Chutes & Ladders—Chimerix CEO replaced by a trio of officers

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Welcome to this week’s Chutes & Ladders, our roundup of hirings, firings and retirings throughout the industry. Please send the good word—or the bad—from your shop to Conor Hale, and we will feature it here at the end of each week.

Chimerix’s CEO departs and is replaced by a trio of officers


Chimerix
President and CEO M. Michelle Berrey, M.D., has resigned.

Berrey is being replaced by a triumvirate of senior company officers—CMO W. Garrett Nichols, CFO Timothy Trost and General Counsel Michael Alrutz—who will form a new “office of the chief executive officer” until a replacement is found. In 2015 and 2016, the company’s shares lost more than 90% of their value after the company’s lead antiviral failed two phase 3 trials against cytomegalovirus and adenovirus infections. Currently, Chimerix is working with BARDA to develop that drug, brincidofovir, as a countermeasure against smallpox. FierceBiotech

Decibel hires new CMO ahead of proof-of-concept hearing loss studies


Decibel Therapeutics
Peter Weber, M.D., was named CMO.

Weber is head of otology and neurotology at Boston University Medical Center and formerly served as CMO of Frequency Therapeutics. He will continue to practice part-time at BU while coming on board at Decibel, as the company plans proof-of-concept and efficacy studies this year for its lead small molecule programs for hearing loss caused by drug toxicities. FierceBiotech

Kiadis poaches Ablynx CSO as it awaits HSCT booster approval in the EU


Kiadis Pharma
Robert Friesen, Ph.D., will be chief scientific officer.

Friesen is making the jump after about a year as CSO at Ablynx—while it was being snatched up by Sanofi in a $4.8 billion deal and out from under a competing bid from Novo Nordisk for the company and its drug for a rare blood clotting disorder, which received an FDA green light this week. Currently, Kiadis’ lead program—ATIR101, a T-cell therapy designed to help support the body’s immune system following bone marrow transplantation—is awaiting an approval decision from the European Union, which the company expects in the first half of this year. FierceBiotech

> China’s anticorruption authorities have punished 48 officials found responsible for the Changchun Changsheng Life Sciences vaccine scandal that provoked public outrage last summer, including Wu Zhen, a former deputy director of the old China FDA. FiercePharma

> Brett Lauring, M.D., Ph.D., was appointed CMO of 2018 Fierce 15 winner Kallyope. Lauring joins from Takeda Pharmaceuticals where he was VP of translational research and early clinical development. Release 

> Seres Therapeutics has cut about 30% of its workforce, including Chief Scientific Officer David Cook, as it narrows its clinical efforts to late-stage microbiome programs for ulcerative colitis and C. difficile infections as well as a planned immuno-oncology study. FierceBiotech

> Pfizer is bracing for a work stoppage after announcing it will switch the pensions of 900 Irish holdouts, following five years of negotiations. FiercePharmaManufacturing

> Rare disease developer Sobi has brought on Kevin Springman as a VP and head of its RSV-focused Synagis franchise in North America. Springman spent two decades at AstraZeneca, most recently as head of its infectious disease franchise. Release

> AdvaMed has named Amanda Walsh as its associate VP for government affairs. Walsh joins from the lobbying group America’s Essential Hospitals, where she was senior manager of legislative affairs and interim director. Release

> Andrew Dawson has joined Cedilla Therapeutics as chief human resources officer, after holding roles at Shire, Roche, Novartis, Eli Lilly and TripAdvisor. Release

> EMD Serono named Elizabeth Varki Jobes senior VP and chief compliance officer for North America. Jobes previously served as global chief compliance officer and legal counsel at Spark Therapeutics. Release

> Kyn Therapeutics brought on Douglas Carlson as chief financial officer. Carlson most recently was VP of commercial operations, corporate strategy & business development at Collegium Pharmaceutical. Release