AstraZeneca has appointed “world-renowned oncology scientist” José Baselga as the new head of its research and development unit for Oncology.

The appointment is part of a series of planned changes at the FTSE 100 drugs giant, which it hopes will more closely align its R&D and commercial teams at a time when several of its pipeline drugs are making the transition from the clinic to the hospital.

New organisational changes "to support continued scientific innovation and commercial success" include the creation of therapy area-focused R&D units that are responsible for discovery through to late-stage development - one for BioPharmaceuticals (Cardiovascular, Renal & Metabolism and Respiratory) and one for Oncology - as well as mirrored commercial units.

The R&D units and the commercial units will each be represented on the senior executive team of AstraZeneca and report to chief executive Pascal Soriot.

The units will also share common basic biology and science platforms as well as product supply, manufacturing and IT infrastructure to improve efficiency. These resources will continue to be allocated on a company-wide basis according to the overall therapy area considerations and strategy, the firm noted.

Baselga, who will lead the Oncology R&D unit, was the physician-in-chief at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center until last year, resigning from his position in September after reports claimed he had failed to disclose millions of dollars in payments from healthcare companies in some of his research articles.

Referring to this, Soriot reportedly said that AstraZeneca "made sure we did our homework and that we could feel comfortable..that there was nothing here that was problematic," and stressed "we are absolutely comfortable there is no serious issue there", as reported by the Financial Times.

Mene Pangalos, who was previously responsible for AstraZeneca's innovative medicines and early development biotech segment, will lead the R&D unit for BioPharmaceuticals.

“We are entering what we expect will be a period of sustained growth for years to come, which is why we have decided to more closely align our R&D and commercial operations. This new structure will support growth and sharpen the focus on our main therapy areas, speeding up decisions and making us more productive in our mission to bring innovative medicines to patients," Soirot said, further explaining the strategy behind the move.