One of the most respected figures in the pharmaceutical industry, Sir Richard Sykes, has been named as the chairman of Circassia, a UK-based specialty biopharmaceutical company.

Sir Richard, currently the rector of Imperial College London, is best-known as a former chairman of GlaxoSmithKline, and chief executive of Glaxo Wellcome before that. Circassia is a spin-out company of Imperial Innovations Group, which is based at Imperial College and specialises in commercialising technology developed by the university.

Sir Richard succeeds Charles Swingland who will remain with Circassia as deputy chairman and the latter said that the new man “brings an incomparable wealth of experience and strategic vision to the business having led one of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies for many years”. Sir Richard himself added that “having spent many years promoting UK science and technology, I am extremely pleased to join Circassia, which I believe has the potential to transform the treatment of conditions resulting from immune system dysfunction".

He added that "based on my familiarity with the Circassia technology developed originally at Imperial, I believe the company's prospects are excellent. I look forward to working with the team over the coming years to build a broad-based, world-class company."