Former U.S. chief science adviser Moncef Slaoui has been fired from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) due to sexual harassment allegations. Slaoui was a board chair at Galvani Bioelectronics, a medical research company.
According to GSK, the termination was put in immediate effect after an investigation substantiated a complaint from an employee several years ago regarding his conduct. GSK is a majority shareholder of Galvani Bioelectronics.
According to USA TODAY, Slaoui left his role at GSK in 2017 but served as chairman of the board for Galvani Bioelectronics, a joint venture between GSK and Verily Life Sciences.
GSK states that the investigation starter after the company received a letter back in February that had outlined the allegations of “sexual harassment and inappropriate conduct.” In the letter, Slaoui’s conduct was described as “unacceptable” and an “abuse of his leadership position.” No further details were provided.
GSK CEO Emma Walmsley released a letter Wednesday regarding Slaoui’s termination, which was sent to the entire employee population.
“Dr. Slaoui’s behaviors represent an abuse of his leadership position and violate our company policies, our values, and our commitment to Trust – a commitment I know is shared by all of you,” she wrote.
“This simply should not have happened,” Walmsley continued. “On a personal level, I am shocked and angry about all of this, but I’m resolute. I want to be clear that sexual harassment is strictly prohibited and will not be tolerated. Abuse of leadership position, in any form, will not be tolerated.”
According to Walmsley, Slaoui Center for vaccines, a research and development facility located in Rockville, Maryland, is in the process of being renamed.
Slaoui was a significant contributor to the U.S. effort to rapidly develop and manufacture COVID-19 vaccines. According to ABC News, Slaoui served as chief science adviser to Operation Warp Speed (OWS), which was launched under the Trump administration to develop vaccines and treatments for COVID-19. He was positioned as an adviser to the Biden administration for a short time before he resigned in February.
The U.S. Department of Defense states on its website, “OWS is an unprecedented leap toward a historic breakthrough that will save countless lives. It is leveraging the best experts from the federal government and private industry to develop effective vaccines and therapeutics quickly without compromising safety.”
Slaoui has yet to be reached for comment. He is currently listed as chief scientific officer at Centessa Pharmaceuticals and partner at Medicxi.
Walmsley encourages at the end of her letter that the company’s employees seek assistance if needed.
“If you have anything you want to share regarding this situation, a situation you’ve been in personally, or one you’ve been aware of, please use the channels provided in the Resource Pack, and trained professionals will help you,” she wrote.