Slovenian scientist receives the highest Novartis scientific award

  • Novartis honored scientists from Novartis and Sandoz development centers with R&D Awards, recognizing their exceptional achievements in research and development.
  • Among the winners are also two Slovenian researchers – assoc. prof. Zdenko Časar, PhD, received the Novartis’ highest scientific honor, the Distinguished Scientist Award, and Jerneja Opara, PhD, received the Leading Scientist Award. 
  • With these awards, the Slovenian scientists reaffirmed the important contribution of Slovenian knowledge in the Novartis and Sandoz research and development network. 
16. 10. 2018

In Cambridge, USA, Novartis bestowed awards for outstanding and sustainable scientific achievements in research and development. Two Slovenian scientists were among the awardees – assoc. prof. Zdenko Časar, PhD, Head Prototype Analytics at Sandoz Development Center Slovenia, received Novartis’ top scientific honor, the Distinguished Scientist Award, and Jerneja Opara, PhD, a researcher from the Sandoz Development Center Slovenia, the Leading Scientist Award. The aim of the awards that Novartis bestows on its scientists from around the world is to promote a creative and innovative environment that scientists need to achieve breakthrough results. 

Zdenko Časar was recognized for his outstanding scientific achievements, which have made a significant impact on Novartis through cost reductions via innovative active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) synthesis and process improvements. He led the development of novel polymorphic API forms that are important for Sandoz and established significant intellectual property, which has resulted in 67 patents in the last five years. Zdenko Časar is the first Slovenian scientist to be bestowed Novartis’ highest scientific honor. “The award is a huge recognition for my past work and proof that in Slovenia, we are leaders in science development also at the international level. Our Development Center in Ljubljana is one of the key Sandoz development centers in the world, developing and launching on global markets a number of new products,” said Zdenko Časar. The Development Center Slovenia annually develops on average 20 new medicines with a new drug substance, a new dosage form or for a new market. 

Jerneja Opara received the Leading Scientist Award for her exceptional contribution to modelling and simulation in the generic development of medicines with the use of the most advanced digital technologies. Her work contributes significantly to the high success rate in bioequivalence studies in Sandoz, which is significantly higher than the average in the pharmaceutical industry. The methodology developed by Jerneja Opara, represents a unique approach in pharmaceutical science. ”The award is a great honor for me and my colleagues and the management of the Development Center Ljubljana with whom I share this moment as it is the result of a long-term mutual cooperation and trust. At the awards ceremony, we were presented as an innovative and respected development center within Novartis, which is an important recognition of our work on the international stage,” said Jerneja Opara. 

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Novartis is the leading provider of medicines in Slovenia, where Lek, Novartis Pharma Services and Sandoz, operate. Together we are building and maintaining the reputation of a dynamic, ethical, and trusted pharmaceutical company. Lek develops, manufactures, and markets effective, safe, and high quality medicines and active pharmaceutical ingredients. With our knowledge, quality, and experience we have gained an important role in Novartis' organizational structure, especially in the Novartis Technical Operations, Global Drug Development, Novartis Business Services, and the generic division Sandoz. We are the leading Sandoz development center, and one of the key development sites for technologically complex projects. We invest a great deal in the development, education, and training of our employees. Novartis invested in Slovenia more than EUR 2 billion since 2003. More than half of this investment has been devoted to development, and the rest to modernize and expand our production capacities.

Sandoz is a global leader in generic pharmaceuticals and biosimilars. As a division of the Novartis Group, our purpose is to discover new ways to improve and extend people's lives. We contribute to society's ability to support growing healthcare needs by pioneering novel approaches to help people around the world access high-quality medicine. Our portfolio of approximately 1,000 molecules, covering all major therapeutic areas, accounted for 2017 sales of USD 10.1 billion. In 2017, our products reached well over 500 million patients. Sandoz is headquartered in Holzkirchen, in Germany's Greater Munich area.

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Novartis provides innovative healthcare solutions that address the evolving needs of patients and societies. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis offers a diversified portfolio to best meet these needs: innovative medicines, cost-saving generic and biosimilar pharmaceuticals and eye care. Novartis has leading positions globally in each of these areas. In 2017, the Group achieved net sales of USD 49.1 billion, while R&D throughout the Group amounted to approximately USD 9.0 billion. Novartis Group companies employ approximately 125,000 full-time-equivalent associates. Novartis products are sold in approximately 155 countries around the world. For more information, please visit

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This press release contains statements and conclusions based on projections of Lek’s future business operations. These estimates are derived from the best information currently available. In case these forecasts prove unreliable, the actual results could prove different from those projected.

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For additional information contact:
Katarina Klemenc
Corporate Communications 
Lek Pharmaceuticals d. d.
Phone: +386 1 580 22 43
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