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GSK completes further high-profile staff acquisition

Published on: 17/07/17

Pfizer Senior Vice President of Medicinal Sciences, Tony Wood, has agreed to join GSK, as broken by FierceBiotech. The appointment displays another high-profile acquisition to the staff at GSK after Walmsley took the CEO seat, after Luke Kiels agreed to join from AstraZeneca.

Wood was awarded the RSC Malcom Campbell Prize in 2005 for the discovery Maraviroc, an antiretroviral drug in the CCR5 receptor antagonist class, used to the treat HIV. Whilst working at Pfizer, he was involved in research emerging from a lab in Sandwich, UK, that led researchers to discover five major drugs for the company, including Viagra.

GSK will be hoping this prestigious R&D expertise will be able to bring such results to its own pipeline. The company released a statement suggesting exactly this:

“Tony Wood has been appointed Senior Vice President, Platform Technology and Science, Pharma R&D at GSK and will assume his position in October.  In this role he will be responsible for delivering the critical end-to-end scientific and technical platform that supports the discovery and development of our medicines. This appointment reflects our ongoing commitment to the successful delivery of our deep mid-stage pipeline and enhancing our R&D capabilities, particularly in areas such as computational sciences.”

The reference to computational sciences and drug discovery comes after GSK had signed a deal with Exscientia to utilise AI to improve drug discovery at the company. The deal with the AI discovery company is potentially worth $43 million, a significant investment in an area that is yet to prove successful in bringing a drug through to clinic.

However, it represents the focus that GSK is bringing to its R&D and on bolstering its pipeline. In another twist to the story, the man Wood will replace, John Baldoni, will move onto leading a team that will focus on AI, machine learning and deep learning to discover new drug candidates.

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