James Sabry takes over global partnering for Roche

James Sabry, who currently oversees partnering for Genentech’s R&D group, is extending his domain as Roche taps him for a new role—global head of partnering.

The position was created as the Swiss pharma’s Head of Roche Partnering, Sophie Kornowski-Bonnet, leaves for greener pastures. Instead of hiring a replacement, Roche is combining partnering operations for Roche’s pharma R&D group (pRED) and Genentech Research and Early Development (gRED).

It is a reversal from Roche’s strategy so far. The company has taken pains to keep the R&D units separate since its 2008 acquisition of Genentech, keeping the latter’s South San Francisco site open as an independent R&D center to preserve its “unique research culture.”

Sabry will move to Basel and is set to start his new position on Aug. 1.

During his tenure at gRED, Sabry oversaw a series of deals, the latest of which being a partnership with Cambridge, U.K.-based Microbiotica potentially worth $534 million. The duo will use Microbiotica’s gut bacteria metagenomics platform to test samples from Genentech’s clinical trials in inflammatory bowel disease. And just before that, Genentech inked an open-ended discovery deal with Lodo Therapeutics around deriving unique, natural products from the microbial DNA found in soil. That collab could be worth nearly $1 billion.

“James brings a wealth of medical, scientific and business development expertise to successfully identify the best external innovation opportunities and bring them into the Roche Group.” Said Roche CEO Severin Schwan.

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“I would like to thank Sophie Kornowski-Bonnet for her many significant contributions over the 12 years of her career at Roche and wish her continued success for the future,” Schwan said.

Kornowski-Bonnet’s destination was left a mystery—she “has accepted a new opportunity,” the company said. Her departure comes two months after Roche’s former pRED chief, John Reed, signed on to lead R&D at Sanofi.