Ex-Shire/Takeda clinical trials chief Ivarsson lands at Moderna

Moderna manufacturing site
Ivarsson has worked in pharma for more than 20 years, having started her career in the early clinical development group at Eli Lilly. (Moderna)

Another ex-Shire executive is jumping the Takeda ship. Melanie Ivarsson, Ph.D., who led clinical programs at Shire before overseeing global clinical operations at Takeda, is now chief development officer at Moderna. 

She’s just the latest in a stream of Shire leaders to hit the exit after Takeda bought out the rare disease specialist. Last year, Shire’s former R&D chief, Andy Busch, Ph.D., and Howard Mayer, M.D., its ex-chief medical officer, vice president and neuroscience R&D head both found new homes—Busch to Cyclerion as its chief innovation officer and Mayer to Ipsen as its new R&D chief. Another alum, David Altarac, M.D., landed at AstraZeneca spinout Entasis as its CMO having been head of global regulatory affairs, global drug safety and R&D quality and compliance at Shire, and Brigitte Robertson, M.D., who led global development teams within Shire’s neuroscience division, became Yumanity’s chief medical officer. 

Ivarsson joins Moderna as it drives its hefty pipeline forward. One would think that with 21 programs—most of them wholly owned and some partnered—Moderna has its hands full. But it looks like the mRNA biotech is planning to build out its pipeline even more. 

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“I am passionate about delivering innovative new medicines to patients and am excited by the potential of mRNA as a new class of medicines,” Ivarsson said in a statement. “I look forward to joining Moderna at such an exciting time for the company as it continues to expand and advance its pipeline.” 

Ivarsson has worked in pharma for more than 20 years, having started her career in the early clinical development group at Eli Lilly. She moved on to Pfizer, where she was a senior director and head of clinical strategy and operations, before landing at Shire as vice president and head of clinical programs. Most recently, she served as VP and head of global clinical operations at Takeda, leading clinical trials across multiple units including oncology, neuroscience, rare disease, gastroenterology and plasma-derived therapies. 

“Melanie brings tremendous clinical operations experience from multiple pharmaceutical companies across a variety of therapeutic areas, including the treatment for rare diseases such as hereditary angioedema (Takhzyro, Cinryze, Firazyr) and lysosomal storage disorders including Gaucher disease (VPriv), Hunter's syndrome (Elaprase) and Metachromatic leukodystrophy (in clinical trials),” said Moderna CMO Tal Zaks, M.D., Ph.D. “We are thrilled to welcome Melanie to the Moderna team as we move toward the next phase of growth of our company.”