Pfizer's development leader becomes 2nd executive to retire in early 2022

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, Ph.D., said the Big Pharma's chief development officer, Rod MacKenzie, Ph.D., will retire in the early part of 2022. (Albert Bourla/LinkedIn)

Pfizer's clinical leader will depart early next year after leading one of the most high-profile COVID-19 vaccines to market. 

Rod MacKenzie, Ph.D., chief development officer, was pivotal to the success of Pfizer and partner BioNTech's mRNA vaccine during the pandemic. Also an executive vice president, MacKenzie will retire from his post in 2022 after a 35-year career at the Big Pharma. 

MacKenzie oversaw a group that brought Comirnaty from an idea in the lab through to development and into tens of millions of people around the world. He'll leave as Pfizer ramps up its efforts to get a third dose into the immunocompromised and to eventually expand use to children under 12 years old. 

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"This is a bittersweet time for me and for all those colleagues who have worked with him over the course of his career, but I am excited to see the wonderful things he will accomplish in the next chapter of his life," Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, Ph.D., said in a LinkedIn post announcing MacKenzie's planned retirement.

What originally started as a research scientist job eventually turned into a more than three-decade stint at Pfizer that spanned multiple divisions and multiple iterations of vice president.

MacKenzie has filled his current post since 2016 and leads a division of approximately 6,000 Pfizer employees, according to his LinkedIn page. He's also on the board of ViiV Healthcare, which is attempting to find a treatment for HIV.

The executive will retire at a similar time as John Young, Pfizer's M&A leader. Young also had a more than three-decade career at the Big Pharma and will be replaced by Aamir Malik, from McKinsey & Company, who will take up the chief business innovation officer post, Pfizer said in late August.