MSK picks brain cancer expert Lisa DeAngelis as its next CMO — following José Baselga’s controversial exit
It’s official. Memorial Sloan Kettering has picked a brain cancer expert as its new physician-in-chief and CMO, replacing José Baselga, who left under a cloud after being singled out by The New York Times and ProPublica for failing to properly air his lucrative industry ties.
His replacement, who now will be in charge of MSK’s cutting-edge research work as well as the cancer care delivered by hundreds of practitioners, is Lisa M. DeAngelis. DeAngelis had been chair of the neurology department and co-founder of MSK’s brain tumor center and was moved in to the acting CMO role in the wake of Baselga’s departure.
The Times coverage noted that DeAngelis sought to assure staffers that MSK recognized their concerns, but added that she was quick to highlight any upbeat news about their accomplishments, including the approval of Vitrakvi — which they played a role in — and their handling of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s cancer care.
“Her expertise and unique understanding of MSK’s mission make her the ideal person to lead MSK’s clinical enterprise into the future,” said MSK CEO Craig Thompson in a statement.
It also secures a prominent position at one of the most high-profile research centers in the world, where investigators have played a big role in the rapidly evolving world of cancer drug research.
Almost exactly a year ago, Baselga was swept up in controversy when The Times published a story outlining frequent cases when he ignored listing his extensive ties to the biopharma industry. Soon after the story hit he bowed out of MSK as well as the board of Bristol-Myers Squibb, and then a few months later was back as the new cancer R&D chief at AstraZeneca, which has been making major strides with its oncology group.
Though controversial at the time, Baselga also received considerable support for his stance that he hadn’t intended to deceive anyone, and often delighted in discussing the same high-profile ties that he neglected to list when necessary. As for MSK, the embarrassment of being in the crosshairs of The Times triggered a wide-ranging investigation, which determined that many of its researchers had done the same. And the academic research center adopted new rules barring top execs from sitting on the boards of for-profit companies.
That led Thompson to cut his ties to Merck’s board, which paid about $300,000 a year.
DeAngelis will have plenty to do without the high-level industry ties that once came with her position.