Roche's U.S. gRED research head to retire, be replaced by MIT's Regev

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Swiss drugmaker Roche is seen at its headquarters in Basel, Switzerland February 1, 2018. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

ZURICH (Reuters) - Roche ROG.S said Monday it has hired a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) professor as the new head of the Swiss drugmaker's U.S. research arm that was responsible for some of the company's best-selling medicines of the last few decades.

Aviv Regev, an Israeli-American born in 1971, replaces the current head of Roche’s Genentech Research and Early Development (gRED), Michael Varney. He is retiring after holding the post for five years.

gRED, based near San Francisco, was the force behind medicines including cancer drugs Herceptin and Avastin that have reaped tens of billions of dollars in annual revenue over the last two decades.

Regev is currently chair of the faculty, core institute member, and member of the executive leadership team of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard University, as well as a biology professor at MIT and investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

A prize-winning cancer researcher elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences last year, Regev is an expert in unraveling the complex molecular circuits that govern cells, tissues and organs in health and how their malfunction can lead to diseases including cancer.

“She brings a rare combination of expertise that will help us unlock even more possibilities in data-based drug discovery and development,” Chief Executive Severin Schwan said in a statement.

(This story has been refiled to fix typo and adds dropped word in 5th paragraph.)

Reporting by John Miller, editing by John Revill