AstraZeneca shakeup leaves R&D chief on top of restructured MedImmune

Bahija Jallal--image courtesy of MedImmune

The big shakeup under way at AstraZeneca under new CEO Pascal Soriot has hit home at MedImmune. Peter Greenleaf is out as president of the Gaithersburg, MD-based biotech division and Bahija Jallal, now a member of an R&D troika on AstraZeneca's ($AZN) executive committee in the wake of Martin Mackay's ouster, is stepping up to the top spot.

According to a spokesperson, MedImmune is being given the official designation of AstraZeneca's biologics research and development center, a title that it has informally held for years now. The pharma giant bought MedImmune close to 6 years ago for $15.6 billion, with then-CEO David Brennan paying a huge premium to gain a big biotech operation. MedImmune has been developing a growing pipeline since then, but in the short run it failed to deliver the kind of big new products that could have saved Brennan's job.

Under the reorganization, first reported in the Washington Business Journal, MedImmune's commercial operation will now report to AstraZeneca's North American business, while the manufacturing wing will be supervised as part of the global operation. Just two days ago Jallal was named one of three research executives--alongside Mene Pangalos and Briggs Morrison--who will join AstraZeneca's executive committee, reporting directly to Soriot.

"MedImmune will become a biologics R&D site, and will keep its name," said Michael O'Brien in an e-mail to FierceBiotech. "The power of the MedImmune brand will be retained with a particular focus on R&D. Dr. Jallal will become the head of MedImmune, and a member of the senior executive team at AZ. This means that Bahija, and MedImmune, now report directly to the CEO, elevating biologics within AZ. Dr. Jallal will stay in Gaithersburg."

Jallal joined MedImmune as vice president of translational medicine the year before AstraZeneca stepped in. Named one of the top women in biotech by FierceBiotech in 2011, she described her current job supervising 2,000 R&D staffers working on 140 development programs. And she says she got there by staying focused on her passion and following it wherever it led her.

"I never say, I want to be head of R&D here or there," she told FierceBiotech at the time. "What I do is really focus on my heart, if you will, and find the right environment."  

Greenleaf, meanwhile, is being put in charge of AstraZeneca's Latin American business, according to the Business Journal. Greenleaf also is staying in Gaithersburg, where he has become a leader in the state's biotech community. 

AstraZeneca is one of three big pharma companies to use a big buyout to reorganize drug development work. Sanofi has been shifting much of its biologics research focus to Genzyme in Boston while Roche has provided Genentech in California with the premier slot for its global R&D work.

- here's the story from The Washington Post
- read the report from the Washington Business Journal

Special Report: Bahija Jallal - FierceBiotech's 2011 Women in Biotech

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