Well, that was short.
George Scangos, biotech lifer and briefly retired CEO, has been named to the board of Voyager Therapeutics, the gene therapy company said Tuesday.
Over four decades in the industry, Scangos has built and led several biopharma companies, having previously served as CEO of Exelixis, Biogen and most recently Vir Therapeutics. He announced his exit from Vir this past January, in what was to mark the end of his long and storied career.
That followed seven years at Vir, during which he led the biotech’s efforts to develop COVID-19 antibody sotrovimab. Scangos’ departure, though, turned out to be more of a brief detour.
Less than four months later, his new board seat sees him reuniting with ex-Biogen R&D chief Al Sandrock, who is Voyager’s CEO. The two men worked together for years at Biogen.
Scangos spent six years heading Biogen, starting in 2010. He helped steer the company in a new direction, dropping programs in cancer and instead focusing its efforts on neuroscience, like ALS drug Spinraza. Scangos also bet on the now controversial Alzheimer’s treatment Aduhelm, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2021 under the accelerated approval pathway.
“George is one of the most accomplished executives in the biotechnology industry, and we are honored to have him join our board of directors,” said Sandrock in a statement. “As Voyager works to solve the delivery challenges constraining the fields of gene therapy and neurology, we look forward to tapping into George’s perspectives gained from advancing multiple innovative medicines that have delivered value to patients and shareholders.”
Scangos added that as he has gotten to know the Voyager team, he has been impressed by the “quality of the science and the team.”
“I look forward to advising them in their quest to enable disease-modifying and possibly curative neurotherapeutics,” he stated.
Sandrock, for his part, was promoted to Biogen chief medical officer in 2015, a year or so before Scangos left the company. In the wake of the Aduhelm approval, and with the drug mired in controversy, Sandrock unexpectedly departed Biogen in late 2021. The company would abandon the Aduhelm launch six months later following an unfavorable Medicare coverage decision.
After leaving Biogen in 2016, Scangos joined Vir in 2017, where he guided the company through the COVID-19 pandemic. A crowning achievement was sotrovimab, a COVID-19 monoclonal antibody which was granted emergency use authorization by the FDA in 2021.
Perhaps Scangos, channeling his career-defining stint at Biogen, was lured out of retirement by the prospect of a return to neurology. After all, Vir’s pipeline was concentrated in infectious disease, with Ebola therapies, COVID-19, hepatitis B and D, influenza A and HIV.
Indeed, in the statement, he referred to neurology as “one of the great areas of unmet need in medicine” and expressed high hopes for Voyager’s gene therapy and neuro-genetic medicine programs. For Scangos, it’s a chance to compose a fitting swan song.