AstraZeneca Taps Susan Galbraith to Take Over as Head of Oncology R&D

AstraZeneca_Leon Neal/Getty Images

Leon Neal/Getty Images

Susan Galbraith has been tapped to lead AstraZeneca’s Oncology Research & Development program from discovery through late-stage development. She takes over the role held by oncology research legend José Baselga, who passed away in March from a neurodegenerative disease.

Prior to her new role, Galbraith led early-stage Oncology R&D at AstraZeneca. In that role, she oversaw the progression of seven different assets into late-stage development. Four of those drugs have since been approved by global regulatory bodies, including Lynparza, the first PARP inhibitor approved for multiple cancer types, and Tagrisso, a third-generation, irreversible epidermal growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor that has been approved for lung cancer. Last week, Lynparza was approved for use in China as a monotherapy for the treatment of adult patients with germline or somatic BRCA-mutated metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC) who have progressed following prior treatment.

Chief Executive Officer Pascal Soriot called Galbraith an “outstanding oncologist” who has a track record for pioneering new research and delivering breakthrough science by supporting cutting-edge technologies. Since Galbraith joined the company in 2010, Soriot said she has developed new medications that have transformed treatment options for patients across the globe.

“She is also an exceptional leader who, together with her high-performing team, will continue to rapidly advance our exciting Oncology pipeline and execute the strategy that Susan helped to devise with José Baselga. Susan’s experience, energy, and passion for investing in the next generation of scientists will be invaluable to AstraZeneca’s next chapter of growth,” Soriot said in a statement.  

Galbraith said she was honored to lead AstraZeneca’s commitment to potentially develop a cure for the disease and ending cancer as a cause of death. She said that lofty ambition drives the company’s strategy in oncology and creates a strong bond between the team members who work each day researching investigational medications in order to make a significant difference in the lives of cancer patients.

“I look forward to continuing to work with the outstanding team here at AstraZeneca and our partners to advance our plans and achieve great outcomes for patients and our company,” Galbraith said in a statement.

In addition to Lynparza and Tagrisso, Galbraith has been instrumental in the development of Orpathys (savolitinib), an oral, potent and highly selective MET TKI approved in China for non-small cell lung cancer patients with MET exon 14 skipping alterations; and Koselugo (selumetinib), an inhibitor of mitogen-activated protein kinase, which has been approved for use pediatric patients with neurofibromatosis type 1 with plexiform neurofibromas.

In addition to her leadership position at AstraZeneca, Galbraith also serves on the Scientific Advisory Board of the ICR and on the European Association of Cancer Research Advisory Council. Earlier this year, she was elected to the Board of Directors of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Baselga’s passing came two years after he joined AstraZeneca. Prior to that, he served as Chief Medical Officer at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. During his storied career, he helped develop multiple drugs, including Roche’s breast cancer drug Herceptin and AstraZeneca’s Enhertu. He focused on developing oncology treatments that were aimed at genetic mutations and specific molecular targets on tumors. He also spent time researching how cancer tumors can become resistant to treatments.

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