Changing Faces: Pharma and biotech hires from January 2024

Toshihiro Maeda Sosei Heptares
Images courtesy Sosei Heptares

Toshihiro Maeda has joined Sosei Heptares as its new Chief Operations Officer.

It’s a new year, so we’re kicking it off with the relaunch of Changing Faces after we lost the thread a bit last year. In the month of JPM, we saw plenty of hiring news in the pharma world, the bulk of it in the C-Suite.

Read on for a roundup of the month’s personnel news and stay tuned for two more columns covering the agency world, investors, and pharma suppliers.

Sosei Heptares hires new COO to supervise post-merger integration. Sosei Heptares, a global pharmaceutical company with offices in Japan and the UK, has tapped Toshihiro Maeda as its new chief operating officer. Maeda comes over from Bristol-Myers Squibb, where he was a key player in the integration following the company’s acquisition of Celgene. Post-merger operations will also be a large part of his role at Sosei Heptares, supervising the integration with Japan’s Idorsia Pharmaceuticals.

BenevolentAI concludes CEO search. As we wrote in our full coverage, AI-powered pharma company BenevolentAI tapped Dr Jörg Möller for its CEO role, replacing Joanna Shields. Möller is best known for his 20-year career at Bayer, which culminated in him becoming head of R&D for the group’s pharmaceuticals division before he stepped down in 2020, and shortly afterwards he assumed the same role at Leo Pharma.

Two immunotherapy companies name new CEOs. New York’s ImmunoBrain Checkpoint and Milan’s Enthera Pharmaceuticals both kicked off the new year with new top leadership. ImmunoBrain Checkpoint, which is focused on disease-modifying immune therapies for neurogenerative diseases, brought on Dr Sanjay Keswani as its new president and CEO. An elected Fellow at the Royal College of Physicians in the UK, Keswani’s background includes stints at Hoffman La Roche and Bristol-Myers Squibb, as well as Johns Hopkins. Over at Enthera, which is developing antibody therapeutics for inflammatory diseases, Lisa M Olson, a veteran of Abbott Labs and AbbVie, joined as CEO as the company announced completion of its Phase 1a trial of its lead candidate Ent001.

New chief medical officers for five biotechs. Other than Board of Directors, the most common post we saw filled this month was CMO, with a number of smaller pharmas building up their scientific teams, often with big pharma vets.

  • Abionyx, a French biotech focused on novel treatments for sepsis and critical care, hired Dr Rob Scott, whose bona fides include a long tenure at Abbvie, in which he oversaw 14 regulatory approvals, and stints at J&J, Pfizer, and Amgen. Scott will serve as head of R&D as well as CMO.
  • Barcelona-based genetic medicines company SpliceBio brought on a heavy hitter in the world of ophthalmology in Dr Aniz Girach, who previously headed up the specialty at Merck & Co as well as Eli Lilly.
  • PDS Biotechnology, a Princeton, New Jersey outfit working on cancer immunotherapies, appointed as their CMO Dr Kirk V. Shephard, who has previously held leadership roles at Eisai, Takeda, and Boehringer Ingelheim.
  • Osivax, a French vaccine maker in the infectious disease space, tapped Dr Nicola Groth, who has worked on vaccines for GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis. She replaces Dr Paul Willems, who served five years in the role.
  • Zevra Therapeutics, a Florida company in the rare disease space, named Dr Adrian Quartel as their CMO. Quartel joins the company via acquisition, having previously served as CMO of Acer Therapeutics, which Zevra purchased in November in a $91M deal.

Biotechs add CBOs to drive growth. Both San Francisco’s Star Therapeutics and Strasbourg, France’s Transgene announced new chief business officers this month, with Star’s Scott Robinson also serving as chief financial officer. Robinson comes from DICE Therapeutics (now a part of Eli Lilly) and will help drive growth at Star Therapeutics, which focuses on applying novel biology to unmet needs in haematology and immunology. At Transgene, which is focused on virus-based immunotherapies for cancer, James Wentworth brings 15 years of pharma experience, most recently at Adaptimmune.

Adial taps Board member for C-Suite role. Charlottesville, Virginia-based Adial Pharmaceuticals has added Tony Goodman, already a member of the company’s Board of Directors, to its leadership team as chief operating officer. Adial is a clinical-stage biopharma developing therapies to treat and prevent addiction. Goodman’s 23-year career in pharma includes 11 years at Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals.

Vaxcyte welcomes first chief people officer. Vaxcyte, a California company developing vaccines against bacterial infections, has named Whitney Jones as its first CPO. Jones brings a broad background beyond the pharma space, having led or worked in HR at Sangamo Therapeutics and Novartis Diagnostics, as well as LendingClub and Gap, Inc.

Three more pharma hires. A few more miscellaneous hires before we get into the Boards roundup:

  • Stockholm-based Calliditas Therapeutics, a specialist in novel treatments for orphan indications, tapped Maria Törnsén as president, North America. A veteran of Sanofi Genzyme and Shire, she will lead all the company’s US-based operations.
  • Cambridge, UK-based Arecor Therapeutics has named Dr Helen Parris as SVP, commercial and general manager of the company’s specialty pharma subsidiary Tetris Pharma. Parris comes from Ipsen (via its Albireo Pharma acquisition) and prior to that worked at Gilead in multiple leadership roles.
  • Corcept Therapeutics, a California outfit focused on developing treatments for a range of indications based on modulating cortisol, hired Roberto Vieira in the role of president, oncology. Vieira will bring his experience at Bristol-Myers Squibb to bear on the task of expanding Corcept’s oncology operations.

Catalym bolsters Boards with Keytruda talent, more. Munich-based CatalYm, which is working on a novel immuno-oncology therapy, appointed Roy Baynes to its board of directors. Currently the CMO at Eikon Therapeutics, Baynes is best known as one of the primary architects of the Merck blockbuster Keytruda. The company also announced three distinguished clinical oncologists joining its scientific advisory board: Dr Petros Grivas, Dr Roy S. Herbst, and Andrea Necchi.

Ginkgo launches Biopharma Advisory Board.

More from the Boards. Lots of Board of Director shake-ups came through, as per usual, as well as some advisory and supervisory board changes. Read on for the quick rundown.

  • French biotech Corteria Pharmaceuticals, working in heart failure and obesity, has appointed Dr Mark Pruzanski as its new board chair. Previous chair, Thierry Laugel, will continue to serve on the board. Pruzanski was the CEO of Versanis Bio through its acquisition by Eli Lilly and Co last year, as well as founding Intercept Therapeutics.
  • Revagenix, a California biotech focused on novel antibodies, announced some changes to its Board of Directors in conjunction with its Series B funding round. Andrew Calabrese and Aleks Engel will step down from the Board to make room for Cristina Larkin, Dr Bruce Montgomery, and Michael Lamprecht. Montgomery will take over from Engel on representing Novo Holdings on the Board.
  • Futura Medical, a sexual health-focused pharma, added Roy Davis as a non-executive director. Davis comes from a med tech background, having served as CEO of retinal imaging device company Optos and surgical company Gyros, both of which he saw through to acquisition by Nikon and Olympus Corporation respectively.
  • ITM (or Isotope Technologies Munich), a radiopharmaceuticals firm out of Germany, has tapped Dr Mark Harfensteller as an Executive Board member. It’s an internal appointment, as Harfensteller has been with the company since 2008, currently serving as chief operations officer.
  • Pierre Fabre Laboratories, a French health and beauty company with a strong focus on oncology, added Hervé Hoppenot, CEO of Incyte, to its Supervisory Board, a part of its Board of Directors. His previous leadership roles include Aventis and Novartis.
  • EpiEndo, a Reykjavik outfit addressing inflammatory diseases via enhancing the epithelial barrier, added two new members to its Scientific Advisory Board: Professor Bartolome Celli and Dr Fernando J. Martinez. Celli is a professor of medicine at Harvard and an expert on COPD, while Martinez is the chief of the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York.

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.