Eli Lilly has appointed Leena Gandhi, M.D., Ph.D., to lead immuno-oncology medical development. The thoracic oncologist will head up a team tasked with overseeing the advance of Lilly’s portfolio of immuno-oncology prospects.
Gandhi joins Lilly from NYU Perlmutter Cancer Center, where she served as director of thoracic medical oncology. In that capacity and during an earlier spell at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Gandhi played a leading role in multiple phase 1 to 3 clinical trials, including Merck’s KEYNOTE-189 study of a Keytruda-based combination in patients with NSCLC.
This work, particularly as it relates to evaluating drug response biomarkers, has given Gandhi a résumé that maps onto the needs of oncology R&D shops. Kimberly Blackwell, M.D., the Lilly VP who Gandhi will report to, sees Gandhi’s experience as a boon for her new employer.
“Dr. Gandhi is highly regarded for her experience in thoracic oncology and immunotherapy,” Blackwell said in a statement. “We know that her expertise and innovative thinking will lead to significant progress for patients facing cancer through the use of immune therapies.”
Gandhi and Blackwell make up part of a new look oncology R&D leadership team at Lllly. Blackwell took up her post as VP of early phase development and immuno-oncology last month. Like Ghandi, Blackwell arrived at Lilly from academia. The oncologist made her name, and landed a spot on TIME’s 2013 list of the 100 most influential people in the world, on the basis of her work at Duke University.
Blackwell is working under Levi Garraway, M.D., Ph.D., who, having succeeded Richard Gaynor, M.D., at the start of 2017, is a fairly recent appointment, too.
Other parts of the R&D group are also set to come under new leadership in the next five weeks. Maura Dickler, M.D., is due to swap life at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s for the position of VP of late-phase development in oncology at Lilly next week. And the following month Dan Skovronsky, M.D., Ph.D., will step up to replace Jan Lundberg, Ph.D., as head of Lilly Research Labs.