- Moncef Slaoui, the former leader of the U.S. coronavirus vaccine program, has stepped down from leadership roles at two biotech companies after being fired by GlaxoSmithKline over accusations of sexual harassment
- One day after GSK announced Slaoui’s firing as chairman of Galvani Bioelectonics, Vaxcyte and Centessa Pharmaceuticals said they have parted ways with him as well. Slaoui joined Vaxcyte’s board in 2017 and became chairman a year later. Centessa launched last month with Slaoui as chief scientific officer and adviser.
- In a statement Wednesday, Slaoui apologized “unreservedly” for his conduct and the distress it caused the employee at GSK who came forward. The incident occurred several years ago when Slaoui was employed directly by the British drugmaker as a top executive in research and development.
GSK made a clean break with Slaoui Wednesday, announcing the executive’s termination following a roughly month-long investigation into harassment accusations. The drugmaker said it had “substantiated” the allegations, although its review is ongoing.
“Dr. Slaoui’s behaviors represent an abuse of his leadership position and violate our company policies, our values, and our commitment to trust,” CEO Emma Walmsley wrote in a personal and strongly worded memo to GSK employees.
VaxCyte and Centessa followed suit relatively quickly, announcing Slaoui’s departure within a day of GSK’s announcement.
“The Centessa management team and board of directors were troubled to learn of yesterday’s news regarding Dr. Slaoui,” wrote Centessa CEO Saurabh Saha in a Thursday morning statement.
Even before Slaoui agreed to lead the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed effort, he was a high-profile and sought-after executive in the biopharmaceutical industry. He worked at GSK for nearly three decades, leading the company’s vaccine research and eventually becoming head of R&D.
Despite some controversy over his ties to drugmakers, Slaoui’s Warp Speed work was widely considered successful and he briefly advised the Biden administration before departing in mid-February.
Slaoui is still listed as a partner at the venture firm Medicxi, which launched Centessa last month. Medicxi has not responded to repeated requests for comment from BioPharma Dive.
In his statement Wednesday, Slaoui said he would take a leave of absence from his current professional responsibilities.