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Harvard Educated Doctor Vasant Narasimhan To Become Novartis CEO

Narasimhan, 41, chief medical officer and global head of drug development at Novartis will take over as the CEO of Europe’s largest drug-maker after the company announced the surprise departure of CEO Joseph Jimenez after eight years at the helm. Narsimhan, a Harvard-trained doctor will succeed Jimenez from February 1, Novartis said on Monday.

NEW YORK – Indo-American Vasant Narasimhan will take over as CEO Novartis, Europe’s largest drug-maker.

Currently the Harvard educated Narsimhan is chief medical officer and global head of drug development at Novartis.

The company announced the surprise departure of CEO Joseph Jimenez after eight years at the helm. Narsimhan, a Harvard-trained doctor will succeed Jimenez from February 1, Novartis said on Monday.

Jimenez, 57, who will retire at the end of January, said his family is ready to return to Silicon Valley after spending 10 years in Switzerland. Jimenez is handing over the reins at a crucial juncture, with the drugmaker yet to make a decision on the future of its ailing Alcon eyecare business or its stake in crosstown rival Roche Holding. The former Heinz executive reshaped Novartis through a series of complex transactions worth more than $30 billion in 2015.

Last week, the company secured US regulatory clearance for a $475,000-breakthrough oncology therapy, a triumph for both Jimenez and Narasimhan. Narasimhan, an American citizen of Indian origin, is the youngest among a group of new chieftains at global pharmaceutical companies: Emma Walmsley, 48, took the helm in April at London-based GlaxoSmithKline, becoming the only woman to run one of the world’s largest drugmakers.

Over in the US, David Ricks, 50, became CEO of Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly on January 1. Prior to his current role, Narasimhan served as head of development for Novartis Pharmaceuticals. Before joining the company in 2005, he worked at McKinsey. He received his medical degree from Harvard Medical School in the US and obtained a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard’s John F Kennedy School of Government. He holds a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from the University of Chicago. Novartis’s board conducted “a thorough evaluation of internal and external candidates” with help from an executive search firm, chairman Joerg Reinhardt said. Narasimhan’s expertise in clinical development and medicine make him well suited to run Novartis, especially during the ongoing review of Alcon’s operations, according to Vincent Meunier, an analyst at Morgan Stanley in London.

 

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