2023 spring fling: pharma people on the move

Kyowa Kirin appoints Steve Schaefer as president, North America

Pharma industry veteran Steve Schaefer is now Kyowa Kirin Inc.’s president, North America. Schaefer joined Kyowa Kirin North America after holding key leadership roles at top pharmaceutical companies, including Takeda Pharmaceuticals and Eli Lilly and Company.

“My passion to improve patient lives coincides seamlessly with Kyowa Kirin as they are known for advancing breakthrough medicines with novel mechanisms of action, and I’m committed to accelerating this innovation,” Schaefer says. “I look forward to working with the talented employees across research, development, commercialization, and our business partners to expand the impact of Kyowa Kirin’s innovative therapies and value for patients across North America.”

 Schaefer succeeds Gary Zieziula, who is retiring. Executives say Zieziula assumed the role as president, North America in April 2020, and led the company through a period of tremendous growth and change. Zieziula is returning to the North America Board of Directors where he will continue to advise and help facilitate a smooth transition.

“I’ve enjoyed serving as president over the last three years and am immensely proud of the progress we made bringing in new talent, integrating our North American operations, and adding important capabilities to better serve the needs of patients and providers,” Zieziula says. “Mr. Schaefer’s deep leadership experience makes him well-suited to take the company to new heights and realize our ambition of having a profound impact on patients’ lives. I look forward to working alongside him as a board member, to further strengthen and grow the organization.”

Schaefer brings more than 25 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry and a consistent record of accomplishments as a senior executive across multiple therapeutic areas. In his most recent role as senior VP, Neuroscience Business Unit and head of U.S. Commercial Operations at Takeda, Schaefer was responsible for a commercial portfolio of specialty medicines delivering multi-billion dollar annual revenues as well as commercial data and advanced analytics, forecasting, sales and marketing operations, and corporate training and leadership development. Prior to Takeda, Schaefer held roles with Eli Lilly in marketing, sales, and general management.

Schaefer is a decorated veteran, serving as captain in the United States Marine Corps, and continues to be a strong advocate of veterans’ causes. He holds a BA in economics from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and an MBA from La Salle University, Philadelphia.

According to executives, KKNA is the fastest growing region in Kyowa Kirin’s global footprint. The region markets first-in-class medicines in three therapeutic areas: neurology, oncology, and rare disease. With nearly 600 employees in the U.S. and Canada, KKNA now represents more than a quarter of Kyowa Kirin’s global revenues.

“Under Gary’s leadership, KKNA has made great progress managing the successful growth of three commercial franchises and fostering a strong business culture,” says Masashi Miyamoto, president and CEO, Kyowa Kirin Co., Ltd. “We believe Steve’s leadership experience and passion for fostering cross-functional, patient-focused innovation will fuel our continued success. I’m excited to work with Steve and our entire leadership team to ensure a seamless transition.

Poseida Therapeutics appoints president for cell therapy unit

Kristin Yarema, Ph.D., has joined Poseida Therapeutics Inc. as president, cell therapy. “Kristin brings extensive biopharmaceutical experience in oncology and allogeneic T-cell immunotherapy to Poseida, and I am excited to welcome her to our leadership team,” says Mark Gergen, CEO of Poseida. “With her strategic, business and scientific background, she is a proven leader who has overseen all aspects of commercialization of product candidates across multiple therapeutic areas including the first approval of an allogeneic T-cell therapy. Alongside our outstanding team, she will lead the execution of drug development programs in cell therapy, including our collaboration with Roche. I look forward to working with Kristin as we continue to focus on redefining cell and gene therapy for patients in need.”

Throughout her career in the biopharmaceutical industry, Yarema has led product strategy and commercialization for therapies at all stages of their life cycle. She joined Poseida after most recently serving as chief commercial officer at Atara Biotherapeutics, where she led the commercialization of Ebvallo, which became the world’s first marketed allogeneic T-cell therapy after receiving regulatory approval in Europe for the treatment of a rare lymphoma. She also drove product and portfolio strategy and commercialization for allogeneic pipeline therapies including CAR-Ts for liquid and solid tumors, as well as allogeneic T-cell therapy for multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune diseases. 

Prior to her time at Atara, she held a series of U.S. and global commercial leadership roles at Amgen, including most recently VP and therapeutic area head for global product strategy and commercial innovation in hematology-oncology, where her work included CAR-T, T-cell engagers, and other innovative therapies. She served in commercial VP roles for many other brands and pipeline assets within Amgen’s portfolio, including those in neuroscience and autoimmune diseases, and initiated programs in rare and orphan diseases. 

Earlier in her career, Yarema held a variety of roles at Novartis and McKinsey & Company, where she led commercialization, portfolio planning, strategy, clinical development including for an orphan disease development program, and pricing and reimbursement projects for the companies across the United States, Europe, and Asia.

“I am thrilled to join Poseida and look forward to working with an exceptional team that is pioneering a differentiated approach to cell therapy,” Yarema said. “It’s a pivotal time to join Poseida as the company advances its cell therapy pipeline led by two Phase 1 allogeneic CAR-T product candidates – P-BCMA-ALLO1 in multiple myeloma, in partnership with Roche, and its wholly owned P-MUC1C-ALLO1 program in solid tumor indications. With its proprietary genetic engineering technologies and focus on allogeneic cell therapy products, I believe Poseida is boldly developing advanced, novel medicines with the potential to transform patient outcomes and the future of cancer care.”

Yarema earned a Ph.D. in biochemical engineering from University of California, Berkeley, and is a graduate of Stanford University, where she earned dual bachelor’s degrees in chemical engineering and English. In addition, she serves on the boards of directors of the Celiac Disease Foundation, a U.S.-based patient advocacy group, and the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine, the cell and gene therapy industry association. 

Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma America reorganizes, appoints new leadership

Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Holdings America, Inc. (MTHA) and Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Development America, Inc. (MTDA) have merged into Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma America, Inc. (MTPA). As part of the planned reorganization, Yasutoshi Kawakami has been appointed as the new president of MTPA focused on driving growth in North America, while former president, Atsushi “Andy” Fujimoto, will return to Japan to continue his career at MTPA’s overseas parent company, Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation (MTPC).

“I have been part of MTPC Group for decades, and I am honored to be appointed as the president of MTPA,” Kawakami says. “This merger is part of our long-term vision to integrate our diverse group of U.S. companies, and I’m confident it will help us continue to advance our late-stage pipeline development while also focusing on providing continued support to the patient communities we currently serve.”

The merger of these companies includes consolidation of all operations and business units making MTPA the only subsidiary of the Japanese parent company in the United States. Executives say MTPA remains dedicated to improving the treatment landscape and creating hope for those living with debilitating diseases.

Kawakami has had an extensive career, holding various leadership roles in international and Japanese businesses. Over the last 30 years, he has played an integral role at MTPA’s parent company in Japan. In addition to his appointment as president of MTPA, Kawakami is VP, head of U.S. and Europe Business, at MTPC tasked with leading the continued growth of global business, especially in the U.S. and Europe. Prior to the new appointment, Kawakami was the president of MTPA’s former U.S. parent company, MTHA.

“During my tenure at MTPA, we accomplished a number of successful launches. The company has grown exponentially and solidified our position and commitment to helping those with devastating diseases,” Fujimoto says. “I’m pleased with the appointment of Yasutoshi Kawakami as president of MTPA. His expertise in strategy and business development will lead the company into the future and I look forward to the continued growth of MTPA with my full support from Japan.”

MTPA will maintain its headquarters in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Amphista expands senior team 

Louise Modis, Ph.D., has joined Amphista Therapeutics, as chief scientific officer and Ian Churcher will transition to the role of chief technology officer.

In his new role, Churcher will focus on leading the continued development of the Amphista’s proprietary degrader platform alongside Modis, who will lead drug discovery to further build the company’s portfolio of targeted protein degrader therapeutics.

“Amphista is growing rapidly as we continue to advance our TPD Eclipsys platform and pipeline,” says CEO Nicola Thompson. “In light of this, we are expanding our senior team with the appointment of Louise. I am delighted that Ian has accepted the role of CTO so he can focus on his depth of expertise in TPD technologies whilst Louise brings a great breadth of experience in advancing drug discovery programs from target identification through to clinical proof-of-concept.”

Modis has more than 20 years’ experience in R&D across a range of modalities and therapeutic areas and joins Amphista from the chief scientific officer position at Mogrify. Previously, she was VP and Discovery Performance Unit head and sponsor of the Immunology Network at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). Prior to GSK, she held scientific leadership roles at Boehringer Ingelheim and Millennium Pharmaceuticals. Modis received her Ph.D. from EMBL in Heidelberg, Germany.

“Amphista has a truly differentiated approach to TPD and I am thrilled to join the company at such an exciting time,” Modis says. “I look forward to working with Ian and the wider team to continue to build the pipeline across different therapy areas.”

According to Churcher, “The rapid scientific progress we have made means it is the right time to broaden our senior team. I am looking forward to working with Louise as we continue to develop our technology platform and in parallel build our pipeline.”

Esperovax appoints new president and CEO  

Esperovax Inc., a leading oral RNA vaccine and therapeutic technology company specializing in oral mRNA-based medicines, has made Robin Robinson, Ph.D., president and CEO. Robinson is leading the company from technology discovery and early development into the next stages of pre-clinical/clinical product development and the company’s financial growth.

“Esperovax oral RNA technologies are ripe for further development of selected product candidates in animal and early-stage clinical studies,” Robinson says. “These technologies and supportive data are well-suited to meet vaccine needs for better long-lasting mucosal immunity and to metabolic disease and oncology therapeutic needs for oral RNA drug delivery and gene specific tissue-targeting.

“I have followed Esperovax for several years as a member of the scientific advisory board, and I am excited to lead the talented Esperovax team to develop new and better medicines to the global community and to build stronger value for our shareholders through long-term strategic collaborations and industry partnerships.” 

Esperovax’s previous CEO, David O’Hagan, Ph.D., will continue his scientific leadership in the company’s R&D and daily operations.

Executives say Robinson is a renowned international scientific and public health leader in novel and innovative vaccines and biothreat medical countermeasures as the former vaccine director at Novavax Inc. and the founding director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) in the United States. 

A pioneer in the creation of virus-like particle (VLP) vaccines, several of Robinson’s VLP vaccines are licensed and marketed globally. At BARDA using a public-private partnership model, he led hundreds of early-stage product candidates through advanced clinical and manufacturing development resulting in more than 60 FDA-approved and marketed products to date.

Recently Robinson led the development of a novel stem cell therapy to treat wounds from a pre-clinical stage product into clinical studies while serving as the chief scientific officer at RenovaCare Inc. “This successful effort required his integration of multi-national R&D, manufacturing, and clinical site partners with regulatory agencies,” executives say. “These previous and current experiences and skills will serve Esperovax well during its evolving growth.”

According to Esperovax Board Chairman Roger Newton, “The appointment of Dr. Robinson as CEO marks a notable milestone for Esperovax, an organization committed to addressing unmet medical needs and providing hope to patients worldwide, the meaning of ‘Esperar’ in Esperovax. Through the development of cutting-edge mRNA-based therapies, the company aims to revolutionize the field of medicine. With Dr. Robinson at the helm, Esperovax is poised to deliver on its promise of life-saving therapies that will improve the health and wellbeing of individuals across the globe.”

ImmVira gets new chief medical officer 

ImmVira has appointed Dr. Oliver Kong as chief medical officer (CMO). Executives say Dr. Kong will be fully in charge of global clinical development and international collaboration of company pipelines, and participate in overall corporate strategy planning and implementation.

Before joining ImmVira, Kong served as chief medical officer and corporate VP at Qilu Pharmaceuticals, VP of clinical oncology at Hengrui Therapeutics, senior global medical leader of Global Medical Affairs at Novartis Oncology, senior medical director at Celgene, and medical director of U.S. Medical Affairs at Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals.

“Providing more effective and safe cancer treatment solutions for global patients has always been my motivation. I truly believe that oncolytic virotherapy has great potential to further meet urgent unmet medical needs,” Kong says. “Clinical data of ImmVira’s ongoing pipelines is very encouraging. I am honored to join the company and looking forward to working together with experienced science team, to advance R&D process of company’s promising pipelines and expedite early access of our oncolytic products to global markets, in order to bring new hope to patients.”

According to Dr. Grace Zhou, ImmVira’s chairwoman and CEO, “We warmly welcome Dr. Kong to join us. Dr. Kong has extensive experience and excellent leadership in drug development and clinical research. He will help accelerate our global presence, enhance clinical development, and promote global collaboration. ImmVira will step into next stage of rapid growth towards an integrated biological vector platform covering R&D, CMC, and clinical development, for the purpose of benefiting patients as soon as possible. “

New CEO for Zentiva

Zentiva has appointed Steffen Saltofte to the role of CEO, succeeding Nick Haggar, who moves to the Zentiva Advisory Committee as a non-executive member. Saltofte joined the company as CEO with effect on May 2, 2023.

Saltofte joins from Acino, where he was CEO from 2018 until 2022. Executives say he brings a wealth of strategic and operational experience from large multinationals and fast growing companies, and will lead the further acceleration of Zentiva. He will be based in Prague.

“I am excited to be joining Zentiva, a company with a strong track record in business growth and customer focus,” Saltofte says.
“Together we will continue this growth story, bringing high-quality affordable medicines to people across Europe and beyond. Health and access to medicines are more important than ever and I am fully committed to Zentiva’s mission.”

Biohaven expands executive leadership 

Biohaven Ltd. has hired Nick Kozauer, M.D., as senior VP for clinical development and regulatory strategy.  

Kozauer comes to Biohaven after an accomplished career at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), where he served in positions of increasing responsibility, most recently as director of the Division of Neurology 2 in the Office of New Drugs. During his tenure at the FDA, Kozauer led the division responsible for the regulation of all Investigational New Drug (IND) applications, New Drug Applications (NDAs), and Biological Licensing Applications (BLAs) for drugs being developed and/or approved for the treatment of neuroimmunologic conditions, epilepsies, migraine, stroke, traumatic brain injury, inner ear disorders, and other products.

“It is a great honor to welcome Dr. Kozauer to the Biohaven team,” says Vlad Coric, M.D., chairman and CEO. “Dr. Kozauer is a true clinician-researcher who has supervised and reviewed the approval of over 15 marketed drugs during his tenure at the FDA. His knowledge and expertise in the regulatory process, as well as his deep experience in diseases including neuroimmunology and epilepsy, will only strengthen Biohaven’s ability to efficiently advance our robust pipeline of compounds and deliver novel treatments in high unmet need areas in neuroscience for patients and their families. Dr. Kozauer has already positively impacted patient care during his time at the FDA and we are excited to have him on our team to help us innovate new therapies.”

Before joining the FDA, Kozauer worked in academia at the Johns Hopkins Memory Center at the Copper Ridge Institute where he oversaw clinical care of patients with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, and in private practice focusing on complex neuropsychiatric conditions. He completed his residency and fellowship training at Georgetown University Medical Center and Johns Hopkins, respectively, and received his M.D. from Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School.

“I am energized by the opportunity to work with such an experienced, dynamic, and patient-focused group of individuals pursuing groundbreaking science to develop a broad range of therapies for serious diseases with unmet medical needs,” Kozauer says. “The team at Biohaven has demonstrated its ability to bring innovative medicines to patients and has an exciting portfolio including immune modulating agents, ion channel activators, myostatin targeting agent and other investigational drugs targeting ultra-rare diseases.”

New chief commercial officer for Maplight Therapeutics 

Charmaine Lykins has become chief commercial officer of MapLight Therapeutics, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing targeted, highly effective therapeutics to improve the lives of those with difficult-to-treat brain disorders.

“We are pleased to welcome Charmaine to our leadership team at this pivotal time for MapLight,” says Chris Kroeger, M.D., MapLight’s founder and CEO. “She is a recognized leader with unparalleled experience developing the early commercialization strategy for neurology and psychiatry treatments and launching those treatments in the market. Her expertise will be invaluable to us in this new role, as we progress our clinical and pre-clinical pipeline.” 

Lykins brings more than 25 years of neuroscience-focused pharmaceutical commercial experience across multiple organizations recognized as leaders in developing and commercializing medicines for central nervous system disorders, including Eli Lilly, Lundbeck, Sunovion, and ACADIA Pharmaceuticals. 

“It’s an exciting time to be joining MapLight and I am honored to work with this distinguished team of neuroscience research and development leaders,” Lykins says. “The majority of my career has been dedicated to commercializing new treatments in MapLight’s therapeutic areas of focus, where there still are significant unmet needs for patients and caregivers. I look forward to working with the team to bring differentiated, innovative treatments to people with autism, schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease, and other CNS conditions.”

Lykins most recently served as chief commercial officer at Karuna Therapeutics, where she led planning and execution of the organization’s commercial capabilities in preparation for the launch of KarXT. Prior to Karuna, she was senior VP, global product planning and chief marketing  officer for Acadia, where she led Nuplazid  Parkinson’s disease psychosis marketing, new product planning, and launch preparations for dementia-related psychosis. Prior to Acadia, she led commercialization and planning efforts for Lundbeck’s portfolio of schizophrenia treatments from early development through commercialization. 

Her U.S. and global commercialization and strategic planning experience consists of 10 product launches, including Rexulti in schizophrenia, depression, and agitation in Alzheimer’s disease, Abilify Maintena in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, Latuda, Cynbalta, and Zyprexa.

Lykins received her MBA with an emphasis in international business from the University of South Carolina and received her bachelor’s degree in chemistry and honors humanities from Ball State University.

Acasti appoints CEO 

Acasti Pharma Inc. has named Prashant Kohli as CEO, succeeding Jan D’Alvise. The parties have mutually agreed to part ways, and D’Alvise will be stepping down from the board.

Kohli served as chief commercial officer of Acasti since 2022. He has more than 20 years of commercialization experience leading strategy, sales, marketing, and product management. Before then he was VP, commercial operations of Acasti and at Grace Therapeutics, prior to its acquisition by Acasti in August 2021. Kohli has also held a variety of commercial, corporate, and business development roles at Archi-Tech Systems, Cardinal Health, IQVIA, Rosenbluth, and Dun & Bradstreet. He has a BA in computer science and math, and an MBA from The Wharton School.

“Acasti is at an exciting point in its development as we advance GTX-104 into its upcoming Phase III safety study and are fortunate to have someone with Prashant’s wealth of experience to lead us into this next stage in our evolution,” says Vimal Kavuru, Acasti’s board chair. “Prashant’s expertise crafting go-to-market plans for products with unique value proposition that address critical unmet needs, coupled with his commercial partnering capabilities, will serve us well going forward.”

Executives say over his career, Kohli has built, deployed, and led sales and marketing efforts from the ground-up with significant experience in P&L accountability, product development, salesforce design and deployment, branding, market access, and distribution. He has successfully implemented evidence-based, consultative-selling model that are rooted in deep understanding of the health ecosystem including patients, providers, health systems, government, and payers.

“I am extremely excited for the opportunity to lead Acasti going forward,” Kohli says, “We have a tremendous opportunity ahead of us to bring effective treatments to severely underserved patient population, led by GTX-104’s advancement to a Phase III safety study in patients with SAH. I look forward to leveraging my commercialization and partnering experience in this new role to bring value to Acasti.”

Key executive appointments made at Flare Therapeutics

Flare Therapeutics Inc. has named Michael L. Meyers, M.D., Ph.D. as chief medical officer. The company also promoted Daphne Karydas, formerly chief operating officer and chief financial officer, to president and chief financial officer, and Michaela Bowden, Ph.D., formerly senior VP, Biology & Translation, to chief development officer. 

“Our commitment to strengthening our team reflects the tremendous progress we have made to date and the pivotal year ahead of us as we transition into a clinical stage company,” says Amit Rakhit, M.D., CEO. “We are excited to welcome Michael to the team as chief medical officer; his long-standing and renowned expertise in the field of oncology will be instrumental to the progress of our therapeutic programs and pipeline. Daphne and Michaela were the first two executives onboarded following Flare’s launch two years ago, and both have proven to be inspirational leaders in both internal and forward-facing capacities, bringing a diversity of perspectives and experiences that have proven invaluable.”

Before joining Flare, Meyers was chief medical officer and senior VP, chief development officer at Syndax Pharmaceuticals. Previously, he had held senior-level roles at Johnson & Johnson (J&J), including VP, GU Oncology, compound and clinical leader, and VP, Oncology Scientific Innovation in J&J’s London Innovation Centre. Executives say he has actively led numerous early- and late-stage oncology programs culminating in world-wide regulatory approvals and successful launches. Meyers served on the faculty at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, specializing in clinical immunology and melanoma. He received his M.D. and his Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to apply my previous learnings from navigating clinical and regulatory milestones in oncology as we advance our lead program, FX-909, into a Phase I trial and further expand our library of compounds targeting transcription factors thought to be previously undruggable,” Meyers says. “I look forward to working with the impressive Flare team to progress the company’s precision oncology programs and bring much needed new therapeutic options to patients.”

Karydas has more than 20 years of experience in financial and operations leadership roles, bringing an interdisciplinary approach to implementing growth strategies for biopharmaceutical and asset management companies. Prior to joining Flare Therapeutics in October 2021, Karydas was chief financial officer for Syndax Pharmaceuticals. Previously, she worked at Allergan in roles as senior VP of Corporate Financial Planning & Analysis and Strategy, where she oversaw the company’s long-term financial and business strategy until its acquisition by AbbVie in May 2020, and as senior VP of global investor relations and strategy. She received a B.A. and M.S. in chemical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Bowden is an accomplished research scientist with more than 15 years of interdisciplinary translational expertise spanning academia, biotech, and biopharma. Before joining Flare in October 2021, Bowden was at Bristol Myers Squibb where she served as executive director of translational medicine and led the solid tumor team focused on addressing resistance to immuno-oncology therapies, supporting the next-gen drug development pipeline. She also held scientific leadership roles at Dana-
Farber Cancer Institute. Bowden has expertise in patient-centric approaches to elucidating novel biology and biomarker insights to support clinical development, leveraging research partnerships across a diverse oncology network at the intersection of disruptive technology, real-world data and evidence and clinical diagnostics. Bowden has a B.Sc. and Ph.D from Dublin City University and continued her post-doctoral professional training at Tufts University and as a research fellow at Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, Inc.

Eiger strengthens management team 

Eiger BioPharmaceuticals Inc. made William G. Kachioff chief financial officer, and James A. Vollins general counsel, chief compliance officer and corporate secretary.

“We are excited to welcome two seasoned biotech executives to the Eiger executive team, both of whom have a proven track record of delivering results and creating significant shareholder value,” says David Apelian, M.D., Ph.D., interim CEO. “Mr. Kachioff brings extensive financial and strategic expertise, combined with a deep knowledge of the biotechnology sector. Mr. Vollins’ extensive legal expertise and insight will be invaluable as we continue to advance our programs. Their appointments come during a pivotal time as we complete our program prioritization analyses to assess the most promising drivers of shareholder value. Both will be strong partners as we complete the transition and lead the company forward.”

Kachioff says he is “thrilled” to join Eiger given the company’s deep pipeline of promising innovative agents to treat rare diseases.

“This deep pipeline has the potential to provide tremendous optionality to build shareholder value. I look forward to contributing to the company’s near-term prioritization process as well as helping the company execute its strategic plan and deliver value for its shareholders.”

Kachioff is described as highly experienced in corporate finance, investor relations, capital formation, corporate governance and manufacturing accounting and systems. He has more than 30 years of life sciences industry experience and is currently a consulting CFO with Danforth Advisors, with whom Eiger has contracted for his services. 

Kachioff recently served as interim CFO at Aduro Biotech (now Chinook Therapeutics) and previously served as CFO at GenomeDx Biosciences (now Veracyte) and Biocept. Prior to that, he was CFO at Althea Technologies (now Ajinomoto Bio-Pharma). He has served as CFO at MicroIslet and was director of finance at Cutera, where he prepared the company for the commercial launch of its first product and its initial public offering. 

Kachioff has a B.S. in management from the State University of New York at Buffalo and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Association of Bioscience Financial Officers. He began his professional career as an auditor with Deloitte.

Vollins says he is honored by the opportunity to lead Eiger’s legal and compliance organization “in our mission to develop innovative therapies for the treatment of serious diseases. I look forward to contributing to the next phase of Eiger’s planned growth with a commitment to integrity and compliance while increasing shareholder value.”

Vollins is an experienced public company, biotechnology, and healthcare compliance attorney with significant executive leadership experience and a focus on scaling high-quality biotech companies and best-in-class compliance programs. During his 30-year legal career, he has worked for several global biotechnology companies in roles of increasing responsibility. Prior to joining Eiger, he was general counsel, chief compliance officer and corporate secretary at BioDelivery Sciences International Inc. Prior to that, he was general counsel, chief compliance officer and corporate secretary at Bio Products Laboratory Limited. He also served in a variety of roles with increasing responsibility at Grifols Inc., Talecris Biotherapeutics Inc., and Pfizer Inc. 

Vollins’ career highlights include several significant M&A transactions, numerous successful drug launches, and the IPO of Talecris Biotherapeutics, Inc. He began his legal career as a commercial litigator and has tried cases and argued appeals in state and federal courts throughout the United States.

BIORCHESTRA grows leadership team 

David Oxley has become chief business officer at BIORCHESTRA. Executives say Oxley will lead global corporate strategy, including commercial partnerships and capital markets outside Korea.

Oxley brings extensive experience in developing corporate strategy, leading cross-borders licensing transactions, and global capital markets strategy to the company. “With a unique combination of experience in next-generation genetic and cellular medicine, Mr. Oxley’s credentials include designing and prosecuting the construction of a complex cellular medicine business plan for Hong Kong Listing in China and the Asia Pacific, commercializing first-in-category products, and leading global cross-border licensing transactions,” executives say. In addition, Oxley brings experience building high-performing global sales and marketing organizations to support the company’s strategic plan.

“We are delighted to add Mr. Oxley to our executive leadership team,” says Dr. Branden Ryu, BIORCHESTRA’s scientific founder, chairman, and CEO. “Mr. Oxley brings unique global commercial and investment banking skillsets to enhance our executive management functions.  As we accelerate the development of our lead program, BMD-001, within our neurological diseases franchise targeting Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease, Mr. Oxley will play a critical commercial strategy, licensing, and capital markets leadership role within our global organization.”

“In addition to his expertise in the U.S. capital markets and overseeing global, cross-border commercialization and licensing functions, Mr. Oxley’s expansive knowledge and experience in China and throughout Asia will bring added value to our global strategy,” says Louis St. L. O’Dea, M.D., president and chief medical officer.  “As part of our global strategic plan, we are assembling an executive team that leverages the world-class RNA, genetic-medicine research, pharmacological, commercial, and investment banking resources around the Boston/Cambridge hub. This team now includes Mr. Oxley’s extensive corporate strategy and global commercial and capital markets experience, and we look forward to his contributions.”   

According to Young-Gil Kim, chief financial officer, Oxley will serve a vital role in prosecuting the company’s global corporate strategy, joining “ahead of significant stages of strategic growth where his capital markets contributions to our financial strategy and plan execution will be essential.” 

“World-class researchers at BIORCHESTRA, led by Dr. Ryu, have discovered a rare epigenetic target common across Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease and successfully developed a proprietary, IV-formulated RNA encapsulation approach, with very encouraging in-vivo results across rodent, and non-human primate models,” Oxley says. “Significant downregulation of the epigenetic target across diverse brain regions following IV injection at a non-toxic, low dose is a highly encouraging outcome. The promise inherent in BMD-001 to offer a potential first and best-in-class RNAi therapeutic to patients with certain neurodegenerative diseases is inspiring. It is a privilege to join this extraordinary team of passionate researchers unified by a common mission.”

Ascidian makes three key development team appointments 

Ascidian Therapeutics made three new appointments to its growing development team as the biotech company advances its lead program into the clinic.

Alia Rashid, MBChB, joined as VP, clinical development; Sarah DiSalvatore has been appointed VP, clinical operations; and Carmen Jacome will serve as VP, program management. They join as Ascidian prepares for its first-in-human study in its lead program targeting ABCA4 retinopathies and progresses its diversified pipeline of programs in retinal, neurological, neuromuscular, and genetically defined diseases.

“This is an exciting and very important time for Ascidian as we advance our lead program using our proprietary platform for rewriting RNA into the clinic,” says Jay A. Barth, M.D., chief medical officer of Ascidian Therapeutics. “We’re thrilled to welcome Alia, Sarah, and Carmen – who bring deep expertise in their respective areas of focus, with experience-based knowledge from preclinical studies and all phases of clinical development through marketing authorization. I look forward to the many contributions they’ll bring to Ascidian for the benefit of patients as we advance this program and move our full pipeline forward to provide breakthrough therapies that address underlying causes of disease.”

Rashid joins Ascidian to help lead the clinical elements of the IND submission and oversee clinical studies in ABCA4 retinopathy. She will also help set strategic direction and manage clinical development activities for the company’s overall retinal pipeline.

As an ophthalmologist with extensive experience in inherited retinal diseases, Rashid brings expertise in ophthalmic pathology, ophthalmic imaging, and drug development spanning multiple modalities and indications, including AAV-mediated approaches for various retinal conditions. She was the clinical lead for the IND application and designed and oversaw clinical trials for the first functional, recombinant Complement Factor H (CFH) in dry age-related macular degeneration (dry AMD) while at Gemini Therapeutics. As senior director and clinical development lead for ophthalmology at Editas Medicine, Rashid helped lead clinical development for its CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technology for patients with Leber congenital amaurosis type 10 (LCA10) – a rare genetic disease that causes blindness. She also focused on Phase II and Phase IV clinical studies for patients with wet AMD and diabetic retinopathy at Genentech and led pilot studies in ophthalmology innovation and mHealth to improve clinical trials.

Rashid completed fellowships in ophthalmic pathology at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear/Harvard Medical School and ophthalmic oncology and pathology at Emory University, and earned her medical degree from the University of Birmingham in the UK.

As VP of clinical operations, DiSalvatore will be responsible for execution of Ascidian’s first ever clinical trials. She brings more than 25 years of experience in end-to-end research and development and wide-ranging expertise across many challenging therapeutic categories and modalities, including both AAV and lentiviral vector (LVV) gene therapies. Most recently, DiSalvatore served as VP of clinical operations at AGTC (Applied Genetic Technologies Corp.), managing overall clinical operations for the company’s gene therapy trials in rare diseases and ophthalmology. Prior to that, she was assistant VP of clinical operations at Rocket Pharma. DiSalvatore also has experience leading teams at both large pharmaceutical companies, such as Roche, as well as biotech startups, including Stemline Therapeutics, where she initiated six clinical trials and contributed to filing three Investigational New Drugs (INDs) within three years.

Jacome joins Ascidian to lead the company’s program management function, which will work cross-functionally to meet key deliverables, milestones, and timelines – from drug candidate selection, through clinical proof of concept and full development across Ascidian’s diversified pipeline. She brings over 20 years of experience in project leadership including 10 product launches across diverse platforms including: ophthalmology, bacterial infections, osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, and consumer products. Most recently, while at Flexion Therapeutics, Jacome managed launch readiness and commercialization of Zilretta, the company’s first approved product.

She earned her graduate certificate in program management from Stanford University and her MBA in international business from the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina.

Inceptor Bio appoints CEO

Matthias Schroff, Ph.D. has become CEO of Inceptor Bio as well as joining the board of directors. He succeeds Shailesh Maingi, who will remain as executive chairman. 

According to executives, Schroff has extensive biopharmaceutical leadership experience with a track record of success building companies and developing new medicines in immuno-oncology, inflammatory diseases, and genetic disorders. Schroff was most recently CEO of Exicure.

“I am thrilled to be taking on this new role at such an important time,” Schroff says. “Inceptor Bio’s commitment to advancing a diversified pipeline of cell therapies is highly differentiated, and I am excited to join the team at this important inflection point.”

Prior to his role at Exicure, Schroff was the CEO of Vaximm AG and held several positions on management levels at Mologen, ultimately rising to CEO. Schroff earned a degree in biochemistry at the University of Leibniz, Hannover and his doctorate of molecular biology from Freie University, Berlin.

“I am excited about the next chapter for the company under Matthias’s leadership,” Maingi says. “I am proud of the team we have built and all that we have accomplished together. Matthias’s background and expertise in leading teams to success is a perfect fit for this stage of Inceptor’s growth.”

New CEO, chairman for Heron

Heron Therapeutics Inc. has appointed Craig Collard as CEO, succeeding Barry Quart, Pharm.D., who stepped down. As part of the leadership change, the board elected Adam Morgan as chairman.

According to executives, Collard brings more than three decades of experience leading innovative pharmaceutical companies through periods of strategic change to deliver growth and enhanced value for stockholders. Most recently, he was CEO of Veloxis Pharmaceutics A/S before its acquisition by Asahi Kasei Corp.

“I am excited to be leading the Heron team,” Collard says. “Heron has exciting franchises in acute care and supportive oncology care. I am confident that we can continue delivering value to our patients, customers, employees, and stockholders as we transition to a commercially focused entity. I look forward to working closely with the board and the Heron team to optimize and advance the Company into its next phase of growth.”

As part of the board of directors’ commitment to strong corporate governance, the roles of chairman and CEO were separated. Additionally, the size of the board was reduced to seven members.

Collard remains on the Veloxis board of advisors.  Prior to joining Veloxis, he was the CEO and chairman of Cornerstone Therapeutics Inc. Collard also served as Cornerstone’s interim chief financial officer as well as its president, from 2008 to 2011. Collard was the founder, president, and CEO of Cornerstone BioPharma Inc., and as a member of its board of directors. Before then, he was president and CEO of Carolina Pharmaceuticals Inc., a specialty pharmaceutical company that he founded in 2003. 

Collard currently serves on the board of directors of TerrAscend Corp., and was previously a member of the board of directors of Sierra Oncology Inc. He also served as chairman of Opiant Pharmaceuticals Inc. He holds a B.S. in Engineering from the Southern College of Technology (now Southern Polytechnic State University).

Morgan is the chief investment officer of Velan Capital Investment Management LP, and is on the board of directors of Alimera Sciences Inc., where he is a director and member of the company’s Compensation Committee, and Health Outlook Corporation, where he acts as a director and chair of the company’s audit committee. 

Morgan previously was a senior analyst at Broadfin Capital LLC, a healthcare dedicated investment firm. Prior to that, he served as senior analyst at Iguana Healthcare Partners LLC, and was an analyst at Pura Vida Investments LLC. Earlier in his career, Morgan was a research associate at Cowen and Company. He received his B.S. in chemistry from the University of Minnesota and his MBA from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota.

New CMO for Flamingo Therapeutics

Andrew E. Denker, M.D., Ph.D., has become chief medical officer for Flamingo Therapeutics.

Denker is a physician-scientist with more than two decades of biotech and pharmaceutical industry experience in clinical development across multiple modalities and therapeutic areas, including oncology and rare disease. Executives say in his new role, he will be responsible for leading and expanding Flamingo’s clinical portfolio and will serve as a key member of its executive leadership team. Denker will be based in Flamingo’s U.S. headquarters in Philadelphia.

“We are pleased that Andrew is joining Flamingo at such an exciting time in our company’s growth, as we prepare for our Phase II clinical study PEMDA-HN of danvatirsen in combination with pembrolizumab in patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma,” says Stephane van Rooijen, CEO.  “Andrew’s extensive oncology expertise and proven track record in building and leading clinical teams will strengthen our capabilities as we continue to build a global RNA therapeutics company focused on clinical execution.”

Prior to joining Flamingo, Denker served as VP early development at ElevateBio Technologies.  Prior to ElevateBio, he held several positions of increasing responsibility at Alexion Pharmaceuticals, including VP, clinical development services, and held several positions at Merck Sharp & Dohme, ultimately serving as executive director, clinical oncology.  He received an A.B. from Princeton University, his M.D. and Ph.D. from Thomas Jefferson University, and completed a general surgery internship and post-doctoral research at Washington University School of Medicine.

“I am excited about the Flamingo pipeline and believe that the company’s STAT3 inhibitor danvatirsen holds significant promise to benefit patients in many oncology indications, including head and neck cancer,” Denker says. “The company’s deep expertise in RNA therapeutics and oncology development, coupled with its outstanding team and partners, make this a compelling opportunity for me. I look forward to working with the team and board to advance Flamingo’s clinical portfolio and improve the lives of patients with cancer.”