Ex-Vaccine Veteran Returns to WHO to Battle COVID-19

Andrew Witty spent 10 years as a vaccine warrior at GlaxoSmithKline, leading the approved influenza vaccine during the H1N1 pandemic and acquiring Novartis’ vaccine unit for the company before he retired in 2017. Now, Witty will take a leave of absence from his CEO position at a pharmacy benefits manager to join the World Health Organization (WHO). He will co-lead a global effort to quickly develop a vaccine for COVID-19.

WHO is in need of strong and experienced leaders like Andrew Witty. Trump announced that the U.S., the biggest donor to the organization with $400 million, will stop funding just as WHO asks for $1 billion to fund worldwide operations against the virus. Though it is unclear how, Witty will be involved in WHO’s plan to test multiple vaccines throughout multiple countries in hopes to get risk and benefits results from candidates in three to six months.

Molecular Diagnostic Company Names New CEO

Mesa Biotech announces Ingo Chakravarty as its new President and CEO. With his 25 years of experience and track record of leading high-performing organizations, Chakravarty is trusted to guide the flu diagnostic technology company.

Chakravarty comments, “I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of such a dedicated, high-performing team. Together we will seize the opportunity and be part of the global response to the current and any future infectious disease challenges that require us to quickly generate the most accurate diagnostic data possible—anytime, anywhere.” Having previously developed the FDA-approved, 30-minute point of care Accula SARS-CoV-2 test, the company will enter its next phase of growth in rapid molecular diagnostic testing.

Chakravarty spent his career building global businesses in the oncology and infectious disease marketplace, holding senior leadership positions at GenMark Diagnostics, Gen-Probe, and Roche.

Arcutis Biotherapeutics

Kimberly Lathroum joins the immono-deramotolgy biopharma group as its VP of Marketing. She will help lead marketing efforts as Arcutis prepares to commercialize its product candidates. With more than 18 years of experience, Lathroum spent 10 years in dermatology marketing. She was previously Executive Director, Marketing for Kite Pharma and is a brand positioning and commercial launch veteran.

Benitec Biopharma

The company focused on developing novel genetic medicines appoints Edward Smith to its Board of Directors. Smith currently serves as Chief Financial Officer of Marinus Pharmaceuticals, a clinical-stage pharma company developing therapeutics for rare seizure disorders, and has 20 years of finance and operations leadership experience under his belt.

Bolt Biotherapeutics

Edith Perez, MD, becomes Chief Medical Officer of the Immune-Stimulating Antibody Conjugate platform developer. Dr. Perez spent her career in oncology therapy development and is trusted to help the company’s platform harness the power of the immune system to treat cancer. Leveraging Bolt’s unique platform, she will help address the unmet need to expand and improve targeted therapies, starting with BDC-1001 in solid tumors.

Caris Life Sciences

The molecular science company appoints Chadi Nabhan, MD, MBA, FACP, Chairman of its Precision Oncology Alliance, a collaborative network of cancer centers consisting of 36 academic, hospital, and community-based cancer institutions spanning 400 locations and treating 280,000 cancer patients with precision medicine each year. Dr. Nabhan will help enhance standards for molecular testing, while improving cancer care for patients.

Five Prime Therapeutics

Thomas Civik, ex-Genentech veteran, joins Five Prime as CEO during a tumultuous time. The company hasn’t had a permanent CEO since September 2019, axed a significant portion of its workforce last year, and missed the mark during pancreatic cancer trials for drug candidate cabiralizumab. Civik has decades of experience launching and commercializing oncology drugs.


The Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER) announces Yvette Venable is to become its first VP of Patient Engagement. She will lead ICER’s patient engagement program, liaise with patient organizations during each ICER assessment, and ensure that patient and consumer voices are driving the organization’s processes and decisions.

MEI Pharma

The late-stage pharma company focused on novel cancer therapies, appoints Cheryl Cohen to its Board of Directors. Cohen is an experienced consultant specializing in sales and commercialization who is expected to help the company advance its new potential option for patients with B-cell malignancies, and guide it through its recent global agreement with Kyowa Kirin.

Precision NanoSystems

Andrew Geall, PhD, takes over as Chief Scientific Officer of the global nanomedicines company. A visionary in the development of rapid response RNA vaccines, Dr. Geall is expected to guide Precision as it cranks out cutting-edge drug manufacturing and delivery technologies. His knowledge will be an asset as the company builds drug development collaborations and works with more than 120 leading biopharma companies to develop vaccines, gene therapies, and small molecule formulations, some of whom are focused on coronavirus vaccines.

Prime Therapeutics

The pharmacy benefit manager hires Stuart Meyerson to be the new VP of Sales. With 20 years of sales leadership experience, he will ensure the company realizes its sales vision and meets growth targets. Meyerson will draw on his healthcare and insurance industry experience to help manage the company.

Relmada Therapeutics

Judy Caron, PhD, becomes VP of Drug Development of the company developing therapies for central nervous system diseases. Previously, Dr. Caron co-founded Neurana Pharmaceuticals, a biopharma company focused on neuromuscular conditions, where she was also Chief Operating Officer. Dr. Caron will now provide critical support of Relmada’s major depression therapy REL-1017.

Solid Biosciences

The company dedicated to advancing therapies for Duchenne muscular dystrophy adds Ian F. Smith to its Board of Directors. Smith currently serves as Director and Chairman of the Board of ViaCyte, Inc. He is expected to use his 20 years of experience in finance and board leadership to help Solid fulfill its mission of developing therapies.


Robert J. Dempsey becomes CEO of the ocular pharma company. He is trusted with advancing the robust pipeline and leading the company’s efforts in bringing innovative products to market. With his commercialization experience, Dempsey will help bring TearClear to the forefront of the ophthalmology industry.


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