Hans Bishop, the co-founder and longtime CEO of immunotherapy company Juno Therapeutics, has quietly left that role following the company’s $9 billion acquisition by biotech giant Celgene, he told GeekWire on Tuesday. Bishop has also joined Celgene’s board of directors.
Bishop helped found Juno when it spun out of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in 2013. Over five years, he grew the company into an innovative biotech star that employed more than 500 people at the time it was acquired.
The company has made no official announcement of his departure. Bishop broke the news that he is no longer Juno’s CEO in an interview following the Pacific Science Center’s annual Innovation Breakfast, where he also spoke about the state of immunotherapy and the need to bring more young people into the sciences. A company spokesperson later confirmed his departure.
Ann Lee, formerly Juno’s EVP of technical operations, is taking over Celgene’s Seattle operations as its new regional site lead, the spokesperson said. Lee will lead the former Juno operations in the Seattle area as well as Celgene’s Seattle office, which predates the acquisition.
“The amount of research that’s going on in the field — immunotherapy in the broader sense — is just growing and growing,” Bishop told GeekWire at the event. “There are more different compounds, there are more different kinds of cells that we’re looking at, so the investment in the field is just accelerating.”
Bishop declined to comment on Juno or Celgene’s work, citing his new role as a director of the company. When it was acquired, Juno was one of the top CAR T immunotherapy contenders in the world. In September, it opened a new, custom-designed headquarters in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood.
Celgene will now continue to develop Juno’s unique CAR T immunotherapies, which genetically reprogram a patient’s immune cells to find and destroy cancer
At the time the acquisition was announced, Juno and Celgene representatives said the company was planning to keep its current locations in Seattle and its manufacturing facility in Bothell, Wash. There are no indications that those plans have changed.