Editas names new chief medical officer ‘critical’ to advancing gene editing candidates to clinical trials
Who: The gene editing company Editas is bringing on Sanofi-alum Baisong Mei as its new chief medical officer after abruptly firing Lisa Michaels from the role in February.
Background: Mei has over 20 years of experience in hematology both at Sanofi, where he served as senior global project head in rare disease, and at Biogen, where he led clinical development for hematology. His background bringing medicines such as Alprolix, Eloctate, Onpattro and Jivi through clinical trials and launch will be particularly important as Editas’ EDIT-301 candidate for sickle cell disease enters the clinic.
Why it matters: In late July, Editas began dosing patients in a phase 1/2 trial for EDIT-301, marking the first time the company’s proprietary gene editing technology was used to edit human cells in a clinical trial.
Editas CEO Gilmore O’Neil, who started at the company June 1, notes Mei’s “track record of advancing innovative medicines from IND acceptance through global regulatory approval” as a reason for his appointment.
Learn more: We caught up with O’Neill just as he was starting his new role at the company in June. Read more about the CEO’s vision for Editas and why hiring a chief medical officer was “critical” to that strategy.
Real Chemistry promotes Wendy Carhart to new C-suite position focused on culture
Who: In late July, Real Chemistry announced Wendy Carhart as its first chief communications, culture and purpose officer, responsible for moving the needle on the company’s social impact and employee engagement strategies.
Background: Carhart previously served as Real Chemistry’s head of global communications where she managed internal and external communications efforts through nine acquisitions. Prior to joining Real Chemistry in 2019, she worked at a slew of communications agencies where she collaborated with pharmaceutical, biotech and consumer organizations to drive employee retention and recruitment.
Why it matters: In today’s hot pharma talent market, companies are readjusting their strategies to keep and attract workers, putting greater focus on work culture, diversity programs and benefits.
Learn more: Real Chemistry’s CEO Shankar Narayanan set off on a company-wide listening tour earlier this year to better understand the company culture and employee satisfaction. It appears he’s continuing those efforts with the creation of this new C-Suite role and Carhart’s appointment.
Mental health-focused Compass Pathways appoints new CEO ahead of two pivotal psychedelic trials
Who: On Aug. 1, Kabir Nath took the helm of Compass Pathways, where the former PharmaVoice 100 honoree will lead the mental health company through clinical development of its lead candidate, COMP360, which is a psilocybin therapy for depression, PTSD and anorexia.
Background: Nath brings a diverse array of experience across drug development stages to the new role, notably serving as senior vice president of Bristol Myers Squibb’s U.S. virology sector, vice president of immunosciences and president of its Asia Pacific business during an eight-year tenure at the company. Most recently, Nath led North American operations at Otsuka Pharmaceuticals — a Japanese pharma company focused on neuroscience and nephrology.
Why it matters: Nath will now guide Compass through what could be one of the most eventful chapters in the company’s history, as it enters a phase 3 trial of its COMP360 psilocybin therapy for treatment-resistant depression and a phase 2 trial of the psilocybin therapy in anorexia nervosa.
“There is great work to do ahead — especially as we begin our phase 3 program for patients suffering with treatment-resistant depression. One of my main priorities will be ensuring COMP360 psilocybin therapy moves successfully through the clinical trial, regulatory and reimbursement processes and is brought into healthcare systems, together with psychological and digital support, to patients who urgently need it,” Nath said in a letter to Compass employees Aug. 1.
Learn more: More companies are looking to psychedelics as potential mental health treatments. For instance, MindMed is investigating LSD microdoses for treatment of ADHD, and Clearmind Medicine sees potential in MEAI to treat alcohol use disorder. The field is widening, and Compass is looking to solidify its place