Duke University Researcher To Head Pfizer Neuroscience Unit in Groton

Duke University Researcher To Head Pfizer neuroscience unit in Groton [The Day, New London, Conn.]

From Day, The (New London, CT) (June 9, 2010)

Jun. 8--Duke University researcher Michael D. Ehlers has been named the new head of Pfizer Inc.’s neuroscience unit in Groton, the company announced today.

The 41-year-old Ehlers, who has a medical degree and a Ph.D, will take the research reins Aug. 16, overseeing such areas as Alzheimer’s disease, autism and schizophrenia. The naming of Ehlers as neuroscience chief comes more than two months after the departure of the previous unit leader, Menelas Pangalos, for rival AstraZeneca.

Pfizer would not reveal how many scientists will report to Ehlers, but at last count the neuroscience unit had about 300 employees. Ehlers will report to Rod MacKenzie, Pfizer’s senior vice president and head of PharmaTherapeutics Research & Development.

"Mike is a world class scientist whose deep understanding of neurobiology will be a powerful asset as we build on the progress in our neuroscience research unit and apply new thinking to deliver novel therapeutics," MacKenzie said in a statement. "His experience in the field and his passion for transforming medical outcomes are a winning combination."

Ehlers will take over from Anabella Villalobos of East Lyme, who was named interim department head after Pangalos’ departure.

Pfizer said Ehlers "brings significant scientific expertise and a history of results-oriented leadership" to the company. The author of more than 60 scientific papers, Ehlers has a laboratory named after him at Duke, where he was the George Barth Geller Professor of Neurobiology.

An investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, a nonprofit research center in Chevy Chase, Md., Ehlers has won many scientific awards, including the 2009 National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression Distinguished Investigator Award.

Ehlers, who could not be reached for comment, said in a statement that he is impressed by Pfizer scientists’ dedication and is "excited to join an organization that has a clear and focused commitment to neuroscience research. ... I look forward to bringing new insights and pushing forward these important areas of research in order to develop new medicines."

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Copyright (c) 2010, The Day, New London, Conn.

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Posted: June 2010


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