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Sanford-Burnham Research Institute Chief Takes Job With ‘Big Pharma’

— John Reed was CEO of the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute for 11 years. But now he’s moving to Switzerland to head up research for one of the world’s best known pharmaceutical companies.

Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute

John Reed

Aired 1/16/13 on KPBS News.

John Reed, CEO of Sanford-Burnham Research Institute, has become the research head for Roche Pharmaceuticals.

He said he’s pleased to be moving to a place with the reputation and resources of Roche Pharmaceuticals.

“It will give me an opportunity to make contributions to medicine and to health care from a larger stage," said Reed.

Reed’s time at the top of the Sanford Institute saw the founding of a new research campus in Orlando, Fla. The institute also attracted a $50 million gift from businessman T. Denny Sanford.

Reed's move to the private sector will come with a salary boost, and with a chance to bring drugs to the market. Research institutes like Sanford typically pave the way for medical treatments by identifying targets for drugs to hit. At Roche, he said he will be able to follow that up by creating new medicines that can win FDA approval.

Reed spent a total of 21 years at the La Jolla-based medical research institute, and he said he has fond memories of his time there.

“It’s been a wonderful 21 years,” he said. “It’s an efficient and collaborative environment in which to do science. If you’re a scientist there’s no better place to be.”

Kristiina Vuori, the interim CEO who will replace Reed, is also a researcher at the Sanford Institute. John Reed's own medical research has focused on the life cycles of cells and trying to learn why cancer cells refuse to die.

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