Bhargava leaves Gilead to take up post at biotech investor MPM

signing contract
Pankaj Bhargava, M.D., is the latest in a series of executive partners hired by MPM Capital. (Getty Images)

MPM Capital has named Pankaj Bhargava, M.D., as executive partner. The appointment gives MPM access to the expertise of a physician who spent the past few years working to establish Gilead Sciences as a force in oncology.

Bhargava joined Gilead in 2018 and was promoted to oncology therapeutic area head the next year. Over the years Bhargava worked at Gilead, the big biotech digested its $11.9 billion takeover of Kite Pharma and embarked on a deal spree to try to catch up with the front-runners in oncology. The biggest of the deals came in the final months of Bhargava’s time at the company, when Gilead closed the $21 billion takeover of Immunomedics.

Having helped lay the groundwork for Gilead’s cancer expansion, Bhargava has now left to join the team at VC group MPM. Bhargava’s responsibilities include supporting MPM’s relationships with key pharma partners and serving as the acting chief medical officer at Aktis Oncology.

MPM is also tasking Bhargava with supporting its collaboration with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Last year, MPM and Dana-Farber formed a venture philanthropy alliance, raising a $100 million fund and $26 million in donations to support early-stage research. Bhargava is well placed to support the collaboration having spent 13 years as an attending physician at Dana-Farber.

The activities of Bhargava, MPM and Dana-Farber have overlapped in the past. MPM worked with scientists from institutions including Dana-Farber to set up Tizona Therapeutics, which went on to form a pact with Gilead during Bhargava’s time at the big biotech. Bhargava's prior interactions with MPM factored into his decision to join the organization.

“Having worked with MPM on business development initiatives while at Gilead and interfacing directly with the firm’s senior team, I saw first-hand the scientific rigor, expertise and creativity that has made MPM so successful,” Bhargava said in a statement. 

Bhargava is the latest in a series of people to swap life at a large biopharma company for an executive partner berth at MPM. Last week, MPM disclosed the appointment of David Bredt, M.D., Ph.D., the former site head for Johnson & Johnson’s R&D campus in La Jolla, California. In September, Matthew Roden, Ph.D., arrived at MPM after a spell at Bristol Myers Squibb.