Former Vaccine Czar Slaoui Departs From Another Biotech After Harassment Allegations

Moncef Slaoui, the former U.S. Covid-19 vaccine czar who was dismissed from a company controlled by GlaxoSmithKline Plc after harassment allegations, has left his position at another drug company.

Centessa Pharmaceuticals said Slaoui has stepped down from his position as chief scientific officer following the allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate conduct toward a Glaxo employee, according to a statement Thursday.

Slaoui, 61, joined newly launched Centessa in February after leaving Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration-led effort to develop Covid-19 vaccines and therapeutics. Centessa, a coalition of 10 closely held biotechnology companies, was founded by venture capital firm Medicxi, where Slaoui has been a partner since Sept. 2017. The immunologist took a brief leave from his venture work while consulting with the government.

Representatives for Medicxi didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on the status of Slaoui’s employment there.

Glaxo said Wednesday that it fired Slaoui as chairman of Galvani Bioelectronics after an internal investigation substantiated the allegations regarding his behavior at the U.K. drug giant.

Centessa’s management and board “were troubled to learn of yesterday’s news regarding Dr. Slaoui,” Chief Executive Officer Saurabh Saha said in the statement. “Centessa is absolutely committed to fostering a culture of respect that is free from harassment and discrimination of any kind.”

Slaoui responded to the allegations in a statement on Wednesday. “I have the utmost respect for my colleagues and feel terrible that my actions have put a former colleague in an uncomfortable situation,” he said. “I would like to apologise unreservedly to the employee concerned and I am deeply sorry for any distress caused.”

The pharmaceutical industry scientist and executive said he would a take an immediate leave of absence from his current professional responsibilities to focus on his family.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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