Stephen Friend will be leaving his position as executive vice president and franchise head of Merck Research Laboratories' oncology division later this year to "lead an effort to build open-access integrative bionetworks, or complex databases, whereby scientific researchers around the world can collaborate on disease representations to advance collective scientific knowledge," Merck said in a statement.
Gary Gilliland, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and professor of stem cell and regenerative biology at Harvard University, will take on Friend's duties. He will step into his new role on March 2
The goal of Friend's effort will be to "leverage collaboration to accelerate the elimination of human disease," Merck said.
Friend, who co-founded Rosetta Inpharmatics in 1996 and joined Merck after it acquired Rosetta in 2001, declined to provide further information about his plans at this time.