Life Sciences Insight

AavantiBio snags another bluebird bio VP with gene therapy chops as 6th executive hire this year

AavantiBio has poached another bluebird bio leader to bring its lead gene therapy program into clinical trials. Bluebird’s vice president of preclinical and translational development is leaving to become chief scientific officer of the one-year-old biotech.

Jenny Marlowe, Ph.D., departs bluebird two months after the company asked the FDA to approve its gene therapy betibeglogene autotemcel (approved in the E.U. as Zynteglo) for a severe genetic blood disorder. Marlowe was the leader of that program through 2021 and had been at bluebird since 2017 after a nearly nine-year venture at Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research.

Now, she becomes the latest executive hire at AavantiBio, the Sarepta Therapeutics-backed biotech that launched last October with $107 million in financing. 

The startup’s pipeline is led by a gene transfer therapy for Friedreich’s ataxia, a rare genetic disease impacting the spinal cord and nerves, which leads to loss of body movement control.¬†That asset is still preclinical, and three other undisclosed programs are in earlier stages.¬†

Another former bluebird VP, Jessie Hanrahan, Ph.D., was hired by AavantiBio as chief regulatory officer in May.

Marlowe and Hanrahan are two of multiple C-suite additions this year.

Other executive hires include former Sarepta EVP Ty Howton as chief operating officer and general counsel, Paul Herzich as chief technology officer, Jared Simons as VP of manufacturing, Douglas Swirsky as chief financial officer and ex-Cyclerion Therapeutics Chief Medical Officer Christopher Wright, M.D., Ph.D., as chief medical officer.