Gilead Sciences on Tuesday named former Roche executive Cindy Perettie as the next head of its cell therapy business Kite Pharma, moving quickly to fill the vacancy left by Christi Shaw, who stepped down from the role at the end of March.
Perettie most recently led Roche’s molecular lab division, and previously was CEO of the Roche-owned cancer diagnostics company Foundation Medicine. She’ll start as executive vice president of Kite on May 30, and join Gilead’s senior leadership team.
“Cindy has more than 20 years’ experience in scientific and commercial leadership in oncology and has dedicated her career to improving the care of cancer,” said Gilead CEO Daniel O’Day in a statement.
Notably, O’Day was formerly head of Roche Pharmaceuticals when Perettie led global oncology strategy for the Swiss drugmaker.
“The cell therapy business continues to play an important role in Gilead’s ambition to become a top oncology company,” said Perettie in Gilead’s statement. “I believe with the continued focus and commitment of the Kite team we will be able to reach many more cancer patients around the world.”
Gilead acquired its cell therapy business when it bought Kite Pharma for $11.9 billion in 2017. Shortly after O’Day was named Gilead’s CEO, he made Kite a standalone unit within Gilead, and hired Christi Shaw from Eli Lilly to run it.
Under Shaw, the unit became a top producer of cancer cell therapies, and a central part of Gilead’s ambitions to become a top oncology company. Use of the CAR-T treatments Kite sells, Yescarta and Tecartus, has grown after years of sluggish sales, particularly after Gilead won U.S. approval for Yescarta in earlier treatment of lymphoma.
Perettie will be tasked with continuing that growth, and seeing off competitive challenges from large pharmaceutical rivals like Novartis and Bristol Myers Squibb, as well as smaller biotechnology companies testing new tweaks on cancer cell therapy.