Pfizer scoops Calico exec Jeff Settleman to head big oncology R&D ops in La Jolla
Pfizer has found its new chief of oncology R&D in Calico, the Google-backed stealthy startup trying to crack the code on age-related diseases.
Jeff Settleman is stepping in as the pharma giant prepares for the retirement of Robert Abraham, whose experience in oncology research stretches back years at Wyeth.
Pfizer’s oncology unit has seen a bit of turnover in recent years, with a high profile departure just weeks ago when its clinical head in immuno-oncology, Dimitry Nuyten, jumped to Aduro. Charles Hugh-Jones left last August for Allergan after a 16-month stint as CMO; on the commercial side, Liz Barrett was poached by Novartis before moving on to lead the biotech UroGen.
The new job puts Settleman in charge of a team almost quadruple the size of Calico’s entire staff (150-plus at last count) in South San Francisco. He is now the site head of Pfizer’s R&D hub in La Jolla, managing 800 employees divided between tumor cell biology, cancer immunology discovery and target therapeutics, each with their own leaders.
A Harvard faculty of 18 years, Settleman’s first entry to industry was in 2010, when he took up a discovery position at Genentech, which has seeded the Bay Area biotech hub with seasoned talent.
He brings “a breadth of experience in fundamental cancer biology, cancer genetics, and innovative thinking related to the role of tumor heterogeneity in the development of drug tolerance and resistance,” sums up Pfizer CSO Mikael Dolsten.
The company now has 44 programs in development, from immunotherapies like Bavencio to targeted treatments such as the PARP inhibitor Talzenna.