Changing Faces: Pharma and biotech hires from April 2023

Pharma and biotech hires

The month of April was a bit lighter in quantity of hires, but those we did see were high-profile: pharma and biotech saw at least four CEO changes, as well as numerous board chairs. We’ve got the roundup below, with part two, focused on suppliers and digital health, coming soon.

Regeneron’s Vagelos to step down. As we reported in our full story on 18th April, biopharma legend P. Roy Vagelos will step down as chairman of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals after 29 years in June, at the age of 93. Vagelos will stay in his post until his current term comes to an end on 9th June, but won’t seek re-election. In an unusual move, Regeneron co-founders Leonard Schleifer and George Yancopoulos will become co-chairmen, in addition to their current roles as chief executive and chief scientific officer, respectively.

CinCor CEO jumps to Abivax. Abivax, a Paris-based biotech focused on chronic inflammatory disease, announced the appointment of Marc de Garidel as CEO, replacing Dr Hartmut J. Ehrlich, the company’s CEO since 2013. Ehrlich will stay on as an advisor throughout the transition. Garidel’s name will be familiar to listeners of the pharmaphorum podcast, where he was recently a guest discussing CinCor’s acquisition by AstraZeneca. Garidel was most recently CEO at CinCor, and it’s not the only company he’s guided to a big pharma acquisition: he sold Corvidia Therapeutics in August 2020 to Novo Nordisk for $2.1 billion.

Abivax also named a new chief commercial officer in April: Michael Ferguson, who brings 22 years of biopharma experience, including stints at Sire/Takeda and Arena Pharmaceuticals.

Engimmune recruits veteran CEO. At Basel, Switzerland-based Engimmune, which is developing novel TCR-based therapeutics, Dr Lars Nieba is in as the new CEO, replacing cofounder Dr Søren Mouritsen in a planned transition. Nieba has held previous leadership roles at Roche and Bayer and led various small biotechs as CEO.

Mosaic pairs new CEO with funding news. The UK’s Mosaic Therapeutics, a recent spin-off from the Wellcome Sanger Institute, named former Novartis Oncology SVP Brian Gladsden as its new CEO. The announcement came at the same time as the company announced a $28 million Series A funding round. In addition to Novartis, Gladsden served for five years at Bayer.

New CEO in at QUANTRO. QUANTRO Therapeutics, a drug development company whose therapies target disease-causing transcriptional programmes in cancer, has also appointed a new CEO. Dr Michael Bauer replaces founding CEO Dr Deiter Nachtigal, who will transition to an advisory role. Bauer comes most recently from Cellestia Biotech in Basel, Switzerland where he was CEO and co-founder, as well as a member of the board.

Qnovia recruits former FDA director. Qnovia, which is developing inhaled therapeutics including in smoking cessation, has appointed Mitch Zeller, who served as director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products from 2013 to 2022, to its advisory board. He’ll use his government experience to advise the company on policy and regulatory strategy.  

String of hires at Epsilogen. Epsilogen, a London pharma company developing immunoglobin E antibodies for cancer treatment, announced three major hires in late April. Nick Robbins-Cherry joins as chief financial officer, after holding the same post at Ixaka Ltd. Andrew Calam, who comes over from Syneos Health, will serve as VP of clinical operations. Finally, AstraZeneca veteran Elizabeth Hardaker comes aboard as VP of biology.

Ascidian taps three new VPs. Ascidian Therapeutics, a Boston-based firm working to treat diseases by rewriting RNA, also announced a trio of hires as it prepares to advance its lead programme into the clinic. Dr Alia Rashid, an ophthalmologist with an extensive biotech background, is in as VP of clinical development. Sarah DiSalvatore, who brings 25+ years of clinical research experience, will serve as VP clinical operations. And Carmen Jacome, who has previously worked at Pfizer and Novartis, will be VP of programme management.

Additional scientific hires. Several other companies announced hires in R&D and scientific advisory.

  • Breye Therapeutics, a Danish firm developing novel oral therapies for retinal vascular diseases within ophthalmology, has tapped Peter Adamson as its new chief scientific officer. Adamson previously served as VP and head of ophthalmology research at GlaxoSmithKline.
  • Stevenage, UK-based NRG Therapeutics, which targets mitochondrial dysfunction, has brought on Vad Lazari in the newly created position of VP of biology. Coming over from Charles River, Lazari will manage internal and external biology resources to advance the company’s pre-clinical pipeline.
  • Purple Biotech, an Israeli outfit working with the tumour microenvironment, announced its new Scientific Advisory Board. It consists of Eyal Gottlieb PhD, VP for research at MD Anderson; Dr Steven Maron, an oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering; and Dr Sunil Sharma, deputy director of clinical sciences at Translational Genomics (TGen).

More board news. Finally, we saw our usual slew of Board of Directors appointments and resignations.

  • Lytix Biopharma, a Norwegian immuno-oncology firm, announced the election of Dr Marie Roskrow as chairman of the board. Roskrow chairs a number of biopharma boards and has extensive experience as a CEO and investment banker.
  • SiSaf, an RNA Therapeutics company based in Guildford, England, has appointed Dr Richard Goodfellow to its Board of Directors. The chief executive at Scancell, Goodfellow has consulted with the company for the last two years.
  • French biotech Transgene has tapped Carol Stuckley as a new independent director, replacing Laurence Espinasse. Stuckley currently serves on the board at Centessa Pharmaceuticals and has previously served on boards at Ipsen and Epizyme.
  • In addition to their hires mentioned above, Breye Therapeutics and NRG Therapeutics both made board appointments this month as well. Breye added physician-scientist Dr Gabriela Burian, while NRG tapped Kynos Therapeutics CEO Jonathan Savidge PhD as an independent non-executive chair.
  • Hong Kong’s HUTCHMED, a commercial-stage biopharma, announced the upcoming retirement of Dr Karen Jean Ferrante from its board. Ferrante chose to step down to devote more time to personal engagements, according to the company.

That about does it for our April pharma and biotech hires. Remember, if you have notes for Changing Faces, you can let us know at