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Novartis Oncology CEO steps down after 11 months

Published on: 20/12/18

Liz Barret, the CEO of Swiss firm Novartis Oncology has said that she is standing down after being in the role for less than a year.

The experienced oncology specialist, who is leaving Novartis to become the CEO of a US-based biotech firm, will be the Swiss multinational’s third oncology chief in less than a year, having joined the company less than 11 months ago.

The American pharma chief cited challenges in relocating her family to Basel as the reason for her resignation. She will be succeeded by long term Novartis employee Dr Susanne Schaffert. Barret’s resignation is effective December 31st 2018.

In discussing her resignation Barret said: “After much personal reflection, it became clear that my family would be unable to relocate to Basel where the Oncology headquarters is based. Therefore, I decided to accept a new role as CEO of a U.S. based biotech. I want to thank Vas for the opportunity to work at this great company and to everyone in Oncology for their commitment to transforming cancer for patients and their families. I am confident that under Susanne's leadership, Novartis will continue to expand its impact in Oncology.”

Dr Schaffert, who has worked for Novartis for more than 20 years,currently heads Novartis’ Advanced Accelerator Applications (AAA) unit, which was purchased for $3.9 billion late last year.

Commenting, Schaffert said: “Becoming CEO of Novartis Oncology is a great honor and I am humbled to be given the opportunity to lead one of the top-tier oncology businesses in the world. There is still much work to be done to help people with cancer live longer and better lives and I am excited to reimagine medicine together with my colleagues at Novartis.”

Vas Narasimhan, CEO, Novartis, said: "I would like to thank Liz for her leadership and her contributions to our business and our patients this past year. She made a significant positive impact on the organization in a relatively short time and I wish her the very best in her future endeavours. As testament to our pipeline of talent, I am delighted that Susanne Schaffert, current president of AAA and a long-time Oncology and Novartis executive, has accepted the role of CEO, Oncology. Susanne is a successful business leader with very deep expertise in Oncology, an unwavering commitment to patients, and a strong track record of inspiring talent and building empowered, high performing organizations. She has our full support and confidence as we continue to invest in both our internal pipeline as well as external assets to strengthen our presence."

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