Longtime Pfizer vet tapped to replace legendary vaccine researcher Kathrin Jansen
Kathrin Jansen, the legendary vaccine researcher who spearheaded Pfizer’s work on its historic Covid-19 shot, announced last month that she’s hanging up her lab coat. On Wednesday, the pharma giant revealed that it isn’t going far for her replacement.
Pfizer is tapping Annaliesa Anderson, known most recently for her work on the Covid-19 antiviral Paxlovid, to fill Jansen’s role as senior VP and head of vaccine R&D. Anderson most recently served as VP and CSO for bacterial research and hospital within the company’s vaccine R&D unit.
Though the transition won’t be official until August, Anderson said in a statement that she’s ready to “continue delivering breakthroughs for patients.”
The 15-year Pfizer vet first joined the company via Wyeth back in 2007. However, she originally hails from Merck Research Laboratories, where she founded its prokaryotic bio-combinatorial engineering laboratory and launched a bacterial vaccine program.
At Pfizer, her team worked on bacterial vaccine programs designed to prevent diseases due to Streptococcus pneumoniae, Group B Streptococcus, Neisseria meningitidis, Staphylococcus aureus, and Clostridium difficile.
“Annaliesa is a world-class scientist with a track record of delivering both vaccines and therapeutics in pioneering new areas of science and where there is urgent unmet need. I am confident she will work with passion, ingenuity, and dedication to lead Pfizer’s Vaccine R&D organization and continue to advance our strong pipeline,” Pfizer CSO Mikael Dolsten said in a news release.
Anderson has some big shoes to fill. Jansen announced her retirement last month, capping off an illustrious career at 64 years old. The vaccine researcher also landed at Pfizer by way of Wyeth and went on to oversee the well-known Prevnar program, steering the initial Prevnar 13 to approval. Before that, she was at Merck, where Gardasil was approved under her tenure to protect against the human papillomavirus.
It’s likely that Jansen is best known, however, for helping shape Pfizer’s collaboration with BioNTech around its mRNA vaccine Comirnaty, which reaped more than $36 billion in 2021.
She told Endpoints News back in 2020 that her career has been guided by problems that need solving.
“I always say, I’m always looking for the problems,” she said. “The solutions will come — I’m sure about this. I’m worried about the problems, and where do we run into problems.”
“I want to thank Kathrin for her tremendous contribution to our scientific community and the world at large. She leaves Pfizer’s Vaccine R&D group stronger than ever and poised to continue to deliver innovative science,” Dolsten said.