Five years after taking the helm as Sanofi's president of global R&D, Elias Zerhouni is rounding out his strategy to revamp the division and rebuild the pipeline with the appointment of Yong-Jun Liu as the new global head of research. Zerhouni wants to capitalize on Liu's deep background in immuno-oncology and strength in biologics to help the company catch up with its competitors and continue the transition to other modalities from its historical small molecule bias.
Zerhouni spent the first years of his tenure on structural changes that involved consolidating the fragmented research centers, trimming the pipeline, and laying the groundwork for tapping external innovation through academic alliances.
Now he's fitted the last piece of the puzzle, bringing in Liu to drive research productivity and strengthen internal discovery.
Liu joined on April 1, after two years as head of research at the MedImmune LLC unit of AstraZeneca plc. Prior to MedImmune, he jumped back and forth between academia and industry, holding positions at the Baylor Research Institute, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, DNAX Institute of Cellular and Molecular Biology, and Schering-Plough Corp.
At MD Anderson, Liu was a founding director of the Cancer Immunology Research Institute. He is also credited with contributing to key advances for several immunology and cancer targets while at MD Anderson including OX40, TSLP and LILRA4.
As Zerhouni's number two, with a brief to integrate research across the newly structured research units, Liu is effectively molding a new position in