Changing Faces: Pharma and biotech hires from July 2023

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As we hit the Q2/Q3 mark in this very hot summer, the hires chatter is not exactly heating up, but we did see a steady beat of news in July, including a lot of new CEOs. Read on to meet them, as well as a handful of other C-Suite hires and, of course, some board appointments.

Influential exec leaves big shoes to fill at Eisai. Eisai announced in July that Ivan Cheung, chairman of its US operations and global head of the company’s Alzheimer’s disease unit, will retire. According to STAT, the departure of Cheung was a surprise to analysts, who expected him to take over presidency of the company in the future. Eisai will replace his two roles separately, with current chief ecosystem officer and chief strategy officer Keisuke Naito taking over the Alzheimer’s unit and current CFO Tatsuyuki Yasuno taking over as US head.

Lundbeck CEO to step down, UCB exec to step in. As we reported at the end of June (but somehow missed in our June roundup!), Lundbeck CEO Deborah Dunsire has announced her retirement and Charles van Zyl will replace her – leaving his current role as chief operating officer, executive vice president of neurology, and head of Europe/international markets at Belgian pharma UCB. No word yet on who is taking over for van Zyl, with UCB saying in a statement that the successor and the timing of departure “will be announced in due course”.

Chiesi chair passes baton after a 38-year run. Parma, Italy-based Chiesi Group appointed Alessandro Chiesi, who is currently the chief financial officer and has been with the company for nearly 30 years, as chair of the group, with Maria Paola Chiesi becoming vice chair. Maria Paola has also been with the company for just shy of 30 years, working in marketing and strategic planning. Alessandro succeeds Alberto Chiesi, who has held the post since 1985. 

Six more pharma and biotech CEO appointments. Change is in the air at the top of the C-Suite in the biotech world. Here are six leadership shake-ups we heard about in July:

  • London-based next-gen CAR-T developer Leucid Bio has appointed Filippo Petti as its new CEO. A former investment banker, Petti most recently served as CEO and CFO of another CAR-T company, Celyad Oncology.
  • TAE Life Sciences, a California outfit working on advancing radiation oncology, says farewell to six-year CEO Bruce Bauer, who is stepping down for medical reasons, but will remain active on the board. The company is promoting former COO Rob Hill to the role.
  • Swedish pharma Vicore is keying up its US presence with the appointment of new CEO Ahmed Mousa, who is based in Boston. He formerly served as CBO at Pieris Pharmaceuticals. Mousa will replace Carl-Johan Dalsgaard, who announced his retirement earlier in the month.
  • LimmaTech Biologics, a Swiss vaccine company that recently in-licensed a vaccine candidate from GSK, also announced Franz-Werner Haas is coming on as CEO. He recently served as CEO at CureVac SE.
  • London ADC developer Pheon Therapeutics announced its new CEO, Dr Cyrus Mozayeni. Mozayeni boasts a wealth of biotech leadership experience, including founding Vedere Bio and serving as CEO through its acquisition by Novartis for $280 million.
  • The UK’s Destiny Pharma, whose CEO stepped down back in May, has named Chris Tovey in the position starting 1st September, with interim CEO Debra Barker returning to the board. The company also named a new chairman, returning board member Sir Nigel Rudd. Both Tovey and Rudd bring a wealth of relevant experience.

Triumvera adds three, including COO. Triumvira Immunologics, an Austin, Texas-based group working on novel T-cell therapeutics, announced three major hires in late July. Robert F Williamson III, a 20-year biotech innovator who was involved as a director in preparing Pharmasset for its $11 billion acquisition by Gilead, joins as president and COO, as well as joining the company’s board of directors. The company rounded out the news with two more hires announcements: Jeffrey Erickson, formerly of PhaseBio Pharmaceuticals, as VP of business development and Chris Murray, who previously led HR efforts at Lonza Bio and Bellicum Pharmaceuticals, as VP of human resources.

Three C-Suite appointments look towards the future. Yes, we’ve officially entered the era of the chief AI officer, a job that hopefully won’t render itself irrelevant too soon. Here are three forward-looking C-Suite appointments we heard about last month.

  • SiSaf, a UK-based RNA therapeutics company, created the new position of chief AI officer for Nikos Tzagkarakis, who previously developed the ‘Tzager’ AI platform as CEO of Intoolab. SiSaf describes Tzager as “the first Bayesian Network able to simulate human body mechanisms and chemical pathways.”
  • In a similar vein, France’s Abionyx appointed Laurent Guerci to the role of chief digital and innovation officer. A transplant from the information services industry, Guerci is tasked with leading “digitalisation and AI to support the deployment of the company’s innovative biotherapy strategy,” per Abionyx’s release.
  • Finally, NYC-based cancer vaccine company IO Biotech has some more traditional C-Suite appointments to announce: Eric Faulkner, formerly SVP of CNC, has been promoted to chief technical officer and the company has hired a new chief medical officer: Dr Qasim Ahmad, who comes over directly from Novartis Oncology, where he served as US head of clinical development and medical affairs.

Phoremost adds two prestigious advisors. Phoremost, a UK company specialising in targeted protein degradation, added two members to its scientific advisory boards. Peter Parker brings a wealth of expertise as an emeritus professor at The Francis Crick Institute and at King’s College London. Dr Jason Imbriglio comes from the pharma R&D world, as a co-founder of Merck’s Chemical Biology group and co-lead of its TPD group.

More from the Boards. Lots of board of director shake-ups came through, as per usual, including a higher-than-usual number of chairmanship changes. Read on for the quick rundown.

  • Amsterdam’s Pharming Group has nominated a new chair, though shareholders will still have to vote him in. Dr Richard Peters’ 30+ year career includes leadership roles at Amgen and Sanofi, as well as postings at Harvard Medical School at Massachussetts General Hospital.
  • EnteroBiotix, a Scottish firm working in the realm of microbial therapeutics, has appointed Elmer Schnee as its new executive chairman. Schnee was involved in the acquisition of Serono by Merck KGaA and currently serves as chair of several other boards, including Calliditas Therapeutics and Noorik Biopharmaceuticals.
  • Futura Medical, which makes a topical ED treatment, reported that its non-executive chair John Clarke has stepped down. Jeff Needham, currently a board member, will step into the role. 
  • Swiss RNA therapeutics maker Versameb announced a whole slew of board appointments, adding Hernán Levett, Dr Lily Geidelberg, Dr Paul Korner, and Dr Alexandre LeBeau as it prepares to enter clinical development on its lead candidate for stress urinary incontinence. The new board members bring in a variety of relevant areas of experience.
  • Norwegian immuno-oncology company Cytovation made an addition to its board with Olav Hellebø, former CEO of ReNeuron and Clavis Pharma. His background before that includes two big pharma postings – head of global immunology at UCB and head of UK commercial at Novartis.
  • Macromolecule therapeutics group Sapreme added two new board members: Dr Jeanne Bolger, who served as Johnson & Johnson’s VP of venture investing for 10 years, and Andre Hoekema, PhD, whose business development experience includes stints at Galapagos, Invitrogen Corporation, Molecular Probes Europe, and Crucell.
  • HUTCHMED, a commercial-stage biopharma in the immunotherapy space, disclosed the departure of Lefei Sun from the board and the addition of Ling Yang, managing director of The Carlyle Group and co-head of Carlyle Asia Healthcare.

That’s it for this roundup. Remember, if you’ve had a recent appointment and you work in or around the pharma space, we want to hear about it. Please send your press releases to to be included in future editions of Changing Faces.