Andrew Cheng, M.D., Ph.D., is set to leave Gilead six months after being appointed CMO. Cheng’s swift exit keeps the revolving door spinning at the top of Gilead, which is set to lose its CEO, CMO, CSO and executive chairman over a nine-month window.
Gilead named Cheng as CMO in March, 19 years after he joined the company. Cheng started out as the leader of Gilead’s development-stage HIV programs and went on to take on more responsibilities in 2009. Gilead promoted Cheng to an EVP post in 2015 before bumping him up to the CMO chair in March.
Now, Cheng is set to step down to take up an as-yet-unnamed opportunity. Cheng will stick around until September to help with the transition, after which he will leave and presumably later pop up at a new employer.
The imminent loss of Cheng adds to the upheaval in Gilead’s C-suite. John Martin, Ph.D., began the period of change by stepping down as executive chairman in March. The following month, Norbert Bischofberger, Ph.D., vacated the CSO chair. In July, John Milligan, Ph.D., furthered the turnover by revealing he will step down as CEO of Gilead at the end of the year after 28 years at the company.
Gilead broke news of Cheng’s departure in a statement that revealed appointments elsewhere in the organization. Diana Brainard, M.D., is stepping up to the role of SVP, HIV and emerging viral infections after eight years at the company. And Gregg Alton is taking on the chief patient officer job.
Alton’s appointment hands new responsibilities to a 20-year Gilead veteran who has been the one constant at the top of the company during a period of change. Of the people who held the top five positions in Gilead’s organizational chart at the start of 2018, only Alton looks likely to begin next year at the company.