Pfizer CMO Steps Down, Stanford Professor to Transition into Role

Pfizer_ David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty

 David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

With the new year comes a changing of the guard at Pfizer. After two years of helming the company’s pharma operations, Chief Medical Officer Mace Rothenberg announced his departure from Pfizer on social media.

Rothenberg made his announcement on Twitter Monday afternoon. The company has not yet issued a formal press release.

“Today is my last day as Chief Medical Officer at Pfizer. It has been an honor and privilege to serve in this role,” Rothenberg wrote on Twitter.

In his brief announcement on social media, Rothenberg said his successor will be Aida Habtezion, a physician-scientist and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Stanford University. Rothenberg said he will spend the next few months helping Habtezion transition into her new role at Pfizer.

“Aida is an extremely accomplished physician-scientist as well as an inspirational leader. I have every confidence in her continued success in this new role,” Rothenberg said.

Rothenberg did not provide any information as to what his next role may be – whether he will take over the helm of a pharma company or assume a role on one or more boards of directors. BioSpace reached out to Rothenberg for comment and will update following a response.

Rothenberg took over as Pfizer CMO in January 2019, but spent more than 12 years in total working for the pharmaceutical giant. From 2016 to 2018, he served as chief development officer for oncology at Pfizer, where he was responsible for leading clinical research, development, and lifecycle management of all promising oncology products. During his time in this role, he oversaw the development and regulatory approval of 11 different oncology assets, including the combination of Xalkori and Lobrena for ALK+ non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC); Xalkori for ROS1 positive NSCLC; kidney cancer drug Inlyta; Ibrance for HR+ breast cancer; Besponsa for acute lymphoblastic leukemia; and more.

Before that, Rothenberg served as clinical development and CMO for Pfizer Oncology from 2014 to 2016 and as head of clinical development and medical affairs for Pfizer Oncology for the eight years before that.

Before joining Pfizer, Rothenberg spent 10 years at Vanderbilt University and the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio as a professor of cancer research and medicine, respectively.

Habtezion has spent the past 10 years at Stanford University. She remained at the university after conducting a postgraduate research fellowship in gastroenterology and immunology. Habtezion joined Stanford as an assistant professor in December 2010 and also serves as faculty in the Immunology Ph.D. program and Institute for Immunity, Transplantation and Infection. Her departure from Stanford has been billed as a leave of absence.

In a brief announcement, Stanford cited an internal statement from Pfizer that noted Habtezion will “provide dynamic leadership and a strong medical voice for Pfizer as we transform into a purely innovative biopharmaceutical company.”

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