Gilead's Chief Scientific Officer Steps Down


After serving nearly 30 years with the company Norbert Bischofberger is stepping down from his role as head of research and development and chief scientific officer of Gilead Sciences, Inc..

Bischofberger’s will remain with the company through July, but John McHutchison, Gilead’s head of clinical research, will take over his duties at the end of April, the company said in a surprise announcement this morning. Bischofberger has been chief scientific officer since 2007. He has been an executive vice president with the company for the past 18 years.

There was no indication if Bischofberger was planning to quietly retire or if he intended to seek another position elsewhere.

Since Bischofberger first joined Gilead in 1990 the company has become a leader in the treatment of hepatitis C and HIV. Now with the acquisition of Kite Pharmaceuticals and its approved CAR-T treatment Gilead has stepped into the forefront of immuno-oncology.

With nearly three decades spent at Gilead Bischofberger has overseen the development of more than 25 approved compounds that are used to treat a range of medical issues, the company said.

Gilead Chief Executive Officer John Milligan said there are few people in the biopharmaceutical industry like Bischofberger. Of his chief scientific officer, Milligan said Bischofberger has not only had an impact on “transforming the treatment of serious diseases,” but has also demonstrated a depth of understanding and caring for the people living with those diseases.

“I have worked alongside Norbert for nearly three decades, and I know I speak for the entire Gilead organization in expressing my profound thanks to him for what he has done to build this company and to change the lives of so many individuals around the world. We wish him all the best in the next phase of his professional career,” Milligan said in a statement.

Bischofberger’s replacement McHutchison joined Gilead in 2010. He became head of clinical research in 2014. Under his leadership, Gilead has developed five medications for the treatment of chronic hepatitis B and hepatitis C that have been used by nearly 2 million people around the world, the company said.

“I am confident that John’s leadership and his deep clinical and scientific expertise will allow Gilead to advance the promising compounds in our pipeline and drive the kind of innovative research and development programs that have been a hallmark of our history and will help us build for the future,” Milligan said.

In addition to McHutchinson’s taking over for Bischofberger, Gilead said Andrew Cheng, the head of clinical research and development operations, will be named chief medical officer in April. He will report directly to Milligan. Cheng joined Gilead in 1999 to helm the company’s HIV development programs. In his new role as Chief Medical Officer, Cheng will retain leadership of the company’s HIV clinical research program and will assume responsibility for Gilead’s Medical Affairs organization, the company said.

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