Neuroscience at GSK: A Tipping Point?

GSK’s formerly vaunted and successful neuroscience programming has been under siege in recent years, with the Company exiting completely from psychiatry, and upper-level support for neurology appearing shaky at best. Now, we fear that GSK may have reached a ‘tipping point’, from which neuroscience may not return.

On June 10, the very day that NeuroLicensing 2013 was released, it was revealed (BioCentury, Nature Medicine)  that Jingwu Zang had been fired by GSK due to scientific misconduct, involving the falsification of data utilized in a paper published in Nature Medicine in 2010. Others were apparently involved, currently suspended and some will certainly  be fired. As bad as this scandal is in terms of the credibility of scientific research at GSK, reaching to the very apex of neuroscience there, this has even more horrific implications for what had been saved of neuroscience at the Company.  NIR had written this about Zang and GSK in NeuroLicensing 2013:

GSK Neuroscience is less fragmented than was the case a year ago. They have created a neuroscience business unit wherein virtually all CNS programs reside, with the exception of the Affiris-partnered Alzheimer’s vaccine program, which remains under the ‘Biopharmaceuticals’ unit. The Neuroscience Therapy Area Unit is under the direction of Jingwu Zang, headquartered in their Shanghai location, and this does now mean there is a single head of, and advocate for, neuroscience at GSK.” Our GSK review had concluded with: “The question that remains open in the minds of some external observers is whether the upper tier of management will continue to provide support for the pipeline that Jingwu Zang has assembled and now champions.

We considered Zang’s advocacy for neuroscience crucial to its prospects for survival going forward within GSK. With its ‘champion’ departing in disgrace, this casts even more doubt on the future of neuroscience at GSK. If there are forces in upper management who would like to see neuroscience expunged, they now have the perfect opportunity and excuse for doing so.

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