Spotlight On... Pending Allergan merger stirs layoff fears among Pfizer scientists; Biogen joins a $20M ALS fundraise drive; Biden picks key adviser to lead 'moonshot' program; and more...

Pfizer's ($PFE) planned $160 billion merger with Allergan ($AGN) has some researchers worried the company will embrace its counterpart's austere approach to R&D and mount major layoffs. As the Financial Times reports, Pfizer top scientist Mikael Dolsten is working to assuage those fears in his department, saying the combined company will find a "sweet spot" in R&D that will preserve Pfizer's long-held commitment to research. Allergan executives, long averse to costly R&D, have "opened their eyes" to the benefits of spending big on early-stage research, Dolsten told FT. But some Pfizer scientists, mindful of pharma M&A history, remain concerned that the company will substantially cut back its R&D budget once the merger closes this summer, according to FTStory

@FierceBiotech: Oxford team fingers an inflammatory protein as a trigger for cancer. FierceBiotechResearch story | Follow @FierceBiotech

@JohnCFierce: AbbVie taps Synlogic to take a microbiomic approach to IBD. News | Follow @JohnCFierce

@DamianFierce: oh to be a fly on the wall as WSJ editors discussed how best to word this paragraph. More/Article (sub. req.) | Follow @DamianFierce

> Biogen ($BIIB) has donated $5 million to the Target ALS Foundation to help launch a program seeking $20 million from other industry contributors to support research into treatments for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease. More

> Vice President Joe Biden has appointed policy adviser Don Graves to head up his "moonshot" initiative, designed to accelerate the development of new cancer therapies. News

> Roche's ($RHHBY) lung cancer drug Alecensa, approved in the U.S. last year, succeeded in a Japanese study comparing it with Pfizer's ($PFE) Xalkori, leading investigators to stop the study early. Item

Medical Device News

@FierceMedDev: ICYMI yesterday: BTG, Philips roll out first cancer embolic bead visible via real-time imaging. Article | Follow @FierceMedDev

@EmilyWFierce: Hikma slashes $535M from offer price for Boehringer's U.S. generics biz. FiercePharma story | Follow @EmilyWFierce

> Smith & Nephew to sell OrthAlign precision alignment tech alongside its artificial knees. Story

> As Zika fears spread, Cerus nabs American Red Cross partnership for blood pathogen reduction. Article

Pharma News

@FiercePharma: Zika update: Vaccine race swells, PaxVax CEO on how to stop 'chasing epidemics.' Article | Follow @FiercePharma

@CarlyHFierce: ICYMI: Actelion exceeds profit estimates as Opsumit, Uptravi make up for aged Tracleer. Report | Follow @CarlyHFierce

> Novartis defies naysayers with newfangled pay-for-performance deals on Entresto. Story

> Hikma slashes $535M from offer price for Boehringer's U.S. generics biz. Article

Pharma Marketing News

> Novartis bolsters its home-turf advantage in psoriasis with Cosentyx DTC push. Story

> Big Pharma's new PCSK9, heart failure meds stuck in the slow lane. What gives? More

> Pfizer and Valeant jump in annual brand analysis, but most other pharmas drop. Report

> FDA pushes CTI to pull app for myelofibrosis med after trial deaths. Item

> PhRMA hopes to polish pharma's tarnished rep with patient-focused ad campaign. Article

Biotech Research News

> Oxford team fingers an inflammatory protein as a trigger for cancer. Report

> Study: LDL, omega-3 nano-strategy eliminates liver cancer cells in rats. More

> Sequencing deer tick genome may help stop Lyme disease one day. Item

> CRUK scientists ID a key player behind the spread of breast cancer cells. Story

> NIH researchers find genomic signature common in 5 types of cancer. Article

Vaccines News

> As corporate restructuring looms, Sanofi's vaccines deliver in 2015. More

> Zika update: Vaccine race swells, PaxVax CEO on how to stop 'chasing epidemics.' Report

> GlaxoSmithKline signs two new vaccine R&D partnerships. Story

> Bavarian Nordic launches MRSA vaccine effort with partner Evaxion. Item

> GSK's vax revenues jump in 2015 while profit, margin slip. Article