Top UCSF scientist Shaun Coughlin joins migration to Big Pharma, leaping to Novartis

Shaun Coughlin

You can count one more prominent academic researcher who’s making the jump to Big Pharma.

Shaun Coughlin is handing in his old title as director of UC San Francisco’s Cardiovascular Research Center in favor of a new job running the cardio group for the Novartis Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, MA.

Coughlin has been at UCSF for 33 years, but he’s returning to some familiar stomping grounds. Coughlin got his undergraduate degree at MIT, his MD at Harvard Med and did his postdoc work at Mass General.

The dean of the UCSF med school, Talmadge King, had this to say in his sendoff today:

Coughlin’s “research discoveries revealed a mechanism by which proteases regulate cellular behaviors including a key mechanism that controls blood platelet activation and clot formation. This work led to a new medical therapy for preventing heart attacks and strokes and has been honored by the American Heart Association’s Basic Science Award in 2003 and its Research Achievement Award in 2014. Among his numerous other awards are the Bristol-Myers Squibb Cardiovascular Research Award and the Distinguished Career Award from the International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis.”

Jay Bradner

Post-biotech boom on Wall Street, the competition in the industry for top scientific talent has become intense. Jay Bradner helped make this a trend when he left Dana-Farber and grabbed the top slot at NIBR two years ago. New Dana-Farber chief Laurie Glimcher followed up recently by jumping from the board at Bristol-Myers to GSK, which is amping up its cancer R&D work. Recently we also saw Jean-Charles Soria give up his job as a professor at South-Paris University (he was also a cancer specialist at Institut Gustave Roussy) to run the oncology innovative medicines group at AstraZeneca.

But no group has been as intent at the poaching game as NIBR. Peter Hammerman joined late last year, making the jump from Harvard, following the path blazed by Jeff Engelman and Glen Dranoff. All were leading academic cancer researchers.

Biotechs, meanwhile, have been stealing talent from the Big Pharmas, leaving openings for more academics or cross-industry recruits.


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