Nov 30 (Reuters) - GSK has hired one of the scientists behind Pfizer's mRNA COVID-19 shot, Phil Dormitzer, as its global head of R&D for vaccines and he will join the British drugmaker from Dec. 3, GSK said on Tuesday.
By poaching one of Pfizer's top vaccine scientists who played a pivotal role in developing its shot with BioNTech, GSK is strengthening its ranks after lagging in initial efforts to develop a coronavirus vaccine.
"The importance of vaccines has never been clearer, and the pace of technological innovation has rarely been greater ... Phil's scientific expertise and significant experience ... will be key to ensuring we remain a leader in this field," said Hal Barron, GSK chief scientific officer and R&D president.
Dormitzer's appointment is also a coup for Chief Executive Emma Walmsley as she defends GSK against activist shareholders. She has faced questions over her leadership and also of the scientific expertise at GSK as the company prepares to separate off its consumer health business.
GSK has so far focused on producing its adjuvant technology to boost the immune response of others' vaccines, and has teamed up with companies such as Vir and CureVac to develop treatments and improved mRNA vaccines.
Pfizer confirmed that Dormitzer was leaving the company.
"We are thankful to Phil for his deep contribution to Pfizer’s scientific efforts and his unwavering commitment to global health," the company said in a statement.
(Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru, Ludwig Burger in Frankfurt and Michael Erman in New York Editing by Keith Weir) ((Pushkala.A@thomsonreuters.com; Twitter: @pullthekart; Mobile: +91 852 751 3793 ;))