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People In The News: Apr 4, 2014

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Merck KGaA said this week it has made some executive changes. The company has named Udit Batra to be CEO and president of its Merck Millipore division. He succeeds Robert Yates, who has chosen to leave the organization for another opportunity.

Batra joined Merck from Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics, where he was head of Global Public Health and Market Access and was based in Boston. He also has held a range of executive management positions at Novartis before that in Switzerland and Australia. He also was a senior engagement manager at McKinsey, and was global brand director for the wound care franchise at Johnson and Johnson.

Uta Kemmerich-Keil, currently CEO of Allergopharma, will replace Batra as president and CEO of Consumer Health, and she will be replaced by Marco Linari.

Merck Serono President and CEO Belén Garijo will take charge of the research and development organization on an interim basis, temporarily replacing Annalisa Jenkins, who left the job at the end of March.

Kathy Hibbs, former senior VP and general counsel at Genomic Health, has joined 23andMe as chief legal and regulatory officer. Hibbs joins 23andMe while the firm is in the midst of regulatory discussions with the US Food and Drug Administration regarding its Personal Genome Service.

Last November, 23andMe received a warning letter in which the agency asked the personal genomics company to stop marketing health-related information to customers without its clearance. While the regulatory issues are being ironed out, 23andMe continues to provide new customers their raw, uninterpreted genomic data and ancestry-related reports.

Hibbs has also worked at Monogram Biosciences and Varian Medical Systems, and is actively engaged in a number of industry groups, such as the American Clinical Laboratory Association, the Coalition for 21st Century Medicine, and the Personalized Medicine Coalition.

Labcorp said this week that Arthur Rubenstein, Keith Weikel, and Wendy Lane will retire from its board of directors in May, and that Gary Gilliland has been appointed to a seat on the board.

Gilliland is the inaugural vice dean and VP for precision medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and he previously was senior VP of Merck Research Laboratories. He also spent nearly 20 years as a member of the faculty at Harvard Medical School.

Rubenstein and Weikel will retire in accordance with the company's mandatory retirement policy, which requires a director to retire or not stand for re-election when they turn 75. Lane has left the board to pursue other interests.

Weikel and Rubenstein have served on the board since 2003 and 2004, respectively, and Lane has been a director since 1996.

Ben Chen has joined Atossa Genetics as senior VP of global regulatory affairs and quality assurance, a new position at the company.

He previously was VP of global quality assurance and regulatory affairs at WuXi Apptec Biopharmaceutical Company, and he held the same title at Formosa Laboratories. He also has worked at ZymoGenetics, Genentech, Baxter Bioscience, and Eli Lilly.

T2 Biosystems has appointed Michael Pfaller chief medical officer. In the role, he will oversee medical affairs related to infectious diseases and hemostasis advisory boards, and clinical research and physician education programs associated with the anticipated launch of the company's T2Candida test.

Pfaller has over 35 years of experience in clinical and medical research, and currently is professor emeritus at the University of Iowa Hospitals.

Healthcare product commercialization firm PDI announced that Greg Richards has been named general manager for its Interpace Diagnostics subsidiary.

Richards will be in charge of PDI's molecular diagnostics growth strategy. He comes to PDI with 20 years of experience working in sales and marketing at various life sciences firms. Most recently, Richards worked at Strata Pathology Services, where he restructured and expanded the geographic presence of the pathology sales team.

Ewan Birney, associate director and senior scientist at the European Bioinformatics Institute, has been appointed as interim head of the newly launched Center for Therapeutic Target Validation, a public-private research initiative between GSK, EMBL-EBI, and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.

Birney is one of the founders of the Ensembl genome browser and other databases, and has played a key role in many large-scale genomics projects, including the Human Genome Project in 2000 and the ENCODE project. His research group currently focuses on genomic algorithms and inter-individual differences in human and other species.

The Hope Funds for Cancer Research has awarded Daniel Von Hoff one of its five annual awards for excellence in medicine. Von Hoff is physician-in-chief and distinguished professor at the Translational Genomics Research Institute and chief scientific officer at Scottsdale Healthcare's Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center.

Ian Lipkin has been awarded Villanova University's 2014 Mendel Medal. Since 1929, Villanova has given the medal to scientists in recognition of their accomplishments.

Lipkin is a professor of epidemiology at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, and director of the school's Center for Infection and Immunity. He is credited with the discovery of the implication of West Nile virus as the cause of encephalitis in North America in 1999, the invention of MassTag PCR, and the first panmicrobial microarray.

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