Vir Biotechnology is tapping a veteran pharma dealmaker—and one of 2021’s Fiercest Women in Life Sciences—to helm the ship as the company’s long-time captain George Scangos, Ph.D., eyes retirement.
On April 3, Scangos, who’s been chief executive officer at Vir since the start of 2017, will hand over the reins to Marianne De Backer, Ph.D. De Backer comes over from Bayer, where she currently heads up pharmaceutical strategy, business development and licensing. Alongside her CEO appointment, De Backer is set to join Vir’s board of directors, the company said Wednesday.
While Scangos is set to retire, the biopharma veteran—who served as Biogen’s chief before landing at Vir—will stick around in an advisory role through June 2 to smooth De Backer’s ascension to the throne. He’s also set to “continue providing strategic counsel to Vir as a member of the Board of Directors,” the company explained in a release.
Infectious disease-focused Vir entered the spotlight during the COVID-19 pandemic, courtesy of its GSK-partnered antibody sotrovimab. After a solid run in which the partners’ med initially stood up to the omicron variant, the FDA ultimately revoked sotrovimab’s emergency authorization in April, citing waning effectiveness.
Aside from sotrovimab in COVID-19, Vir is working on a number of other therapies to tackle diseases like hepatitis, HIV and flu.