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(Credit: Roche)

Roche has unveiled plans to place a cancer specialist at the centre of its Swiss-based research efforts in April after the scientist who led the unit for five years, John Reed resigned for personal reasons. 

As a result, William Pao has been named as the man to lead its 2,200-employee Pharma Research and Early Development (pRED) unit, reports Reuters

The company has been searching for prospective drugs from its long-underperforming Swiss-led research unit after years of leaning on Genentech for all of its blockbusters. 

“I am thankful to have had John Reed with Roche over the past five years, and for all his many valuable contributions,” Chief Executive Severin Schwan said. He also added Pao had been instrumental since coming to Roche in 2014 in building out cancer immunotherapy and molecular targeted therapies. 

Pao will be based in Basel, joined Roche in 2014 from the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. 

“William has been instrumental in the build-up of cancer immunotherapy and molecular targeted therapies,” concluded Schwan.