Chutes & Ladders—Ex-Eisai leader Ivan Cheung tapped to be new CEO of NextPoint
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.
Eisai’s former US leader to be new NextPoint CEO
After a short-lived retirement, ex-Eisai leader Ivan Cheung is taking the top spot at NextPoint Therapeutics.
Cheung is Eisai’s former U.S. CEO and the face of approved Alzheimer’s disease medicine Leqembi. He exited the Japanese pharma in July, saying he would be retiring after nearly 18 years with the company. Now, Cheung’s back, succeeding NextPoint CEO Detlev Biniszkiewicz, Ph.D., who has led the biotech since its launch in 2018.
At Eisai, Cheung helped grow the North American unit to more than $1.5 billion in revenue and launch Lenvima (lenvatinib) for a range of tumor types. He also guided the development of Leqembi (lecanemab), a monoclonal antibody for early-stage Alzheimer’s disease.
Cheung now brings his industry experience to Cambridge, Massachusetts-based NextPoint as the company aims to deliver monotherapies for cancer patients who don’t benefit from PD-1/L1 inhibitors by instead using the novel HHLA2 pathway. Fierce Biotech
2seventy’s CSO now head of cell therapy at Regeneron following R&D sell-off
2seventy? More like 1thirtyfive after the biotech’s R&D sell-off to Regeneron this week. The major overhaul of the company was meant to achieve two objectives: add cash and prioritize the commercialization of Bristol Myers-partnered cell therapy Abecma.
Regeneron paid just $5 million for 2seventy’s remaining R&D pipeline and will pay another one-time milestone payment if and when the first product from the pipeline gets approved. About 150 2seventy employees will transition to Regeneron, including 2seventy’s Chief Scientific Officer Philip Gregory, who will need the newly created cell medicines division. Regeneron says the new unit will focus on advancing development of cell therapies and combinations in oncology and immunology.
On 2seventy’s end, Chief Kairos Officer (read: CEO) Nick Leschly will transition to chairman of the company’s board, with Chief Operating Officer Chip Baird taking the helm. Vicki Eatwell was also promoted from SVP of finance to chief financial officer. Fierce Biotech
Paul Hudson makes CFO swap, names Roger to the role
In roughly the last year, Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson brought a new head of business development and a new head of R&D, arguably the two most important positions for a global pharmaceutical pipeline that as of late is doubling down on new research.
Hudson continued to mold his executive team this week, hiring François-Xavier Roger as chief financial officer. He joins from Nestle, where he was CFO for 8 years, although more notably he was CFO at Takeda prior to that. Roger’s appointment is effective at the start of April, at which point he’ll also join the executive team. He’ll replace current CFO Jean-Baptiste Chasseloup de Chatillon, who’s stepping down for a new role.
Roger’s hiring follows a couple of other notable moves made in the last year, including Houman Ashrafian’s appointment to head of R&D. In that August announcement, Sanofi also tapped Emmanuel Frenehard as chief digital officer and Madeleine Roach as head of business operations. A year ago, in January 2023, Monika Vnuk took over as SVP and head of global business development. She spent 13 years at Pfizer from 2008 to 2021. Release
> Corcept has named Joseph Belanoff, M.D., as its head of oncology, according to an announcement this week. He previously was the head of the U.S. commercial market at Mirati before it was bought by BMS. Release
> Remix Therapeutics is promoting Dominic Reynolds, Ph.D., from his role as senior vice president and head of drug discovery to chief scientific officer. Reynolds takes the mic from former CSO Zaven Kaprielian, Ph.D., who is joining the biotech’s scientific advisory board. Release
> Abdera Therapeutics has appointed Philippe Bishop, M.D., to serve as chief medical officer. Bishop most recently served as CMO at Atreca, and has held roles across Clover Biopharmaceuticals, aratinga.bio, Gilead Sciences, Roche’s Genentech, Johnson & Johnson, Sanofi-Aventis, the FDA and the NIH. Release
> CytoDyn has officially chosen Jacob Lalezari, M.D., to lead the company as CEO. Lalezari, who has held onto the interim CEO title since early December of 2023, also served as CytoDyn’s interim chief medical officer in 2020. Release
> Acumen Pharmaceuticals, a biotech working to develop a novel treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, has appointed James Doherty, Ph.D., as president and chief development officer. Before Acumen, Doherty served as Sage Therapeutics’ chief development officer and has held leadership roles at AstraZeneca. Release
> Maxion Therapeutics has tapped Arndt Schottelius, M.D., Ph.D., to helm the company as CEO starting March 1, taking the reins from co-founder John McCafferty, who will transition to chief technology officer. Previously, Schottelius has served as the chief scientific officer of Affimed and held leadership roles at Kymab (acquired by Sanofi), MorphoSys and Roche’s Genentech. Release
> Brian Schwartz, M.D., is joining Cyclacel Pharmaceuticals as interim chief medical officer, taking the spot from Mark Kirschbaum, M.D., whose employment was terminated by the company. Schwartz is a Cyclacel board member and has past leadership experience at ArQule (acquired by Merck & Co.), Ziopharm, Bayer and LEO Pharma. Release
> Allogeneic T-cell company Atara Biotherapeutics is laying off 25% of staff and sending Chief Medical Officer Manher (AJ) Joshi, M.D. out the door. Joshi held various roles with the biotech for more than seven years and will continue on as a consultant through Jan. 31, 2025. Fierce Biotech
> Italy-based AAVantgarde Bio has appointed Nina Kotsopoulou, Ph.D., as chief technical officer. Kotsopoulou joins the gene therapy company from Xap Therapeutics, where she held the same role, and has previously clocked in time at GSK, Autolus and Orchard Therapeutics. Release
> On March 18, George Daneker Jr., MD, will Myriad Genetics as president and chief clinical officer of oncology. Most recently, Daneker served as system VP for oncology and medical director of the oncology clinical program at SSM Health. Release
> Shin Mukai, Ph.D., has started a new position as co-founder, CEO and chief scientific officer at New Wind Therapeutics L3C. The former Sanofi scientist has launched the company with a vision of developing novel small-molecule drugs targeting cancer stem cells for the treatment of pancreatic cancer. Release