Over the past decade, George Golumbeski rose to become an executive vice president at Celgene, frequently lauded for his high-profile role in leading one of the most aggressive BD teams in biotech.
But Golumbeski has quietly slipped out the back door at Celgene at a time CEO Mark Alles has been executing a series of management changes after a string of pratfalls has been raising questions about the company’s competence on executing on a longterm strategy.
According to a note on Golumbeski’s resume posted at MorphoSys AG, which just appointed him as a new supervisory board member, the BD exec officially left Celgene April 16, transitioning to a new role as an independent consultant after gathering a slate of new roles for his post-Celgene life. He’s also a scientific adviser at newly launched KSQ, the startup run by ex-Genzyme chief David Meeker, and is listed as a venture partner at ARCH.
Investors didn’t like the sound of it. Celgene’s stock plunged 5% after the story came out.
The transition last month, though, has been in the works for close to two and a half years, Golumbeski tells me today. That’s when he sat down with Bob Hugin and Alles and some others to say that after some 20 years on the deal side of the business, with more than 9 years at Celgene, he was ready to do something new and different.
“I communicated I was very happy to stay on,” he adds, “but intended to leave in Q1 or Q2 2017.” For a variety of reasons, his stay lasted until April. And he emphasizes his departure was completely amicable all around.
Now Golumbeski has a variety of new gigs, mostly centered on up and coming biotech companies, where he plans to play a role in recruiting top execs, raising money and focusing on some game-changing medicines. And this way he also gets to spend more time with the family.
“I’m in a good place,” he adds. “I want to help to the extent I can these young companies.”
Celgene media contacts never responded directly to questions abut Golumbeski’s departure.
Working under ex-Celgene CEO Bob Hugin and in close partnership with ex-R&D chief Tom Daniel, Golumbeski was the chief architect of a strategy to snag a multitude of drug rights in an effort to expand beyond their blockbuster Revlimid. Celgene bought into Juno several years ago, then followed up with a $9 billion buyout. Overall, the company liked doing deals that left the partners in charge of the research, as they did successfully with Agios and others.
“We do a better job listening to what a partner has to say,” Golumbeski told me several years ago, when he was in the midst of a deal frenzy worth billions in upfronts and milestones.
Several of his high-profile pacts, though, have been unraveling or hit with severe setbacks. Right on the heels of the implosion of its $710 million cash roll of the dice on the inflammatory bowel disease drug mongersen (GED-301), the FDA hit the company with a refuse-to-file for its would-be MS blockbuster ozanimod.
In response, Alles has engineered some big changes at Celgene. Just days before Golumbeski’s official departure, COO Scott Smith headed out the exits, leaving Alles in charge of everything from clinical development to regulatory, the all-important hematology and oncology franchise as well as inflammation and immunology.
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