Ins and outs: Changes at Moderna, ReForm Biologics, Daiichi Sankyo

Moderna has appointed executive search firm Russell Reynolds to find Tal Zaks replacement as he steps down from his position as CMO. Meanwhile, there are high level changes at ReForm Biologics and Daiichi Sankyo.

Zaks has been chief medical officer (CMO) of Moderna for six years. Now with its first approved mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, Zaks will step down from his position in late September though it is unknown where he will embark on the next leg of his career. Moderna’s CEO, Stéphane Bancel reflected on Zaks’ time at the firm during Moderna’s Q4 financial report this week.

Departing CMO Tal Zaks. Image c/o Moderna website

“Tal joined us when we were a preclinical company and now, we have our first authorized product. I am very thankful for Tal for taking a chance on us six years ago. It was not obvious at the time, trust me, that we were going to make it,” said Bancel. “But given his deep scientific understanding and curiosity like Stephen Hoge [president] and I and many others on the team, he saw that this technology could change medicine if we could make it work safely in humans.”

According to the firm, Zaks’ replacement will need global and commercial experience to be able to support the company to scale-up the launch of its COVID-19 vaccine and prepare for future developments.

ReForm Biologics

Yesterday, ReForm Biologics announced that James Sherblom has joined the board of directors as a chairman with the aim to shift its strategy.

The business strategy will see ReForm create a “bio-innovative medicine pipeline” enabling it to adapt hospital-based intravenous treatment to subcutaneous injections delivered “on an outpatient basis.”

Previously, Sherblom served as CFO of Genzyme and founded both Transgenic Sciences and Seaflower Ventures. When discussing Sherblom’s experience, ReForm’s CEO, John Sorvillo described him as “a seasoned executive in the pharmaceutical healthcare industry” bringing “years of experience to ReForm.”

Sherblom said: “Better patient care has always been the dream of the biotechnology sector. Building on nearly four decades of scientific advances, we are now on the cusp of introducing better biologic medicines that will enhance patient access to these transformative therapies.”

Daiichi Sankyo

We previously reported that Frank Neumann will take over from Ken Takeshita as head of clinical development at Kite Pharma. However, Takeshita’s next career move was unknown… until now.

New global head of Research & Development, Ken Takeshita. Image c/o Gilead website

This week, the Japanese pharmaceutical company Daiichi Sankyo announced that as of April 1, 2021 Takeshita will be its new global head of Research & Development and lead the firm’s aim to become a major oncology player.

Takeshita will take over Junichi Koga who is retiring from the position after more than 12 years at the firm.

“I have watched Daiichi Sankyo build and grow with admiration. I look forward to bringing the Company’s antibody drug conjugates and new, innovative modalities to more patients and to working in a unique company culture with Japanese roots, fitting of a world-class global organization,” said Takeshita.

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