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GSK poaches key vaccine executives from Pfizer

GlaxoSmithKline has landed a key vaccine executive from Pfizer, as the UK drugmaker bets big on its future. mRNA technology.

Philip Dormitzer This week will join GSK as global head of vaccine research and development, leaving the company where he played a key role in the development of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine, including including helping to strengthen the partnership with BioNTech.

He leads the US pharmaceutical manufacturer’s virus vaccine portfolio, including influenza mRNA vaccine research with BioNTech, and oversees vaccine candidate for syncytial virus respiratory tract, will compete with the vaccine GSK is developing. Pfizer did not respond to a request for comment.

Hal Barron, GSK’s chief scientific officer, said he was “delighted” to welcome Dormitzer with his “significant experience” in mRNA and other technologies, saying hiring was key to ensuring GSK is still one Leading the way in vaccines.

“The importance of vaccines has never been clearer, and the pace of technological innovation has rarely been greater,” he said.

GSK has Falling behind in the race to win Covid. Rather than being self-engineered, it provides an “adjuvant” to boost the effectiveness of a range of other vaccines, including those developed by French drugmaker Sanofi. But after a failed in a previous test, Sanofi and GSK have yet to release phase 3 results for their vaccine candidate.

The UK drugmaker is investing heavily in mRNA technology, including partnering with German biotech CureVac on their second-generation Covid shot.

Dame Emma Walmsley, chief executive officer of GSK, has faced questions about her lack of scientific expertise as she tries to revive the company’s drug pipeline. Active Investor Managing Elliott and Bluebird Capital Partners have made the stakes to drive change faster at the group, ahead of the start of the consumer health business planned for next year.

Dormitzer will help strengthen GSK’s leading science team and demonstrate the company’s commitment to vaccine innovation. Several senior vaccine executives have left GSK this year to join smaller companies, including Amin Khan, who went to GreenLight Biosciences, Emmanuel Hanon, who joined Viome, and Amir Reichman, who is now leader of BiondVax Pharmaceuticals.

Roger Connor, GSK’s president of global vaccines, told the Financial Times that the pandemic has helped demonstrate the value of mRNA technology.

“We are investing significantly in this, we have 200 scientists working on mRNA and that number does not include CureVac scientists, [and] we are building capacity to produce mRNA vaccines,” he said.

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