Mike Varney, Ph.D. is the former Executive Vice President and Head of Genentech Research and Early Development (gRED) and a member of the Roche Corporate Executive Committee. In this role, he was responsible for all aspects of gRED innovation, drug discovery, and development of drug candidates for the US based R&D organization in Roche.
Mike brings decades of leadership and drug discovery innovation to gRED. In 1987, he was one of the original fifteen employees at Agouron, a biotech company based in San Diego that developed protein structure-based drug design as a new drug discovery approach. At Agouron, Mike led the Research efforts. While there, he and his team pioneered the process of rational drug design. From these efforts came Viracept, an HIV protease inhibitor that achieved the highest first year launch sales (>$350M) of any biotech product at the time. In addition, the work at Agouron resulted in the discovery of a number of currently marketed anticancer agents including Xalkori and Inlyta. When Pfizer acquired Agouron in 2000, Mike was tapped to lead Drug Discovery for Pfizer’s La Jolla organization.
In 2005, Mike was recruited to Genentech to take the company beyond biologics and create a small molecule drug discovery capability. Mike built a world-class organization of project teams and leaders, bringing proven talent like Bruce Roth, Inventor of Lipitor to serve with him. Within 10 years, the small molecule organization had produced >40% of gRED’s development portfolio including the marketed anticancer agents Erivedge and Cotellic.
Mike was promoted to Executive Vice President and Head of gRED Research and Early Development in January 2015. He also served on the Roche Corporate Executive Committee. Mike has a B.S. in Chemistry from UCLA, a Ph.D. in synthetic organic chemistry from CalTech and was an American Cancer Society postdoctoral fellow at Columbia.