Ex-Novartis research head Bradner tapped to lead R&D at Amgen with Reese moving to chief technology officer

After just more than a year off, Jay Bradner, M.D., is making a grand return to Big Pharma R&D, joining Amgen.

The former president of the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research has been appointed executive vice president, head of R&D and chief scientific officer of the Southern California pharma, according to an announcement Thursday. His predecessor, David Reese, M.D., will take on the chief technology officer role.

Jay Bradner, Novartis
New Amgen R&D chief Jay Bradner, M.D. (Novartis)

It’s a seismic hire, after Bradner led research at Novartis for seven years, departing at the end of October 2022. At the point of his announced departure, the Swiss pharma said he was leaving to “pursue a next chapter of scientific contribution and leadership outside of Novartis.” He was replaced with Fiona Marshall, Ph.D., who jumped from a senior research role at Merck & Co. 

Before joining Novartis, Bradner was a physician-scientist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, where his lab helped propel the field of targeted protein degradation. Those findings spurred the creation of C4 Therapeutics, where Bradner is counted as a scientific co-founder and just this week announced a collaboration with Merck, the biotech’s third Big Pharma deal. Harvard credits Bradner with co-founding five biotech startups. 

In a LinkedIn post teeing up his departure, Bradner credited the NIBR’s research in leading to 75 new trial launches and 90 proof-of-concept studies. The R&D engine under his purview totaled some 5,600 employees. 

In a release, Amgen CEO and chairman Bob Bradway said the moves “reflect our conviction that the rapid convergence of ‘biotech’ and ‘tech’ will unlock the next frontier of innovation in biotechnology.”

Amgen said in a release that Reese has recently been “the key architect of Amgen’s artificial intelligence and advanced technology initiatives with a focus on R&D.” He will now be in charge of incorporating the tech across the entire organization. Reese has been with the company for almost 20 years and has led R&D since 2018.