Quintiles founder stepping down as chairman after 33 years

Dennis Gillings

Quintiles ($Q) founder Dennis Gillings is set to vacate his chairmanship at the end of 2015, ending a 33-year tenure at the top that saw the North Carolina company grow into the world's biggest CRO.

Gillings, who served as CEO through most of the company's first 30 years, will remain a member of the CRO's board but will relinquish leadership on Jan. 1, with Jack Greenberg taking his place.

What is now Quintiles grew out of Gillings' work as a contract researcher back in 1974, when he was still a biostatistics professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The company properly incorporated in 1982 with Gillings as CEO, going public in 1994 before taking a private equity buyout in 2003. Under Gillings' leadership, Quintiles returned to Wall Street in 2013, pulling off an IPO worth nearly $1 billion. The CRO is now a Fortune 500 company, employing more than 35,000 people around the world and clocking more than $4 billion in annual revenue.

Gillings has been slowly relinquishing control of his company over the past few years, ceding the CEO position to Tom Pike in 2012 and selling off some of his shares in a series of post-IPO public offerings.

Stepping down from the chairman position, Gillings will still retain influence over the company, Pike said, providing guidance as Quintiles works to further expand.

"There would be no Quintiles without Dennis Gillings," Pike said in a statement. "The vision that Dennis displayed in the early years of Quintiles led to a revolution in the way drug development is conducted. He truly was truly a pioneer in the emergence of the clinical research organization industry."

Under Gillings' leadership, Quintiles has become a titan in biopharma both through capacity-building M&A and a depth of engagement previously unseen in the CRO business. The company has signed agreements with Biogen ($BIIB), Merck KGaA and others that go beyond the traditional service model and instead give Quintiles a seat at the R&D table, using its decades of data to help drugmakers pick projects.

- read the statement