ZURICH Jan 15 Swiss drugmaker Roche
has hired a leading American academic to revive its legacy
research operations which have struggled to shake off a string
of high-profile and costly failures.
The Basel-based drugmaker said on Tuesday John C. Reed, 54,
Chief Executive at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute in
California, would take over as head of Roche's Pharma Research
and Early Development -- known as pRED -- on April 2.
Mike Burgess, who has led the unit on a temporary basis
since Roche revamped its research operations last June, will
leave the company.
"We are delighted to welcome John Reed to Roche, who has led
one of the world's top laboratory-based medical research
institutes," said Roche Chief Executive Severin Schwan.
"With his broad scientific and medical background he is
ideally positioned to drive Roche's strategy of translating a
better understanding of disease mechanisms into promising
Roche's pRED unit has languished in the shadow of
Genentech's Research and Early Development (gRED) operations -
the main driver of the company's pipeline whose labs cooked up
Roche's four top-selling medicines in 2011.
The drugmaker decided to keep the two research operations
separate after its 2009 takeover of the Californian biotech
company to preserve Genentech's culture.
In the meantime, pRED has been hit by several problems. Last
year Roche halted clinical trials of experimental heart drug
dalcetrapib, one of pRED's most promising drug candidates.
The failure contributed to Roche's decision to close its
80-year-old Nutley, New Jersey research facility and replace
Jean-Jacques Garaud, then head of pRED.