Advaxis announces leadership changes

Princeton-based Advaxis Inc., a biotechnology company focused on immunotherapy products, announced Monday leadership changes to its executive team.

Kenneth A. Berlin has been appointed CEO and president, effective immediately. He will also serve as director of the company. Interim CEO Anthony Lombardo will remain with Advaxis to ensure a smooth transition.

In addition:

  • Andrew A. Gutierrez has been named executive vice president, chief medical officer;
  • Sara Bornstein, chief financial officer, is leaving the company on April 30.

“After a comprehensive and methodical search, we are very pleased to announce that Ken Berlin has agreed to join Advaxis as president and CEO, and that Dr. Andres Gutierrez is joining our team as CMO. Both of these executives are eminently qualified for their new positions, and we expect to benefit greatly from their expertise. Under their leadership, we look to the future of the company with excitement and confidence,” said David Sidransky, chairman of the board. “On behalf of the board, I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank Sara Bonstein and Anthony Lombardo for their valued service to the company as CFO and interim CEO, respectively, and extend best wishes to both of them.”

Berlin joins Advaxis from Rosetta Genomics, where he was CEO and president since 2009. Before that, he was worldwide general manager at Veridex LLC, a Johnson & Johnson company.  Berlin joined Johnson & Johnson in 1994, and while there served in a variety of roles.

“Ken brings to Advaxis a truly valuable combination of executive leadership experience with large and small, development-stage and commercial companies with a particular expertise in oncology. He has a proven ability to raise capital, launch products, achieve rapid sales growth, build businesses and complete strategic M&A and licensing transactions. We are fortunate to have Ken as our new chief executive,” Sidransky said.

“The opportunity to join Advaxis at such a pivotal and active time is very exciting,” Berlin said. “I look forward to building on the company’s strong foundations and to maximize the value of our Lm-based platform technology worldwide and in multiple indications.”

Gutierrez will be responsible for all global clinical development and regulatory initiatives for the company’s Lm-based antigen delivery system. He has more than 25 years of experience in clinical oncology and drug development. Before Advaxis, he was chief medical officer at Oncolytics Biotech Inc. Before that, he was chief medical officer at SELLAS Life Sciences Group and was medical director, early development immuno-oncology at Bristol-Myers Squibb. Earlier in his career, he was medical director for several biotechnology companies including Sunesis Pharmaceuticals, BioMarin Pharmaceutical, Proteolix and Oculus Innovative Sciences.

“We are delighted to welcome Dr. Gutierrez to Advaxis and are confident he will be a valuable addition to our executive team. He is an accomplished leader and physician with a track record of success in developing novel oncology drugs, putting patients first and delivering results,” Sidransky said. “Dr. Gutierrez has played a key role in the advancement of clinical trials in all stages of development, through to drug approvals. We look forward to benefitting from his expertise in oncology drug development as he leads the clinical development of our immune-oncology platform.”

“I am excited to be joining Advaxis at this important time in the company’s evolution with multiple clinical programs planned and underway, and look forward to contributing to the impressive progress made to date by the Advaxis team in advancing its innovative Lm-based antigen delivery technology across a number of important cancer indications,” Gutierrez said. “Advaxis has a promising future as we continue to accelerate the development of our pipeline and bring innovative new medicines to patients.”