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Ex-Ichnos CEO Poached by Intima Bioscience

For Alessandro Riva, M.D., the pharmaceutical and biotech industries have been a revolving door since 2017. Now, he’s been hired as the future CEO of relatively unknown biotech. Riva left Novartis in 2017 for a two-year term as global head of oncology at Gilead Sciences, followed by a two-year stint as CEO of Glenmark spinoff Ichnos in 2019. Riva is now the CEO of Intima Bioscience. Riva assisted in the $12 billion acquisition of Kite Pharma. During his brief time at Gilead, she oversaw the U.S. and EU approvals of CAR-T cell therapy Yescarta, a B-cell lymphoma treatment.

In the first nine months of the year, the treatment generated $513 million in worldwide sales, up from $434 million the year before. Riva is now in charge of guiding a startup that is relatively unknown through the clinic. The biotech’s primary asset, a gene-editing cell treatment that inhibits CISH, a gene that regulates T-cell receptor signaling, is currently in phase 1/2 testing. In addition, patients with gastrointestinal and colon malignancies are being studied with CRISPR gene editing.

According to, Intima started the experiment in May 2020 and is currently enrolling roughly 20 participants. The trial is expected to end in October 2022. Riva said in a statement, “By combining advances in the development of cell therapies with the targeting of the novel intracellular immune checkpoint CISH, Intima scientific approach is exceptionally promising for the treatment of a variety of cancers.”

President and Chief Operating Officer Campbell Murray and Chief Scientific Officer Tom Henley, Ph.D., lead Intima. Murray spent the preceding 16 years as the managing director of the Novartis Venture Fund. Henley joined in August 2018 after serving as the head of innovation at Horizon Discovery.

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