Dr. Ellen Strahlman, an executive with Pfizer, is the new chief medical officer at GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK).

Strahlman had served as vice president for licensing, worldwide business development at Pfizer. A graduate of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, she is an ophthalmologist.

Over her career, Strahlman also has been chief executive officer at Virogen and CMO and head of research and development for Bausch & Lomb. She was an executive as well at Merck and at Novartis and was a senior executive at the federal government’s National Eye Institute at the National Institutes of Health.

As CMO at GSK, Strahlman will oversee patient safety, medical governance, ethics and other matters such as human involvement in drug development.

"This role unquestionably represents one of the most important physician leadership opportunities within the global biopharmaceutical industry," said Moncef Slaoui, who is chairman of research and development at GSK. "The depth of Ellen’s medical expertise, her general management and business development experience and proven leadership skills make her ideally suited to take on the challenges of this critical role."