FDA Commissioner Steps Down After Six Years

Having served as the Food and Drug Commissioner since 2009, Margaret Hamburg has announced that she will step down from her position by the end of March, leaving Dr. Stephen Ostroff in her place. Dr. Hamburg is the longest serving, modern era FDA commissioner, and took many controversial actions during her tenure.

Margaret Hamburg led the change in the modern food safety system, helped ensure a globalized food and medical product supply, led campaigns against tobacco, and relaxed-age restrictions on Plan B medication. While Hamburg realizes there is much work to be done by the FDA, she says: “I know that I am leaving the agency well-positioned to fulfill its responsibilities to the American public with great success.”

DrugDev Announces New Chief Business Officer

DrugDev, a company that allows CROs, sponsors and investigators to conduct more trials through advanced technology, has appointed Nick Watling as Chief Business Officer. Watling brings 15 years of experience in leading major projects such as cultural transformations, restructurings and operational start-ups at companies such as UBS, NASA and Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Ibraheem Mahmood, DrugDev’s President and CEO states, “It’s a rare opportunity to be able to add an executive with the accomplishments, intellect and attitude that Nick brings.” Watling will lead strategic initiatives to further enhance DrugDev’s operational performance as well as oversee the human resources, quality and administration functions at his new company.



The marketing agency promoted Rick Conrad to Creative Director. Conrad, who was previously Associate Creative Director/Art, has more than 18 years of design experience in the industry at companies such as Leo Burnett and DDB.


Dr. Helga Rübsamen-Schaeff will transition to Chair of the Board for AiCuris after spending the past nine years developing the biotech company as CEO. She will be succeeded by Dr. Holger Zimmermann, who is the current Chief Scientific Officer. Both doctors have worked with the company since its foundation to create resistance-breaking drugs for the treatment of infectious diseases.

Array BioPharma

The company focused on the development of small molecule drugs to treat cancer appointed Dave Horin as interim Chief Financial Officer, following Michael Carruthers’ departure. Horin, a Managing Partner at Chord Advisers, will handle the duties of the CFO while the company undergoes a search for a permanent replacement.


BiOptix, a privately held company focused on biosensor technology, expanded its leadership team with the appointment of Dr. Scott Klakamp as Vice President of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Dr. Klakamp has more than 20 years of experience in therapeutics discovery and development, with past leadership positions at companies including Takeda, AstraZeneca and Amgen.

Immune Pharmaceuticals

Immune Pharmaceuticals, a company dedicated to developing advanced antibody drugs for those with inflammatory diseases and cancer, named a new Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Gad Berdugo. Berdugo was most recently a Managing Director and Head of the Global Life Sciences at Tegris Advisors. He brings more than 20 years of investment management and banking experience to the company.

Imprimis Pharmaceuticals

John Saharek was promoted to Chief Commercial Officer.  Saharek helped grow the drug maker’s ophthalmology business and has a strong record of success in sales, new product launches and market development. He will now be responsible for leading the company’s commercial activities, including formulation portfolio management, market access, and marketing and customer service.

Incyte Corporation

The biopharmaceutical company named Steven H. Stein, MD, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Stein will be responsible for the clinical and medical strategy of the company’s oncology portfolio. He most recently served as SVP, U.S. Clinical Development & Medical Affairs at Novartis Oncology.

N30 Pharmaceuticals

R. Michael Carruthers was appointed CFO of N30 Pharma, a clinical stage pharma company dedicated to cystic fibrosis drug research. Carruthers comes to N30 Pharma with more than 25 years of executive level financial experience, most recently as CFO of Array BioPharma.

National Cancer Institute

Harold Varmus, MD, the Director of the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health announced that he will step down from the position on March 31. Dr. Varmus, a former Nobel Prize winner, plans to establish a research laboratory in the Meyer Cancer Center at the Weill-Cornell Medical College in New York and serve as a senior advisor to the dean. He will also assist the New York Genome Center.

Publicis Healthcare

The agency network named Alexandra von Plato Group President of North America for Publicis Healthcare Communications Group. In her new role she will assume operational responsibility for Digitas Health LifeBrands, Publicis LifeBrands Medicus and Heartbeat Ideas. For the past nine years, von Plato has been a change agent within the network including her time as Co-president of Digitas Health LifeBrands which experienced significant growth over the past two years as the agency expanded its capabilities.


Sanofi has unanimously appointed a new CEO, Olivier Brandicourt, to lead the drug maker in their launch of six new drugs this year, hopefully boosting their revenue at a time when the company’s diabetes division will be flat in 2015. Brandicourt was the former Chairman and CEO of Bayer’s healthcare division since 2013 and the Sanofi’s board’s top choice for new CEO.


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