Former Roche and Calico vet Hal Barron has become the new CSO and research chief at GlaxoSmithKline amid a shake-up from its new CEO Emma Walmsley.
This move was on the cards since a report from the Financial Times this week said its near-six-year research chief Patrick Vallance was out the door for a new role as a U.K. government science adviser. Vallance will now indeed be leaving, taking up the FT-reported role of government science adviser; he leaves next March.
With Barron, Walmsley gets an experienced, U.S.-based vet who was the CMO of oncology giant Roche/Genentech and Alphabet’s supersecretive longevity biotech Calico. Barron will likely have a major charge of ramping up R&D productivity for a Big Pharma that has seen few approvals or exciting research updates in the last few years and which sold off much of its cancer work to Novartis in 2015.
Barron will be staying in San Francisco, running this new office for GSK alongside its Stevenage, U.K., office and headquarters.
“The new office presence in San Francisco will be focused on business development for R&D,” the company said in a statement, as it boosts its geographic footprint.
Walmsley, who has been shaking up her R&D execs since taking the chief’s role in April, said: “Scientific innovation must be at the heart of GSK and with the appointment of Hal, we are bringing one of the world’s foremost R&D leaders to the company.”
Philip Hampton, chairman at GSK, added: “We are delighted that Hal will be joining GSK and look forward to welcoming him to the Board. He is a highly respected clinician-scientist with a proven ability to generate value for shareholders and his appointment reflects the Board’s commitment to investing in research and development.”
Barron added: "GSK is a company with a rich history of innovation, with many talented scientists who care deeply about translating great science into therapies that make a meaningful difference for patients. I believe there is a significant opportunity to accelerate this effort and am looking forward to joining Emma and the team on this mission.”
The company's shares ticked up just over 1% on the news.