Pharma people on the move: Winter 2024 roundup

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Pharma people on the move: Winter 2024 roundup

A review of the latest leadership moves in the pharma industry.

By Christiane Truelove | [email protected]

Plexium appoints president and CEO

Michael Martin, Ph.D., has become president and CEO and a member of the board of directors of Plexium Inc. Dr. Martin joins Plexium following his 12-year tenure at Takeda Pharmaceuticals, serving most recently as the global head of the Center for External Innovation where he was a key member of Takeda’s leadership team. While in this role, he was responsible for external research and development activities including business development, search and evaluation, strategy and operations, academic alliances, and Takeda Ventures Inc.

“Mike brings tremendous experience to Plexium as a scientific executive, global R&D leader, venture investor, and corporate board member,” said Mike Grey, executive chairman of Plexium. “He has led the strategic, global development of highly innovative therapies, with significant expertise in accelerating and establishing valuable pipelines driven by novel biology and drug targets. I look forward to working with Mike to advance our clinical-stage pipeline and progressing more TPD programs against important cancer targets into the clinic.”

“I am proud to join the established team at Plexium and am eager to work together towards developing transformative therapies for difficult-to-treat cancers and other diseases,” Dr. Martin said. “I believe that Plexium is well positioned for success with the recent advancement of PLX-4545 into Phase I and the advancing preclinical pipeline of small molecule monovalent degraders of SMARCA2, CDK2 and c-Raf. I am excited to lead Plexium and continue to build a leading TPD company focused on improving patients’ lives.”

Dr. Martin joined Takeda in 2012 and prior to his most recent role, he was president of Takeda Ventures Inc., Takeda’s corporate venture capital company. Dr. Martin also previously held executive and scientific roles with Intellikine Inc., TargeGen Inc., Arena Pharmaceuticals Inc., and Monsanto Corp. Dr. Martin holds a Ph.D. in medicinal chemistry from University of Illinois, a M.S. in analytical chemistry, and B.S. degrees in chemistry and mathematics. He has extensive experience as a corporate board member, for both private and publicly traded companies, and has acted as an advisor to several notable biotech investment funds in the United States, Europe, and Japan. 

AutoCruitment nominates new CEO

AutoCruitment, a market leader in digital patient recruitment for clinical trials, has made Jill
Pellegrino
CEO and a member of the board of directors. Co-founders Bethany Bray, who was CEO, and Ben Cooper, who was chief operating officer, have transitioned to members of the board of directors.

Pellegrino joins AutoCruitment from CVS Health, where she was responsible for establishing and growing the real-world evidence and patient recruitment businesses. Executives say in her role as VP and head of real-world evidence and patient recruitment, her businesses were successful in placing 35,000 patients into research opportunities in both clinical trials and research settings, substantially increasing diversity participation in research studies. Prior to CVS Health, Pellegrino served in various leadership roles at Accelerated Enrollment Solutions, including senior VP and general manager.

“I’m thrilled to be joining a company that is making an impact in lifesciences research,” Pellegrino said. “R&D investment continues to be significant, the industry is more focused than ever on maximizing ROI, and patient recruitment is a critical component of successfully introducing new therapeutics. AutoCruitment is able to continuously find an unmatched volume of highly qualified patients, and we deliver great results for our customers.”

“When Ben and I founded
AutoCruitment, we had a vision of combining science, data, technology, and passion to create a solution that would remove the patient recruitment barrier from clinical research and make clinical trials accessible to everybody,” Bray said. “We are honored and excited to step forward into our roles on the board of directors. I am pleased to welcome Jill, an industry-renowned leader whose dedication to excellence, innovation, and AutoCruitment’s mission will continue to drive the company forward.”

New president for NeoImmuneTech

NeoImmuneTech Inc., a clinical-stage T cell-focused biopharmaceutical company, has appointed Luke Oh, Ph.D., as president, effective immediately.

Dr. Oh is an expert in regulatory policies and drug development, encompassing both biologics and small molecules. He brings more than six years of regulatory experience at the FDA.

Executives say in his new role, Dr. Oh will spearhead NIT’s local team from its Rockville headquarters. His primary focus will be on accelerating the clinical development of NT-I7, NeoImmuneTech’s long-acting human IL-7, and strategizing the regulatory path for its potential inaugural approval for the treatment of Acute Radiation Syndrome (ARS).

His recent tenure at Samsung Bioepis as VP in charge of regulatory development was marked by the successful preparation and submission of seven biosimilar applications to regulatory agencies in the United States, EU, UK, and Canada. Prior to this position, he worked as senior staff fellow at the U.S. FDA Division of Clinical Pharmacology III and Division of Inflammation and Immune Pharmacology, and he has held various roles in research and development for leading organizations such as Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, Human Genome Sciences, and Vertex Pharmaceuticals. Dr. Oh has a Ph.D. in neuroimmunology from McGill University.

“We are delighted to welcome Dr. Oh to our team,” said Dr. Se Hwan Yang, Ph.D., CEO. “His strong expertise and extensive network are invaluable assets that will propel our clinical development program and business activities. We wish him all success in his new role.”

Company leaders state that Dr. Oh’s commitment to fostering international collaboration is evident from his founding and leadership of the Korean-American Professional Association in Life Sciences (KAPAL), a testament to his belief in the power of cross-cultural collaborations. “This experience is particularly relevant as NeoImmuneTech continues to build on its global footprint and seeks to leverage diverse perspectives in advancing biopharmaceutical innovation.”

C-Path engages new CEO

Critical Path Institute (C-Path) has chosen Klaus Romero, M.D., as its new CEO. Romero succeeds Daniel M. Jorgensen, M.D. Romero will continue to serve a dual role as CEO and CSO until the CSO position is filled.

Company leaders say Romero, a seasoned clinician scientist, has been vital in positioning C-Path as an essential partner in accelerating drug development worldwide, significantly shaping scientific and regulatory pathways to expedite the delivery of therapies for people in urgent need.

“Assuming the position of CEO at C-Path represents a profound honor, coupled with a tremendous sense of responsibility,” Romero said. “My commitment is to continue C-Path’s tradition of excellence and innovation to transform drug development for the benefit of those in need. This is a commitment deeply rooted in my early days at C-Path, inspired by the visionary mentorship and guidance of C-Path’s founder, Dr. Raymond Woosley. Our collaborative efforts will persist in transforming drug development paradigms, for the benefit of those in need.”

With a tenure of more than 16 years at C-Path, Romero has held key positions within the organization including chief science officer and executive director of both clinical pharmacology and the quantitative medicine program. “His pivotal role in establishing and leading the Quantitative Medicine Program underscores his significant contributions to C-Path’s critical initiatives in drug development over the years,” executives say.

“Dr. Romero’s outstanding expertise and leadership have been instrumental in our journey to create and implement groundbreaking scientific and regulatory pathways,” said M. Wainwright Fishburn, Jr., chairman of C-Path’s board. “His strategic vision aligns perfectly with C-Path’s mission of accelerating the development of novel therapies. We are confident in his capacity to propel the organization forward in its next phase of global impact and pioneering innovation.”

Dr. Romero’s background includes extensive experience in leading initiatives across a spectrum of medical product development areas. He has been instrumental in developing actionable drug development tools in Alzheimer’s disease, contributing to a paradigm shift in the drug development process for this condition. In tuberculosis, his leadership facilitated the generation of a drug development infrastructure that contributed to the approval of the first new individual drug and regimen for the disease in over half a century. Moreover, his influence extends to diverse areas such as polycystic kidney disease, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases, type 1 diabetes prevention, kidney transplantation, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, and several other rare and orphan indications.

According to Kristen Swingle, president and COO of C-Path, “Klaus’ visionary leadership and profound commitment to our core values have been vital in our journey towards becoming a leader in fostering medical development on a global scale. His ascension to CEO is a significant milestone in our mission to bring transformative therapies to patients who desperately need them.”

As a trained clinical pharmacologist and epidemiologist, Romero is a fellow of the American College of Clinical Pharmacology, a founding member of the International Society of Pharmacometrics, as well as a member of the American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, and the International Society of Pharmacoepidemiology.

He also holds academic positions as an associate research professor at the University of Arizona and as an adjunct professor at the University of Southern California and Arizona State University.

Calliditas Therapeutics designates president, North America

Maria Törnsén has been appointed to the position of president, North America for Calliditas Therapeutics. Törnsén will be responsible for all U.S.-based operations and will report to the CEO. Törnsén will replace Andrew Udell, who has held the position since 2020.

“I am delighted to join Calliditas at this exciting time in the company’s history, with the recent full FDA approval of Tarpeyo and an innovative late-stage pipeline in rare diseases,” Törnsén said. “I look forward to working with the Calliditas team to continue advancing the Tarpeyo launch and develop our capabilities to support further growth.”

According to company leaders, Törnsén has broad commercial leadership experience, having spent more than 20 years in the biopharma industry in senior commercial roles. Most recently Törnsén held the position of chief commercial officer at Passage Bio, prior to which she was senior VP, general manager U.S. at Sarepta Therapeutics. Prior to joining Sarepta, she served as VP global therapeutic area head at Sanofi Genzyme and held several senior commercial roles at Shire, including VP, head of U.S. sales. 

“We are pleased to welcome Ms. Törnsén to the executive management team as president of our U.S. operations,” said CEO Renée Aguiar-
Lucander. “She brings invaluable experience from building commercial organizations, driving growth and profitability in the area of rare diseases, which will be critical as we target the next step in our development. I also want to thank Mr. Udell for his valuable contribution to the build-up of the U.S. organization and its early commercial success.” 

Eleven Therapeutics welcomes chief technology officer

Eleven Therapeutics has appointed Dr. Paloma H Giangrande as the company’s chief technology officer (CTO). Executives say Dr. Giangrande, an esteemed leader in the field of nucleic acid therapeutics, will play a pivotal role in advancing the company’s core xRNA technologies and platforms.

“Bringing a wealth of experience, Dr. Giangrande has been a prominent figure in nucleic acid therapeutics for over a decade,” company leaders say. “Her groundbreaking work at the University of Iowa involved pioneering multiple nucleic acid technologies. Subsequently, she held key leadership roles at renowned biotechnology companies, including as director of rare diseases at Moderna, where she spearheaded mRNA therapeutic programs for rare genetic diseases. Her most recent position was as VP of platform and discovery at Wave Life Sciences, leading the groundbreaking RNA editing program to a first-in-human stage. Dr. Giangrande currently holds the prestigious role of editor-in-chief at Molecular Therapy Nucleic Acids, the field’s foremost scientific journal.”

“Joining Eleven Therapeutics is an exciting opportunity for me to apply my expertise to crucial biotechnological challenges,” said Dr. Giangrande. “I’m enthusiastic about contributing to the groundbreaking research conducted here. Along Eleven’s strong team and innovative approach, I look forward to leveraging my strategic insights and experience to accelerate the development of cutting-edge nucleic acid therapeutics, and beyond.”

In her new capacity as CTO at Eleven Therapeutics, Dr. Giangrande will drive the strategic direction for the company’s core xRNA technologies and platforms. Executives say her expertise will be instrumental in integrating these cutting-edge technologies into therapeutic applications, solidifying Eleven Therapeutics’ position as a leader in nucleic acid therapeutics.

“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Paloma Giangrande to Eleven Therapeutics,” said Yaniv Erlich, CEO and co-founder. “Her expertise specifically in our company’s field of specialization and her remarkable leadership track record will significantly bolster our capabilities in advancing innovation. Dr. Giangrande’s appointment represents a strategic milestone as we continue to revolutionize mRNA therapeutics and pave the way for transformative new horizons in the treatment of diseases with unmet needs.”

Aspen Neuroscience engages chief regulatory officer

Biotech company Aspen Neuroscience Inc. has made Ana Sousa the company’s chief regulatory officer.

Since 2021, Sousa has served as senior VP of regulatory and quality at Aspen, where she developed the regulatory, quality, and project management teams, and as the ANPD001 project team leader, guiding product strategy and taking the company’s lead product from a pre-clinical to clinical stage.

“Ana is a key member of the executive team and has been instrumental in building our organization and in driving our lead therapeutic candidate to the clinic,” said Damien McDevitt, Ph.D., Aspen Neuroscience president and CEO. “Under her tenure, we have opened our first U.S. IND and obtained FDA ‘fast track’ status for ANPD001. Now as we enter the clinic and broaden our pipeline, we will look to her continued leadership both in the United States and abroad.”

A senior drug development and regulatory executive with more than 20 years of industry experience, Sousa has successfully led global regulatory programs and developed key industry talent at Roche/Genentech and Onyx/Amgen, and built global regulatory departments at Principia Biopharma (Sanofi) and several other successful startup companies.

She received her undergraduate degree at Pace University, Lubin School of Business, and her master of science in jurisprudence (MSJ) degree with a concentration in health law and intellectual property at The Seton Hall University School of Law.

Asieris sets leader for Women’s Health Business Unit

Asieris Pharmaceuticals has made Sophia Cao senior VP and head of its newly established  Women’s Health Business Unit. The new business unit will center around core asset APL-1702, a potentially first-in-class non-surgical treatment of cervical high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions.

Cao’s previous roles include serving as the head of women’s health at Organon China. She also held the position of chief marketing officer at Sanofi Pasteur China. Prior to that, she dedicated 16 years to Eli Lilly China, serving as marketing director, specialty and retail, and commercialization head of osteoporosis, emerging market. In these roles, she developed domestic and international commercialization strategies for various products.

“The establishment of the Women’s Health Business Unit is a testament to our steadfast confidence and commitment to our gynecological pipeline, with APL-1702 as the cornerstone,” said Dr. Kevin Pan, founder, chairman and CEO of Asieris. “This move solidifies our leadership in women’s health in China. We are confident that Sophia’s invaluable industry experience, unique business insights, and strategic thinking will expedite our strategic goal of becoming a leader in women’s health. Moving forward, we will continue to increase our investment in this field, making a positive contribution to women’s health in China and worldwide, particularly in the realm of cervical cancer prevention and treatment.”

GlycoEra appoints industry veteran as chief business officer

Greg Fralish, Ph.D.,  has become chief business officer of GlycoEra AG.  “We are excited to welcome Dr. Fralish as CBO to lead strategy, business development, and other cross-functional initiatives, enabling our team to fully unlock the potential of our platform and to ultimately bring novel treatments to people living with unmet need across autoimmune diseases,” said Ganesh Kaundinya, Ph.D., CEO.

Dr. Fralish brings more than 20 years of experience in a variety of roles in business development and strategy, spanning both large pharma and biotech. Prior to joining GlycoEra, Dr. Fralish served as the VP and head of corporate development at 2seventy bio, the cell therapy spin-out from bluebird bio, where he led corporate development, strategy and alliance management. He also played a pivotal role in facilitating multiple partnerships for 2seventy, including with Novo Nordisk, Regeneron, National Resilience, and JW Therapeutics.

Previously, Dr. Fralish  was bluebird bio’s VP of oncology corporate development and Takeda’s head of oncology business development.

“I am thrilled to join GlycoEra at this critical moment in the Company’s growth,” Dr. Fralish said. “GlycoEra’s innovative biologics promise a potentially groundbreaking approach to treatment of diseases by leveraging a recombinant cell-based approach to create best-in-class protein degraders. As we expand our relationships with key investors and partners, grow our leadership team, and advance the science, I’m excited about GlycoEra’s potential to transform treatment for patients.”

CVS Health announces leadership appointments

CVS Health has made Tom Cowhey, senior VP of corporate finance and interim CFO, the company’s next CFO. Mike Pykosz, CEO of Oak Street Health and interim lead of Health Care Delivery, has been formally appointed president of Health Care Delivery.

Cowhey and Pykosz replace Shawn Guertin, who stepped down from his roles due to family health reasons and will remain on personal leave and will leave the company on May 31, 2024.

“We are fortunate to have someone of Tom’s caliber and experience already within CVS Health today and ready to take on the role,” said CVS Health President and CEO Karen S. Lynch. “His experience in health care is deep and broad, and he will drive continuity for our strategy and delivering on our commitments. Mike is a natural fit to lead the execution of our healthcare delivery strategy. There is real innovation and value to be unlocked as Mike unifies our clinic-based and home health assets. The Board and I are fully confident in Tom and Mike.”

Cowhey joined CVS Health in February 2022. He previously served as chief financial officer of Surgery Partners Inc., and before that spent more than a decade at Aetna in various strategy and finance roles. Since joining CVS Health, he has overseen investor relations, corporate development, treasury, and finance operations, working closely with Lynch and the executive leadership team to manage the company’s overall financial strategy.

Pykosz joined CVS Health following the acquisition of Oak Street Health on May 2, 2023. As CEO and a co-founder of Oak Street, he built it into a leading multi-payor, value-based primary care platform. During his time at CVS Health, Pykosz has been focused on continuing to run the Oak Street Health business, while also helping to unify all of CVS Health’s care delivery assets.

“We fully support Shawn and his need to prioritize his family during this time,” Lynch said. “We thank Shawn for all the contributions he has made as a valuable member of our team.” 

Key executives picked for Luvantas

In forming Luvantas Inc., its wholly owned North American subsidiary, Medytox Inc. appointed Thomas A. Albright as president and CEO and Stephanie A. Yee as chief financial officer.

Medytox leaders say as CEO of Luvantas, Albright brings 40 years of healthcare experience, with medical aesthetic leadership roles since 2000. Albright was previously CEO of Recros Medica since 2017 and of Andrew Technologies from 2011 to 2017. Earlier, he was president of the Topical Aesthetic division of Syneron and before that was VP, North American marketing at Nobel Biocare. Albright initiated his medical aesthetics experience at Allergan in 2000, where he led the worldwide launches of Botox Cosmetic. He ended his tenure at Allergan in 2008 as VP of Botox global strategic marketing, collaborating with R&D on new therapeutic indications and next-generation biologics. While at Allergan, Albright also led the commercial development of Latisse and served as alliance manager for the multi-functional Japan and China collaboration with GlaxoSmithkline.

He began his health science career in 1983 at the Parke Davis division of Warner-Lambert, starting as a sales representative and advancing to director of marketing. Albright has a B.S. in biology from The Citadel and an MBA in marketing from Mercer University. 

As CFO, Yee brings more than 20 years of accounting and finance experience at high-growth life science and technology companies ranging from start-ups to large global organizations. Before joining Luvantas, she was the VP of finance of Allegro Ophthalmics LLC. Yee has held corporate controller roles at ZO Skin Health, Inc., where she scaled up the accounting and finance organization to support exponential revenue growth, and ClaripHy Communications Inc., where she facilitated a successful exit through a sale of the company to Inphi Corporation.

Prior to that, she held several management positions at Emulex Corporation, where she played a key role in several M&A projects. Before Emulex, Yee worked at IntraLase Corp. She holds a B. Comm degree in accounting from the University of British Columbia and is a licensed CPA in Illinois and British Columbia.

Ensem expands leadership team with CSO

Ensem Therapeutics Inc. has appointed Dr. Jeff Kutok as chief scientific officer. Dr. Kutok is a physician and scientist with more than 25 years of clinical practice, translational scientific research, and biotech leadership experience in oncology, immuno-oncology, and epigenetics.

“Dr. Kutok is a seasoned executive with the right credentials to guide ENSEM’s science into the future,” stated Shengfang Jin, Ph.D., president and CEO. “We are excited to welcome Jeff and look forward to benefiting from his drug development expertise and deep industry knowledge as we continue to progress our oncology pipeline of novel drug candidates utilizing our Kinetic Ensemble platform to help patients.”

As an experienced biotech executive in the drug development space, Dr. Kutok recently served as the chief scientific officer at Epizyme Inc. He also served as a member of the leadership team during its acquisition by Ipsen. 

“I am thrilled to join the ENSEM team at this exciting time,” Dr. Kutok said. “I look forward to leading its outstanding scientific team and building an industry leading pipeline of transformative medicines accelerated by our innovative Kinetic Ensemble platform.”

Dr. Kutok previously served as executive VP and chief scientific officer at Infinity Pharmaceuticals Inc. Prior to joining Infinity, Dr. Kutok was an associate professor of pathology at Harvard Medical School and is board certified in anatomic pathology and hematology, with clinical duties in hematopathology and molecular diagnostics at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH). He is a leading expert in cancer biology, with authorship on more than 200 journal articles, reviews, and book chapters. His laboratory at BWH focused on translational medicine research and biomarker identification in oncology. Dr. Kutok received his B.S. in biology and his M.D. and Ph.D. in medicine and molecular pathology from Stony Brook University.

New CMO for SpliceBio

SpliceBio has appointed Aniz Girach, M.D.,  chief medical officer.

Dr. Girach is an ophthalmologist with more than 25 years’ industry experience in the field of medical retina and genetic therapy for inherited retinal diseases. He has been involved in the development and approval of four drugs in ophthalmology.

“Inherited retinal diseases are a heterogenous group of rare diseases that can lead to severe visual disability and blindness, affecting approximately 5.5 million people worldwide,” Dr. Girach said. “With its next-generation Protein Splicing platform, SpliceBio is pioneering a new gene therapy modality which has the potential to transform the treatment paradigm for inherited retinal diseases and I am delighted to be joining the stellar leadership team at a pivotal time for the company.”

Prior to joining SpliceBio, he led the development of genetic therapies for inherited retinal diseases at ProQR Therapeutics NV as its chief medical officer. Dr Girach hs also been global head of ophthalmology at Merck & Co. and VP, clinical development at Alcon Laboratories. At Oxurion NV (formerly ThromboGenics) he was global head of ophthalmology and chief medical officer. Dr. Girach was chief medical officer at Nightstar Therapeutics, and spent 11 years in clinical practice and academia before joining the pharmaceutical industry with Eli Lilly as its senior global ophthalmologist and medical director where he specialized in retinal diseases.

“Dr. Girach joins SpliceBio at an important time of growth as we accelerate our lead program targeting Stargardt disease into clinical development,” said Miquel Vila-Perelló, Ph.D., CEO and co-founder of SpliceBio. “Dr. Girach’s unrivalled experience in the field of ophthalmology and genetic medicines will be instrumental as we further strengthen our leadership team and maximize the potential of our proprietary Protein Splicing platform.”

Dr. Girach is a visiting and honorary professor at Wills Eye Hospital, Philadelphia, and is a reviewer for five peer-reviewed international ophthalmology journals. He has published four textbooks in ophthalmology and has published more than 90 abstracts and manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals in ophthalmology, with numerous invited lectures at national and international ophthalmology meetings. He currently holds independent board of directorship positions for two biotechnology companies and is also the chair of the R&D committees for both companies.

New CSO for Immunitas Therapeutics

Annalisa D’Andrea, Ph.D., has been appointed chief scientific officer of Immunitas Therapeutics. She has more than 25 years of basic and translational R&D expertise in both large and small pharmaceutical and biotech settings.

“I look forward to collaborating with this talented team to build on the foundation of strong science underpinning Immunitas’ expanding portfolio and realize novel therapeutic options for people living with cancer,” Dr. D’Andrea said. “Immunitas’ unique approach to drug discovery and fully integrated research and development capabilities differentiate the organization and offer opportunity to translate innovative science into broad patient impact.”

Dr. D’Andrea brings to Immunitas a strong history of success in immunology therapeutic development, having led products from target selection through clinical evaluation. “Her expertise will accelerate Immunitas’ pipeline of highly differentiated, antibody-based therapeutics, including lead candidate IMT-009 which is currently dosing in the clinic and the company’s second program, an antibody oligonucleotide conjugate designed to stimulate Toll-like receptor 9,” executives say. Dr. D’Andrea has been an advisor for the company and served as acting CSO since September 2023.

“Annalisa’s leadership and deep drug development expertise has proven invaluable as we advanced our growing pipeline of novel precision immuno-oncology therapeutics over the past several months,” said Amanda Wagner, CEO of Immunitas. “We are excited to welcome her as our full-time chief scientific officer. Annalisa will spearhead translational development and progression of our research and discovery programs. Her experience will play a key role in shaping our scientific strategy as the company continues to bring novel differentiated therapies to patients.”

Dr. D’Andrea brings nearly three decades of experience leading drug discovery and development. In addition to her role at Immunitas, Dr. D’Andrea is also a venture partner at Longwood Fund, supporting the identification and advancement of promising biotechnology companies, and an independent board member for Engimmune Therapeutics. Most recently, Dr. D’Andrea served as president and CSO at ImmuneID, CSO at Kiniksa Pharmaceuticals, and VP and global head of discovery for Immunology and Inflammation at Roche, where she oversaw the discovery pipeline of drug candidates from inception to the clinic. She also previously held multiple roles at SRI International and at Chiron Vaccines. Dr. D’Andrea earned her doctoral degree from the University of Florence while training at the Wistar Institute at the University of Pennsylvania. She completed her postdoctoral studies at the DNAX Research Institute in Palo Alto, California.

LenioBio appoints chief financial officer

LenioBio has chosen Hugh Watson as its new chief financial officer. Watson brings a wealth of experience and strategic financial insight, having served for nearly three decades in financial, accounting, and business transformation capacities within international manufacturing enterprises. Prior to joining LenioBio, he held the role of chief financial officer in several businesses, including a private equity-backed food startup and key positions within international publicly-listed companies including Synthomer PLC and Bakkavor Group.

“I am pleased to welcome Hugh to the team,” said André Goerke, CEO. “His industry experience and financial expertise will be essential, as we step into the next phase of commercializing our innovative manufacturing platform.”

Watson said he is inspired by the transformative potential of LenioBio’s protein expression technology, “The therapeutic drug development landscape is evolving, and we have the capability to effect positive change in how scientists access and work with proteins,” he states. “This is truly exciting! I look forward to contributing my skills and experience to the team as we continue our journey from scientific discovery to seizing commercial opportunities.”

Akebia Therapeutics chooses chief commercial officer

Nicholas Grund has become chief commercial officer of Akebia Therapeutics Inc. Executives say Grund is a seasoned pharmaceutical executive with significant operational, commercial, and strategic leadership experience across renal and specialty markets.

“Nik is a profoundly knowledgeable executive with an impressive track record of leading commercial initiatives within the renal market,” said John P. Butler, CEO. “His operational versatility and breadth of expertise in customer facing roles will be critical for Akebia as we prepare for the vadadustat launch in the U.S., if approved, and continue our goal to maximize Auryxia revenue. We are pleased to welcome Nik to Akebia as he further strengthens our leadership team.”

Prior to joining Akebia, Grund served as president of Eurofins Transplant Genomics where he steered organizational change and facilitated continuous operating efficiency improvements and revenue growth. He was also chief commercial officer of AMAG Pharmaceuticals where he managed commercial activities across four business units. Grund also held positions of increasing responsibility at Sanofi in its specialty care business and oversaw operations of its renal business unit.

“I am delighted to join the Akebia team at this pivotal moment,” Grund said. “Akebia has already built an impressive renal-focused commercial organization and their deep commitment to patients and connection to providers is evident. I am keen to build on the teams’ efforts to prepare for the potential vadadustat launch with the ultimate goal of serving dialysis patients.”