Mersana CEO Anna Protopapas leaves

  • After almost nine years in the position
  • Praise for Protopapas
  • Marty Huber taking over
  • Protopapas said 80 words

(exechange) — Cambridge, Massachusetts, September 6, 2023 — Anna Protopapas, chief executive of Mersana, leaves her position. As announced by Mersana Therapeutics Inc. in a news release and in a regulatory filing published on Wednesday, September 6, 2023, Anna Protopapas leaves her post as chief executive officer at the clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, after almost nine years in the role, effective September 10, 2023.

Generally speaking, it raises questions when a CEO leaves her post at short notice.

Anna Protopapas’s duties as CEO will be taken over by Martin (Marty) Huber, most recently President, Head of R&D at Xilio Therapeutics, Inc.

Already a director

Huber has already been a member of the board of directors of Mersana. Generally speaking, most director-turned-CEO appointments occur following a sudden resignation of the outgoing CEO and signal a lack of preparedness on the company’s part to groom internal talent. Directors-turned-executives represent a blend of outsider and insider.

They don’t have the constraints of a pure insider when it comes to leading painful changes or making unpopular decisions, and they have more company knowledge than a pure outsider.

Having been a director, Huber understands the expectations and dynamics of the board and has knowledge of Mersana’s organization, risk-management practices and strategy.

Anna Protopapas’s move coincides with a management shake-up also involving the positions of Chief Operating Officer and CFO; Chief Development Officer; Chief Accounting Officer; Chief Medical Officer; and Chief People Officer.

No reason given

In the announcement, Mersana did not explicitly explain the reason for the move.

Precise information regarding Anna Protopapas’s future plans was not immediately available.


Mersana said: “Mersana Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: MRSN), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on discovering and developing a pipeline of antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) targeting cancers in areas of high unmet medical need, today announced the retirement of Anna Protopapas, President and CEO, effective September 10, 2023.”

Mersana further said: “On September 1, 2023, Anna Protopapas, President and Chief Executive Officer of Mersana Therapeutics, Inc. (the “Company”), provided the Company with notice of her desire and intention to retire, and on September 6, 2023, the Company announced Ms. Protopapas’ retirement effective as of September 10, 2023.”

Share price decline since September 2020

The announcement follows a decline in Mersana Therapeutics Inc.’s share price of 94% since September 2020.

In the position of CEO since 2015

Anna Protopapas became CEO of the Company in 2015.

Anna Protopapas has served as the Company’s President and Chief Executive Officer and as a member of the Company’s Board of Directors since March 2015.

Protopapas has served as chair of the board of directors of Nuvalent, Inc., or Nuvalent, a biotechnology company, since March 2022.

She previously served as a director of Dicerna Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a biotechnology company, from January 2019 until June 2021.

Protopapas received a B.S. in science and engineering from Princeton University, an M.S. in chemical engineering practice from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an M.B.A. from Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Management shake-up

Anna Protopapas’s move coincides with a management shake-up. Mersana also announced additional changes to the company’s executive team.

Brian DeSchuytner, who joined the company in 2019 and has served as Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) since 2021, has been named Senior Vice President, Chief Operating Officer and CFO.

He will continue to serve as the company’s principal financial officer while overseeing its finance, investor relations, business development, information technology and human resources functions.

Mohan Bala, Ph.D., who has served as Senior Vice President, Strategic Product Planning & Program Leadership since 2021, has been named Senior Vice President, Chief Development Officer and will lead the company’s clinical and translational medicine, clinical operations, biometrics, product planning and program leadership functions.

Additionally, Ashish Mandelia, who joined the company as Vice President, Controller in 2019, has been appointed Vice President, Chief Accounting Officer.

In conjunction with these changes, Chief Medical Officer Arvin Yang, M.D., and Chief People Officer Carla Poulson will be departing Mersana, effective September 29, 2023.

80 words by Anna Protopapas

In the release announcing her departure as CEO of Mersana Therapeutics Inc., Anna Protopapas received praise.

In announcing her departure, Anna Protopapas said 80 words.

“The company’s future will be bright”

Anna Protopapas stated: “It has been an honor to work with each of these individuals and the broader Mersana team. I am enormously proud of the organization and the culture we have built and am confident that, under Marty’s leadership and the guidance of our talented executive team, the company’s future will be bright. I want to express our sincere thanks to Arvin and Carla for their commitment and significant contributions to Mersana. We wish them the very best on their next ventures.”

Push-out Score for Anna Protopapas’s move determined

The Push-out Score indicates on a scale of 0 to 10 how likely it is that Anna Protopapas was pushed out or felt pressure to leave her position.

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

Read the full story in the exechange report 37.2023 ($).