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GSK to replace R&D head Vallance with Calico’s Hal Barron

Barron will also hold an executive director position on GSK’s board


GlaxoSmithKline has confirmed that Patrick Vallance is leaving the company to become the UK’s chief scientific officer, and that he will be replaced by pharma industry veteran Hal Barron, currently head of R&D at Alphabet’s Calico drugs unit.

Barron - who was previously chief medical officer of Roche and its Genentech division - joins GSK at a time when its R&D productivity has been at a low ebb.

New chief executive Emma Walmsley has started a restructuring drive aimed at tightening up GSK’s R&D focus and concentrating on the most commercially-attractive programmes, and has already appointed Luke Miels to the position of head of pharma to help drive that change by giving commercial a direct voice in the selection of candidates to bring through later-stage development.

Meanwhile it has been confirmed that Vallance, who held the position of R&D chief at GSK for the last six years, is due to take up the UK government role next March after a three-month handover period. Barron officially starts at GSK on January 1, and along with his role as chief scientific officer and president of R&D will also hold an executive director position on the company’s board.

He will be based in San Francisco, where a new office will be set up and will be “focused on business development for R&D”, and will split his time between San Francisco and GSK’s research hub in Stevenage in the UK.

Barron’s track record in cancer research gives another indication that GSK is planning a renewed push into oncology after selling off the bulk of its assets in this category to Novartis in 2015. His current role at Calico, funded by Google parent Alphabet, has concentrated on understanding processes involved in ageing and the move to GSK reflects a return to his traditional biopharma stamping ground.

“Scientific innovation must be at the heart of GSK and with the appointment of Hal, we are bringing one of the world’s foremost R&D leaders to the company,” said Walmsley, adding that he is well placed to lead the company as it adapts to “the fusion of science and technology [which] is fast transforming pharmaceuticals R&D”.

Barron’s appointment and Vallance’s departure comes after GSK said it intended to cut around 30 preclinical and clinical projects - and put its rare disease operations under review.

Article by
Phil Taylor

9th November 2017

From: Sales



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