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BenevolentAI appoints former Bayer R&D chief as CEO

After a rocky year that featured a restructuring, job cuts and the resignation of its CFO, BenevolentAI is looking to the future by tapping a Bayer veteran as its new CEO.

Joerg Moeller, most recently the research and development chief at Leo Pharma, spent about 20 years at Bayer earlier in his career, finishing his tenure as head of global research and development with a spot on the pharmaceuticals executive committee. He moved to Leo in early 2021, where he reorganized the R&D department in an effort to spur growth.

A medical doctor by training, Moeller is an advocate of using artificial intelligence to speed drug discovery, BenevolentAI said Wednesday. He’s also initiated several collaborations with AI companies in his career and worked on deals to out-license assets. 

BenevolentAI is counting on that experience as it seeks more partners in the pharmaceutical industry and explores licensing agreements for its own assets. Moeller is “a well-known and respected figure within the target stakeholders of BenevolentAI,” the company said. 

AI companies in general are working to convince investors that their technology is essential to the future of drug discovery. Although BenevolentAI counts major drugmakers AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly and Merck KGaA among its partners and has a number of experimental therapies in its pipeline, the company has lost most of its value since going public in 2021

Moeller will also serve as an executive board member, the London-based company said. Francois Nader, who had been serving as acting CEO, will revert back to his post as non-executive chair.