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J&J’s Duato to replace departing Gorsky as board chair

Johnson & Johnson CEO Joaquin Duato will become chairman of the pharmaceutical company’s board of directors in January, taking over the role from the departing Alex Gorsky.

Gorsky, previously J&J’s chief executive for almost a decade, stepped down as CEO on Jan. 3 this year, handing the reins to Duato, who was serving as vice chairman of the executive committee. Now, after 11 months in the CEO seat, Duato will assume leadership of J&J’s board as well, the company said Wednesday.

The board reshuffling comes amid wider leadership changes at J&J. The company’s head of pharmaceutical research and development, Mathai Mammen, left in August and veteran chief scientific officer Paul Stoffels retired from J&J last fall to become CEO of Belgian biotechnology company Galapagos.

J&J is also readying to split itself in two, with plans to separate its medical device and pharmaceutical business from its consumer health division, which will become an independent company called Kenvue. J&J executive Thibaut Mongon was announced as Kenvue’s CEO in May, and Paul Ruh was appointed its chief financial officer.

Elsewhere, Duato will face challenges in integrating heart device maker Abiomed, which it’s buying in a $16.6 billion deal that’s expected to close early next year. J&J has also been linked to Dublin-based Horizon Therapeutics, which this week said it was in “highly preliminary” discussions about a takeover with J&J, Amgen and Sanofi. A buyout, if it materialized, would likely rank as the largest biotech acquisition this year given Horizon’s size.

“I could not think of a better leader than Joaquin to lead the Board as it helps guide the Company to even greater achievements,” said Gorsky in a company statement.

Gorksy has been with J&J for 34 years, rising up from roles in sales at the company’s Janssen subsidiary to eventually become CEO in 2012.