UNITED KINGDOM – GlaxoSmithKline announced on Wednesday that Hal Barron, chief scientific officer (CSO), will leave the company later this year to become CEO of the biotechnology start-up Altos Labs.

Hal Barron is leaving his executive position at one of the world’s largest publicly traded pharmaceutical companies to lead Altos Labs, a project funded by billionaires, including reportedly Jeff Bezos, with the goal of studying how cells age and reversing the processes that lead to illness and death, beginning August 1.

His departure was announced just days after it was revealed that GSK had rejected a takeover bid from Unilever for its consumer business, which it is attempting to spin off in order to focus entirely on regaining its position at the forefront of drug discovery.

Barron took over as chief medical officer at GlaxoSmithKline in 2018, after previously serving as chief medical officer at Roche. He joined the UK drugmaker from Alphabet’s Calico unit.

Barron will remain on the board of GlaxoSmithKline as a non-executive director, with additional responsibilities to support R&D, according to the company.

Meanwhile, the UK drugmaker announced that Tony Wood, currently senior vice president of medicinal science and technology, will take over as CSO on August 1, assuming full responsibility for R&D.

Tony Wood, GSK’s senior vice-president of medical science and technology, who joined the company from Pfizer in 2017, will take over as chief scientific officer.

Commenting on the appointments, GlaxoSmithKline CEO Emma Walmsley said Wood, who joined from Pfizer in 2017, “has been a key partner to [Barron] in delivering our R&D approach, and with his experience and expertise across science, data and new technologies, he is perfectly placed to build on [Barron’s] outstanding progress and to deliver value from our pipeline.”

Wood has been involved in the launch of several important medicines, including the asthma treatment Nucala and the HIV drug Cabenuva.

Altos, which has offices in Silicon Valley, San Diego, and Cambridge in the United Kingdom, aims to develop technology that can rejuvenate the body’s cells and extend life.

In addition to Barron, the firm has attracted other top talent, such as Nobel Prize-winning stem cell researcher Shinya Yamanaka, who serves on its scientific advisory board.

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