Biogen poaches Pfizer vet Villalobos for biotherapeutics lead

Villalobos has 25 years' experience in biopharma, working across CNS therapy areas

Biogen has taken Anabella Villalobos, Ph.D., away from Pfizer and placed her as its new SVP of biotherapeutic and medicinal sciences.

With her new role and team, Villalobos will lead Biogen’s BTMS organization in the delivery of “high-quality, differentiated molecules” to the clinic, according to a statement. She will report to Michael Ehlers, M.D., Ph.D., the Big Biotech’s head of R&D.

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“We are excited to have Anabella Villalobos join us at Biogen,” said Ehlers. “Anabella is a world-class drug hunter, a proven leader in medicinal sciences, and a champion of scientific innovation. Her experience in neuroscience and passion for drug discovery will help us create and advance the next generation of breakthrough medicines.”

Villalobos comes to Biogen from Pfizer worldwide research and development, most recently being the Big Pharma’s VP and head of medicinal synthesis technologies.

She’s been in the industry for 25 years, spending much of her career working in areas of neuroscience and medicinal chemistry, and on clinical candidates for Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia and pain.

CNS is becoming the biggest focus of Biogen’s pipeline, with much hope being rested on its Alzheimer’s candidate aducanumab, which has seen both positives and negatives in recent read-outs, and will need to buck the terrible trend of Alzheimer’s R&D in recent years, which has seen a near 99% failure rate.

RELATED: Biogen aims for neuro 'transformative era' but drops late-stage MS candidate

In its financials last week, it also announced that it “intends to remain focused on neuroscience and adjacencies," which could include deals in these areas. The specific aim is to bolster its pipeline, while also streamlining some ops to allocate more to R&D, with $400 million on the table for this operation.

“Biogen has been an absolute pacesetter in developing breakthrough neurology medicines in the form of biologics, small molecules and new anti-sense oligonucleotide therapies for patients.” said Villalobos.

“I am honored to lead Biotherapeutic & Medicinal Sciences, and I look forward to accelerating our neuroscience discovery to find new approaches for the most challenging conditions of the brain.”