AbbVie CSO Tom Hudson to retire, replaced by medical chief

A day after Pfizer disclosed the departure of its longtime chief scientific officer, AbbVie is doing the same, announcing that research chief Tom Hudson is retiring.

Roopal Thakkar

Replacing Hudson is chief medical officer Roopal Thakkar, who will assume the title of executive vice president and chief scientific officer, overseeing more than 14,000 employees across R&D. A spokesperson for AbbVie said the changes were effective immediately and that there were no updates on who would fill the CMO role.

Hudson joined AbbVie in 2016, overseeing oncology discovery and early development before taking over all discovery research. He was promoted to the CSO role in 2019, taking over from Michael Severino, who was promoted to company president and is now the CEO of Flagship’s Tessera Therapeutics.

It’s a significant executive decision for new AbbVie CEO Rob Michael, who formally took the reins at the beginning of this month.

“​​Dr. Thakkar will continue to build momentum across discovery and all stages of development to fully realize the potential of our diverse pipeline,” Michael said in a statement.

Thakkar has spent more than two decades at the Chicago-based company, joining in 2003 as part of its physician development program. He’s held a number of jobs spanning clinical development and regulatory affairs. In 2019, he was named vice president of global regulatory and R&D quality assurance, taking on the CMO title in 2022.

In his new role, Thakkar will be tasked with advancing a pipeline that boasts more than 50 programs in mid- to late- stage development and that was buoyed by $7.8 billion in R&D investments in 2023. He’ll also be looking to maximize recently acquired antibody-drug conjugate Elahere, the centerpiece of a $10.1 billion deal for ImmunoGen that closed in February.

Thakkar will also weave in Cerevel’s neuroscience-focused pipeline, which could reinforce AbbVie’s standing in the therapeutic area behind blockbuster antipsychotic drug Vraylar. The $8.7 billion transaction was slated to close in the middle of 2024.

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