IO Biotech

Chief Scientific Officer

December 25, 2021

IO Biotech | Capitalizing on Breakthrough Approval

IO Biotech is a leading name in cancer vaccines and immunotherapies. They approached LifeSci Search after several years of promising work with their proprietary dual-action platform, T-win, which allows their vaccines to activate T cells to target both cancer cells and the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment. The company was in Phase I clinical trials for two extremely promising therapeutics, IO102 and IO103, and had just been granted breakthrough therapy approval by the FDA. They needed an exceptional Chief Scientific Officer to guide the company through subsequent phases. Their CSO required both expansive clinical experience in immuno-oncology and familiarity with US investors to support the Europe-based leadership team.  

The Approach

Our team began by working alongside IO Biotech to develop and validate a go-to-market message. From there, we moved to create a complete market map of qualified scientific leaders based in the US, leveraging LifeSci’s expansive KOL network and our analysts’ knowledge of the immuno-oncology companies they had previously worked with. We were able to contact over 150 sources in the IO space, and to generate a thorough list of candidates with the required qualifications. From there, based on executive experience and preliminary contact, we presented four candidates to IO Biotech for formal review. 

The Outcome

We successfully placed Muhammad Al-Hajj as CSO, on the strength of twelve years of executive leadership in IO discovery and clinical development. He came to the role from Autolus, where he had served as Senior VP for Translational Sciences and overseen the development of next-generation CAR-T cell therapeutics. Prior positions included VP of Drug Discovery and Translational Medicine at the Sanford Burnham Institute, an NIH-designated cancer center, and Senior Director of Biology and Translational Medicine at GSK, leading oncology R&D. With his leadership, IO Biotech has begun clinical trials for a larger range of solid tumors, completed an extremely successful phase II trial with metastatic melanoma, and went public on November 18, 2021. Simultaneously, we have worked with IO Biotech to place a number of other senior leaders: Peggy Siemon-Hryczyk as SVP for Clinical Operations US, Diane McDowell as SVP for Medical Affairs and Clinical Development, and Daniel Mannix as Executive Director for Regulatory Affairs.

Led By

Paul Cashman | COO and Head of Europe, Life Sciences
+44 7787 727 817

Search Data

Candidates Formally Presented 6
Candidates Interviewed 4
Time to Hire 2 months


Muhammad Al-Hajj | CSO

  • Senior VP for Translational Sciences, Autolus
  • VP of Drug Discovery and Translational Medicine, Sanford Burnham Institute
  • Senior Director of Biology and Translational Medicine, GlaxoSmithKline

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