Paul Burton, M.D., Ph.D., will join the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based biotech as chief medical officer from Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen unit. He had been chief global medical affairs officer for Janssen Pharmaceuticals since March 2020 and has served in a variety of positions at J&J’s drug-making arm over the past 16 years.
Other notable roles include his stint as VP and head of cardiovascular and metabolic medical affairs. Burton also led a collaboration between J&J and Apple on the Heartline study, a virtual clinical trial examining whether the tech giant’s Apple iPhone and smartwatch can help reduce a person’s risk of stroke and detect earlier, hidden cases of atrial fibrillation.
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Burton will replace Tal Zaks, M.D., Ph.D., whom Moderna announced would step down earlier this year. Zaks held the CMO role for six years and was expected to leave his position in September.
Moderna said at the time that it was searching for a replacement who had “global and commercial experience,” a description Burton clearly fits to a T.
“Paul’s extensive medical experience in the global pharmaceutical and biotech industry will be important to Moderna as we expand internationally and continue our journey as a commercial company,” said Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel in a statement.
“I look forward to working with Paul and re-inventing how medical affairs should be built and run in a digital world,” Bancel added.
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Moderna has lofty goals and a powder keg of cash after developing the COVID-19 vaccine to quell the pandemic. The company is working on a vaccine for respiratory syncytial virus based on the same mRNA technology that delivered the vaccine for COVID-19, and 14 different mRNA candidates are in the clinic.
“Moderna’s transformative platform has the potential to improve the lives of so many people around the world,” Burton said in a statement. “I am honored to take on the role of chief medical officer at Moderna.”