GSK chief scientist Barron to leave for U.S. biotech start-up

View of GlaxoSmithKline headquarters in London
A view shows GlaxoSmithKline headquarters in London, Britain, January 17, 2022.REUTERS/Hannah McKay

LONDON, Jan 19 (Reuters) - GlaxoSmithKline's (GSK.L) chief scientific officer Hal Barron is leaving in August, the British drugmaker said on Wednesday, moving to run a new privately-owned biotech start-up.

Barron's landmark deals since joining GSK in January 2018 have included a 2019 research alliance on gene-editing with a group of researchers led by Nobel prize laureate Jennifer Doudna, a co-inventor of the CRISPR gene-editing technology.

GSK said Tony Wood will become CSO designate and assume full accountability for Research and Development (R&D) on Aug. 1, adding that Barron will become a GSK non-executive director on that date, with additional responsibilities to support R&D.

Barron is joining Altos Labs, a new biotech based in San Francisco, California, focused on the biology of cellular rejuvenation programming with the goal of reversing disease.

While at GSK, Barron also agreed a 2018 collaboration deal with DNA testing firm 23andMe (ME.O) to develop new therapies, which was extended by a year this month.

His exit is the latest change of a senior scientist at a drugmaker as the pandemic enters its third year.

In December, the British drugmaker hired one of the scientists behind Pfizer's mRNA COVID-19 shot, Phil Dormitzer, as its global head of R&D for vaccines.

Johnson & Johnson's (JNJ.N) CSO Paul Stoffels, who spearheaded the development of the company's single-shot COVID-19 vaccine, retired at the end of last year. read more

Reporting by Josephine Mason; Additional reporting by Ludwig Burger in Frankfurt; Editing by Jason Neely and Alexander Smith

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