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Intrigue! Politics! Scandal!

Jeff Kindler's tenure as the CEO of pharmaceutical giant Pfizer was marked by sagging stock prices, a dried-up pipeline, and unexpected changes in strategy, capped by a "coup" of sorts that ultimately cost Kindler his job, reports Fortune magazine. The CEO was called to the airport in Fort Myers, Fla., on December 4, 2010, to "plead for his job" in front of three of the company's board members, write Fortune's Peter Elkind, Jennifer Reingold, and Doris Burke. After hours of touting his accomplishments and arguing on his own behalf, Kindler resigned. He announced his retirement a day later, the article says. Kindler's downfall was triggered by an almost Shakespearean series of events, "a saga of ambition, intrigue, backstabbing, and betrayal — all of it exacerbated by a board that allowed the problems to fester for years," the reporters add. Kindler and Pfizer both declined to speak to Fortune in detail about what happened, but in their reporting of the story, the authors found that the former CEO's micromanaging of everyone around him, combined with what some viewed as disastrous choices in who he chose to surround himself with — like ex-HR chief Mary McLeod — and his inability to settle on one solid business strategy, caused his executive team to rebel against him and the board to oust him. Kindler went through three research chiefs in his less than five years as CEO. He closed six R&D sites, halted research in 10 disease areas, even as he told his employees he wanted to launch four new internally developed drugs by 2010, the article says. He split the research operation in two, then reversed himself 30 months later. He called for Pfizer to become a smaller company, and started downsizing his sales department, then did an about-face and engineered Pfizer's buyout of Wyeth. He had an inability to trust his colleagues, even though they had more experience in the pharma industry than he did, and instead employed an army of outside consultants, the reporters write.

The Scan

Highly Similar

Researchers have uncovered bat viruses that are highly similar to SARS-CoV-2, according to Nature News.

Gain of Oversight

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Biden Administration is considering greater oversight of gain-of-function research.

Lasker for mRNA Vaccine Work

The Scientist reports that researchers whose work enabled the development of mRNA-based vaccines are among this year's Lasker Award winners

PLOS Papers on Causal Variant Mapping, Ancient Salmonella, ALK Fusion Test for NSCLC

In PLOS this week: MsCAVIAR approach to map causal variants, analysis of ancient Salmonella, and more.