Johnson & Johnson looks inward to find new head of medtech innovation and R&D

It’s a daunting task to replace a leader who’s dedicated a quarter-century of their career to one place, but, as Johnson & Johnson has seemingly discovered, it’s usually a safe bet to select a mentee of the outgoing leader who’s already shadowing their moves through the company.

That’s what J&J did in a recent switch-up within its medtech division. With Peter Shen, Ph.D., set to retire at the end of this year, the company found a new global head of medtech innovation and R&D in Ahmet Tezel, Ph.D., who took over one of Shen’s previous positions when he joined J&J in 2020 and has worked closely with his predecessor in the years since.

Tezel described Shen as his “friend and mentor” in a LinkedIn post about his promotion this week. They’ll continue to work together through the end of the year “to ensure a smooth transition,” according to a J&J announcement sent to Fierce Medtech.

Shen is retiring after 25 years at J&J. He originally joined the company in 1997 and, in that time, has helped lead R&D operations across its many medical device segments, including the vision care, surgical and Ethicon businesses.

Ahmet Tezel J&J
Ahmet Tezel (Johnson & Johnson)

Shen’s successor, meanwhile, arrived at the company just two years ago, when Tezel took on the role of worldwide vice president of R&D at Ethicon—a position that Shen had also held for about two and a half years between 2011 and 2013.

During Tezel’s time at the helm, the value of Ethicon’s R&D pipeline more than doubled, according to the company’s announcement. He also helped build collaborations between Ethicon—which boasts a portfolio of sutures, wound closure devices and other surgical technologies—and J&J’s robotics and digital solutions teams to better share technology platforms and product development best practices across the medtech business.

His pre-J&J medtech career spans more than a decade. Before stepping into Shen’s shoes at Ethicon, Tezel spent more than seven years at Alcon, first as head of R&D in its intra-ocular lens division, then overseeing R&D for the eye care company’s entire surgical franchise.

Prior to that, he logged nearly seven years at Allergan, working his way up from an R&D director to the vice president of all medical device research and product development at the company—several years before its blockbuster buyout by AbbVie, which was completed in 2020.

In his new role, Tezel will report to Ashley McEvoy, executive VP and worldwide chairman of J&J’s medtech division.

“I am eager to push the boundaries of R&D to make our solutions smarter, less invasive and more personalized for the patients and doctors we serve,” Tezel said in his LinkedIn post. “Our teams across Ethicon, Johnson & Johnson Vision, DePuy Synthes, Biosense Webster and Cerenovus are pioneering game-changing innovation to address complex medical challenges, and I look forward to working together in this new chapter to fulfill vital unmet needs for patients across the healthcare continuum.”