Top Genentech research exec departing for academia

Wed Sep 8, 2010 8:09pm EDT

* Tessier-Lavigne to join Rockefeller University

* Exec departure follows Roche acquisition

NEW YORK, Sept 8 (Reuters) - The No. 2 research executive at Genentech is leaving for a post in academia -- marking one of the highest-profile departures since the U.S. biotechnology company was acquired by Swiss drugmaker Roche Holding AG (ROG.VX).

Marc Tessier-Lavigne, executive vice president of research and chief scientific officer, will become president of Rockefeller University in New York in early 2011, a Genentech spokeswoman confirmed on Wednesday.

Tessier-Lavigne, a neuroscientist, is a seven-year Genentech veteran.

Richard Scheller, Genentech's executive vice president of research and early development, said Tessier-Lavigne had been a "valued leader."

"While we are sad to see him leave, we wish him nothing but the best in his new role," Scheller said in a statement. "We are fortunate to have a strong reservoir of talent ready to step in."

The departure may reignite fears of significant departures from Genentech now that it is wholly owned by Roche. Roche sealed the $47 billion buyout of its biotech partner last year after a lengthy pursuit.

Earlier this month, Roche said it would review its business and cut costs to cope with recent setbacks on key drugs and rising pressures on prices from healthcare reforms. [ID:nLDE68203L]

(Reporting by Lewis Krauskopf)

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