AbbVie promoted Roopal Thackkar, MD to serve as EVP of research and development (R&D) and chief scientific officer on Wednesday morning. 

Thakkar, who currently serves as SVP and chief medical officer of global therapeutics, will replace Thomas J. Hudson, who is retiring from AbbVie. 

In this role, Thakkar will lead AbbVie’s R&D operations, which includes overseeing a pipeline of more than 90 drug and device programs, around 14,000 team members and six major global R&D centers. 

Thakkar is a company veteran, having joined Abbott in 2003. Following AbbVie’s spinoff from Abbott, he assumed the role of group project director in 2012. 

Over the next dozen years, he rose through the leadership ranks, holding various titles like VP of global regulatory affairs, SVP of development and regulatory affairs and chief medical officer. 

Thakkar has been deeply involved in boosting the prospects of label expansion for AbbVie’s popular drug Skyrizi.

In September, the drugmaker reported positive topline data from a Phase 3 study comparing Skyrizi to Johnson & Johnson’s Stelara in patients with Crohn’s disease.

In a statement at the time, Thakkar said the data demonstrated the impact Skyrizi can have in “helping patients achieve both clinical and endoscopic remission.”

“Dr. Thakkar is a physician by training with a deep commitment to innovation and patient care,” AbbVie CEO Rob Michael said in a statement. “He has an excellent track record in building new capabilities, forging strategic partnerships and advancing our clinical programs to bring medicines and solutions to patients as quickly as possible. As AbbVie’s chief scientific officer, Dr. Thakkar will continue to build momentum across discovery and all stages of development to fully realize the potential of our diverse pipeline. He has the right vision, skills and experience to lead our R&D organization.”

AbbVie did not detail who will succeed Thakkar as chief medical officer.

Meanwhile, Thakkar’s predecessor Hudson is set to wind down his lengthy career in drug discovery and clinical research.

Hudson joined AbbVie in 2016, overseeing oncology discovery and early development before his appointment to chief scientific officer in 2019. 

Throughout his eight years with the company, he helped accelerate drug discovery and development by crafting AbbVie’s approach to early-stage science, building out its precision medicine capabilities, scientific partnerships and data strategies. 

Prior to joining AbbVie, Hudson served as president and scientific director of the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research.

From an R&D perspective, this announcement comes a week after AbbVie made moves to expand their work in inflammatory diseases with the $250 million purchase of Celsius Therapeutics.

Additionally, AbbVie’s earnings report is scheduled for release on July 25.