Pfizer’s medicinal sciences head Tony Wood jumps ship to GSK

Tony Wood takes over from John Baldoni, who is moving into a new AI role within GSK.

GlaxoSmithKline has confirmed a tip FierceBiotech received last night that Pfizer’s SVP of medicinal sciences has jumped ship to work for the British Big Pharma.

A spokesman for GSK confirmed to FierceBiotech: “Tony Wood has been appointed senior vice president, platform technology and science, pharma R&D at GSK and will assume his position in October.

“In this role, he will be responsible for delivering the critical end-to-end scientific and technical platform that supports the discovery and development of our medicines. This appointment reflects our ongoing commitment to the successful delivery of our deep midstage pipeline and enhancing our R&D capabilities, particularly in areas such as computational sciences.”

This comes a few months after Emma Walmsley took the helm of the company from Sir Andrew Witty and represents a key R&D move, and poach, from its rival.

GSK’s pipeline, which is largely focused on vaccines, infectious diseases and respiratory meds, includes the phase 2 NY-ESO-1, partnered with Adaptimmune, and works as a T-cell therapy that targets the NY-ESO peptide which is present across multiple cancer types.

In the U.S., the pair are conducting several phase 1/2 studies for the med in patients with synovial sarcoma, multiple myeloma, melanoma, NSCLC and ovarian cancer.

The company is also seeking deeper inroads into rare diseases, with a number of assets in late-stage development, and last year it scored a major regulatory win when Europe approved its “bubble boy syndrome” gene therapy Strimvelis.

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Wood takes over from John Baldoni, who is going to be leading a new team for GSK focused on enhancing drug discovery through the use of in silico technology, including artificial intelligence, machine learning and deep learning, GSK tells me.

This too dovetails with the pharma’s deep moves into the convergence of tech into their R&D, boosted last year by its $715 million joint venture in bioelectronics with Alphabet’s Verily.

In an analyst note this morning on the company, and ahead of a reported strategy review, Jefferies said: “Emma Walmsley's strategy review will be a focus for investors, and may include some 'pruning' of the pipeline. Meanwhile, the threat of Advair generics has now been pushed back into 2018 following CRLs against the first two challengers. Sirukumab, an anti IL-6 for rheumatoid arthritis, is expected to gain FDA approval during Q3'17.

"GILD's Bictegravir head to head study vs dolutegravir will be presented at IAS (23-26 Jul.) and will be scrutinized to determine its level of threat to the HIV franchise. Other key catalysts include: dolutegravir/ rilpivirine combo PDUFA date (1 Dec.) in the HIV maintenance setting; FDA/ EMEA decisions for the 'closed triple' in COPD as well as for the shingles vaccine, Shingrix, (Q4'17), and PIII (GEMINI 1 & 2) data for the dolutegravir / lamivudine combo in treatment naive HIV (Q1'18).”