Vasant Narasimhan

Novartis announced that Indian American Vasant Narasimhan will assume the role of CEO when current CEO Joseph Jimenez officially resigns Feb. 1, 2018. Before joining Novartis in 2005, Narasimhan worked at McKinsey & Company. (Twitter photo)

Switzerland-based Novartis Sept. 4 announced that its chief executive officer Joseph Jimenez plans to step down from his post in early 2018 and that Indian American Dr. Vasant Narasimhan will take over.

Narasimhan, who currently serves as the global head of drug development and chief medical officer at Novartis, will assume the new role Feb. 1, 2018.

The executive also serves as a member of the company’s executive committee. He has been with Novartis since 2005.

Jimenez, who has served as the CEO since 2010, will be available for advice and support at the request of the chairman of the board of directors Joerg Reinhardt or the CEO until he retires from Novartis on Aug. 31, 2018, the company said in a news release.

“I would like to congratulate Joe and express my gratitude to Joe, Joerg, and the board of directors. I feel honored and humbled to be asked to lead Novartis,” Narasimhan said in a statement. “We will continue our legacy of bringing leading innovation to patients around the world. With our recent launches, our strong pipeline, broad capabilities, world-class leadership team, and committed people, I am very confident about our future.”

Narasimhan has held numerous leadership positions across Novartis in commercial, drug development and strategy roles. Prior to his current role he served as head of development for Novartis Pharmaceuticals.

“We anticipate a smooth transition as Joe built a strong leadership team and mentored his successor. Novartis will be well positioned to continue its momentum,” Reinhardt said in a statement. “The strength of Novartis is our ability to drive science-based innovation. (Narasimhan) is deeply anchored in medical science, has significant experience in managing the interfaces between research and development and commercial units and has strong business acumen with a track record of outstanding achievements.”

Before joining Novartis in 2005, Narasimhan worked at McKinsey & Company. He received his medical degree from Harvard Medical School and obtained a master's degree in public policy from Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government. In addition, he holds a bachelor's degree in biological sciences from the University of Chicago.

During and after his medical studies, he worked extensively on a range of health issues in developing countries. Narasimhan, 41, is an elected member of the U.S. National Academy of Medicine.

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