Novartis poaches a Harvard oncologist to head up immuno-oncology program
- Novartis is hiring James Bradner from Harvard's Dana-Farber Cancer Institute to head up the company's Institutes for Biomedical Research. He is scheduled to start March 1, 2016.
- Bradner will be replacing Mark Fishman, who led Novartis research in Cambridge, MA for 13 years.
- Novartis hopes to catch up with Merck, BMS and Roche in the immuno-oncology race, an area where the Swiss company has fallen behind.
Bradner is considered an all-around superstar. During his tenure at Dana Farber, he helped establish several start-ups to commercialize discoveries from his lab. At Novartis, Bradner will be leading 6,000 doctors and staff across offices in the U.S., Switzerland, and Asia.
Fishman accomplished a great deal at Novartis, successfully filling the pipeline with viable candidates and moving oncology research towards the CAR-T platform.
Nonetheless, Novartis has failed to keep pace with other companies on the PD-1 forefront, as Merck (Keytruda), Bristol-Myers Suibb (Opdivo) have gained early advantages. Multinational giants like Roche, Pfizer, and AstraZeneca are already in late-stage development on checkpoint inhibitor treatments.
Novartis is determined to catch up and hopes Bradner will provide a spark.