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Moderna Therapeutics, biotech’s highest-profile and most richly funded startup, is losing another key executive, struggling to retain talent despite the company’s unwavering promise that it’s on pace to change the face of medicine.

Dr. Stephen Kelsey, head of Moderna’s oncology division, is leaving the company to work at a biotech startup in California, according to people familiar with the matter. Each spoke on condition of anonymity, citing strict nondisclosure agreements.


Kelsey’s exit follows a string of high-profile departures for Moderna, which, despite its roughly $5 billion valuation, has lost more than a dozen top executives since 2014, all while moving toward what would be biotech’s largest-ever initial public offering.

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