Johnson & Johnson’s head of R&D Mathai Mammen heads for the exit in surprise move

Johnson & Johnson’s head of R&D Mathai Mammen heads for the exit in surprise move

Johnson & Johnson’s head of R&D is off. In a surprise post-market announcement yesterday, the company revealed that its executive vice president of pharma R&D Mathai Mammen, M.D., Ph.D., is leaving to “pursue other opportunities.”

Mammen joined the world’s biggest pharma company by market cap in 2017, heading up R&D at J&J’s research unit Janssen. He moved over from Merck & Co., where he oversaw research across cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, as well as immunology and oncology. Before that, Mammen headed up R&D at Theravance, a small molecule-focused biotech he co-founded in 1996.

As part of the leadership shakeup at J&J last year, Mammen’s role was amended to become VP of pharmaceuticals R&D.

In his five-year tenure at J&J, Mammen oversaw a move into CAR-Ts that resulted in the approval of Carvykti for myeloma earlier this year. In 2021, he secured a 21% year over year rise in R&D expenditure at the company, with J&J coming close to being named the industry’s top research spender.

In a LinkedIn post in January, Mammen said he had a “very good feeling about 2022” and drew attention to how J&J was harnessing data science to “help decide where we focus, invent a therapeutic or vaccine, and develop the right evidence sets targeting the right people.” However, this positive outlook was apparently not enough to keep him at the Big Pharma for the long term.

J&J’s announcement didn’t include any details of why Mammen had decided to leave the company. For the time being William Hait, M.D., Ph.D.—who Mammen replaced when he first moved to J&J—will serve as interim head of the pharmaceutical R&D organization “until new leadership is identified.”

Fierce Biotech has contacted J&J for more details of Mammen’s departure.

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