AstraZeneca lures Sean Bohen from Genentech to fill top R&D post

Sean Bohen

AstraZeneca ($AZN) has filled the vacancy at the head of its R&D organization. Sean Bohen is set to take up the post next month after being persuaded to swap a position at the heart of early-stage R&D at Genentech for a chance to guide AstraZeneca's late-phase hopefuls toward approval.

The hiring of Bohen follows the departure of AstraZeneca's former head of late-stage development and chief medical officer Briggs Morrison, who left the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker to take the reins at Syndax Pharmaceuticals. AstraZeneca has moved quickly to fill the position, unveiling Bohen two months after FierceBiotech broke the news of Morrison's shock exit. Bohen is set to start his new role on September 15, at which time he will take responsibility for late-phase development and patient safety at AstraZeneca.

Prior to accepting AstraZeneca's offer, Bohen was handling the opposite end of the R&D process for Genentech under the title of SVP of early development. While the role at AstraZeneca represents a shift in R&D focus, Bohen has experience working on late-phase projects from earlier in his 12-year stint at Genentech. And as a member of Genentech's R&D team, Bohen has experience of many of the areas in which AstraZeneca sees its future, notably targeted cancer therapies and companion diagnostics.

AstraZeneca singled out Bohen's experience of incorporating diagnostics into clinical trials in its release to announce the appointment. AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot has first-hand experience of Bohen's effectiveness in this and other areas from his time at the helm of Genentech. Soriot joined Genentech as CEO in 2009 after Art Levinson walked away in the wake of the takeover by Roche ($RHHBY). Bohen stepped up from VP of immunology development, tissue growth and repair to the post of VP of early development as part of the reshuffle that brought Soriot to the company.

In moving to AstraZeneca, Bohen has severed his ties to the only biopharma company on his résumé. Before joining Genentech in 2003, Bohen worked for close to a decade at Stanford University School of Medicine. 

- read the release