Peer Review: GSK recruits a star cancer scientist to its board ahead of R&D reorganization
Laurie Glimcher FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty
GlaxoSmithKline has just appointed Laurie Glimcher — a pioneering scientist and a champion for advancing women to senior positions in the biomedical world — to its board. Up until just 7 days ago, she was also on the board of Bristol-Myers Squibb, a trendsetter in the blockbuster immuno-oncology world. And the move just may say something about GSK CEO Emma Walmsley’s ideas about the future of the company, which now reportedly include a plan to revamp the pipeline.
Glimcher is the CEO of Dana-Farber, one of the most prestigious cancer research centers in the world. She is also a researcher who has devoted a considerable amount of lab time to immuno-oncology, a subject she helped cover during her 20 years on the board of Bristol-Myers Squibb, a post which she abruptly jumped out of a week ago with a note about her “retirement.”
GSK Chairman Philip Hampton spotlighted her “wealth of expertise in scientific and medical innovation” for her new board role as a scientific and medical expert.
GSK completed a high-profile asset swap with Novartis a few years ago, exchanging its mature cancer projects and commercial products with Novartis in exchange for vaccines. Since then, it’s made little headway in the late-stage pipeline outside of vaccines and HIV, through its majority-owned subsidiary ViiV. After the Phase III washout of a slate of major candidates, GSK slashed its US R&D group in North Carolina as it cut costs and regrouped. Since then pharma R&D has become one of its least exciting fields, with no big products in the late-stage pipeline to excite investors.
According to a report from Reuters, Walmsley is quietly planning a revamp of the pipeline, looking to dump marginal projects and bring in new ones.
GSK, though, never got out of oncology. The pharma giant retained a significant early-stage R&D group in cancer, executing a partnership with the UK’s Adaptimmune. Any move to switch the spotlight back to oncology would be a major changeup in the Big Pharma world. So you can expect at least a few people to be paying close attention to this news.
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