Moncef Slaoui

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Moncef Slaoui
Slaoui with GlaxoSmithKline CEO Emma Walmsley (December 2016)
Head of Operation Warp Speed
In office
May 15, 2020 – January 12, 2021
PresidentDonald Trump
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byDavid A. Kessler
Personal details
Moncef Mohamed Slaoui

(1959-07-22) July 22, 1959 (age 64)
Agadir, Morocco
EducationUniversité libre de Bruxelles (BS, MS, PhD)
International Institute for Management Development (MBA)
Known forOperation Warp Speed

Moncef Mohamed Slaoui[1] (English: /ˈmɒnsɪf ˈsl.i/; French: [mɔ̃sɛf slawi]; Moroccan Arabic: منصف السلاوي, IPA: [ˈmonsˤəf ˈsːlæwi]; born July 22, 1959) is a Moroccan-born Belgian-American researcher who served as the head of Operation Warp Speed (OPWASP) under President Donald Trump from 2020 to 2021.

Slaoui is the former head of the vaccines department at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).[2] He worked at the company for thirty years, retiring in 2017. On May 15, 2020, President Donald Trump announced that Slaoui would manage the U.S. government's development of a vaccine used to treat coronavirus disease in OPWASP;[3] Slaoui resigned on January 12, 2021 after successfully having helped introduce a number of vaccines to the US and global markets.

In March 2021, Slaoui was fired from the board of GSK subsidiary Galvani Bioelectronics over what GSK called “substantiated” sexual harassment allegations stemming from his time at the parent company.[4] Slaoui issued an apology statement and stepped down from positions at other companies at the same time.[5]

Early life and education[edit]

Slaoui was born on July 22, 1959, in Agadir, Morocco.[6] The city was evacuated in February 1960 after an earthquake, and Slaoui was raised in Casablanca.[7] His father worked in the irrigation business[8] and died when Slaoui was a teenager, leaving his mother to raise him and his four siblings.[7]

Slaoui graduated from Mohammed V High School in Casablanca. In 1976 at age 17, Slaoui left Morocco to study medicine in France but missed the registration deadline due to new registration procedures and his mother being ill.[8] He enrolled at the Université libre de Bruxelles, where he received a BS and MS in biology. During this time he was very politically active.[8] In 1983, Slaoui earned a PhD in molecular biology and immunology from the Free University of Brussels.[9][10] His thesis was titled Etude de la diversité et de la sélection des répertoires idiotypiques dans le système immunitaire. Slaoui's doctoral advisor was immunologist Jacques Urbain.[11]

Slaoui took postgraduate courses at Harvard Medical School and the Tufts University School of Medicine[3] without earning degrees.[12] In 1998, he received an accelerated MBA from the International Institute for Management Development (IMD) in Lausanne, Switzerland.[10]


Slaoui and his wife lived in the United States from 1983 to 1985 while each did post-doctoral research at Harvard.[7] When she was recruited to continue research on influenza at SmithKline-RIT in Belgium (which would later become part of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)),[8] Slaoui got a job teaching immunology at the University of Mons in Belgium.[13]

Slaoui has co-authored more than 100 research papers.[14]


Slaoui (far right) at a GSK event in December 2016

In 1988, after consulting for SmithKline-RIT for three years, Slaoui joined the company as a vaccine researcher.[7][9] In 2006, he was appointed head of research and development at GlaxoSmithKline, succeeding Tachi Yamada.[15][16] In 2007, he announced plans to establish a neurosciences research group in Shanghai that would employ a thousand scientists and cost $100 million; it ceased operations in August 2017.[17]

In 2008, Slaoui led the $720 million acquisition of Sirtris Pharmaceuticals, which folded amidst turmoil in 2013.[18] In 2012, he oversaw GSK's purchase of Human Genome Sciences for over $3 billion.[18] He "sold off GSK’s entire oncology business, which Novartis turned into a 'cancer heavyweight'" One "pharma industry veteran" told a reporter in 2020 that "those are three of the worst deals in drug industry history."[18]

Slaoui spent thirty years working at GSK.[3] During his time there, Slaoui oversaw the development of numerous vaccines, including Cervarix to prevent cervical cancer, Rotarix to prevent gastroenteritis in children, and an Ebola vaccine.[14] He also spent 27 years researching on a malaria vaccine, Mosquirix, that was approved by the European Medicines Agency in 2015 and touted as the first in the world.[19]

In April 2013, he co-wrote a paper with several other GSK heads that introduced the term "electroceutical" to broadly encompass medical devices that use electrical, mechanical, or light stimulation to affect electrical signaling in relevant tissue types.[20] Over the next several years, he attempted to sell a public audience on GSK's development of bioelectronic medicine, with appearances on YouTube[21] and at futurist conferences.[22]

In July 2013, he wrote an op-ed in the Huffington Post entitled "It’s Time to Further Incentivize Medical Innovation", in which he outlined three recommendations to improve the effectiveness of the pharmaceutical industry.[23]

The Slaoui Center for Vaccines Research in Rockville, Maryland—named after Slaoui and GSK's first research and development institute in the United States—was opened on December 14, 2016.[24][25][26]

As of 2016, Slaoui was on the board of directors of the PhRMA lobby.[27]

In 2016 he was named to the inaugural board of directors of Galvani Bioelectronics, the joint venture between GSK and Alphabet Inc. subsidiary Verily Life Sciences.[16]

Slaoui retired from GSK on June 30, 2017.[28]

Corporate directorships[edit]

In July 2017, he joined Moderna's Board of Directors.[29]

In September 2017, he joined European venture capital firm Medicxi.[30]

COVID-19 pandemic and OPWASP[edit]

Slaoui in the White House Rose Garden, May 15, 2020

On May 15, 2020, President Donald Trump officially announced OPWASP, a project to develop and deliver 300 million doses of a vaccine for the coronavirus disease 2019 by January 2021.[3] Slaoui was named to lead the project, working alongside chief operating officer and four-star general Gustave F. Perna.[31] Other candidates for Slaoui's position reportedly included Elias Zerhouni and Arthur Levinson.[13][32] President Trump described Slaoui as "one of the most respected men in the world in the production and, really, on the formulation of vaccines", while Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar praised him as "arguably the world’s most experienced and successful vaccine developer".[33]

To avoid a conflict of interest, Slaoui resigned from the board of the Massachusetts-based biotech firm Moderna, which had been developing a vaccine for the coronavirus.[3][34] Slaoui faced criticism, particularly from Senator Elizabeth Warren, for continuing to have Moderna stock options worth over $10 million.[35][36] On May 18, 2020, Slaoui resigned from the board of manufacturing firm Lonza, which Moderna had partnered with to develop a coronavirus vaccine.[37] On May 19, after initially denying a conflict of interest, Slaoui divested his Moderna stock and donated the value it had gained from May 14 onwards to cancer research.[37][38][39]

On May 20, The New York Times reported that Slaoui had also resigned as an adviser to Brii Biosciences, a firm with sizeable Chinese investments, and would be resigning from Artizan Biosciences and Clazado. According to Michael Caputo, Slaoui's decision to retain his GSK stock, even after being announced as OPWASP's chief adviser, was cleared by the Department of Health and Human Services.[40]

Slaoui was scheduled to speak at the annual Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) conference on June 9, 2020, but ultimately pulled out, citing his failure to brief Congress beforehand.[41]

On October 9, 2020 the Wall Street Journal quoted Slaoui as saying that the COVID-19 vaccines would be accompanied by a tracking mechanism provided jointly by McKesson, Google and Oracle. The tracking is capable of monitoring vaccine series uptake, as well as side effects.[42]

Slaoui resigned from OPWASP on January 12, 2021.[43]

Sexual harassment allegations[edit]

On March 24, 2021, Slaoui was fired as chairman of the board of directors of Galvani Bioelectronics, a medical research firm owned mostly by GSK, over what the board of GSK called “substantiated” sexual harassment allegations. In a statement, GSK said they had received a letter a month before Slaoui’s dismissal “containing allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate conduct towards an employee of GSK by Dr. Slaoui” that “occurred several years ago when he was an employee of GSK”.[44][45] Slaoui issued an apology for his behavior.[5] He returned $3.86 million to GSK under a clawback policy.[46]

Personal life[edit]

Slaoui is Muslim.[47][48] He is fluent in Arabic, English, and French.[14] He is a citizen of Morocco, Belgium, and the United States.[49]: 8 

Slaoui has three sons[8] and is married to Kristen Slaoui (née Belmonte), a 1992 graduate of Gettysburg College.[49]: 8  Slaoui's younger sister died at a young age from pertussis.[7][50] One of his two younger brothers, a pediatrician, Amine, died from pancreatic cancer.[8] His other brother, Mohamed, is a specialist in gastroenterology and his older sister, Hadia, is a university professor of French literature in Morocco. [8][7]



  • 2006–2015: Global Research & Development of GSK PLC, chairman[10]
  • 2006–2017: GSK PLC, board member[10]
  • 2009–2017: Global Vaccines of GSK PLC, chairman[10]

Voluntary positions[edit]

After GSK[edit]



Gettysburg College awarded Slaoui an honorary Doctor of Science in May 2017.[49] In 2012, Slaoui was named as one of the "25 most influential people in biopharma today" by FierceBiotech.[65] In 2016, Fortune ranked him among "The World's 50 Greatest Leaders".[50] The Medicine Maker included Slaoui in its 2018 list of "World’s Top 100 Medicine Makers".[66]

Slaoui was cited as one of the Top 100 most influential Africans by New African magazine in 2020.[67]

Selected works and publications[edit]




  1. ^ US Expired 8597656B2, Cabezon, Teresa Silva; Slaoui, Moncef Mohamed & Cohen, Joseph et al., "Process for the production of immunogenic compositions", published March 12, 2013, issued March 12, 2013, assigned to GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals SA 
  2. ^ Mullard, Asher (July 1, 2015). "Moncef Slaoui". Nature Reviews Drug Discovery. 14 (7): 452–453. doi:10.1038/NRD4669. PMID 26129795. Wikidata ()
  3. ^ a b c d e Sanger, David E.; Haberman, Maggie; Weiland, Noah (May 15, 2020). "Trump Vows Vaccine by End of Year, and Mobilizes Military to Help". The New York Times.
  4. ^ "GSK fires Trump Covid vaccine chief Moncef Slaoui for 'substantiated' sexual harassment claims". CNBC. March 24, 2021. Retrieved December 13, 2022.
  5. ^ a b Mangan, Dan (March 24, 2021). "Former Trump Covid vaccine chief Moncef Slaoui apologizes after sexual harassment claim". CNBC. Retrieved February 28, 2024.
  6. ^ Bouzdaini, Wissam El (May 14, 2020). "Moncef Slaoui chargé par le président américain de développer le vaccin contre le COVID-19". Maroc Hebdo (in French).
  7. ^ a b c d e f Sulla, Adama (May 17, 2020). "La face cachée du Marocain qui doit développer un vaccin contre la covid-19". Challenge (in French).
  8. ^ a b c d e f g Chala, Siham; Slaoui, Moncref (April 24, 2020). "Rencontre Trait d'Union ON LINE – Moncef SLAOUI, Avril 2020". Groupe HEM (HEM Institut des Hautes Etudes de Management / HEM Business School) (in French).
  9. ^ a b Nazih, Ahlam (June 28, 2017). "Moncef Slaoui, l'as des vaccins". L'Économiste (in French).
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Board of Directors: Dr Moncef Slaoui Independent member of the Board of Directors of Lonza Group Ltd (April 2020 until May 2020)". Lonza Group Ltd. Retrieved May 19, 2020.
  11. ^ Slaoui, Moncef Mohamed (1983). Etude de la diversité et de la sélection des répertoires idiotypiques dans le système immunitaire (in French). Brussels: Université libre de Bruxelles, Faculté des sciences. identifier:
  12. ^ "Fierté Nationale: Moncef Slaoui à la tête du projet américain d'élaboration d'un vaccin anti-covid 19". L'Opinion. May 14, 2020.
  13. ^ a b Hatim, Yahia (May 14, 2020). "Moncef Slaoui to Outstrip Algerian, US Experts in 'Operation Warp Speed'". Morocco World News.
  14. ^ a b c "Dr Moncef Slaoui: Is This The Man Who Can Save the World from Ebola?". International Business Times. August 12, 2015.
  15. ^ Gribben, Roland (February 7, 2006). "Saviour of Glaxo to step down". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on January 12, 2022.
  16. ^ a b c Silverman, Ed (August 1, 2016). "Q&A: Glaxo exec says bioelectronics venture with Verily is 'not science fiction'". STAT.
  17. ^ Carroll, John (August 3, 2017). "10 years and $100M-plus later, GSK shutters a China R&D site during a major pipeline overhaul". Endpoint News.
  18. ^ a b c Cancryn, Adam; Diamond, Dan (May 14, 2020). "Meet the big pharma vet in charge of Trump's vaccine strategy". Politico.
  19. ^ Lorenzetti, Laura (July 24, 2015). "World's first malaria vaccine, from GlaxoSmithKline, wins approval from EU". Fortune.
  20. ^ Famm, Kristoffer; Litt, Brian; Tracey, Kevin J.; Boyden, Edward S.; Slaoui, Moncef (April 10, 2013). "A jump-start for electroceuticals". Nature. 496 (7444): 159–161. doi:10.1038/496159A. PMC 4179459. PMID 23579662. Wikidata ()
  21. ^ Slaoui, Moncef (March 3, 2016). "Dr. Moncef Slaoui on Bioelectronics". GSK.
  22. ^ LaPook, Jonathan; Collins, Francis; Slaoui, Moncef; Tracey, Kevin (June 28, 2015). "Aspen Ideas Festival Spotlight Health 2015: Biology and Electronics Come Together (Full Session)". Atlantic LIVE.
  23. ^ Slaoui, Moncef (July 1, 2013). "It's Time to Further Incentivize Medical Innovation". Huffington Post.
  24. ^ "Opening of the GSK Global Vaccines R&D Center in Rockville, MD". GlaxoSmithKline. December 15, 2016. Retrieved May 19, 2020.
  25. ^ "Strengthening Rockville as a major player in global healthcare". GlaxoSmithKline. Archived from the original on June 1, 2020. Retrieved May 19, 2020.
  26. ^ "Dr Moncef Slaoui, sommité mondiale de la santé, en visite au Maroc". La Nouvelle Tribune (in French). May 9, 2017.
  27. ^ "The Power List 2016: Moncef Slaoui". Texere Publishing Limited. 2016.
  28. ^ Cotaga, Olga (June 14, 2016). "GlaxoSmithKline Vaccines Unit Chairman to Retire Next Year". The Wall Street Journal.
  29. ^ "Moncef M. Slaoui, Ph.D. Joins Moderna's Board of Directors" (PDF). July 27, 2017. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 28, 2020. Retrieved January 29, 2021.
  30. ^ Hirschler, Ben (September 19, 2017). "Former GSK CEO and ex-R&D boss move to biotech venture firms". Reuters.
  31. ^ Jacobs, Jennifer; Armstrong, Drew (May 14, 2020). "Trump Taps Ex-Glaxo Official and General to Lead Vaccine Race". Bloomberg News.
  32. ^ "White House names heads of 'warp speed' coronavirus vaccine effort". CNN. May 13, 2020.
  33. ^ "Remarks by President Trump on Vaccine Development". May 15, 2020. Retrieved May 16, 2020 – via National Archives.
  34. ^ Delaney, Robert (May 16, 2020). "Coronavirus: US vaccine tsar expresses optimism in 'a few hundred million doses' by end of the year". South China Morning Post.
  35. ^ Montgomery, Blake (May 15, 2020). "Trump's Vaccine Czar Holds Millions in Stock Options at Company That Got Federal Funding for COVID-19 Work". Yahoo! News. Retrieved May 18, 2020.
  36. ^ "Trump's new coronavirus vaccine czar owns $10 million in stock options in company developing vaccine". Salon. May 18, 2020. Retrieved May 18, 2020.
  37. ^ a b Johnson, Carolyn Y. (May 20, 2020). "Moderna's coronavirus vaccine shows encouraging early results". The Washington Post.
  38. ^ Perrett, Connor (May 18, 2020). "Trump's newly appointed coronavirus czar Moncef Slaoui will divest his $10 million in stocks from the pharma company Moderna, after initially claiming there was no conflict of interest". Retrieved May 18, 2020.
  39. ^ Perrett, Connor (May 18, 2020). "Trump's newly appointed coronavirus czar Moncef Slaoui will divest his $10 million in stocks from the pharma company Moderna, after initially claiming there was no conflict of interest". Business Insider.
  40. ^ a b c d "Trump's Vaccine Chief Has Vast Ties to Drug Industry, Posing Possible Conflicts". The New York Times. May 20, 2020.
  41. ^ Dunn, Andrew (June 9, 2020). "Trump's coronavirus vaccine czar just pulled out of a marquee biotech conference. It would have been his first public appearance since taking the 'Operation Warp Speed' job". Business Insider.
  42. ^ Finley, Allysia (October 9, 2020). "Opinion | The Captain of Operation Warp Speed". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved October 19, 2022.
  43. ^ "Head of US vaccine effort resigns at request of incoming Biden administration but will stay through transition". CNN. January 13, 2021.
  44. ^ Mangan, Dan (March 24, 2021). "GSK fires Trump Covid vaccine chief Moncef Slaoui for 'substantiated' sexual harassment claims". CNBC.
  45. ^ "Moncef Slaoui Departs Galvani Bioelectronics Board of Directors". GlaxoSmithKline plc. March 24, 2021.
  46. ^ Dunleavy, Kevin (March 4, 2022). "Slaoui will return $3.86M to GlaxoSmithKline after his dismissal for sexual harassment". Retrieved February 28, 2024.
  47. ^ "Trump selects Muslim American to find Covid-19 vaccine". Dawn. May 17, 2020.
  48. ^ "Despite anti-immigrant stance, Trump taps Moroccan migrant for vaccine role". TRT World. May 19, 2020.
  49. ^ a b c "182nd Commencement". Gettysburg College. May 21, 2017. Retrieved May 19, 2020.
  50. ^ a b "The World's 50 Greatest Leaders: 29: Moncef Slaoui". Fortune. 2016.
  51. ^ "HBKU board member is head of US vaccine development project". Gulf Times. May 17, 2020.
  52. ^ "GSK Global Vaccines Chairman Moncef Slaoui joins IAVI Board of Directors". International AIDS Vaccine Initiative. January 12, 2015. Retrieved May 21, 2020.
  53. ^ "The Human Vaccines Project Welcomes Moncef Slaoui to its Board of Directors". Human Vaccines Project. March 22, 2018. Retrieved May 20, 2020.
  54. ^ National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Nicholson, Anna; Brown, Lisa; Snair, Justin (2018). Examining Challenges and Possible Strategies to Strengthen U.S. Health Security: Proceedings of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. p. vii. doi:10.17226/24856. ISBN 978-0-309-46375-1. PMID 29048863.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  55. ^ Stendahl, Max (August 9, 2017). "Former GSK exec resigns from Intellia board due to 'conflict'". Boston Business Journal.
  56. ^ a b "MRNA Company Profile & Executives – Moderna Inc". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved May 18, 2020.
  57. ^ "Moncef Slaoui". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved May 16, 2020.
  58. ^ "Moncef Slaoui PhD". Divide & Conquer. Retrieved May 21, 2020.
  59. ^ "Divide & Conquer". Divide & Conquer LLC. Archived from the original on December 7, 2019.
  60. ^ "Moncef M.Slaoui, Ph.D. Joins Moderna's Board of Directors" (PDF). Moderna, Inc. July 27, 2017.
  61. ^ "Board: Moncef Slaoui, Ph.D." Artizan Biosciences, Inc. Retrieved May 18, 2020.
  62. ^ "Moncef Slaoui, Ph.D., Scientific and Strategic Advisor". Brii Biosciences. Archived from the original on May 17, 2020. Retrieved May 18, 2020.
  63. ^ "CEO Appointed at Clasado Biosciences". Clasado Biosciences. December 11, 2019. Retrieved May 19, 2020.
  64. ^ "Health & Regulatory Affairs Committee". BIO. Retrieved May 18, 2020.
  65. ^ Hollmer, Mark (February 7, 2012). "Moncef Slaoui – The 25 most influential people in biopharma today". Retrieved May 21, 2020.
  66. ^ "The Power List 2018 – Industry Influencers: Moncef Slaoui, Partner, Medicxi". The Medicine Maker. 2018.
  67. ^ "Masiyiwa, Musk Included In New African Magazine's 100 Most Influential Africans 2020". December 8, 2020. Retrieved January 13, 2021.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]