J&J’s long-serving R&D chief Paul Stoffels announces retirement

Paul Stoffels is bringing a nine-year tenure as head of R&D at Johnson & Johnson to a close, announcing plans to retire at the end of the year.

Belgium-born Stoffels has been CSO at J&J since 2012, and was global head of pharma R&D for three years before that whilst also serving as chairman of the pharma division between 2011 and 2015.

He is leaving the company around the same time as chief executive Alex Gorsky, who will step down on 3 January to be replaced by Joaquin Duato, but will stay on as executive chairman.

At the moment there’s no world on a possible replacement for Stoffels, who oversees the pharma industry’s third-largest R&D budget at more than $12 billion in 2020, up from $6.8 billion in 2010.

The 59-year-old physician worked at J&J’s Janssen pharma unit in the 1990s, and re-joined the group when it acquired Virco and Tibotec in 2002, two companies of which he was CEO and chairman, respectively, to expand its HIV drug pipeline.

Stoffels has been at the helm of the R&D operations at J&J throughout a renaissance of the company’s pharma operations, overseeing the development of more than 25 new medicines across multiple therapeutic areas, including of course J&J’s one-shot COVID-19 vaccine, which won emergency approval in the US in February.

He has also led J&J’s venture capital arm JJDC, and made open-ended innovation and partnering a key strategy for J&J. That was implemented in part by the establishment of J&J Innovation, a partnering and incubation network encompassing the JLABS programme that has revitalised J&J’s external R&D operations and ramped up its deal-making activities.

Big acquisitions completed on his watch included the takeover of Actelion for $30 billion in 2017 and last year’s $6.5 billion purchase of Momenta, along with a myriad of smaller bolt-on deals.

Summing up his decision, Stoffels said it had been “an honour and privilege to spearhead Johnson & Johnson’s innovation agenda and propel transformational innovation to deliver years of life and quality of life to millions of people around the world.”

He went on: “As a physician and a scientist, it is gratifying to see the healthcare landscape transformed as we unlock the best science and technology to deliver innovative medicines to solve the world’s toughest health challenges.”

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