Moncef Slaoui, 61, has will leave his role as chairman of the board of Galvani Bioelectronics, a joint venture between GSK and Google-subsidiary Verily, “effective immediately” GSK said in a statement to the stock market.
The west London based pharma group said the termination follows the receipt of a letter containing allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate conduct towards an employee of GSK by Dr Slaoui occurred several years ago.
Slaoui worked at GSK for almost 30 years, becoming the head of its vaccines department, before retiring in 2017. A research centre named in his honour in Rockille, Maryland, will be renamed.
He was picked by President Trump to head the US federal government’s multi-million dollar Covid vaccine development project last May, and resigned on January 12 a week before Trump’s term ended.
He has since been advising European leaders on the vaccine rollout across Europe.
Trump described Slaoui as “one of the most respected men in the world in the production and, really, on the formulation of vaccines”.
In a statement issued today, GSK said: “Upon receipt of the letter, the GSK Board immediately initiated an investigation with an experienced law firm to investigate the allegations. The investigation of Dr Slaoui’s conduct substantiated the allegations and is ongoing.
“Dr Slaoui’s behaviours are wholly unacceptable. They represent an abuse of his leadership position, violate company policies, and are contrary to the strong values that define GSK’s culture.
“The company expects everyone at GSK to behave in accordance with its values, especially its leaders where its standards are the highest. Sexual harassment and any abuse of leadership position are strictly prohibited and will not be tolerated.”
In a personal letter to staff, CEO Emma Walmsley, said she was “shocked and angry”.
She wrote: “Dr Slaoui’s behaviours represent an abuse of his leadership position and violate our company policies, our values, and our commitment to Trust – a commitment I know is shared by all of you.
“I am choosing to write openly to everyone because these issues are profoundly important to me. Since February, the highest levels of our company have been working to understand and address what happened.
“Protecting the woman who came forward and her privacy has been a critical priority throughout this time. This will continue. I respect and admire her courage and strength. I’ve spent many nights lately putting myself in her shoes. More than anything, this simply should not have happened.
“We are in an age of progress with a female CEO, growing ranks of female leaders, new commitments to
diverse representation, and a culture that values speaking up. I expect everyone to represent GSK with integrity – especially senior leaders.
“On a personal level, I am shocked and angry about all of this, but I’m resolute.
“I want to be clear that sexual harassment is strictly prohibited and will not be tolerated. Abuse of leadership position, in any form, will not be tolerated. Where we find evidence of inappropriate behaviour, we take swift and firm action.
“If you find today’s announcement upsetting, you are not alone. We can’t do our best for patients and customers unless we treat each other with respect and integrity. My commitment to leading this – with all of you – is absolute and unbreakable.”
Christopher Corsico, SVP Development at GSK and a current member of the Galvani Board, has been appointed as the new chairman.
Galvani Bioelectronics is a medical research company formed through a partnership between GSK and Verily Life Sciences (formerly Google Life Sciences) to develop bioelectronic medicines to treat chronic diseases.
Slaoui was being contacted for comment.