- Christi Shaw will join Gilead Sciences to become CEO of Kite Pharma, which the biotech acquired in 2017 and earlier this year made into a separate business unit centered on its pipeline of cancer cell therapies.
- The announcement from Gilead comes just hours after Eli Lilly said Shaw would depart the pharma at the end of August. Shaw currently heads Lilly's Bio-Medicines unit.
- While Gilead did not specify a start date in a Thursday release, the company did say Shaw would become a member of its senior leadership team.
Since taking over in March as Gilead's chief executive, Daniel O'Day has begun to make his mark on the California biotech, with maintaining Kite's leading position in cell therapy a priority.
In Shaw, Gilead and O'Day gain a well-regarded pharma executive experienced in running a large drugs division. As head of Lilly's Bio-Medicines unit, Shaw oversaw both R&D and commercial operations in immunology, neurodegeneration and pain. (Lilly's oncology and diabetes businesses are structured separately.)
Before Lilly, Shaw worked at Novartis, first as the Swiss drugmaker's North America head of oncology and then as U.S. country head and president of Novartis Pharmaceuticals. She stepped down from that high-profile role in May 2016 to help care for her sister, who had multiple myeloma and later died.
"We conducted an extensive search for a new leader at Kite and we believe that Christi's unique set of skills will allow us to continue to build on our leadership position in cell therapy," said O'Day in a statement. "Christi's vast experience across complex therapeutic areas, and particularly in oncology, will serve Kite very well."
Gilead is a company in transition following three years of rapidly declining sales for its hepatitis C drugs. Kite, bought for $12 billion in 2017, is meant to be the biotech's future, alongside a maturing HIV business.
Plenty of challenges stand in Kite's way, however. Sales to date of its CAR-T cancer therapy Yescarta (axicabtagene ciloleucel) have been modest, earning Gilead $96 million over the first three months of the year. The technology continues to face both manufacturing and reimbursement hurdles.
Gilead is counting on label expansions and additional approvals from Kite's pipeline to build up an oncology franchise — a task that now falls to Shaw.
Shaw won't be the only new face among Gilead's top leadership, however. Johanna Mercier, formerly of Bristol-Myers Squibb, took over as chief commercial officer July 1, and several other key roles remain unfilled after several quarters of leadership reshuffling.
A biotech in transition
|Departing executive||Date of departure||Gilead tenure||Successor?|
|Norbert Bischofberger, chief scientific officer||April 2018||28 years||John McHutchison|
|Andrew Cheng, chief medical officer||September 2018||19 years||Unnamed|
|John Milligan, CEO||December 2018||28 years||Daniel O'Day|
|John Martin, board chairman||March 2019||28 years||Daniel O'Day|
|Alessandro Riva, head of oncology||March 2019||2 years||Unnamed|
|Robin Washington, CFO||March 2020||11 years||Unnamed|
|Laura Hamill, chief commercial officer||Undisclosed||10 months||Johanna Mercier|
SOURCE: Company releases