US Operation Warp Speed’s Slaoui Joins Newly Formed Drug Developer as Lead Scientist

(Reuters) – Moncef Slaoui, formerly the chief scientific adviser for the U.S. government’s Operation Warp Speed COVID-19 vaccine development program, has joined newly formed Centessa Pharmaceuticals as its chief scientific officer.

He will oversee and advise Centessa on its drug development programs, which focus on areas including hemophilia, cancer and kidney disease. Slaoui has been a partner since 2017 at Medicxi, the investment firm that founded Centessa by merging 10 of its portfolio companies.

Slaoui resigned from his role as the chief adviser for Operation Warp Speed in January but stayed on for about a month to help the incoming Biden administration, media reports say.

He managed the Trump administration’s efforts to identify, fund, and develop COVID-19 vaccine candidates. U.S. regulators have so far authorized two vaccines for use and are expected to authorize more in the coming months.

Slaoui previously headed research and development at GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals Ltd and served as chairman of its vaccines division.

Centessa will be led by Chief Executive Officer Saurabh Saha, who has previously a senior vice president for research and development at Bristol Myers Squibb Co.

Centessa will maintain independent research teams for its various drug development programs, which Slaoui says will speed progress and cut back wasted time and funding.

The approach creates “more depth, more focus, and more attention on the part of the scientists involved in the sense that they have nowhere to hide,” Slaoui said.

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