Chimerix CEO Michelle Berrey leaves abruptly

  • Push-out Score determined
  • After about five years in the position
  • Praise, thanks and good wishes for Berrey
  • Responsibilities redistributed
  • Search for a successor

(exechange) — Durham, North Carolina, February 6, 2019 — Michelle Berrey, chief executive of Chimerix, leaves. It is an abrupt change. As announced by Chimerix Inc. in a news release and in a regulatory filing published on Wednesday, February 6, 2019, M. Michelle Berrey has left her post as Chief Executive Officer at the biopharmaceutical company after about five years in the role, effective February 5, 2019.

Among the 3,000 largest publicly held companies incorporated in the U.S. based on market capitalization, the average tenure of the CEOs who departed over the past 12 months was 8.2 years, according to data compiled by exechange.

Michelle Berrey’s move comes eight months after Martha J. Demski took over as Chairman of Chimerix, Inc.

Chimerix will undertake a search for a successor.

The position of Chief Executive Officer is currently not filled. For the time being, Michelle Berrey’s responsibilities are redistributed.

No reason given

In the announcement, Chimerix did not explicitly explain the obviously compelling reason for Michelle Berrey’s sudden move, leaving room for speculation.

Precise information regarding Michelle Berrey’s future plans was not immediately available.

Wake-up call

Generally speaking, it is often an alarm signal for stockholders when a CEO leaves the position abruptly and without an understandable explanation.


Chimerix said: “M. Michelle Berrey, M.D., M.P.H., has resigned from her role as Chimerix President and Chief Executive Officer.”

Chimerix further said: “On February 5, 2019, M. Michelle Berrey resigned as our President and Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately, and also resigned as a member of our Board of Directors, effective immediately.”

Share price decline

The announcement follows a decline in Chimerix, Inc.’s share price of 61 percent since March 2018.

Chaired by Martha J. Demski

Chimerix, Inc. is chaired by Martha J. Demski.

Demski has served on the Board of Directors since 2005, and was named Chair in June 2018. From 2011 to 2017, Demski served as Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Ajinimoto Althea, Inc., formerly Althea Technologies, Inc., a fully integrated contract development and manufacturing organization.

In the position of CEO since 2014

Michelle Berrey has served as the Company’s President and Chief Executive Officer since April 2014 and has been a member of the Company’s Board of Directors since June 2014.

In addition, Berrey served as the Company’s Chief Medical Officer since her appointment to that role in November 2012 until a new Chief Medical Officer, W. Garrett Nichols, MD, MS, was appointed to the role in September of 2014.

From January 2007 to January 2012, Berrey served as Chief Medical Officer at Pharmasset, Inc., a company that focused on the development of nucleotide analogs for the treatment of hepatitis C.

From January 2004 to January 2007, Berrey served as Vice President, Viral Diseases, Clinical Pharmacology & Discovery Medicine at GlaxoSmithKline, where she was responsible for the early development of compounds for the treatment of HIV, hepatitis viruses and hepatic fibrosis.

Berrey earned a B.A. in English from Emory University, an M.D. from the Medical College of Georgia and an M.P.H. from Emory University.

Berrey completed her internship and residency in Internal Medicine at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and was a Senior Fellow in Infectious Diseases at the University of Washington.

Berrey is board certified in internal medicine and infectious diseases.

Push-out Score determined

The Push-out Score™ determined by exechange gauges the likelihood that a manager was pushed out or felt pressure to leave the position.

exechange reached out to Chimerix and offered the company the opportunity to comment on the score.

Read the full story in the exechange report 6.2019 ($).