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GSK fires ex-Warp Speed chief Moncef Slaoui after sexual harassment inquiry

GlaxoSmith Kline has fired Moncef Slaoui from the board of directors of a company it controls following an inquiry into a sexual harassment claim dating to his tenure at the pharmaceutical giant.

The termination of Slaoui’s position as chair of the board of directors of Galvani Bioelectronics is effective immediately, GSK said in a statement released Wednesday morning. GSK said it began investigating Slaoui after it received a letter alleging sexual harassment and inappropriate conduct toward a GSK employee several years ago. The inquiry, conducted with the aid of a law firm, substantiated the allegations. GSK said the investigation is continuing.

“Dr. Slaoui’s behaviours are wholly unacceptable,” GSK said in the statement. “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.”

Slaoui might be best known to the public as the former chief scientific advisor to Operation Warp Speed, the public-private partnership launched by the federal government last year to speed up the development and testing of medicines, vaccines, and diagnostic products for Covid-19. Prior to Operation Warp Speed, Slaoui spent nearly 30 years at GSK, retiring in 2017 as chair of the company’s vaccines division and a member of its board of directors.

The administration of former President Trump hired Slaoui last May to bolster Operation Warp Speed as its chief scientific advisor. The hire sparked controversy, as Slaoui owned shares in messenger RNA company Moderna, which he later divested. He resigned from the Warp Speed role early this year at the request of the Biden administration.

In his post-GSK career, Slaoui was named board chair for Galvani, a joint venture that GSK and Verily Life Sciences formed in 2016. At the time the joint venture was announced, GSK owned 55% while Verily, a subsidiary of Google parent Alphabet, owned 45%. Galvani is developing bioelectronic therapies, which use implants to modulate neural signals to organs as a way of treating chronic conditions. The company splits its operations between Stevenage, U.K. and South San Francisco.

In 2017, Slaoui also became a partner at Medixci, a European life sciences investment firm.

GSK said that Christopher Corsico, senior vice president of development at the pharma giant and a current member of the Galvani board, has been appointed as the joint venture’s new board chair. Amy Altshul, senior vice president, legal, R&D, and global commercial franchises at GSK, has also been appointed to the Galvani board.

Photo: Drew Angerer, Getty Images

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