Lilly dips as biomed chief Christi Shaw heads to Gilead

Christi Shaw, president of Eli Lilly Bio-Medicines is leaving the company after two years, taking the top job at Gilead’s Kite cancer immunotherapy unit.

Shares in Lilly were down almost 4% after the announcement, which also revealed that Lilly’s general counsel Mike Harrington will retire at year-end with a search now launched for his successor.

Patrik Jonsson, currently president and general manager of Lilly Japan, will succeed Shaw, who leaves as Lilly Bio-Medicines is in the roll-out phase for a number of important new launches, including migraine prevention therapy Emgality (galcanezumab) and psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis drug Taltz (ixekizumab).

Shaw is the first big hire by Gilead’s new CEO Daniel O’Day, who only joined the California-based pharma company late last year after a long stint in charge of Roche’s pharma business.

Christi Shaw

O’Day said he hired Shaw as CEO of Kite after an “extensive search” and cited her experience in oncology as one of her strengths.

Gilead acquired Kite in August 2017 for $11.9 billion, and earlier this year O’Day announced that the manufacturer of CAR-T cell therapies would become a separate business unit.

Shaw joined Lilly for the second time in April 2017, after an earlier stint at the company  between 1989 and 2002 where she held various sales and marketing roles. Her previous industry role was as head of Novartis’ US operations, which she left in 2016 to care for her older sister Sherry Whitford who had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma.

Sherry needed a full time caretaker in order to receive treatment during a three-month CAR-T trial, and Shaw didn’t hesitate to step into the role and put her career on hold, supported by her younger sister Shelley who also left her job as senior director of global marketing at Baxalta. Sadly, Sherry passed away last year.

After leaving Novartis, Shaw and her sisters launched the More Moments More Memories Foundation, which “removes financial obstacles and clears a path for patients with cancer to seek critical treatments needed to improve the quality and quantity of their lives, which could provide more precious moments with their loved ones to create lasting memories.”

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