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Merck loses another vet, this time bidding adieu to chief patient officer Gerberding

Merck & Co.’s leadership shuffle rolled on this week as another veteran of the Kenilworth, New Jersey-based pharma company telegraphed her exit for the top spot at a separate outfit.

Julie Gerberding, M.D.—after 12 years with the company—is retiring from her post as Merck’s chief patient officer and executive vice president of population health and sustainability in May. That same month, Gerberding will don the CEO mantle at the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH), Merck said in a release.

Gerberding joined Merck in 2010 as president of vaccines and previously oversaw global public policy and strategic communications. Before enlisting at Merck, Gerberding was director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In her next move, Gerberding will be jumping back into public health, in a way, as she takes the lead at FNIH—a nonprofit that supports the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by raising funds and creating and managing public and private partnerships.

The FNIH typically raises funds from the private sector to support its research alliances, which are then matched by NIH funding, the foundation says on its website.

“Julie has been instrumental in developing our environmental, social and governance strategy, which will enable Merck to continue our exemplary legacy of being a force for good in the world,” Robert Davis, CEO and president at Merck, said in a statement.

Merck didn’t name a successor in its release, but the company’s been heavily promoting from within in recent months.

In February, Merck tapped its pharma marketing chief Arpa Garay to head up global human health marketing. At the same time, Jannie Oosthuizen, Merck’s global chief of oncology and previously the head of its Japan business from 2016 to 2020, was selected to lead U.S. human health., with profit and loss (P&L) responsibility for Merck’s largest business sector.

Merck is hunting outside the company for its international human health post, but 34-year Merck veteran Deepak Khanna—currently human health chief in Europe and Canada—will tackle P&L responsibility in more than 100 markets outside the U.S. for the time being.

Garay, Oosthuizen and Khanna’s roles took effect at the end of February.

The trio of promotions came right after Frank Clyburn, formerly head of Merck’s human health unit, left the company on Feb. 1 to take the reins as CEO at International Flavors & Fragrances.

Clyburn played a key role in the launch of Merck’s immuno-oncology juggernaut Keytruda, which reaped a staggering $17 billion in 2021.

The biggest departure in Merck’s recent past, however, was that of prominent chief executive Ken Frazier, who’d steered the ship since 2011. Frazier retired in June, passing the torch to Merck’s then-chief financial officer Robert Davis.