Dennis Gillings, who co-founded Quintiles while he was a professor at UNC-Chapel Hill more than three decades ago, plans to step down as the firm’s chairman later this year. He will, however, remain a member of the board and “continue his close association” with the firm, Quintiles says.

Under Gillings’ direction, Quintiles (NYSE: Q) grew to become the world’s largest life science services company and contract research organization.

Gillings stepped away from his chief executive officer role nearly three years ago, replaced by Tom Pike. 

“We began our transition in April of 2012 with the hiring of Tom Pike who has provided outstanding leadership as CEO,” Gillings said in a statement early Friday.  “He extended that leadership with our successful IPO in May 2013.  The company is ready on every level, with strong management, a robust growth strategy and effective governance, reflected in this thoughtful Board transition.  I look forward to my continuing Quintiles Board duties and partnership with Tom.”

Pike led the effort to return Quintiles to public markets in 2013.

Since that time, Gillings and its other major owners – Bain Capital and TPG – have reduced their holdings of Quintiles shares.

The board chair change is part of a larger effort by Quintiles to adjust its directorships to meet NYSE requirements.

As part of the change, Dr. John Leonard is joining the board. The life science industry veteran also is a director at Durham-based Chimerix.

“Quintiles will continue to benefit from the vision and leadership of Dennis Gillings,” Pike said.  “He is recognized around the world as a pioneer in our industry, and his contributions have only increased over time.
“It is a sincere privilege to work with Dennis,” he added.  “He is a tremendous partner and provides invaluable support and insight as a Board member and shareholder.”