– Dr. De Backer to assume CEO role on April 3, 2023 –
– Upon his retirement as CEO, Dr. Scangos will transition to an advisory role through June 2, 2023 and will continue providing strategic counsel to Vir as a member of the Board of Directors –
SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 25, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Vir Biotechnology, Inc. (Nasdaq: VIR) today announced that George Scangos, Ph.D., will retire from his position as Chief Executive Officer (CEO), effective April 3, 2023. The Company’s Board of Directors has appointed industry veteran Marianne De Backer, MSc, Ph.D., MBA, currently Executive Vice President, Head of Pharmaceuticals Strategy, Business Development and Licensing/Open Innovation, and Member of the Executive Committee for Bayer Pharmaceuticals, as his successor, effective April 3, 2023. She will also join Vir’s Board of Directors.
Upon his retirement as CEO, Dr. Scangos will serve in an advisory role to Dr. De Backer through June 2, 2023 and will continue providing strategic counsel to Vir as a member of the Board of Directors.
“On behalf of the Board of Directors, I want to thank George for his visionary leadership, his life-long commitment to patients and his dedication to Vir’s mission, its employees, communities and shareholders,” said Vicki Sato, Ph.D., Vir’s Chairman of the Board. “George led the Company through a period of significant transformation, accelerated its growth and established a broad pipeline and strategy that we believe will support our long-term success. The Board looks forward to continuing Vir’s growth trajectory under the leadership of Dr. De Backer, whose scientific expertise, motivational leadership style and dynamic and proven track record of strategic and operational successes make her an exciting choice to lead Vir into the future. The Board is unanimous in its enthusiasm to work with Dr. De Backer to continue the growth and impact of Vir.”
Dr. Scangos has served as Vir’s President and CEO, and as a member of the Board of Directors since January 2017. Under Dr. Scangos’ leadership, and in less than six years, the Company has delivered life-saving therapies for Ebola and COVID-19 to millions of patients around the world, built a robust pipeline that currently spans five therapeutic areas and established a strong balance sheet with approximately $2.7 billion in cash and cash equivalents*. In 2022, Vir was named the fastest growing company on the 2022 Deloitte Technology Fast 500.
Prior to joining Vir, Dr. Scangos served as CEO and as a member of the Board of Biogen Inc. for six years. Previously, he was President and CEO of Exelixis for 14 years. In recognition of his industry leadership, Dr. Scangos was among the top 10 CEOs to be named a “Businessperson of the Year” by Fortune (2014 and 2015). He was also named one of “The Best Performing CEOs in the World” by Harvard Business Review for three straight years (2014, 2015 and 2016) and “The Most Admired CEO” by the San Francisco Business Times (2021).
Dr. Scangos served as Chair of PhRMA in 2016, and as the Chair of the California Healthcare Institute in 2010. He received the Pantheon Life Sciences Leadership Award in 2018 and was named lead of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization’s response to Coronavirus (COVID-19) in 2020. Today, he serves on the Board of Overseers of the University of California, San Francisco and the Board of Trustees of Life Science Cares.
“Having the opportunity to bring life-saving medications to patients around the world has been the greatest privilege of my career,” said Dr. Scangos. “I am extremely proud of our employees’ unwavering commitment to the patients we serve and all that we have accomplished as a result. I feel confident that now is the right time for me to retire and that Dr. De Backer is the right successor to ensure Vir’s ongoing forward momentum. The Company is operating from a position of strength with significant cash, an impressive pipeline and critical near-term catalysts that have the potential to support multiple important therapies. Additionally, we have laid out a vision for the Company that gives me great confidence in Vir’s ability to transform the infectious disease landscape. Given the strength of our people, our values, our science and the incredible skill set that Dr. De Backer brings to Vir, I believe the Company is well-positioned to continue to grow and thrive in the years ahead.”
Dr. De Backer brings to her new role more than two decades of broad international leadership experience, including a strong track record in global expansion, innovation technology licensing and multiple billion-dollar mergers and acquisitions. Throughout her career, she has been directly accountable for more than 200 strategic alliances in healthcare, many of which have led to approved medicines now available to patients. Prior to joining Bayer, Dr. De Backer spent more than 20 years at the Johnson & Johnson family of companies, first as a scientist and scientific group leader, and later taking on roles of increasing responsibility and scope, including corporate development and international commercial positions.
Dr. De Backer holds a Master in Molecular Biology from Vrije Universiteit Brussel, a Master in Engineering and Biochemistry, and a Ph.D. in Biotechnology from Ghent University, Belgium, and an MBA from Erasmus University, Rotterdam. She currently serves as a non-executive Director on the Boards of Directors of the Gladstone Foundation, Kronos Bio, Inc., Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals Inc., and serves on the Boards of Bayer companies: Asklepios BioPharmaceutical, Inc., Vividion Therapeutics, Inc. and BlueRock Therapeutics LP.
In 2022, Dr. De Backer was recognized by Manager Magazin as one of the “100 Most Influential Women” in German business and one of Healthcare Technology Report’s “Top 25 Women Leaders in Biotechnology.” She was also named one of the “Fiercest Women in Life Sciences” by Fierce Pharma (2020), one of the “Most Influential Women in Bay Area Business” (2020) by the San Francisco Business Times, one of Silicon Valley Business Journal’s “Women of Influence” (2018) and a PharmaVoice100 “Change Agent” (2016). She is recognized as a passionate champion for diversity.
“I am deeply honored to have the opportunity to build on George’s incredible legacy. I am equally humbled to lead Vir Biotechnology into the next transformational phase of the Company’s history guided by an exciting vision for the future, several near-term catalysts and the financial strength needed to fund key programs for several years,” said Dr. De Backer. “Vir represents an amalgamation of the best of what science and commitment to patients have to offer. With the support and engagement of our employees around the world, I look forward to building on the Company’s current pace of innovation with the goal of continuing to deliver impactful results for patients, our employees and our shareholders.”
About Vir Biotechnology
Vir Biotechnology is a commercial-stage immunology company focused on combining immunologic insights with cutting-edge technologies to treat and prevent serious infectious diseases. Vir has assembled four technology platforms that are designed to stimulate and enhance the immune system by exploiting critical observations of natural immune processes. Its current development pipeline consists of product candidates targeting COVID-19, hepatitis B and hepatitis D viruses, influenza A and human immunodeficiency virus. Vir routinely posts information that may be important to investors on its website.
Vir Forward-Looking Statements
This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Words such as “may,” “will,” “plan,” “potential,” “aim,” “promising” and similar expressions (as well as other words or expressions referencing future events, conditions or circumstances) are intended to identify forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are based on Vir’s expectations and assumptions as of the date of this press release. Forward-looking statements contained in this press release include, but are not limited to, statements regarding Vir’s strategy and plans; Vir’s capital allocation; Vir’s future financial and operating results and its expectations related thereto; potential of, and expectations for, Vir’s pipeline; Vir’s clinical development programs, clinical trials and data readouts and presentations; and Vir’s plans for its COVID-19, hepatitis B and hepatitis D viruses, influenza and human immunodeficiency virus portfolios. Many factors may cause differences between current expectations and actual results, including unexpected safety or efficacy data observed during preclinical or clinical studies, challenges in the treatment of hospitalized patients, difficulties in collaborating with other companies or government agencies, successful development and/or commercialization of alternative product candidates by Vir’s competitors, changes in expected or existing competition, delays in or disruptions to Vir’s business or clinical trials due to the COVID-19 pandemic, geopolitical changes or other external factors, and unexpected litigation or other disputes. Other factors that may cause actual results to differ from those expressed or implied in the forward-looking statements in this press release are discussed in Vir’s filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, including the section titled “Risk Factors” contained therein. Except as required by law, Vir assumes no obligation to update any forward-looking statements contained herein to reflect any change in expectations, even as new information becomes available.
*Approximately $2.7 billion in cash, cash equivalents, investments and profit-share payments to be received from GSK as of September 30, 2022.