($VBIV) promoted David Anderson to be its new chief scientific officer. Release

Medical Devices

Jeff Tunnel joined Ortho Classic as the company's president of sales. Release

ReWalk Robotics ($RWLK) added Deborah DiSanzo to its board of directors. Release

Biotech IT

InfoBionic added Hamid Tabatabaie to its board of directors. Release


Jamie McGarvey joined Astellas' corporate affairs team. Release


Signal Genetics appointed Dr. Richard Bender as chief medical officer. Release

Avacta Group appointed Mike Owen as nonexecutive director. Release