Chutes & Ladders—BIO lands rare disease advocate John Crowley as CEO
Welcome to this week’s Chutes & Ladders, our roundup of hirings, firings and retirings throughout the industry. Please send the good word—or the bad—from your shop to Max Bayer or Gabrielle Masson, and we will feature it here at the end of each week.
BIO lands rare disease advocate John Crowley as CEO
Biotechnology Innovation Organization
For more than a year, the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) has been led by interim CEO Rachel King. Now, the organization has named a permanent successor.
Rare disease advocate, biotech founder and BIO board member John Crowley is set to take the top spot starting March 4. Crowley is probably best known for his entrepreneurship in the industry after his two youngest children were diagnosed with Pompe disease, a rare genetic neuromuscular disorder. He co-founded Novazyme Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Genzyme) and served as a founding leader for Orexigen Therapeutics and Amicus Therapeutics, where he served as CEO from 2005-2022. Crowley currently serves as Amicus’ executive chair and will stay in that role until March.
The military veteran’s search for a Pompe disease treatment was documented in the 2010 movie Extraordinary Measures, directed by Harrison Ford.
Crowley will take the reins of the advocacy organization as the industry continues to brace itself against potential implications of the IRA and challenging market conditions. Release
Cyclerion Therapeutics picks former EQRx leader as new CEO
Regina Graul, Ph.D., has found a new role at the top of Cyclerion Therapeutics, replacing outgoing founding CEO Peter Hecht, Ph.D. It’s a return to home for the executive, who previously led development of Cylcerion’s olinciguat program for cardiovascular disease.
Graul comes from EQRx, a biotech that had attempted to make low-cost oncology drugs but ultimately shut down earlier this year. There, Graul served as a program executive overseeing cross-functional development teams in oncology.
Graul will have a challenging job in front of her. Cyclerion has been through a tough few years, shifting clinical plans twice in 2022.
“As we evaluate our existing assets and identify external value-creating opportunities, cutting-edge innovation and addressing unmet patient needs will be central tenets,” Graul said in a statement.
The new CEO is effective immediately. However, Hecht will continue as a strategic consultant and board director. Release
Sensorium selects new CEO
Psychoactive medicine-focused Sensorium has selected Alexandra (Sandra) Glucksmann, Ph.D., to helm the biotech as former CEO and co-founder Dick Simon transitions to an advisory role.
Simon held the role since helping launch the nature-inspired platform company in 2021.
New CEO Glucksmann has more than 30 years of industry experience, most recently serving as founding CEO and president of oncology company Cedilla Therapeutics. She also served as the founding chief operating officer for gene editing company Editas Medicine and currently holds board spots at REGENXBIO and Scenic Biotech. Release
> Bob Smith has left Merck & Co. for Gossamer Bio, where he will serve as chief commercial officer. Smith most recently led Merck’s sotatercept pre-launch activities in the U.S. as the national sales lead, and previously led U.S. sales operations for Actelion. Release
> Ophthalmic biotech SpyGlass Pharma has selected Margot Goodkin, M.D., Ph.D., to serve as chief medical officer. Before SpyGlass, Goodkin was executive director of ophthalmology clinical development at Allergan/AbbVie and also previously worked at the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiologic Health. Release
> Kling Bio has tapped Stefano Gullà, Ph.D., to serve as chief scientific officer. Before joining Kling, Gullà has held senior roles at Pfizer, Agenus, Flagship and RVAC. Release
> As part of a layoff round, Theseus Pharmaceuticals has sent CEO and President Timothy Clackson, Ph.D., and Chief Medical Officer David Kerstein, M.D., packing. Release
> Zenas BioPharma is welcoming Jennifer Fox on as chief business officer and chief financial officer, as well as Tanya Fischer, M.D., Ph.D., as head of R&D and chief medical officer. Before Zenas, Fox served as Nuvation Bio’s chief financial officer, while Fischer served as Biohaven’s chief development officer and head of translational medicine. Release
> Catalyst Pharmaceuticals has appointed Michael Kalb—who most recently served Impel Pharmaceutical’s chief financial officer, as its EVP and CFO—as current CFO Alicia Grande retires at the end of the year after a 16-year tenure with the company. Catalyst is also promoting Steven Miller, Ph.D., to EVP, chief operating and scientific officer, while Jeffrey Del Carmen has been promoted to EVP and chief commercial officer. Release
> Alentis Therapeutics has appointed Rizwan Velji to serve as chief business officer. He joins the Swiss biotech from William Blair, where he most recently served as managing director. Release
> While Hepion Pharmaceuticals’ board has approved a plan designed to slash operating costs by 60%, CEO Robert Foster, Ph.D., has resigned, citing personal reasons. Chief Financial Officer John Cavan has stepped up and will lead the biotech as interim CEO. Fierce Biotech
> ARTBIO has closed a $90 million series A round and hired a handful of new executives. Philippe Dasse, Ph.D., previously head of technical operations for radioligand therapies at Novartis, will be the chief technical officer, while Daniel Rossett will be SVP and head of supply chain and external manufacturing. Rossett was global head of supply chain at Novartis’ radiopharma unit, Advanced Accelerator Applications. Fierce Biotech
> Empress Therapeutics has chosen Virginia Finnerty-Brooks to serve as the biotech’s chief business officer. Finnerty-Brooks holds more than 25 years of industry experience, holding roles across Adanate, Eli Lilly’s Dermira, DSM Biomedical, Cellastra, Precigen, FibroGen and EPL Technologies. Release