New York-based DeSalva will join H&K's worldwide executive committee and report to Paul Taaffe, chairman and CEO. She will start on 1 October.
DeSalva joined GCI in May 2002 after spending six years in corporate affairs at Bristol-Myers Squibb. She has also worked at Ketchum and Ogilvy.
At H&K she effectively replaces Paul McDade, who left early last year after spending around four years with the agency.
GCI Group late last month promoted Bill Martin to the new role of EV-P, North American health practice leader. Also at GCI, 13-year agency stalwart Jill Dosik has been named EV-P, director, New York Healthcare.
GCI is not currently looking to replace DeSalva.
Separately in the US, Pfizer has handed the global account for its new Lipitor combination statin to Weber Shandwick after a four-way agency shootout.
The new compound torcetrapib/atorvastatin (T/A) lowers the ‘bad' low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol while raising ‘good' high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.
T/A will not compete with, or replace, Lipitor, but will serve as a better option for some patients.
Pfizer hopes to file for Food and Drug Administration approval next year.