José Baselga, the executive vice president of oncology research and development at AstraZeneca, has died, Bloomberg reports. He was 61. According to Bloomberg, Baselga died of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
Baselga joined AstraZeneca in 2019 and, as Fierce Biotech notes, spearheaded its collaboration with Daiichi Sankyo on the cancer treatment Enhertu (trastuzumab deruxtecan). The drug received accelerated approval in late 2019 from the US Food and Drug Administration to treat unresectable or metastatic HER2-positive breast cancers that had been treated previously with anti-HER2 therapies.
"He led a team to accelerate other exciting new science in antibody-drug conjugates, cell therapy, epigenetics, as well as new cancer treatments," Pascal Soriot, the CEO of AstraZeneca says in a statement. "He also championed the use of real-world evidence and digital tools to transform the way we design and implement clinical trials."
Bloomberg adds that Baselga was considered a controversial choice for the AstraZeneca role, as he had limited corporate experience and as the selection came after Baselga resigned as chief medical officer at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. His resignation came following reports he did not always disclose his financial ties to drug and healthcare companies in research articles