April 7 U.S. drugmaker Bristol-Myers Squibb Co
said on Sunday it has named Francis Cuss to become its
next chief scientific officer after Elliott Sigal retires as
head of research and development on June 30.
Sigal, 61, who has led Bristol's research efforts since 2004
and has overseen the approval of 14 new medicines on his watch,
will also resign from the company's board of directors, the
company said. Bristol had not previously announced Sigal's
Cuss, 58, is set to take over the top scientific post on
July 1. He joined Bristol-Myers in 2003 after spending 14 years
working at Schering-Plough and three with British drugmaker
"As our company embarks on the next phase of pipeline
execution, this is a natural time for Francis to lead our R&D
team," Chief Executive Lamberto Andreotti said in a statement,
adding that Cuss has been a key member of the R&D team with
experience in both drug discovery and development.
The Bristol-Myers news comes a month after Merck & Co
announced that its research chief, Peter Kim, would
retire and be replaced by Roger Perlmutter, who had previously
been head of research and development for biotechnology company
Amgen. That transition is set to take place next week.
Cuss has been instrumental in advancing development of some
of the company's highest profile experimental medicines, the
company said, including drugs being tested against hepatitis C
and cancer, such as a promising cancer immunotherapy from a new
class called PD-1 inhibitors.
Sigal joined Bristol-Myers in 1997 as vice president of the
department of applied genomics and has held several posts since.
He was elected to the board of directors in 2011.
Under Sigal's leadership, new Bristol-Myers products have
been introduced for a wide variety of illnesses, including
medicines to treat cancer, mental illness, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis
B, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, organ transplant rejection
and heart disease.
Andreotti thanked Sigal for his service, saying he had "a
significant impact on the transformation of our company."
Bristol-Myers shares are up nearly 25 percent this year and
more than 60 percent since Andreotti took over as CEO in 2010.