Ex-GSK chiefs Witty and Slaoui join biotech investors

Former GSK CEO Sir Andrew Witty, and his former drug development chief, Moncef Slaoui have both lined up new jobs as life science investors.

The announcements yesterday are part of a growing trend for board-level pharma leaders to move into venture capital and biotech firms once they step down.

Witty’s latest job is a partner at Hatteras Venture Partners, an investor based in North Carolina’s Research Triangle.

The company focuses on seed or early stage investments in biopharmaceuticals, medical devices, diagnostics, healthcare IT and other opportunities in human medicine.

Having around $450 million already under management in its five venture capital funds, Witty will provide advice to Hatteras’ portfolio of companies and help with overall strategy.

Witty is also chancellor of the Nottingham University and serves on the board of UnitedHealth Group and G1 Therapeutics.

Sir Andrew Witty

Sir Andrew Witty

He described the job at Hatteras an “exciting new opportunity to nurture amazing science for the benefit of patients”.

Meanwhile his former colleague Moncef Slaoui, who also left GSK this year, has joined the European life science investor, Medicxi.

Slaoui was formerly chairman of pharmaceutical R&D at GSK, and also led the company’s vaccines division.

After working at GSK for 28 years, Slaoui oversaw the reorganisation of GSK’s R&D effort between 2006 and 2014, structured on small teams that competed internally for R&D investment – based on the concept of mirroring the lean and agile environment of the best biotechs.

Slaoui has been a member of the scientific advisory boards of the IL6 and MV1 venture funds and has been closely involved with Medicxi, formerly known as Index Ventures, for many years.

As a partner he will be responsible for sponsoring and supporting investments, undertaking due diligence and valuations for Medicxi’s venture fund MV1 and its growth fund MG1.

Where appropriate, he will have an active role in supporting investee companies in their development, including taking board positions.

Slaoui’s appointment adds to Medicxi’s roll call of big name associates.  Also on its scientific advisory boards is Vas Narasimhan, Novartis’ global head of drug development, who takes over as CEO next year, plus Andy Conrad, chief executive of Google’s life sciences arm Verily, and Dr Robert Califf, Verily advisor and former FDA commissioner.

Other examples of this trend is David Epstein, who left Novartis in 2016 to take up a senior role at venture capital firm Flagship Pioneering, which funded and set up biotech Rubius Therapeutics, where he serves as chairman.

Outgoing Novartis CEO Joe Jimenez, meanwhile, has indicated he will return to the US to take up a role in Silicon Valley after he steps down in January.

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