Lianbio Had It In Their Founding CEO Bing Li. Weeks After Li Quietly Left, Perceptive Founded Company Hired His Successor Out Of Eli Lilly.

By Amber Tong

For any fledgling biotech, recruiting the right CEO is crucial. But it’s an especially tough find for the new generation of cross-border startups with global ambitions. Ideally, you want someone who is ready to blaze a speedy path from clinical development to launch and be well-equipped to manage the product life cycle — often equally so in China, the US and Europe.

Lianbio Had It In Their Founding CEO Bing Li. Weeks After Li Quietly Left, The Perceptive-Founded Company Has Hired His Successor Out Of Eli Lilly. Yizhe Wang spent the last year as global platform lead for anti-Covid therapy at Lilly Research Lab, coordinating discovery, development and launch of bamlanivimab. At the same time, he continued his day job with Lilly Oncology China in Shanghai, where he first moved from Philadelphia while working for GlaxoSmithKline’s marketing team.

All those years of experience translated to “proven leadership guiding late-stage assets to market in China,” said executive chairman and Perceptive managing director Konstantin Poukalov, which will come into use in LianBio’s next phase of growth. As LianBio joins a small but growing cadre of well-connected players scrambling for cutting-edge late-stage drugs to bring to China, people with résumés like Wang’s are in hot demand. Just days ago, Lonnie Moulder tapped Hua Mu to helm his immunology startup, prying a key founding exec away from Overland — Hillhouse’s own US/China play. Everest Medicines (which was founded by the CBC Group) landed another Lilly vet, Kerry Blanchard, for its top job.

The basic in-licensing concept is not new. In fact, pioneers like Zai Lab and BeiGene have popularized the model so much that competition for assets has intensified. It is against this background that the next wave has cropped up — promising even more resources, business development prowess, negotiating power, clinical plans and relevant infrastructure, often not just within Chinese borders but also in Asia more broadly.

“Perceptive [drives] a lot of it,” Debbie Yu, LianBio’s president and chief business officer, told Endpoints News last August. She and Li were the first employees. “They know these companies, these molecules really well.” Wang will be tasked with steering drugs from those anchoring partnerships ahead, including mavacamten from MyoKardia, infigratinib and BBP-398 from BridgeBio, sisunatovir from ReViral, and TP-03 from Tarsus.

This news was originally published at End PTS.