John Ford, © Enterprise Therapeutics

Enterprise Therapeutics: Vital service

Epidarex Capital-backed respiratory disease start-up Enterprise Therapeutics has named biotech entrepreneur John Ford as its new CEO. Ford previously co-founded Xention, Ario Pharma, and Metrion Biosciences.

Most recently, he was Chief Operating Officer at Dezima, which was acquired by Amgen in September 2015. He also led the team for Receptors and Channel Drug Discovery at BioFocus. Ford holds a BSc and a PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology from the University of Leeds.

Cedric Ververken, © Confo Therapeutics

Confo Therapeutics: Time for change

Confo Therapeutics wants to metamorphose from a tech company to a drug discovery company, and it has hired Cedric Ververken to guide the transition. 

He joins from Ablynx, where he held several positions, among them VP Business Development. Ververken, who holds a PhD in bioscience engineering from KU Leuven, takes over from Stephane van Rooijen, who is stepping down.

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.