Merck’s head of global clinical development announces retirement; successor named

Merck‘s head of global clinical development and chief medical officer, Merck Research Laboratories, Roy Baynes, will be retiring from the Kenilworth-based company in July, according to a Wednesday announcement.

“Roy is one of the world’s preeminent oncologists and clinical development experts, and his masterful spearheading of the development of Keytruda leaves an indelible mark on Merck, on oncology and on the lives of patients and their families. As textbooks are updated to reflect the era of immunooncology, Roy’s contributions cannot be overstated, and will persist far beyond his eight years with Merck,” Dean Li, president, Merck Research Laboratories, said. “I know there are many who join me in thanking Roy for his efforts and wishing him well in his next chapter.”

Baynes, who joined Merck in 2013, helped the pharmaceutical giant become a leading oncology company and achieved more than 140 medicine and vaccine approvals globally across numerous therapeutic areas under his leadership. This includes the development of Keytruda, Welireg, Vaxneuvance and Zepatier, among others. He also led the expansion of Merck’s research and development in China and Japan.

“It has been a privilege to have led the global clinical development organization during my tenure at Merck,” Baynes said. “I am immensely proud of the team’s accomplishments and the difference we are making in the lives of patients worldwide. I look forward to continuing to work with Eliav (Barr) in the coming months to ensure a smooth transition.”

Baynes will be succeeded by Barr, senior vice president, global clinical development, effective April 1.

During his more than two decades at Merck, Barr, a cardiologist by training, has held positions of increasing responsibility, including leadership roles in oncology and infectious diseases clinical development. Barr oversaw the company’s vaccines/infectious disease area during a period of high productivity, including the development of novel therapies for chronic hepatitis C and HIV-1 infections.

Most recently, he led MRL’s Global Medical Affairs organization from 2018 to January 2022, significantly expanding Merck’s scientific engagement and implementation efforts in oncology, vaccines and more. In his new role, Barr will lead all late-stage clinical development for Merck’s expansive human health portfolio and pipeline and will report to Li.

“Eliav’s career at Merck has been marked by roles spanning infectious diseases, oncology and vaccines involving the development of several first-of-their-kind medicines and vaccines that have since been used by millions of people around the world. Most notably, he led the development of Merck’s human papillomavirus vaccines, which have become key tools in the global effort to reduce the burden of certain cancers and diseases caused by HPV,” Li said. “Eliav’s expertise in global clinical development, combined with his unwavering commitment to patients and Merck’s purpose to save and improve lives, make him well-qualified to be the next chief medical officer for Merck and the ideal leader for our industry-leading global clinical development team.”

“I am honored to assume the role as head of Merck’s industry-leading clinical development organization,” Barr said. “I am grateful to Roy for his mentorship and excited by the opportunity to build on Merck’s proud legacy of delivering breakthrough medicines and vaccines for the patients we serve.”