Sanofi has named Yong-Jun Liu, chief of research at AstraZeneca's MedImmune unit, as its new head of research, global R&D.

Dr Liu will lead all of Sanofi's research “with the goal of delivering innovative and high-value medicines for patients”, working with the French drugmaker’s Senior Leadership Team to “build a competitive R&D organisation that leverages the best expertise, both internally and externally”.

"Sanofi is delivering major therapeutic advances to patients, but in an increasingly competitive landscape it is excellence in science that will shape the medicines of tomorrow. I have great confidence that Yong-Jun will position Sanofi on the leading edge of scientific breakthroughs and drug discovery in the years ahead," said chief executive Olivier Brandicourt.

“Yong-Jun will play a pivotal role in shaping a visionary R&D strategy for Sanofi and rejuvenating the company's early-stage pipeline," added Elias Zerhouni, president of Global R&D at the firm. "His world-class experience in immunology, oncology and translational medicine will be vital assets as Sanofi sets its sights on scientific excellence and innovation across its therapeutic areas."

Dr Liu has 25 years’ experience in the pharmaceutical industry and at leading medical research centres, with more than 250 published articles in leading academic journals to his name. He was appointed Head of Research at MedImmune in January 2014.