R&D head leaving Biogen for startup
- Douglas Williams is leaving his position at Biogen at the end of the month.
- Biogen's Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Alfred Sandrock, and Chief Scientific Officer (CEO), Spyros Artavanis-Tsakonas, will take over Williams' responsibilities until a permanent replacement is found.
- Biogen is being supportive of Williams as he departs.
Although Wiliams' specific destination has not been named, George A. Scangos, CEO of Biogen, said that Williams would he heading to a startup "with potential in cancer diagnostics and therapy," according to Biospace.
He is part of a larger recent trend in which top executives have been leaving biopharma companies, usually to take positions at other companies. Other execs who have left recently include Briggs Morrison, who left his position as chief medical officer at AstraZeneca (AZ) last month to join Syndax Pharmaceuticals. In addition, former Pfizer board member Marc Tessier-Lavigne left to focus more on Denali Therapeutics by becoming a board member, and former Bristol-Myers executive David Berman left that company earlier this summer for AstraZeneca---and was subsequently sued by BMS for allegedly violating a non-compete agreement.
It's normal for executives to gain experience and sometimes opt to leave one biopharma position for another position at a different company. What's interesting is the response of the companies' boards. Overall, the responses have been positive, which bodes well for long-term careers in an industry that is very interconnected.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post stated that David Berman had left AstraZeneca for Bristol-Myers and is subsequently being sued by AZ. It is the other way around. We regret the error.