Nadia Whittley, © Arquer Diagnostic

Arquer Diagnostics: New head for Dx

Diagnostics company Arquer Diagnostics Ltd (Sunderland, UK) has appointed Nadia Whittley as CEO, replacing Ian Campbell with immediate effect. Whittley will be responsible for launching the company’s MCM5-ELISA diagnostic test and the expanding the technology beyond bladder and prostate cancer. 

Before joining Arquer Diagnostics, Whittley was Partner and Managing Director, Europe, of Tefen Management Consulting, where she was responsible for the design and implementation of a 5-year strategic plan and development of the Life Science Business Unit in EMEA. Previously, she was CEO at Alium Medical Ltd, Managing Director Medical Devices EAME at Allergan Inc., Marketing Director EMEA in Interventional Cardiology at Boston Scientific International, and a non-executive Board member at Peptonic Medical AB.

Lars Jørgensen © Novo Nordisk

Novo Nordisk: Passing the baton

Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen, currently executive vice president and head of Corporate Development at Novo Nordisk, will take over the helm of the Danish diabetes major. He takes over from long-time CEO Lars Rebien Sørensen.

Jørgensen earned his MSc in Finance and Business Administration from Aarhus School of Business and joined Novo Nordisk right out of university in 1991. Over the years, he held several positions, including senior VP for IT & Corporate Development and Chief Information Officer. He is also chairman of the board of NNE Pharmaplan. Jørgensen is taking over from retiring Lars Rebien Sørensen, a Novo Nordisk institution. Sørensen had been with the company since 1982, and served as CEO for the last 16 years. On his way out, Sørensen is taking 1,000 of his colleagues with him. In late September, Novo Nordisk announced extensive layoffs to relieve financial pressure.

Claire Skentelbery, Secretary General of the European Biotechnology Network

And the world turns

Well, that was a weight off my chest, better out than in, as they say. After Brexit, at least the world will be pulled back into its axis with the election of America’s first woman president and … wait a minute, what are you saying? No, that can’t be right … he won? Really? REALLY?

The news, as I write this, rounds off a bewildering year. The editor asked me to write another feisty piece, as apparently you unwashed mob out there quite like slightly naughty writing. And the results of the US election provide a perfect opportunity. However, I find myself unable to laugh or be angry about a farcical, ugly process, with a farcical, ugly result. Maybe it is because I wasn’t a voter so I don’t feel personally offended.

Bad trend

So, what do I feel? Sitting in the centre of the EU, a group of 27 (yes, I know the UK hasn’t left yet, but they got their coat and are standing by the door) countries that, for better or worse, richer or poorer, work together because that will bring you a better, more secure, long-term future.

I feel profoundly sad. Events this year appear to have made it acceptable to actively dislike and attack people because of their race, gender, intellectual capability, and any other factor that makes you think they are plotting to take food out of your mouth. Just as Brexit has seen a sustained increase in race-related violence in the UK, in the US, where people have been described as rapists and murderers for being Mexican, I wonder how many people will lose their lives for the crime of not fitting a rather narrow spectrum of acceptability.

It makes me even more glad that I am part of the European Union. Whatever its challenges, and there are many, it has fixed a target of things being better for its citizens, and that does not mean a tiny percentage, but all of them. Hence, better air, water, employment rights, unemployment rights etc., are applied for all people. When countries as diverse as Hungary, Greece, Germany, and France recognise this and pull (often reluctantly) together – that has to tell you something about the “rightness” of the long-term goal.

The US now has a profoundly anti-science government. Climate change, vaccine-linked autism, evolution … it is hard to even know where to start. These are all evidence-based positions accepted by the global science community, and they could be torn up if the extreme statements from the election trail are implemented. Science policy from Sarah Palin or Ben Carson? This will not just impact the US, as the EU and US have been working to align science delivery, and the danger is that this could be undone, to the cost of patients and healthcare. One can only hope that, in the bonfire of sanity that seems about to ignite, that they don’t set fire to scientific structures and relationships that have been so carefully constructed.

Signing off from Brussels.

Jakob Dynnes Hansen, © Acesion Pharma

Acesion Pharma: New head of finance

Danish biotech Acesion Pharma has hired Jakob Dynnes Hansen as its Chief Financial Officer. He joins from Evolva, a Swiss biotech company, where he has been CFO since 2007.

At Evolva, Hansen played a key role in the company’s public listing in 2009 and subsequent public financings. Prior to that, he was CFO of Nuevolution A/S and Zealand Pharma A/S and had senior roles at a Scandinavian investment bank and at Novo Nordisk A/S. 

Hansen succeeds Henrik Moltke, who will gon on to become CFO at Scandinavian Micro Biodevices that was recently acquired by Zoetis.

Pascal Besman, © PharmaMar

PharmaMar: Pushing the borders

PharmaMar is driving the expansion of its US operations. To this end, the company has appointed Pascal Besman to the newly created role of Chief Operation Officer of the marine-derived oncology drug developers US subsidiary, PharmaMar US. 

Besman joins PharmaMar from Maxim Group, a New York-based global investment bank, where he served as Head of Healthcare Equity Sales since 2014. Before Maxim Group, Besman served as a healthcare specialist and institutional equity salesperson at several investment banks, including JMP Securities, UBS, Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch. 

Brenda Reynolds, ©iQur

BIA: Three new faces on the board

The BIA has added three new members to the Board of Directors. Calchan CEO Brenda Reynolds (pictured), Immunocore Chief Business Officer Eva-Lotta Allan and Polar Capital’s Partner - Healthcare Dan Mahony will join the board of the British BioIndustry Association from January 2017.

Brenda Reynolds, who holds a degree in Toxicology, and is an IOD Chartered Director, was a founder and the Chief Operating Officer of Convergence Pharmaceuticals. Prior to that, Reynolds was COO of PowderMed Ltd.; Vice President of Portfolio & Programme Management at PowderJect Pharmaceuticals plc. She has also held a number of senior positions across the healthcare sector including roles at Pfizer, Scotia Holdings PLC, G D Searle.  Currently, Reynolds ist Director of iQur and BQR Consulting Ltd. 

In addition to the new appointments, Kevin Cox and Tim Watts were also re-elected for a term of three years. Standing down from the board after having completed their terms of office are Edward Hodgkin of Syncona, Stephen Taylor, retired from Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies, and Ian Tomlinson of the Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst and Apollo Therapeutics.