Amgen veteran Reshma Kewalramani promoted to Vertex CMO

Vertex Pharma
(Image: Vertex Pharma)

Having spent just a year at Vertex, and after a major 12-year stint at Amgen, Reshma Kewalramani, M.D., has been promoted to chief medical officer (CMO) and EVP of global medicines development and medical affairs at the company.

Kewalramani’s promotion, coming after being named as senior VP of late development exactly a year ago, comes as its CMO Jeffrey Chodakewitz, M.D., is to retire. Kewalramani takes over the role on April 1, while Chodakewitz, a 20-year Merck vet before joining Vertex back in 2014, will retire and serve as senior advisor through to early 2019.

“I would like to personally thank Jeff for his leadership and dedication to improving the lives of people with cystic fibrosis and other serious and life-threatening diseases,” said Jeffrey Leiden, M.D., Ph.D., Vertex’s CEO.

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“He has played a critical role in leading multiple successful clinical development efforts at Vertex, and I’m pleased that we will continue to benefit from his guidance as a senior advisor over the next year as he transitions to retirement.

“I’m also delighted that Reshma has agreed to succeed Jeff as our Chief Medical Officer. Reshma’s depth of medical knowledge, paired with her experience and proven track record as a clinical leader at Vertex, makes her an ideal successor to Jeff. I look forward to working with Reshma to continue to advance our clinical development pipeline in cystic fibrosis and other serious diseases.”

Kewalramani spent more than 12 years at Amgen, where she most recently served as VP and head of the U.S. medical organization, before moving to Vertex.

Her role will largely be focused around its cystic fibrosis combo pipeline, which has been generating some positive buzz of late, and some earlier work in this field in MRNA and gene editing.

RELATED: Vertex picks drugs for mass-market cystic fibrosis combinations on back of strong midphase data

It’s also doing work on acute spinal injury, which is in phase 2, as well as pain. It also has work in cancer and influenza, with those out licensed to Merck KGaA and Janssen, respectively.

But nearly a year ago, it also slimmed down its R&D staffers, with sources saying last March that it was planning to close a site in Canada, cutting 70 jobs, and trim its headcount in Boston, according to a source close to the company.

RELATED: Vertex to shutter Canada site, focus in on 3 hubs in R&D shuffle

“It’s a privilege to work at a company with such a relentless focus on science and deep commitment to improving the lives of patients and their families,” said Kewalramani.

“I am excited to assume the role of CMO and continue our important work to help more people with cystic fibrosis and other serious diseases alongside the talented team at Vertex.”

Vertex, with a $42.5 billion market cap, was up around 1.4% in this morning’s trading.