Boehringer Ingelheim nabs new US president and CEO; AstraZeneca vet hops aboard Novavax as CMO

Jean-Michel Boers

Jean-Michel Boers, who joined Boehringer Ingelheim in 1998, is stepping in as US president and CEO. He succeeds Wolfgang Baiker, who is retiring after 31 years with the company. After starting out at Boehringer Ingelheim 22 years ago in Belgium as head of business information and support, Boers has steadily worked his way up the ladder in more prominent leadership roles. He has led the US human pharma business at the German drugmaker since January 2017.

Baiker took over from Paul Fonteyne in 2018 and prior to that had been Boehringer Ingelheim’s SVP and the head of the biopharma business unit. His retirement is effective July 31.

Vaxart, which was on the initial 18-name shortlist for Operation Warp Speed, is changing CEOs as the South San Francisco biotech looks to pick up the pace on their oral tablet Covid-19 vaccine candidate. Andrei Floroiu grabs hold of the reins, succeeding Wouter Latour, who had been CEO since 2011. Latour will stay on as chairman of the board. Before taking over at Vaxart, Floroiu was an exec at Agenus and managing director at Exigo Capital.

Laurent Fischer

→ Gene therapy player Adverum, which recently reported positive interim data for its Phase I trial, has brought on Laurent Fischer as CEO. Leone Patterson, who has served as CEO for four years, will be handing the reins over and continue serving as the company’s president. Most recently, Fischer served as SVP and head of the liver therapeutic area at Allergan. Previously, he served as chairman and CEO of Tobira Therapeutics (acquired by Allergan in 2016) and has served in leadership roles at Jennerex, Auxeris Therapeutics and Ocera Therapeutics.

Stéphane Bancel continues to shore up the leadership team at Moderna as the biotech jockeys for position on their Covid-19 vaccine. Not long after David Meline joined Moderna as CFO, fellow Amgen vet Ray Jordan has assumed the role of chief corporate affairs officer. From 2012-19, Jordan was Amgen’s SVP, corporate affairs. The Big Pharma experience is extensive for Jordan, having been at J&J for 9 years and spent 17 years at Pfizer, rounding out his tenure there as VP, communications and information.

Filip Dubovsky

→ Receiving $200 million worth of backing from RA Capital this week for their Covid-19 vaccine candidate, Novavax is boosting its executive team by enlisting AstraZeneca vet Filip Dubovsky as SVP and CMO, and Silvia Taylor as SVP, investor relations and corporate affairs. Dubovsky was AstraZeneca’s head of clinical engagement and policy and deputy CMO for clinical affairs before jumping to Novavax. Taylor left Autolus as VP of global corporate affairs and communications.


Silvia Taylor

Novavax has also added David Mott to their board of directors. Mott hit the exit at New Enterprise Associates back in March and is chairman of the board at Adaptimmune, Ardelyx, Epizyme, Imara and Mersana.

Julia Berretta has taken the helm as CEO at Milan-based startup Epsilen Bio, a spinoff of the San Raffaele Telethon Institute for Gene Therapy (SR-Tiget). In addition to leading Epsilen Bio, on the heels of closing €2.3 million in financing from Sofinnova Partners, Berretta is CEO of Sofinnova-backed Genespire. Berretta previously moved through the ranks at Cellectis, rounding out her tenure as VP, business development and strategic planning. Additionally, ex-Cellectis EVP and COO Mathieu Simon will be chairman of Epsilen Bio’s board.

Nicole McKnight

→ Not only is Amabiotics changing its name, they’re changing CEOs. What was formerly Amabiotics, whose microbiome-derived platform targets diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, is now Stellate Therapeutics, with Nicole McKnight as the new CEO. She succeeds Patrice Garnier, who led the biotech since 2015 and will continue as chairman and president. McKnight headed up the company’s New York office before taking over effective May 18. Stellate also named two people to their strategic advisory board, Bernard Munos and Robert Schneider.

→ Effective Sept. 7, Thomas Loewold is jumping on board at API manufacturer Cambrex as CEO and as a board member. For now, Cambrex is led by an office of the CEO that includes chairman Wayne Hewett. Loewold is currently president of the flexibles division at packaging manufacturer ProAmpac. From 2012 to 2017, Loewold held numerous positions at Thermo Fisher Scientific, eventually becoming their chief commercial officer.

Zomedica Pharmaceuticals, a veterinary diagnostic company, has named Robert Cohen as interim CEO of the company. Cohen takes over from Shameze Rampertab — acting interim CEO of the company — who will resume his duties as CFO. Cohen joins the company after serving as president and CEO of EmboMedics. Cohen has previously assumed leadership roles at Miromatrix Medical and Travanti Pharma and jumpstarted his career at Pfizer, where he spent a little over a decade.

Stephen Eck

→ Buoyed by cancer drug data unveiled in ASCO abstracts, particularly in the HER2 space, Maryland-based MacroGenics has welcomed Stephen Eck as CMO and SVP, clinical development. The Pfizer and Eli Lilly vet had most recently been CMO at Immatics US and president and CEO of Aravive Biologics. Prior to those roles, Eck was at Astellas Pharma as VP and global head of oncology medical sciences.

→ Effective July 6, Frank Sanders will become US president of peptide-based medicine biotech Zealand Pharma. Sanders will lead from the Boston office at Zealand, founded and based in Copenhagen and continuing to make acquisitions, such as the purchase of diabetes-focused Valeritas in February. Sanders was previously the general manager of the US commercial team at Sage Therapeutics and also held positions at J&J and GSK.

→ With a lead product candidate being prepared for clinical development to treat Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophy, Colorado-based Edgewise Therapeutics has recruited Kirsten Gruis as their CMO. Gruis was the global head of the neuromuscular franchise for Roche before heading to Edgewise. She was also the CMO at Agilis Biotherapeutics and has also held leadership positions at WAVE Life Sciences, Alnylam and Pfizer.

→ A couple of staff moves are taking place at protein degradation specialist Nurix Therapeutics, which nabbed $120 million in financing and is partnered with Sanofi and Gilead. Michael Lotze moves into the role of chief cellular therapy officer and Robert Brown is on board as VP of clinical development. A longtime presence at the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Surgery, Lotze has previously been the CSO at Iovance (when it was then Lion Biotechnologies) and VP of research at GSK. Before Nurix, Brown had led cellular therapy development programs at Allogene.

Ambaw Bellette

→ Cambridge, MA-based gene therapy company FerGene, the Ferring spinout focused on treating bladder cancer, also has several new faces. Ambaw Bellette, the new chief operating officer, was the president of Photocure, also with a bladder cancer focus. Vijay Kasturi, who has been named VP of medical affairs, comes to FerGene after 4 ½ years at EMD Serono, where he eventually moved his way up to head of US medical affairs, oncology. Furthermore, bluebird bio vet Peter Olagunju is now FerGene’s SVP of technical operations. Olagunju was bluebird’s VP, global patient operations.

→ After corralling a new CFO at the beginning of 2020, anti-infective immunotherapy player Aridis Pharmaceuticals is bringing in AstraZeneca vet Hasan Jafri as CMO. Paul Mendelman had been interim CMO at Aridis since October and will now be a senior medical advisor. Jafri had been AstraZeneca’s senior medical director, clinical research and development, microbial sciences, as well as the clinical head of the antibacterial monoclonal antibodies program.

Marie-Louise Fjällskog

Marie-Louise Fjällskog is headed to immuno-oncology player Sensei Biotherapeutics as their CMO. Fjällskog swings into Sensei after a year as VP, clinical development at Merus. Previous stops include Infinity Pharmaceuticals as VP, clinical development and the Novartis Institute for Biomedical Research as clinical program leader, translational clinical oncology.

Merck vet Christopher Dinsmore has signed on at Norbert Bischofberger-led Kronos Bio as their CSO. Before getting started at Kronos, Dinsmore was an entrepreneur-in-residence at Third Rock Ventures. He was at Forma Therapeutics from 2013-19, most recently as VP, head of chemistry. Before that, he spent 19 years at Merck Research Laboratories, culminating in his tenure as executive director, discovery chemistry.

→ Rare disease AI upstart Healx — which raised $56 million in Series B financing last October — has appointed Meri Williams as chief technology officer. Williams joins the company from challenger bank Monzo and has had experience serving at Marks and Spencer and Procter & Gamble.

Clinton Musil

→ Starting July 1, Clinton Musil will be the CFO at Catalyst Biosciences, which is partnering with Biogen on a preclinical candidate for dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Musil was previously the CBO at Personalis and the VP of corporate development at ARMO Biosciences, shepherding their IPO and $1.6 billion sale to Eli Lilly.

→ At RenovaCare, a developer of autologous stem cell therapies, Robert Cook has been appointed CFO and board secretary, a week after the company named Jo Ellen Schweinle their CMO. Cook had held the CFO post at CorMedix and at a string of other pharmas prior to that such as BioBlast Pharma, Immune Pharmaceuticals and Pharmos Corporation.

→ Diabetes-focused medical device company Bigfoot Biomedical has reeled in Eli Lilly vet Jim Malone as CMO. During his 21-year stint at Eli Lilly, Malone, an endocrinologist, served in clinical research.

→ Stockholm-based immune-oncology biotech Alligator Bioscience has recruited Marie Svensson as CFO. She assumes her new role Sept. 1, and until then, Andreas Johannesson will continue as interim CFO. Svensson is currently CFO at InCoax Networks.

→ MicroRNA biotech miRagen Therapeutics has enlisted Lee Rauch as COO. Rauch has held posts as CBO of Global Blood Therapeutics, interim CBO of Onyx Pharmaceuticals and president and CEO of Nuon Therapeutics among others.

Bayer-partnered Dewpoint Therapeutics is adding a pair of big-name pharma vets as it looks to make drugs targeting biomolecular condensates a reality. The Cambridge biotech will add former Sanofi CEO Olivier Brandicourt and the head of Bayer’s venture arm, Jürgen Eckhardt, to its board. Though both MDs, the pair have held long careers on the business side of the industry, which is where their insight will be needed most, said Dewpoint CEO Amir Nashat.

→ New Haven, CT-based rare disease pharma Rallybio has selected longtime Pfizer vet Jackie Schumacher to lead global regulatory affairs. Schumacher was VP of regulatory and quality at Lyndra Therapeutics from 2017-19 after leaving Pfizer, where she was in the chemistry, manufacturing, and controls (CMC) regulatory organization.

Kia Motesharei

→ AI startup BioXcel Therapeutics, targeting therapies in neuroscience and immuno-oncology, has locked in Will Kane as EVP and chief commercial officer. Kane had been at Allergan since 2013 and was their SVP and head of the US general medicine business unit. He had also held positions at Pfizer and Sepracor (which is now Sunovion Pharmaceuticals).

Ionis majority-owned spinoff Akcea has welcomed Kia Motesharei as SVP of business development & corporate strategy. Motesharei hails from a 6-year stint at Merck KGaA, where he most recently served as VP and global head of licensing and business development, neurology & immunology. Prior to that, Motesharei served in roles at Dyax Corp (acquired by Shire and subsequently Takeda), Genfit and ActivX.

Bao Truong

→ China-based rare disease and oncology pharma CANbridge, which completed its $98 million Series D financing in February, is bringing Carrie Ann Cook into the fold as SVP, global head of business development. Cook is leaving Takeda, where she was senior director of the Center for External Innovation, Rare Disease. Before Takeda, she was the head of global business development and licensing, MS, medical devices and global health at EMD Serono.

David Luo

Jonathan Lim-led cancer treatment startup Erasca is making two new personnel changes. The San Diego-based biotech has named Bao Truong VP of regulatory affairs and David Luo VP of clinical research and operations. Truong and Luo are both vets of another Lim company, Ignyta. Truong had been head of regulatory affairs there, while Luo was VP of clinical operations at Ignyta at the same time. Truong was also head of regulatory affairs at Ideaya Biosciences, while Luo has also been VP of clinical operations at Synthorx.

→ Hong Kong-based pharmaceutical group Aptorum has enlisted Kira Sheinerman as senior strategic consultant — she will be based in New York. Sheinerman is the co-founder, CEO and executive director of molecular diagnostics company DiamiR Biosciences.

Martha Manning has moved on to Marinus Pharmaceuticals as VP, general counsel and secretary. Manning comes to Marinus, which focuses on developing ganaxolone to treat rare seizure disorders, from Achillion, where she was EVP, general counsel and secretary. She also had a stint at Sandoz as VP and general counsel.

→ No stranger to chairmanships, Dan Lynch is now chairman of the board at Waltham, MA-based Xilio Therapeutics, which changed its name (from Akrevia) in March and raised a shade more than $100 million in a round led by Takeda to get their IL-2 and aCTLA4 mAb programs into the clinic. Lynch is also chairman of the board at bluebird bio, Blueprint Medicines, Surface Oncology, Translate Bio and SpringWorks Therapeutics.

→ Duchenne muscular dystrophy-focused Solid Biosciences has appointed Ian Smith as chairman of the board. The former Vertex exec, who was ousted last year for code of conduct violations, succeeds Solid co-founder Andrey Zarur, who had been chairman since 2013.

Bonnie Bassler

→ You could say that Royalty Pharma has been kind of a big deal the past 3 weeks. Fresh off scoring a momentous $2.2 billion IPO, Pablo Legorreta’s drug royalty buyer has named Bonnie Bassler to their bord. Bassler, the chair of Princeton University’s molecular biology department, has also sat on the board at Sanofi, Kaleido Biosciences and Regeneron.

→ In the midst of the remdesivir hubbub, Javier Rodriguez has been elected to Gilead’s board of directors. Rodriguez has spent 20 years at DeVita, which provides healthcare services to patients with kidney disease, and is currently their CEO.

→ Calcification-focused rare disease upstart Inozyme Pharma has tapped Doug Treco, former CEO and co-founder of RA Pharmaceuticals, as chairman of the company’s board of directors. Treco succeeds retiring Joseph Schlessinger. In addition, the Cambridge, MA-based company has welcomed Biogen vet Lynne Sullivan as an independent director.

→ San Diego-based Arena Pharmaceuticals has chosen Katharine Knobil to be on their board of directors. Knobil, the current CMO and head of R&D at Kaleido Biosciences, had also spent more than 20 years at GSK, most recently as CMO.

Kavita Patel

Flagship‘s Sigilon, which recently bagged $80 million, has wooed Kavita Patel to its board of directors. Patel is a practicing physician and served in the Obama administration as director of policy for the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement in the White House.

→ Gene and cell therapy startup Abeona Therapeutics has made some new additions to its board of directors with the appointments of George Migausky and Paul Mann as independent directors. Migausky previously served as EVP and CFO of Dyax Corp, while Mann served as CFO at PolarityTE.

ContraFect, which was given breakthrough designation from the FDA for exebacase to treat methicillin-resistant Staph aureus (MRSA), has made Lishan Aklog a member of their board of directors. Aklog, whose work as a cardiac surgeon took him to Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Mount Sinai Medical Center, and Harvard Medical School, among others, is the co-founder, chairman and CEO of PAVmed.

Eric Schmidt and Peter Svennilson are now providing their capital market expertise to the board of directors at Redwood City, CA-based Revolution Medicines. Schmidt is the CFO at Allogene, while Svennilson is the founder and managing partner at The Column Group.

→ French vaccine developer Valneva has appointed Johanna Willemina Pattenier, former general manager of Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics, and Sharon Elizabeth Tetlow, founder and managing partner of Potrero Hill Advisors (PHA), to its supervisory board.