Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel: A gifted salesman

Stephane Bancel

The CEO of Moderna began his career at the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly.

(Foto: Bloomberg)

New York Is Stéphane Bancel a con man – or is it the savior of the world? Many experts in the biotech industry have asked themselves this in recent years. Now the CEO of the US group has Modern teaches his doubters wrong: his company could accelerate the end of the pandemic with a Covid vaccine.

Just a week after the hopeful values ​​of Biontech and Pfizer Moderna also presented the first results of the clinical study. Accordingly, the vaccine, which is based on a similar RNA technology as that from Biontech, offers 94 percent protection against the coronavirus. “It will be a game changer,” predicts Bancel in English – with a French accent.

In contrast to the founding couple of Biontech, Bancel, 48, is not a doctor. The man at the helm of Moderna is a chemical engineer with an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Born in France, he started his career in sales at the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly started where he managed the business in Belgium. Then Bancel moved to the French diagnostics company Bio-Mérieu, and in 2011 he set up the biotech company Moderna in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as CEO. He has also been on the Board of Directors of for seven years Qiagen.

Bancel is considered a good seller. “He’s a smart guy and has an opinion on everything. But it is quite controversial in the scene, ”says a companion. Thanks to its good network in France, Bancel managed to get generous funding for Moderna. Others were added later.

Bancel promised to bring Moderna, an mRNA platform to the market, that can develop a wide variety of vaccines and treatments. However, the technology has long been controversial. So far there has been no evidence that the technique works.

Nevertheless, Bancel had already tinted at a round table with US President Donald Trump in March of this year that he had already presented a potential Covid-19 vaccine to the National Health Department (NIH).

For the first time a product in the third test phase

What Bancel didn’t tell the President was that Moderna hadn’t successfully completed the second of the three clinical trial phases with any product at the time.

In biotech, as in the start-up scene, the general motto is: “Fake it till you make it.” But Bancel is a particularly full-bodied seller. The renowned science journal “Nature Biotechnology” criticized Moderna in 2016 for the lack of verified data for its mRNA platform.

Others, however, have trusted Bancel over the years. This includes researcher Bob Langer. The professor, who conducts research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and holds more than 1,000 patents, invested in Moderna early on and owns three percent of the company.

“Apart from the promise of Moderna’s technology platform, I have always been impressed by the convinced management and the employees,” said Langer, who has become a billionaire thanks to the recent price jump. Bancels leadership style is considered extremely demanding.

Bancel, who owns nine percent of Moderna shares valued at $ 3 billion, said Monday he hopes to get the FDA’s “okay” in December. “I’m sure the four-star general Gustave Perna [als Chef des Army Materiel Command (AMC) für fast die gesamte Materiallogistik der US-Armee verantwortlich, Anmerk. d. Redak.] with its vices ready to charge and distribute the product, ”said Bancel. Quite immodest.

More: A hope for hope – that Moderna vaccine is said to be 94.5 percent effective.

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