Ins & outs: Endsulin boosts board with ex-AveXis execs

Diabetes gene therapy firm appoints two ex AveXis execs to its board. Meanwhile, there are high level changes at  Merck, AlloVir and Abeona Therapeutics. Sit back, relax, and enjoy reading BioProcess Insider’s Ins & Outs.

Former founding chief science and chief finance officers at AveXis, Brian Kaspar and Thomas Dee will join Endsulin to help develop the firm’s gene therapy against Type 1 diabetes. Enduslin is a company that is solely targeting Type 1 diabetes (T1D) with a potential one-time treatment that regulates patients’ glycemic control in a bid to free patients from daily insulin injections.

The treatment is currently in the IND-enabling stage and a spokesperson for Endsulin told BioProcess Insider, “Endsulin is in discussions with several GMP Manufacturers, all of which have deep experience with human clinical and/or commercial AAV products.”

Brian Kaspar and Thomas Dee join Endsulin

Endsulin’s founder, Hans Sollinger has created a patented DNA sequence called GIRE (glucose inducible response element), which supports the body to regulate insulin on its own. The GIRE reprograms part of the hepatocytes in the liver, instead of the pancreas, to control insulin release depending on blood glucose levels. If successful, the treatment could result in long-lasting euglycemia control.

Merck

Caroline Litchfield will be executive vice president and chief financial officer (CFO) for Merck & Co. (known as MSD outside of North America) effective April 1, 2021. Litchfield has been at Merck since 1990 and has held a wide number of positions, which includes company treasurer and finance for Human Health, reporting in 100 markets.

“Caroline’s appointment as our next CFO is the result of a combination of factors – most importantly, Caroline’s financial expertise, remarkable track record, and leadership – as well as our commitment to developing talent and our succession planning for leadership roles,” said Merck’s current CFO, Robert Davis. “Caroline’s passion for Merck’s mission and for the patients we serve guides every decision that she makes.”

Davis will step down from his position as CFO and become president of Merck on April 1, and chief executive officer on July 1, 2021.

Allovir

 Diana Brainard will leave her position at Gilead Sciences as senior vice president and head of the virology therapeutic area to become AlloVir’s CEO, effective May 17, 2021. Since April 2019, Brainard has served on AlloVir’s board of directors. Initially, she occupied the position of board observer and then in July 2020 Brainard served as an independent director.

AlloVir’s new CEO Diana Brainard. Image c/o AlloVir website

Brainard succeeds David Hallal who is set to step down from the role and continue to serve as executive chairman of the board.

Hallal praised his successor, commenting: “It is an ideal time for Diana to succeed me as CEO and leverage her extensive virology expertise and broad leadership experience to drive the next phase of AlloVir’s growth. As an AlloVir board member, Diana is immersed in all facets of AlloVir’s people, corporate objectives and plans, and I look forward to continuing to work with her as she builds and industry-leading, global, virus-specific-T cell therapy powerhouse.”

Abeona Therapeutics

At Abeona Therapeutics, executive vice president, chief operating officer (COO), and principal executive officer Michael Amoroso has been promoted to CEO and a member of the firm’s board of directors, effective immediately.

“Michael’s promotion to CEO reflects his unwavering commitment and outstanding operational leadership during a period of important transition for the company, and the Board fully supports him and the Abeona senior management team,” said Steven Rouhandeh, chairman of Abeona’s board of directors.

Today, the company announced two independent members to its board of directors, Faith Charles, and Mark Alvino. Both members have experience in biotechnology and life sciences.

“The addition of Faith and Mark is part of an ongoing strategic effort to add relevant leadership experience to Abeona’s Board of Directors to support the company’s focus on driving future growth, enhancing its corporate governance, and creating additional shareholder value,” said Rouhandeh.

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