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AstraZeneca hire controversial cancer doc to head new Oncology R&D unit

Published on: 08/01/19

The Anglo-Swedish multinational AstraZeneca has named Dr José Baselga as the firm’s new head of research and development in oncology.

The controversial hire comes just months after his resignation from his position as Physician-in-Chief at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center after it was reported that the medical oncologist had failed to disclose multi-million dollar financial ties with pharmaceutical companies in September of 2018.

The 59 year old medical chief, who was revealed to have omitted information regarding his strong financial links to pharma firms from dozens of research articles in high profile publications – such as The New England Journal of Medicine and The Lancet – resigned from roles on the boards of drug maker Bristol-Myers Squibb, radiation equipment firm Varian Medical Systems, and from his position as co-editor in chief of the journal Cancer Discovery in the latter quarter of last year.

In speaking to Reuters Baselga accepted that he had “failed to make the appropriate disclosures” but suggested that “The American Association of Cancer Research subsequently concluded my failure to disclose was inadvertent.”

Nevertheless a spokesperson for AstraZeneca told Reuters that the validity of his research was not under question and that the company viewed the embarrassing episode as effectively over.  Thus the disgraced cancer doc, once a towering figure in the world of cancer research, will now lead AstraZeneca’s newly created Research and Development Unit for Oncology.

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot commented “I am delighted to welcome José to AstraZeneca. An outstanding scientific leader in Oncology, José’s research and clinical achievements have led to the development of several innovative medicines, and he is an international thought leader in cancer care and clinical research. José’s expertise adds further scientific and leadership excellence to our already strong team and will help us to continue building a world-class R&D unit for Oncology.”

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