AbbVie president Severino departs to help pilot Flagship Pioneering

Life sciences investor Flagship Pioneering is breaking out the big guns. Days after enlisting industry leaders from and Novartis, the company has tapped a top exec from AbbVie.

The biotech on Wednesday said AbbVie’s vice chairman and president Michael Severino, M.D., will soon board Flagship as chief executive officer and partner.

Aside from his leadership duties at Flagship Pioneering, Severino will be tapped to captain another Flagship company “to be announced in due course,” the company said in a release.

Severino let AbbVie know about his departure on April 8, according to a new securities filing. He’ll jump ship from the Chicago-area pharma on May 31, the company said.

“With a track record of developing innovative strategies, driving scientific, operational, and business excellence, and leading transformational change, Mike is an ideal fit for Flagship, where we invent, develop, and scale breakthrough innovations that improve lives,” Noubar Afeyan, Ph.D., founder and CEO of Flagship Pioneering, said in a statement.

The soon-to-be-former AbbVie exec added that he’s excited to tap his experience across “all phases of drug discovery, development, and commercialization at Flagship…”

Over more than two decades in the biopharma business, Severino has made career pitstops at major drugmakers Merck & Co., Amgen and AbbVie, where he signed on in 2014.

He first entered the AbbVie fold as executive vice president of R&D and chief scientific officer before his promotion to vice chairman and president in 2018.

In his final role at the company, Severino took charge of business development and corporate strategy while maintaining overall responsibility for R&D.

“In his eight years with AbbVie, Dr. Severino led efforts to build a strong pipeline and advance promising science for patients in the areas of hematologic oncology, immunology, and neuroscience,” Flagship said in its release.

Severino is just one of many execs summoned to Flagship’s C-suite in recent months.

The company recently recruited two other CEO-partners in CEO Margo Georgiadis and Michelle Werner, who’s also joined as CEO of tRNA platform company Alltrna. Werner comes from Novartis, where she was worldwide franchise head for solid tumors.

Meanwhile, former FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn joined Flagship last summer as a CEO-partner and chief of its early cancer detection outfit Harbinger Health.

Flagship has also added to its roster a chief technology officer of pioneering medicine, a senior partner for corporate development and more.