Brewis leaves GSK to take up CSO post at F-star

F-star has become the latest biotech to bag itself a Big Pharma exec. Neil Brewis is now heading up scientific operations at the immuno-oncology player, having previously served as GlaxoSmithKline's ($GSK) head of biopharmaceutical research.

F-star CSO Neil Brewis

The move to Cambridge, U.K.-based F-star marks a return to biotech for Brewis, who headed up research at Domantis prior to its £230 million ($350 million) takeover by GSK. Brewis transferred to GSK as part of the deal and, rather than beating a fast path back to biotech, stuck around at the Big Pharma. Now though, with F-star offering him a chance to oversee the advance of its pipeline of immuno-oncology candidates, Brewis has decided to call time on his spell overseeing 300 of GSK's scientists.

Brewis is far from the first person at a Big Pharma company to get excited about the potential of F-star and its bispecific antibodies. Boehringer Ingelheim, Merck KGaA and Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY) have all seen enough potential to open their checkbooks. And, as F-star CEO John Haurum sees it, the biotech has more going for it than science. "It ... demonstrates the unmatched attraction of Cambridge as the foremost biotech cluster in Europe, serving as a key hub for biopharmaceutical companies and academic excellence within antibody drug discovery," Haurum said in a statement.

The arrival of Brewis at F-star adds to the growing tally of Big Pharma execs to leave their posts for biotechs. Over the past two months, GSK has lost Brewis to F-star and Frédéric Lehmann to another European immuno-oncology player, Celyad ($CYAD), while Pfizer ($PFE) has seen Kevin Lee walk away to take up the reigns at Bicycle Therapeutics. The spate of departures mirrors the trend across the Atlantic, where the deep pockets and huge potential of the startup elite have proven to be an attractive proposition for Big Pharma execs.

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