GlaxoSmithKline appoints Tony Wood as CSO Designate

Board appointment

GlaxoSmithKline plc (LON:GSK) has announced the appointment of Tony Wood as Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) designate. Tony will assume full accountability for Research and Development (R&D) from current CSO, Dr Hal Barron, on 1 August 2022, after which Hal will remain on GSK’s Board and become a Non-Executive Director, with additional responsibilities to support R&D.

·   Tony Wood to assume full accountability for GSK R&D in August 2022

·   Hal Barron to transition in August 2022 from CSO to a GSK Non-Executive Director with additional responsibilities to support R&D

Tony is a highly respected scientist and one of the world’s pre-eminent chemists, with more than 30 years of experience working across diverse disciplines of R&D to deliver innovative medicines. He joined GSK from Pfizer in 2017, as Senior Vice President, Medicinal Science and Technology, and is responsible for all science and technology platforms supporting the discovery, clinical development and delivery of new medicines across GSK.

During his career Tony has led large-scale global organisations in drug discovery and development in multiple therapeutic areas, including immunology, oncology and infectious diseases. He has been pivotally involved in the launch of many new medicines at GlaxoSmithKline, including NucalaBlenrepJemperliCabenuva and most recently Xevudy. Tony has also been integral to delivering the recent improvements in GSK’s R&D productivity and central to developing its R&D approach focusing on science of the immune system, human genetics and advanced technologies, notably building capabilities in functional genomics, artificial intelligence and machine learning. 

Tony will assume full accountability for R&D across GSK’s portfolio and pipeline from August 2022. After this, Hal will remain a member of GSK’s Board transitioning to serve as a Non-Executive Director and a member of the Board’s Science Committee for an initial period of three years. In addition to his Non-Executive responsibilities, Hal will also provide advice and support on scientific and asset development matters and will attend key R&D executive investment and advisory committees. He will also continue to engage with the scientific community, R&D partners and other companies, as required, in support of R&D and on behalf of GSK. 

As announced by Altos Labs today, Hal will assume the position of CEO and Board Co-Chair of Altos Labs effective 1 August 2022. Altos Labs is a new, private biotechnology company based in the San Francisco Bay Area, with multiple global sites, and is focused on the biology of cellular rejuvenation programming with the goal of reversing disease.

Hal Barron, Chief Scientific Officer said: “Tony will be an outstanding Chief Scientific Officer for GSK. I have worked closely with him for several years. I know him as a person and scientist of the highest quality. In the last four years we have significantly improved the quality and strength of the pipeline and our overall R&D productivity, delivering 13 major product approvals and more than doubling the number of assets in Phase III/registration to 23.  GSK now has a pipeline of 21 vaccines and 42 medicines – many of which offer potential best or first-in-class opportunities for patients and will drive growth at GSK well into the next decade. I’m very excited to remain part of GSK and to play a significant role within the company as I transition to a Non-Executive Board member and support Tony and the team to deliver on the promise of our pipeline.”

Tony Wood, Chief Scientific Officer designate said: “I am honoured to have been asked to lead GSK’s R&D. In the past few years, under Hal’s leadership, we have made enormous progress to strengthen the pipeline and put in place an R&D approach that can improve the efficiency and success of medicine and vaccine development. With the progress already made, and together with the many talented people we have working in our R&D organisation, I am confident that we will deliver highly successful and much needed scientific innovation for patients in the years ahead.”

Tony Wood – Biography

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Since joining GSK in 2017 as Senior Vice President, Medicinal Science and Technology, Tony has been responsible for all science and technology platforms supporting the discovery, clinical development and delivery of new medicines across GSK. He been instrumental in delivering new product launches, including NucalaBlenrepJemperliCabenuva and Xevudy.

Tony has been integral in developing GSK’s new R&D approach, building its new functional genomics and Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning organisations. He has also driven numerous collaborations, including with the Laboratory for Genome Research, Adrestia and the Altius Institute.

In his earlier career at Pfizer, Tony created and led its first global Medicinal Chemistry organisation, supporting all small molecule discovery output from Pfizer’s Research Units. Among many achievements, this group designed the antiviral molecules that led to the development of the SARS-CoV-2 medicine Paxlovid.

Tony also created and led Pfizer’s first Medicinal Sciences organisation. In this role he was accountable for the design and development of medicines including the JAK1 inhibitor abrocitinib, JAK3 inhibitor ritlecitinib, and tofacitinib follow-on medicines. He was also responsible for the structure-based design of the Pfizer RSV vaccine, which is currently in phase III development. Prior to this, Tony co-led Pfizer’s research for the antiviral therapeutic area. He invented maraviroc, a CCR5 antagonist for the treatment of HIV and Pfizer’s first successful drug derived from high-throughput screening. It is one of the first examples of a genetically inspired medicine.

He has lived and worked in both the UK and the US and has made significant contributions to the field of medicinal chemistry, receiving numerous international awards. He is a member of the UK National Genomics Board and the Board of the Rosalind Franklin Institute. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, from whom he has also received an Honorary Fellowship, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology. Tony was closely involved with the UK Government’s COVID-19 planning, notably establishing the GSK/AstraZeneca/Cambridge University testing facility at the University’s Anne McLaren Laboratory.

Tony has a BSc and PhD from the University of Newcastle, and was a postdoctoral fellow at Imperial College, London.

Appointment process

The appointment of Tony Wood as CSO from 1 August 2022 was made by the Board on the recommendation of the Nominations & Corporate Governance Committee. The appointment follows an extensive succession planning and selection process conducted by the Board, using an external search firm. This process, which included the interview of external and internal candidates, was overseen by the Board’s Nominations & Corporate Governance Committee and the Science Committee.

Emma Walmsley, GlaxoSmithKline Chief Executive Officer said: “We are delighted to appoint Tony as our next CSO. He is an outstanding scientist who is highly respected inside and outside GSK. Tony has been a key partner to Hal in delivering our R&D approach, and with his experience and expertise across science, data and new technologies, he is perfectly placed to build on Hal’s outstanding progress and to deliver value from our pipeline. Hal’s appointment to Altos Labs is a unique opportunity for him and we are pleased that GSK will continue to benefit from his expertise at the Board and in support of R&D. Altogether, these changes provide us with a clear pathway for continued momentum in R&D to deliver our new ambitions for growth and scale impact for patients.”

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