The head of the Trump administration’s coronavirus vaccine program now finds himself in the private sector as the scientific director of a new conglomerate of biotech companies.
Moncef Slaoui, former chief scientific advisor to Operation Warp Speed, will be the senior scientist and advisor to Centessa Pharmaceuticals, a coalition of ten closely-held subsidiaries launched by venture capital firm Medicxi. Saurabh Saha, former vice president and global director of translational medicine at Bristol Myers Squibb Co has been appointed managing director.
By working with Centessa affiliates, Mr. Slaoui can focus on advancing more than a dozen experimental drugs. Slaoui, along with Saha and others, will provide oversight, capital and clinical resources for biotechnology, which will be managed independently by their respective founders who focus on a single program or specific biologic pathway.
Mr. Slaoui said in an interview that the objective of this mission is to make Big Pharma from an R&D model that works from the bottom up. He also said he was as enthusiastic about Centessa as he was about Operation Warp Speed. He drew a parallel between the government’s approach to vaccine development and the new company’s centralized development model that directs capital from an operational core directly to compelling drug candidates.