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India’s MX Player tops 1 billion downloads

MX Player, the popular on-demand video streaming service, has passed 1 billion downloads, joining a very small but high-profile list of apps globally to achieve this milestone. The firm, owned by Indian conglomerate Times Internet, is the first from…

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MX Player, the popular on-demand video streaming service, has passed 1 billion downloads, joining a very small but high-profile list of apps globally to achieve this milestone. The firm, owned by Indian conglomerate Times Internet, is the first from the world’s second largest market to make it to the group.

The app, which began its journey as a local video playback player, has grown immensely in the past two years as the startup populated the platform with thousands of local and international movies and shows and several original titles, it said, and also as people found themselves locked in their homes with newfound time because of the pandemic.

MX Players — which offers an ad-supported free app or those without ads for just $2.6 a year — has also expanded to several international markets including Bangladesh, Middle East, Southeast Asia, U.S. and the UK. (India is its most popular market.)

MX Player‘s page on the Google Play Store now reflects the 1 billion installs figure, though the startup — whose vast majority of users are on Android — added that it also sees very considerable large volumes of downloads on several third-party stores. (It did not share figures for other stores.)

“We focused on two simple things: get the right content for the audience we have and get the product right for our users,” said Karan Bedi, chief executive of MX Player, in an interview with TechCrunch.

Bedi said the startup has made fast inroads in the market in part because very few players are producing content for the masses. Bedi, who previously ran Eros Now’s India business, pointed to the disconnect between the players and the audiences they are going after even as everyone appears to claim that they are attempting to win the entire country.

Karan Bedi (Image credits: Times Internet)

“When you look at the landscape, we have the broadcast players who are putting their broadcast content on OTT with some small investment in producing original shows. Then we have the international firms — Netflix and Amazon — that are focusing on the top 5% of the masses,” he said.

“If you look at the content we are going after, it’s very relatable to the broader audience,” he said.

Some of the original web shows MX Player has produced or exclusively licensed include Hello Mini, a thriller and romance story, Aashram, which is also in thriller and crime genres, and Flames, a teenage romance story. Citing an internal survey MX Player conducted with its users, Bedi said shows such as the “Indian Matchmaking,” which made a lot of buzz among Netflix users in India, didn’t find resonance with MX Player audience.

MX Player, which also operates the popular short-video app MX TakaTak, has also emerged as one of the most aggressive firms to innovate and adapt on product innovation. Its app also has in-app integration with music service Gaana, also owned by Times Internet, as well as offers several mini-games.

The app was the first among any popular video services to deploy support for H.266 video codec. The move has allowed the firm to reduce the amount of data users consume while streaming videos by more than half — while also improving the overall video quality.

Improvements like this are even more significant for firms such as MX Player, Bedi said, because of the audience it is serving. “For example, we have had clear measurement on the link between latency and engagement. The lower the latency, and we’re talking about seconds here, we have seen seven to eight percent bump in engagement.”

India is one of the world’s fastest growing entertainment markets. Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney’s Hotstar, and dozens of other international services are competing to win users in the country, which has over 700 million of them online.

According to research firm Sensor Tower, there are fewer than 20 apps (not including those from Google that ship pre-installed on Android devices) that have been downloaded or installed a billion times. The firm confirmed to TechCrunch in August that no other Indian app was even close to hitting the milestone.

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Stocks

2 High Yielding Canadian Dividend Stocks to Add Today

Many investors are looking to achieve financial freedom. Ditching that 9-5 job and being financially free is certainly a lifestyle to get excited about. To achieve this, many buy high-yielding Canadian dividend stocks. But, what many don’t realize is…

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Many investors are looking to achieve financial freedom. Ditching that 9-5 job and being financially free is certainly a lifestyle to get excited about.

To achieve this, many buy high-yielding Canadian dividend stocks. But, what many don't realize is that the dividend yield of a company is not the first thing you should be looking at. In fact, a high yield can sometimes be a looming disaster. Look no further than the record-breaking amount of dividend cuts we had during the COVID-19 pandemic.

There's no point in purchasing a high yielding Canadian dividend stock if you're going to watch your capital shrink. So, in this article we're going to highlight a few options that not only present a high dividend yield for investors buying stocks to churn out more passive income, but a reliable dividend yield, one that can stand the test of time.

Reliability found in Enbridge (TSX:ENB)

If you're an income investor, you've likely heard of Enbridge (TSE:ENB). The company has paid a notoriously high yield for decades, and has maintained one of the longest dividend growth streaks in the country, raising consistently for more than 2 and a half decades.

Enbridge is a midstream company with a growing renewable energy portfolio. To give an indication of the company's dominance, it states that it is responsible for shipping more than 20% of the natural gas that is consumed in the United States, and 25% of North America's crude oil.

Enbridge (TSX:ENB) and the renewable future

Its renewable energy portfolio is quite small, accounting for only 3% of 2020 adjusted EBITDA, but it is one that is growing fast, and investors should take note. As we move further into the future, renewables will no doubt play a key role in Enbridge's growth.

There's also a chance you've glanced at Enbridge during a pre-screen and avoided the company due to excessively high payout ratios. Which, is fairly reasonable. The company is currently paying out over 110% of trailing earnings towards its dividend. But, you may be missing a massive opportunity here.

Why has Enbridge been able to grow its dividend for as long as it has, despite payout ratios being over 100% for the better part of a decade? This is because the payout ratio in terms of both earnings and free cash flows are useless when it comes to pipelines.

When analyzing pipelines, you want to be looking at something called distributable cash flow, or DCF. This cash flow calculation is produced by the company themselves, and calculations can vary to some degree. Given the complex business structure of a pipeline company, this is the most reliable indicator to use when it comes to dividend safety.

In 2021, Enbridge expects to generate $4.70-5 in distributable cash flow. With a dividend of $3.34 per year, this puts the company's payout ratio at 66.8% on the high end. Of note, Enbridge's target is to keep its payout ratio within this range, and the company has done so for quite some time.

Consistent cash flows in "take or pay" contracts

How has it managed to do so? Cash flow with pipelines is extremely consistent, due to long term take or pay contracts. Regardless of whether or not Enbridge is shipping product, the pipeline space is paid for. And not only this, Enbridge can turn around and charge someone else to utilize that space, even if it has already been paid for and goes unused.

This creates an extremely reliable cash flow stream despite the price of natural gas or oil, and is one of the major reasons why Enbridge and other midstream companies are not as susceptible to volatility in commodity prices.

Yielding 6.47%, Enbridge is a solid option to help you bolster your passive income stream and start generating long-standing wealth.

Beefy distribution in A&W Revenue Royalties Income Fund (TSX:AW.UN)

TSE:AW.UN Stock

Royalty funds are often avoided due to their complex and confusing structure. However, many of them provide excellent opportunities for investors looking to generate passive income. A&W Revenue Royalties Income Fund (TSE:AW.UN) is one that does just that.

Many bears will point out that A&W in the United States has been struggling. However, in Canada it is a much different story.

A&W thriving in Canadian space

The company has over 1,000 restaurants in Canada and had system sales of over $1.4B in 2020, despite being in a global pandemic. The company has proven to be exceptionally skilled at marketing its products and has some of the best industry leading growth out of all fast food chains in Canada.

As a royalty company, A&W Royalty collects "top line" cash flows. Which means it is solely dependent on the sales driven through A&W restaurants. This means that its distribution can vary depending on how well the restaurants do, but overall it has been extremely reliable when it comes to payments.

Yes, the chain did suspend its $0.10 monthly distribution because of the pandemic in 2020, however it quickly made up for this by providing 2 special distributions of $0.30 and $0.20 when operations started back up later in the year.

Sales growth through the first 6 months of 2021

Prior to the pandemic, the company had achieved mid to high single digit same store sales growth over the last half decade, and it's off to a roaring start in 2021 as well, with 12.2% sales growth through the first 6 months. Through the first 6 months of the year the company has also added 34 new restaurants. To put this into perspective, the company added 37 in all of Fiscal 2020.

The fund yields 4.77%, and pays out on a monthly basis. Payout ratios will look high, but if you understand the operations of a royalty company, you'll know that it aims to pay out the vast majority of its distributable cash back to shareholders.

Overall, it seems consumers are willing to eat at A&W despite higher costs, which bodes well for the company's growth. It does this with great marketing and higher quality food than similar chains like Burger King and Mcdonalds, and investors are likely to enjoy a beefy (no pun intended) distribution for quite some time.

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Spread & Containment

How Robots and A.I. are About To Change This $11 Trillion Industry Forever

TikTok’s nearly 700 million users seek medical advice from random individuals and charlatans, since anyone can claim to be a medical expert on this raging social media machine.
Dr. Google is also working overtime, receiving more than one billion…

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TikTok’s nearly 700 million users seek medical advice from random individuals and charlatans, since anyone can claim to be a medical expert on this raging social media machine.

Dr. Google is also working overtime, receiving more than one billion healthcare questions every day.

Web MD is recording over one billion searches a year, too.

When you combine this voracious hunger for digital diagnosis, symptom checkers and immediate medical assistance, with a global mobile app market whose revenues had already hit $365 billion in 2018, and are now on track to generate over $935 billion by 2023 ...

You get one of the best bets on disrupting the virtual medicine industry to date. You get Big Tech built by doctors for doctors in the Global Library of Medicine (GLM).

You get Cara, the new, sophisticated AI, powered by the unique Global Library of Medicine, that has been trained by hundreds of doctors to think just like them.


Cara will be launching at the end of November, marking the first time in our medical history that we can check our symptoms online, at the touch of a button, and truly trust what we are being told.

Over the past five years, Treatment.com (CSE: TRUE; OTC: TREIF) has been developing the world’s next-generation AI symptom checker, picking up where the billions of requests were left hanging by Google and WebMD … and certainly by TikTok.

Now, the app is about to launch as Treatment Mobile with an intelligent digital assistant, Cara, with over 400 diagnoses by a global team of hundreds of doctors who are adding more every day.

A Digital Fix for a Broken Healthcare System

An overwhelming majority of Americans find the healthcare system impossible to navigate.

Nearly three-quarters have no idea how they will afford their healthcare.

Those two facts have led to a shocking increase in at-home health solutions.

Need a healthcare big tech vendor who knows North American Healthcare

From 2019 to 2020--even before the COVID-19 outbreak--telemedicine grew by 46%.

In 2020 alone, wellness apps were downloaded 1.2 billion times.

Major investment into the telemedicine space combined with a massive increase in uptake and rapidly rising favor among consumers has seen telehealth increase 38X so far in 2021 from pre-COVID levels.

In April 2020, right at the start of the pandemic, telehealth use was 78X higher than in February 2020, according to McKinsey.

Total VC investment into the digital health space in H1 2021 was $14.7 billion. That’s more than VC investment for all of 2020, and twice the amount for 2019. That leads McKinsey to project that 2021 could see total investment in the sector hit $30 billion.

The bottom line is this: American healthcare is broken, and digital offerings are a major element of the fix. Cara steps in at exactly the right time to provide the first sophisticated AI that can help bring it all together. This is where big money is going in the healthcare sector.

The Digital Doctor Is In

Working with the University of Minnesota Medical School, Treatment.com (CSE: TRUE; OTC: TREIF) has gathered the best doctors and tech engineers that built the Global Library of Medicine (GLM) from around the world to teach Cara to do two things that no other digital health platform has been able to do successfully:

1) Think like a real doctor

2) Provide consumers with a personalized health assessment and full-on health management

Cara integrates everything by providing consumers with a bridge to wellness, telemedicine, pharma and health products ...


Cara asks you questions about your symptoms and then sorts through millions of pieces of information that include historical medical cases, demographic data and advances in medical knowledge. The end result is a more accurate recommendation than any other digital tool in the world.

Cara helps you understand what your symptom could be. It helps you monitor and track health changes and understand your general health and prevent illness. It gives you personalized support and follow-up and even allows you to track and manage your entire family.

And it can all be integrated with Apple Health Kit, Apple Watch and FitBit.

Treatment’s AI has been so effective, in fact, that the University of Minnesota Medical School licensed it to test medical students.

How Does Cara Make Money?

Treatment.com (CSE: TRUE; OTC: TREIF) plans to leverage its healthcare AI to build a multi-billion-dollar business.

The initial app will be free, but there is an impressive scalability here.

This is how the wildly lucrative world of apps works. Once the upfront costs of development and AI learning are paid for, it’s all revenue, all the time. And app revenue streams are recurring, which is exactly why the mobile app industry continues to surge.

Consumers will pay for recommendations through premium app subscriptions, and Treatment.com’s next move with Cara will be to add a series of paid plugins for everything from dermatology specialty segments, to cardiology.

Additionally, Treatment.com will seek health and wellness partners to integrate to access qualified referrals and improve efficiencies, while simultaneously reducing costs.

There are three revenue-generating avenues here: corporate licenses, health and wellness products and university medical school training.

But the biggest value here is that Cara is a goldmine of data …

Cara’s access to individualized health trends will help insurance providers and governments to provide better health services.

In healthcare, big data like this helps avoid preventable diseases by detecting them in their early stages.

The market for big data analytics in healthcare could be worth an astounding $68 billion by 2025, and Treatment.com will have a major advantage with Cara.

WebMD--a private company--is valued at $2.8 billion, and it doesn’t even have any AI to back it up.

Treatment.com, (CSE: TRUE; OTC: TREIF) which listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange on April 19th, 2021, is about to launch a healthcare app that could completely change the way we view and access healthcare.

Global Medical and AI Expertise

Founded by John Fraser and Dr. Kevin Peterson, Treatment.com International Inc. (CSE: TRUE)(OTC:TREIF) is a sophisticated big-tech setup from the roots up.

Fraser is a computer scientist and entrepreneur with a background in healthcare technology. He’s a 20-year IT software veteran who has done this before. He sold his first unicorn--Vision Share (now Abilities Network)--for over $1 billion.

Dr. Peterson is a leading doctor and tenured professor at the University of Minnesota Medical School. He was also the architect of an international disease surveillance and research system, the first such in the world.

Add to this a global team of doctors in the United States, Canada, Singapore, India, Ethiopia and South Africa and you have the makings of the most intelligent AI symptom checker and health care management platform on the planet.

Again, that’s why it’s been licensed to train medical students at the University of Minnesota.

The Next Healthcare Wave

The healthcare industry is overripe for disruption, and it’s being disrupted in waves.

The most recent wave saw Babylon Health, valued at $4.2 billion in its latest funding round, explode on the scene with an AI-powered platform for virtual clinical operations. Babylon is about to go public via a SPAC deal through a $4.2-billion merger with Alkuri Global Acquisition Corp., led by former Groupon executives.

It’s also been disrupted by Teladoc Health, the $25-billion telemedicine behemoth that has nicely rewarded investors. Investors who jumped in on this in early 2018 could have seen gains of over 1,500% by January this year.

When we miss one wave, we move on to the next because the healthcare industry is set to see wave after wave of disruption, and Cara comes next.

Set to launch by the end of October, Cara is about to go mainstream, and because of the global experts behind it, it stands a good chance of becoming the next app to go from zero to hero--and perhaps to billions.
Treatment.com International Inc. (CSE: TRUE; OTC: TREIF) has:

1) unfettered access to a data goldmine

2) A Global Library of Medicine (GLM) that is continually updated and referenced by its AI engine that will eventually scale up to all ~10,000 diseases known to man

3) Proprietary IP that could one day be worth billions of dollars

4) Massive growth runways

The next healthcare disruption is about empowering consumers to take better care--and control--of their health, and early-in investors may have a unique opportunity here with a new app that puts another big patch on a broken healthcare system.

Other companies looking to transform healthcare:

3D Signatures Inc. is a high-tech Canadian firm that has found itself in the center of two explosive sectors. It’s armed with an innovative new software platform which uses 3D analysis to target various diseases and help clinicians identify a diagnosis and optimize treatment plans. 3D Signatures’ software is saving doctors time which could be the difference of life and death for some patients.  3D Signatures sets itself apart from its competition through creating individualized treatment plans for patients. Using its mapping platform, the software can determine how a disease will progress and whether or not the patient will respond to treatment

3D Signatures’ broad scope and futuristic technology brings a promising opportunity to potential investors. It truly is at the forefront of a new era in medicine, and investors should not overlook this company’s massive potential.

CRH Medical Corporation specializes in products and services designed for the treatment of gastrointestinal diseases in the United States, Canada, and internationally. With a long history within the space, CRH has positioned itself as a leader in the field, trusted by medical professionals all over the world.

CRH also made a majpr acquisition at the beginning of the year, buying out Anesthesia Care Associates, LLC, an Indiana-based gastroenterology anesthesia practice. The estimated $2.6 million deal will increase CRH’s footprint in the space, and has been well received by investors.

AEterna Zentaris Inc. (TSX:AEZS) is a major biopharmaceutical up and comer. The company has seen steady growth, and an array of new developments over the recent years. With a focus on oncology, endocrinology, and women's health solutions, AEterna has created a variety of new products, including Macrilen, the first and only FDA-approved oral test for the diagnosis of Adult Growth Hormone Deficiency.

Recently, AEterna received European approval to market Macrillen which has pushed its value even higher. Dr. Christian Strasburger, the Head of Clinical Endocrinology at Charité Unversitaetsmedizin Berlin and the principal investigator for macimorelin explained, “Clinical studies have demonstrated that macimorelin is safer and much simpler to administer than the current methods of testing for insulin-induced hypoglycemia, and is well-tolerated by patients and reliable in diagnosing the condition.”

Aptose Biosciences Inc. (TSX:APS) is a biotech company specializing in personalized therapies to address Canada’s unmet oncology needs. The company uses genetic and epigenetic profiles to gain insights into certain cancers and patient populations in order to develop new treatments within the space.

Aptose has an exclusive partnership with Ohm Oncology to develop, manufacture and commercialize APL-581 in order to treat hematologic malignancies and related molecules.

Toronto-based Field Trip Health (TSX:FTRP) is taking a three-pronged approach in their work in the transformative psychedelic medicine sector. Not only are they involved in drug development, but they’re also involved in manufacturing and run a number of treatment clinics.

Field Trip has hit the ground running. With clinics currently operating in Toronto, Los Angeles, and New York, they have plans to ramp up to 75 clinics – providing psychotherapy along with psychedelic treatments. As one of the frontrunners in this exciting new industry, investors are keeping a close eye on Field Trip.

By. Charles Kennedy

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Science

Bridget Martell on taking Yale spinout ‘to adulthood’; Cullinan Oncology CEO announces resignation as Bristol Myers hematology exec is welcomed aboard

Bridget Martell
Bridget Martell’s first clinical trial was an unorthodox one.
Then a resident in internal medicine at Yale, she was given an award to explore a career in clinical research — which was how she wound up leading a Phase I study for a…

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Bridget Martell

Bridget Martell’s first clinical trial was an unorthodox one.

Then a resident in internal medicine at Yale, she was given an award to explore a career in clinical research — which was how she wound up leading a Phase I study for a therapeutic cocaine vaccine designed to help overcome addiction. She ended up overseeing the trial from Patient 1 to Patient 110 and, in the end, the early trial was positive.

“And so that’s when I realized that I needed to go to industry,” she said, “and understand how do you do this from start to finish? How do you string those pearls?”

Thus began a winding, 20-year journey that took her through every step on the proverbial bench to bedside journey — culminating in the CEO office at New Haven-based Artizan Biosciences.

Utilizing a platform technology developed by its Yale founders, the biotech has been scanning bacterial strains to pick out bad bacteria and cooking up small molecules to target them for both gastrointestinal and CNS disorders, an approach it dubs “precision microbiome medicine.” Artizan is now “on track” to name its lead candidates.

“I liken it to, you know, Jimmy took it out of infancy,” Martell said, referring to former CEO Jimmy Rosen. Now that Artizan has grown into a toddler, “I have to take it to adulthood.”

As a first-time CEO, she expects to leverage every aspect of her wide-ranging background for the new challenge: the scientist who studied microbiology and immunology; the internist exposed to a whole array of diseases thrown at her; the clinical trial strategist with experience at Pfizer, Kura Oncology and boutique CRO RRD International; the biotech mentor and advisor she played while consulting for companies and serving as entrepreneur-in-residence at Yale’s Office of Cooperative Research.

She will have help from a small team of 13 — an “amazing team” whom she cites as a big factor for the decision to get into the trenches — as Artizan looks to establish itself in a burgeoning field that’s grappled with its share of failures.

“So we’re not manipulating the microbiome, in terms of removing or adding bugs or feeding bugs. What we’re doing is we’re actually affecting the factors that are perturbing the ultimate balance in the GI tract and the inflammation,” she said. “Unfortunately, some of the failures are what I just spoke about, and that is, it’s complex, right? But, you know, if you start to chip away at what some of those mechanisms are, hopefully we will start to have a broader understanding.”

Amber Tong


Nadim Ahmed

→ Co-founded by Patrick Baeuerle — who was on our list of 20 influential R&D execs in late August — Cullinan Oncology ended up raising $287.4 million in an IPO that helped get the proverbial Nasdaq ball rolling in 2021. Now comes word that Owen Hughes has resigned as CEO and Cullinan has already lined up Bristol Myers Squibb’s Nadim Ahmed as his successor. Hughes, who slips into an advisory role during the transition, will no longer be on Cullinan’s board of directors.

Ahmed, who was with GlaxoSmithKline from 1992-2010, becomes a chief executive here after two years as EVP and president of hematology at Bristol Myers. After GSK, he moved to Celgene, starting out as senior director, global marketing in the multiple myeloma franchise and climbing up to president, global hematology & oncology before the buyout.

→ There’s some reshuffling taking place at Sio Gene Therapies, which was once Axovant until the company shed its vant-ness last November. On Nov. 12, chief R&D officer Gavin Corcoran is hitting the road for “an opportunity with a private healthcare technology company,” leaving president and CEO Pavan Cheruvu to handle Corcoran’s responsibilities henceforth. Along with this news, Sio — whose gangliosidosis program has shown promise in Phase I/II — is opening up searches for a CMO and SVP of early development and scientific affairs, both new positions.

Mace Rothenberg

→ The ubiquitous Mace Rothenberg has stacked up the appointments after his retirement from Pfizer, and the drug giant’s ex-CMO emerges once again as senior advisor to CEO Paul Peter Tak at Candel Therapeutics. In the last nine months, Rothenberg has collected board seats at Surrozen, Tango Therapeutics, and Aulos Bioscience, and he’s joined the mission advisory board at EQRx. “Candel is at the forefront of one of the most exciting approaches in cancer immunotherapy,” Rothenberg said in a statement. “I am excited by the opportunity to help Paul Peter advance the company’s promising oncology pipeline.”

Michelle Chen

→ CBO Michelle Chen is the latest exec to join Alex Zhavoronkov’s squad at Al drug discovery startup Insilico following the appointment of CFO Nirav Jhaveri last month. Chen carries a business development background from such big names as Roche, Merck and BioMarin; fast forward to the present, and Chen makes her exit from WuXi Biologics, where she was SVP of corporate development and discovery business development.

Brittany Bradrick

→ A year ago, Peer Review told you about Brittany Bradrick’s arrival at ViaCyte as CFO (later becoming COO as well), but Bradrick has left ViaCyte to accept the CFO job at OrbiMed-backed Neurelis, whose lead drug Valtoco (diazepam nasal spray) was approved by the FDA last year to treat seizures. Neurelis’ CFO since 2011, George Stuart, will now jump to the COO post at Neurelis subsidiary Aegis Therapeutics. Additionally, ex-Five Prime EVP and CFO David Smith has claimed a seat on Neurelis’ board of directors.

Laura Genatossio

→ There’s a slate of promotions at Urovant after the FDA approval of Gemtesa in December 2020 and subsequent data in September that showed the overactive bladder drug didn’t have a statistically significant effect on blood pressure or heart rate. And CEO Jim Robinson is welcoming a new exec: Laura Genatossio (SVP and general manager, Europe) is the lone newbie who pivots to Urovant after being Sarepta’s VP and general manager in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region. As for the promotions, Alana Darden Powell gets elevated to VP, corporate communications after her year as executive director of business unit operations, communications, and alliance management; Mark Niemaszek joined Urovant last year as VP of commercial operations and jumps to SVP, corporate planning; and after three years as VP, associate general counsel and head of intellectual property, Allergan vet Ted Chan scores the SVP title.

Ash Jayagopal

→ Raleigh, NC-based gene therapy player Opus Genetics, the brainchild of Spark co-founder Jean Bennett that launched a month ago with a $19 million round, has picked up Ash Jayagopal as CSO and Joe Schachle as COO. Jayagopal concludes his two years as executive director of discovery medicine at Kodiak Sciences, and before that he was head of molecular pharmacology and biomarkers in ophthalmology at Roche, which bought Spark in 2019. Schachle makes the transition to Opus from his second stint at Grifols, where he was VP of global commercial services & controlling and later the VP of customer experience enablement.

Gregg Nyberg

→ Formerly the Massachusetts Center for Advanced Biological Innovation and Manufacturing (CABIM), Landmark Bio has installed Gregg Nyberg as chief technology officer and Michael Covington as chief quality and regulatory officer. Nyberg spent almost 15 years at Amgen, then moved on to Merck in 2017 and was the associate VP and head of biologics process development at Merck Research Laboratories. Covington, who was with Amgen from 1993-2003, has held consecutive posts at Novartis Gene Therapies and Orchard Therapeutics as VP of regulatory CMC.

Jennifer Diamond

→ To the mountains we go, where University of Colorado oncology spinout OnKure Therapeutics has named faculty member Jennifer Diamond as CMO. Diamond is an associate professor of medicine in the Division of Medical Oncology at CU’s Anschutz Medical Campus, the same institution where Rain TherapeuticsRobert Doebele has also taught. Led by Array BioPharma co-founder Tony Piscopio, OnKure raised a Series B that totaled $55 million in March.

August Allen

→ Staying in Boulder, Enveda Biosciences has poached August Allen from Recursion, recruiting him as chief platform officer. Allen, who began as a research associate at Recursion in 2016, rose to director of product management before Enveda came calling. Enveda, a biotech where machine learning and natural biology commingle and which teed up a $55 million Series A in June, is led by CEO Viswa Colluru, a Recursion alum in his own right.

Valerie Jansen

Valerie Jansen has been promoted to CMO at Elevation Oncology, the Shawn Leland-helmed startup that introduced itself in July 2020 and then pulled in a $65 million Series B the following November. Jansen, who took over as VP of clinical development at Elevation back in April, previously served as executive medical director at Mersana Therapeutics and senior medical advisor at Eli Lilly.

General Atlantic had top billing on a meaty $143 million Series B round for CinCor Pharma last week. The Cincinnati biotech has now pegged Mason Freeman as EVP, clinical development, and leading the pipeline is the aldosterone synthase inhibitor CIN-107 from Roche. A longtime Massachusetts General Hospital vet who founded the facility’s Translational Research Center, Freeman is a venture partner at 5AM Ventures who has Big Pharma experience at Novartis as head of the translational medicine program for cardiovascular & metabolic diseases.

Susan Schneider

→ Things are percolating on the leadership front at Applied Genetic Technologies Corporation with the appointments of CMO Susan Schneider and VP of clinical operations Sarah DiSalvatore. Schneider, the former SVP of clinical development, ophthalmology at Eloxx Pharmaceuticals and then Ji Xing Pharmaceuticals, is a Genentech and GSK vet who’s been VP and therapeutic area head of glaucoma and retina with Allergan. After working in clinical operations at Helsinn and Stemline Therapeutics, DiSalvatore was recently associate VP of clinical operations for Rocket Pharmaceuticals. Her first day is Nov. 1, while Schneider starts on Nov. 8.

William Hodder

→ Placing an emphasis on treating disorders known as RASopathies which are fueled by the activation of the Ras/Raf/MEK/ERK pathway, Pennsylvania-based NFlection Therapeutics has tapped William Hodder as CEO and is bulking up its leadership team with COO Gerd Kochendoerfer, VP of clinical operations Patrice Horwath and SVP of global regulatory affairs & quality assurance Libbie Mansell. Hodder captures the top spot here after two years as CBO of Escient Pharmaceuticals and he’s also been a corporate development exec at FibroGen and Protagonist Therapeutics. Kochendoerfer, a FibroGen vet as well in drug development, was SVP and head of operations at BridgeBio’s PellePharm. A Medtronic alum, Horwath has been a clinical operations director at Ralexar Therapeutics, while Mansell just wrapped up a brief tenure as AskBio’s SVP, regulatory affairs.

→ Bethesda, MD-based Gain Therapeutics, which released positive results from its induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) study on Gaucher and Parkinson’s disease last month, has appointed Matthias Alder as COO. Before joining Gain, Alder was CBO at Autolus Therapeutics. He has also served as an EVP at Sucampo Pharmaceuticals and Kuros Biosciences (formerly Cytos Biotechnology).

Philip Lambert

→ Backed by the Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund and taking aim at ALS and frontotemporal dementia with its lead asset, San Diego neurodegenerative disease biotech Libra Therapeutics has brought in Philip Lambert as CSO. Before joining Libra, which made its debut last September with a $29 million Series A haul, Lambert was the chief scientist at Centogene and has also been head of discovery at Charles River Laboratories.

→ German-based Curexsys has plucked up Christian Eckert as COO. Eckert makes his way to the exosome-focused company from Bristol Myers, where he was responsible for GMP manufacturing, amongst other duties. Before that, Eckert was with Medigene and Evotec.

Lori Gavrin has been appointed to the newly created position of chief business and strategy officer at NeuExcell Therapeutics. Gavrin served most recently as VP of corporate development at Tmunity, and she’s also worked in leadership positions at Wyeth/Pfizer and GSK. Last month, Pennsylvania-based NeuExcell struck a manufacturing deal with Fujifilm centering on its gene therapy NXL-001 for ischemic cortical stroke.

Haijun Sun

→ Barcelona oncology startup ONA Therapeutics has reached into the GSK talent jar to pluck Haijun Sun as CSO. After three years at F-star — where he was VP of biological products — Sun spent a year with Tizona Therapeutics as VP of antibody development. He joined GSK in 2017 and was the pharma giant’s head of antibody pharmacology before landing his first C-suite job here at ONA, which launched last summer with Bpifrance and Spanish VC Ysios Capital contributing to the €30 million round. Ona has also given its scientific advisory board a boost by naming the following: Pamela Klein, Cédric Blanpain, Sean Morrison, Josep Tabernero, Mark Throsby and ONA scientific co-founder Salvador Aznar Benitah.

Katharina Staufer has signed on to be CMO at Swiss rare liver disease biotech Versantis. Staufer comes to Versantis from Inselspital — also known as the University Hospital of Bern — where she was head of transplant medicine. CEO Vince Forster discussed the “undelivery mechanism” in Versantis’ platform with Endpoints News when the company nabbed Series B funding in September 2019.

Teresa Bair

Troy Wilson’s Kura Oncology has paved the way for Teresa Bair to be chief legal officer. Bair spent six years at Athenex and since June 2020 she had taken on the roles of EVP, general counsel and SVP, administration. Kura’s menin inhibitor KO-539 is now in Phase Ib for patients with relapsed or refractory acute myeloid leukemia.

→ South San Francisco-based Novome Biotechnologies has recruited Bill McLeod as CFO. McLeod most recently served as a corporate finance consultant to Surrozen. Prior to that, McLeod spent a decade at Stifel, where he served as co-head of equity capital markets. McLeod’s other roles include stints at JP Morgan and Bank of America, among others.

Thomas Thomas

Alopexx has reeled in Thomas Thomas as CFO. Thomas joins the Cambridge, MA-based company with experience from his roles at the Stupski Foundation (CEO from 2009-2010) and Genentech (corporate treasurer from 2001-2006). Additionally, Thomas serves as an independent director on the board of Opiant Pharmaceuticals.

→ Paris-based Pharnext has welcomed some fresh faces to its management team with the appointments of Raj Thota (chief manufacturing officer and head of CMC) and Abhijit Pangu (head of regulatory affairs). Additionally, the company has promoted Xavier Paoli to COO. Thota comes to Pharnext from Frontida BioPharm, where he served as VP, general manager. Meanwhile, Pangu joins with experience from his times at Orphazyme and Ferring among others. Last, but not least, Paoli joined Pharnext in 2014 as commercialization strategy director. Prior to this stint, Paoli was with GSK, UCB and Alexion.

Alan Fu

IASO Biotherapeutics has brought on Alan Fu as CFO. Fu most recently served as managing director of Haitong International and director of Citigroup Global Markets. Earlier in his career, Fu served at Rigel Pharmaceuticals.

→ Boston-based X4 Pharmaceuticals has methodically assembled its leadership in the last year, whether it’s with newcomers (CSO Art Taveras and CMO Diego Cadavid) or promotions (COO Mary DiBiase). This time around, X4 has selected Karolyn Park from Takeda as VP, US commercial. Park was senior director, US hematology portfolio strategy In her latest role at Takeda, and she has experience with Aduhelm before its controversial approval as Biogen’s associate director, global aducanumab commercial. In other X4 developments, Shire rare disease vet Françoise de Craecker has joined the board of directors.

Clay Siegall

Seagen CEO Clay Siegall has been named chairman of the board at fellow Seattle biotech Umoja Biopharma. The oncology-focused Umoja is flush with cash after successive financing rounds of $53 million and $210 million in November 2020 and June, respectively.

Rachelle Jacques

→ Chaired by new Mirati CEO David Meek, the board of directors at uniQure now includes Rachelle Jacques. The company Jacques leads, Enzyvant, just received FDA approval last Monday with the one-time regenerative therapy Rethymic for babies with congenital athymia.

→ Plunging down the Covid-19 leaderboard after the  rejected its lenzilumab EUA pitch, Humanigen is loading up on more board members. Former Novartis exec John Hohneker juggles other board seats at BioTheryX, Cygnal, Aravive, Evelo Biosciences and Trishula Therapeutics, and Fosun vet Kevin Xie has been Gracell’s CFO since July 2020.

→ Sarepta’s CMO and EVP of research and development Gilmore O’Neill is making his way onto the board of directors at Aptinyx. Prior to his current stint at Sarepta, O’Neill spent 15 years at Biogen, where he held roles in the development programs for Alzheimer’s disease, movement disorders, neurology, multiple sclerosis, pain, neuromuscular disease, gene and cell therapy, and rare diseases.

Myrtle Potter

→ Duking it out in the liquid biopsy space with companies like Caris and Thrive Earlier Detection, Redwood City, CA-based Guardant Health has elected Myrtle Potter to the board of directors. An ex-COO at Genentech, Potter joined Roivant in 2018 and is currently CEO of Sumitovant Biopharma.

Zai Lab has made Scott Morrison a member of the board of directors just a couple weeks after looking to file a BLA submission for the MacroGenics antibody margetuximab in China. Morrison, who retired from Ernst & Young, is on the boards of Audentes, Corvus Pharmaceuticals, Global Blood Therapeutics, Ideaya Biosciences and Vera Therapeutics.

Maria Fardis

Paul Wotten-led Obsidian Therapeutics is leaning on someone familiar with the TIL arena by appointing Maria Fardis to the board of directors. Back in May, Fardis resigned as CEO of Iovance almost immediately after the company said they’d have to delay the BLA filing of their gene therapy by at least another year.

Looking to fight off cytotoxic T and NK cells, autoimmune disease and cancer biotech Abcuro has added Darlene Deptula-Hicks to the board of directors. Since 2019, Deptula-Hicks has been CFO at F-star and is the former CFO at Pieris.

→ CDMO Biovectra has added two new faces to its board of directors with the appointments of Gordon McCauley (president and CEO of adMare BioInnovations) and Steven Klosk (former CEO of Cambrex Corporation).

Derek Graf also contributed to this edition.

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