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Biogen Names Heads of Research, Corporate Development

Jan. 5 (Bloomberg) -- Biogen Idec Inc., the world’s biggest maker of multiple sclerosis medicines, named new heads of research and corporate development as the company narrows its focus to neurology and biologic therapies.

Douglas E. Williams, most recently chief executive officer of ZymoGenetics Inc., will head research and development, while Steven H. Holtzman, founder of Infinity Pharmaceuticals Inc., will oversee corporate development, the Weston, Massachusetts-based company said today in a statement. Michael Lytton, who had been leading Biogen’s business development, will leave the company.

Biogen said in November it will cut 13 percent of its workforce, or about 650 positions, as it spins off or sells licenses to its cancer assets and ends development of heart medicines. Chief Executive Officer George Scangos, who took over in July, is trimming operations and seeking partners as Biogen aims to expand use of its multiple sclerosis shots, Tysabri and Avonex.

“Biogen Idec has the potential to become the leading biopharmaceutical company in the world: efficiently developing and delivering innovative, life-changing medicines to patients; becoming the partner of choice to innovative young biotechnology companies; and, thereby, creating exceptional shareholder value,” Holtzman said in the statement.

Biogen gained 28 cents to $66.68 at 4 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The shares increased 25 percent in the past 12 months.

Seattle-based ZymoGenetics, which developed medicines for diseases including Hepatitis C, was acquired by New York-based Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. in 2010 for $725 million, according to Bloomberg data. Infinity Pharmaceuticals, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is developing cancer drugs.

To contact the reporter on this story: Meg Tirrell in New York at mtirrell@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reg Gale at rgale5@bloomberg.net.

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