Life Sciences Insight

Orchard picks an apple from Novartis’ field with new chief technical officer

Gene therapy biotech Orchard Therapeutics has picked a shiny apple from Novartis, bringing Nicoletta Loggia, Ph.D. on as chief technical officer after a 17-year career at the Swiss pharma. 

Loggia previously served as global head of cell and gene therapies for Novartis—a high-profile part of the pharma’s business that in recent years has launched Zolgensma. While at the Big Pharma, Loggia led lentiviral, adeno-associated virus (AAV), stem and CAR-T cell processes through to commercialization. 

Orchard’s previous chief technical officer, Ran Zheng, left to be CEO of public benefit company Landmark Bio in July. 

The London gene therapy biotech also picked up Smart Immune Chief Scientific Officer Fulvio Mavilio, Ph.D. Mavilio will serve in the same position at Orchard, leading discovery and translational research duties. This includes expanding into larger indications. Prior to Smart Immune, Mavilio was senior vice president of translational science at Audentes Therapeutics.

To round out the leadership changes, Orchard also promoted Leslie Meltzer, Ph.D., to chief medical officer. Meltzer joined the biotech in June 2018 after serving as vice president of medical affairs at Akebia’s Keryx Biopharmaceuticals. She also previously helped lead Biogen’s launch of multiple sclerosis drug Tecfidera in the U.S. 

The moves will aid Orchard’s plans to “focus on more prevalent conditions,” said Bobby Gaspar, M.D., Ph.D. in a statement. Orchard’s pipeline includes neurometabolic disorders, primary immune deficiencies and blood disorders.

The hires come three months after Orchard said 100% of patients in an early-stage trial of its gene therapy OTL-101 were still alive three years after receiving the treatment for an inherited disease that damages the immune system. 

Orchard acquired GlaxoSmithKline’s rare disease gene therapy portfolio in 2018.