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Gilead R&D chief Norbert Bischofberger is leaving in surprise exit, CEO revamps top science jobs

Norbert Bischofberger

After a stretch of close to 30 years at Gilead $GILD, longtime R&D chief Norbert Bischofberger is leaving the company. He’ll be stepping out at the end of April, the latest in a whirlwind series of changes among the top scientists in biopharma.

John McHutchison

Taking his place will be John McHutchison, the current EVP of clinical research at Gilead. And Andrew Cheng is stepping up as chief medical officer. Both will report directly to CEO John Milligan.

The change up comes after a stretch of tumultuous innovation at Gilead. The company — which easily had one of the most aggressive research groups in the industry — created a painless cure for hepatitis C, roiling that now shrinking market. It also set the pace for HIV R&D, where it’s been battling it out with an aggressive ViiV under the guidance of GlaxoSmithKline.

Andrew Cheng

More recently, the biotech has lurched into a head-to-head race with Novartis on CAR-T after buying Kite and beginning to aggressively snap up next-gen cell therapy tech.

There have been several high-level research jobs open up in biopharma in recent months. Jan Lundberg is leaving Eli Lilly soon. New GSK CEO Emma Walmsley made waves with her recent decision to recruit Hal Barron as head of R&D. And just days ago Roche announced that pRED chief John Reed is also leaving his position, with plans to return to his home base in the U.S.

Bischofberger helped usher out 25 compounds at Gilead, and whatever he decides to do next he’ll have no trouble moving along in this booming biotech industry.

“There are few people across the entire biopharmaceutical industry who have had the kind of impact Norbert has had on transforming the treatment of serious diseases, or who have demonstrated his depth of understanding of and caring for the needs of people living with those diseases,” said Milligan. “I have worked alongside Norbert for nearly three decades, and I know I speak for the entire Gilead organization in expressing my profound thanks to him for what he has done to build this company and to change the lives of so many individuals around the world. We wish him all the best in the next phase of his professional career.”


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