Bayer poaches Otsuka's chief medical officer Koenen to head up its clinical operations

As Bayer looks to ramp up its R&D work in the gene therapy space amid a host of biotech tie-ups, the German pharma is tapping Christoph Koenen as its new global head of clinical development and operations in its R&D unit.

Koenen, who will start on New Year’s Day, joins Bayer from his position as chief medical officer at Japan’s Otsuka Pharmaceutical. He's also served stints across a host of Big Pharmas including GlaxoSmithKline, Novo Nordisk and Bristol Myers Squibb.

He will now take a central role in pushing on work in Bayer’s pipeline, which is focused on several key areas including early-stage gene therapies, oncology, heart disease, women’s health and kidney disease.

This also comes amid a mini spending and buyout spree for the pharma, which has been looking to beef up its pipeline amid falling sales in key legacy drug areas.

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Leading this charge is Bayer’s new head of pharma R&D Christian Rommel, Ph.D., who joined at the start of the year and has been accelerating a revamping of the Bayer’s research hopes, most notably with the August purchase of Vividion Therapeutics for $1.5 billion and bets on so-called “undruggable” targets.

“We are very pleased to welcome Christoph Koenen to our R&D organization. Christoph brings with him broad development experience and a strong track record in cardiovascular and metabolic research in both the academic and industry settings,” said Rommel.

“He has deep knowledge in harnessing external partnerships and outstanding scientific collaborations with professional networks and health authorities worldwide.”