Changing Faces: Pharma and biotech hires from May & June 2023

Changing Faces: Pharma and biotech hires from May & June 2023

It’s been a big summer already for hires in the pharma and biotech space, especially among the smaller pharmas and biotechs. Read on for a roundup of appointments from the last two months.

Burton in as Amgen’s new CMO. As we reported previously, Amgen has appointed a new chief medical officer, enticing Paul Burton away from Moderna, where he has held the CMO role for nearly two years. In the revamped CMO role he will oversee global medical, global regulatory affairs and strategy, and global patient safety, as well as R&D strategy and operations. This marks a return to Amgen for Burton, who previously worked for the company as a global development leader at an earlier stage in his career.

Lilly makes two senior appointments to UK office. Eli Lilly and Company announced in early June two new senior leadership appointments: Professor Rachel Batterham is in as senior vice president for international medical affairs and environmental shaping in obesity, and Dr Emily Pegg will serve as associate vice president, medical for Northern Europe, covering the UK, Republic of Ireland, and Nordic countries. An obesity expert, Batterham founded and led the Bariatric Centre for Weight Management and Metabolic Surgery at University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Pegg comes from Novartis by way of Takeda, and prior to that, trained as an NHS clinician.

Slew of appointments at Immudolon. UK-based late-stage immunotherapy company Immudolon announced no fewer than six C-Suite hires in the last two months over three separate announcements.

  • Richard Davies, a 30-year pharma vet currently serving as deputy chair of the board at Alvotech, has been appointed chairman of the board.
  • Gertjan Bartlema, former CEO of VICO Therapeutics, who also spent 12 years at Celgene, will take over as CEO.
  • Peter Greaney, who led corporate development at ADC Therapeutics, will serve as chief business officer.
  • Dr Josefine Roemmler-Zehrer joins the company as chief medical officer. She has held senior roles at Celgene, Amgen and Ipsen.
  • Richard Couch, another Celgene vet, is in as chief technology officer.
  • Owen Vaughan is the company’s new chief regulatory officer. He has 30 years of regulatory experience, including at Johnson and Johnson.

Aerami shakes up leadership. Immudolon wasn’t alone in making some major staffing shakeups. Aerami Therapeutics in North Carolina, US, announced three hires, including a new chief operating officer and interim CEO, Joshua Ziel. Ziel has a PhD in biology from Duke University and previously served in an executive role at Syneos Health. The company also appointed Dr Gary Burgess as chief medical officer, and Sarah Fritchley as senior vice president, clinical development and operation. Both bring more than 20 years of experience in clinical development and clinical research, respectively.

Transgene changes up leadership. Transgene, a French biotech working on cancer vaccines, appointed Dr Alessandro Riva as its new CEO and chairman. Previous CEO Hedi Ben Brahim, who was a guest on the pharmaphorum podcast last year, is retiring. Riva has previously served as CEO for Intima Bioscience and Ichnos Sciences, and, before that held leadership positions at Gilead and Novartis.

New CEO in at Amarna. Dutch gene therapy-focused biotech Amarna Therapeutics also announced a new CEO, Dr Henk Streefkerk, who has served as the company’s medical director for the last year. His resumé includes chief medical officer stints at PIQUR Therapeutics, Cellprotera, and Rivia.

Destiny’s CEO steps down. Two companies saw their CEOs depart and haven’t yet announced permanent replacements. At the UK’s Destiny Pharma, CEO Neil Clark has stepped down “to pursue new challenges”, according to the company. Dr Debra Barker, a non-executive director at the company who has leadership experience at Novartis, Roche, and GSK, will serve as interim CEO.

Ribbon Biolabs appoints new CBO. DNA synthesis company Ribbon Biolabs, based in Vienna, hired Jodi Barrientos as its new chief business officer in May. She brings a wealth of relevant expertise, having previously led commercial marketing for the diagnostics genomics group at Agilent technologies. 

Five new CMOs across the biotech world. Other than board appointments (see below), chief medical officer was by far the most prolific title on the list this time around.

  • ADC-focused Danish biotech Adcendo appointed Dr Lone Ottesen to the CMO post, a veteran of GSK, Eisai, and AstraZeneca.
  • Vaccine patch innovator Vaxxas tapped Dr Rochelle Chaiken, who brings 23 years of Pfizer experience.
  • Professor Roger Dmochowski, a renowned researcher in urology, is in at Versameb, a Swiss biotech focused on RNA-based drugs for modulating protein expression.
  • Mablink, a French company also in the ADC space, has brought on Dr Pejvack Motlagh, who brings a wealth of experience from Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and AstraZeneca.
  • German CAR-T firm T-CURX appointed not only a new chief medical officer – Dr Michael Hudecek, the company’s co-founder – but also a new chief clinical officer: Dr Karl Schumacher, whose resumé includes stints at Merck, Novartis, and Sandoz.

Two new C-Suite hires at Topas. Topas Therapeutics, a German company developing new treatments for celiac disease, announced two new senior appointments: Chief business officer Mireia Gómez-Angelats and chief operations officer Christian Schröter. Shröter is a 20+ year veteran of the Merck company, while Gómez-Angelats boasts a more varied career that includes Novartis, Bristol Myers Squibb, Johnson & Johnson, and Almirall.

Amphista adds two to lead team. UK-based targeted protein degradation specialists Amphista have made two technical leadership hires. Louise Modis is the company’s new chief scientific officer, and Ian Churcher, the former CSO, will become chief technology officer. Modis brings bona fides from GlaxoSmithKline, Boehringer Ingelheim, and Millennium Pharmaceuticals.

Three companies name chief development officers. In addition to the CMOs, the last two months also saw a spat of chief development officer appointments.

  • Derm specialists LEO Pharma announced their new CDO, Kreesten Meldgaard Madsen, in late June. Madsen has been with LEO since 2016.
  • Onco-focused biotech Ribonexus named Dr David Howat to the CDO role. Howat, who formerly served as CDO at Haoma Medica and Evgen Pharma, will advance the company’s first lead compound through pre-clinical development and into first-in-human clinical trials.
  • Barcelona-based SpliceBio, a genetic medicines company, hired David Favre as CDO. Favre’s 25 years of gene therapy and immunology experience include stints at AskBio and GSK.

Other miscellaneous hires.

  • Abivax, a Paris-based developer of therapeutics for chronic inflammatory diseases, appointed Ida Hatoum as its new chief people officer. Hatoum, who comes from CinCor Pharma, will oversee the company’s growth strategy in the United States and Europe.
  • LEO Pharma UK hired a new general manager and vice president. A 20-year pharma vet, Leanne Walsh most recently served as General Manager at Aimmune Therapeutics.
  • UK-based biotech Curve Therapeutics, which is testing a novel drug discovery platform, hired Dr Monica Ermann as its new vice president of drug discovery. The company also added two new members to its scientific advisory board: Professor Julian Downward of The Francis Crick Institute and Professor Steven Benkovic of Penn State University.
  • Swedish biotech company Neogap Therapeutics brought in bioinformatics and software development expert Alejandro Fernandez Woodbridge to bolster development of its PIOR software platform for personalised cancer immunotherapy.

Another cascade of board appointments. Once again, board of directors changes were numerous this time around, with a few pieces of news about advisory boards as well. Three companies announced new board chairs.

  • Oxford-based Emergex Vaccines added a new board chair, Sir Michael Rake. Rake is a seasoned board chair who has served in the role at a variety of prestigious UK companies.
  • DNA synthesis company Ribbon Biolabs of Vienna also added a new executive chairman, Roopom Banerjee. Banerjee currently serves as a managing partner at WhiteLeaf Advisors and a senior advisor at Bain Capital.
  • Dr Grace E. Colón, a scientist and executive who previously served as CEO and president of InCarda Therapeutics, is in as board chair at Bloom Science, a San Diego-based firm focused on therapeutics that target the Gut-Brain axis.

Several more companies announced new board members.

  • HUTCHMED, a biopharma based in Hong Kong, tapped Professor Solange Peters, the chair of medical oncology and thoracic malignancies in the Department of Oncology at the University Hospital of Lausanne, as an independent non-executive director.
  • Basel, Switzerland-based Engimmune Therapeutics added Dr Annalisa D’Andrea, former president and chief scientific officer of ImmuneID, to its board.
  • Engitix, a London company working in fibrosis and solid tumours, tapped Dr Sonia Quarantino to join its board as an independent non-executive director. An oncologist, she previously held roles at Novartis and Meck Sorano.
  • Robert Azelby, former CEO of Eliem Therapeutics and Alder BioPharmaceuticals, joined the board of Lausanne, Switzerland-based ADC Therapeutics.
  • Global biopharma BIAL tapped LifeArc CEO Melanie Lee, who previously held positions at GSK, Celltech, and UCB, as a non-executive director.
  • Oncology-focused biotech Exelixis added three new board members – Tom Heyman, Dave Johnson and Bob Oliver – at the behest of its largest active shareholder Farallon Capital Management. The new members are expected to help the company “better allocate capital and focus its R&D efforts”, according to a statement from Farallon.
  • Infectious disease-focused biopharma firm Poolbeg Pharma added Brendan Buckley, former chief medical officer at ICON, as a non-executive director.
  • Stockholm’s Vicore, which focuses on angiotensin II type 2 receptor agonists, added two new members to its board: Dr Elisabeth Björk, a senior vice president at AstraZeneca, and Dr Michael Buschle, co-founder of vaccine company Intercell.

Finally, two companies made announcements about expanding their advisory boards.

  • RNA-based precision medicine company Haya Therapeutics added Washington University cardiologist and noted researcher Dr Douglas L Mann as the new chair of its clinical advisory board.
  • French immunotherapy company Enterome announced the formation of both a scientific advisory board and a medical advisory board. The scientific board consists of Dr David Klatzmann of the Sorbonne University in Paris, Dr Pedro Romero of the University of Lausanne in Switzerland, and Justin Eyquem of UCSF in California. Meanwhile, the medical group comprises Dr Zuzana Jirakova, chief medical officer at Highlight Therapeutics; Peter Kiener, venture partner at ICG Life Sciences; and Dr Alexander Zukiwski, chief medical officer at CASI Pharmaceuticals.

That’s it for this roundup. Remember, if you’ve had a recent appointment and 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.