The Highest Novartis Scientific Award goes again to a Slovenian Scientist

  • Novartis announced the recipients of this year's scientific R & D awards to honor their exceptional R & D achievements at the Novartis and Sandoz Research Centers. 
  • Among the winners are also Slovenian researchers and once again the highest Novartis Scientific Award – the Distinguished Scientist Award – was received by a scientist from Slovenia. 
  • By receiving these awards, the Slovenian scientists reaffirmed the important contribution of Slovenian knowledge in the Novartis and Sandoz research and development network. 
28. 10. 2019

After having been awarded the highest Novartis Scientific Award last year, Lek’s scientist once again received this prestigious Novartis Award for outstanding and sustainable scientific achievements in research and development this year. Matej Horvat, PhD, Head of Predictive Analytics and Modelling at Biologics Technical Development Mengeš, was granted the highest Novartis Scientific Award, the Distinguished Scientist Award. The Leading Scientist Award was presented to researchers Ivana Gazić Smilović, PhD, Andrej Bastarda, and Damjan Šterk, PhD, from the Sandoz Development Center Slovenia.

Matej Horvat, PhD, was granted the highest Novartis Scientific Award for his contributions in the development and production of (bio) pharmaceuticals. He has introduced several new approaches delivering significant advantages for Novartis drug development and production processes that are well acknowledged by the wider scientific community as well. At Novartis, Horvat has been pioneering approaches on data sciences, predictive analytics, computer modelling, and developing & implementing applications for scientific data management. He is the main author of the “Quality by Design” (QbD) methodology for the development of generics that was adopted by other Novartis sites and externally recognized as a best in class. His contributions in technical and clinical development of biologicals were crucial in approving these highly complex medicines. Matej was one of the key Novartis contributors to the FDA discussion on statistical similarity assessment for biosimilars. 

“I feel very honored to be selected into this exclusive group. When I joined Lek I was not completely sure whether this job is right for me, as I was previously working in experimental particle physics. This was a major change for me. I needed to modify the working area and working methods. However, I like challenges, in particular scientific challenges; therefore, I decided to face these challenges with the same enthusiasm as I did the previous ones. For me, this award reflects that I am doing things the right way and that I am doing the right things. However, this does not apply only to me, but for my wholePredictive Analytics team. We are all highly competent and fully devoted to search for innovative solutions for our company. We are full of ideas and cannot wait to prove their value,” said Matej Horvat, PhD. 

Ivana Gazić Smilović, PhD, Andrej Bastarda, and Damjan Šterk, PhD, were granted the Novartis Scientific Award for their exceptional contribution to the successful development of three complex iron medicines playing a vital role in the Sandoz portfolio. They significantly contributed in the field of synthesis and analytics to successfully complete the development of medicines. Their physicochemical characterization and testing of the iron based active substance and the medicines, as well as their exceptional ability of innovative thinking and data interpretation, has contributed significantly to the successful development of these medicines.All three award recipients are renowned experts in organic synthesis and analytical research, they hold number of patents, and are authors of numerous scientific articles.

“I am very happy and proud that Novartis acknowledged and awarded our team for the achievements in developing complex iron medicines. The final product is affected by many different factors; therefore, the development of these medicines is a major challenge for many work areas. It was very interesting and exciting until the very last moment andI am very proud of all our associates who were a part of this development. It would have been impossible to develop such medicines without the team’s joint commitment and great communication,” said Ivana Gazić Smilović, PhD, researcher at the Sandoz Development Center Slovenia.

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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 2.3 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 broad portfolio of high-quality medicines, covering all majortherapeutic areas and increasingly focused on value-adding differentiatedmedicines, accounted for 2018 sales of USD 9.9 billion. Sandoz is headquartered in Holzkirchen, in Germany's Greater Munich area.

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Novartis is reimagining medicine to improve and extend people’s lives. As a leading global medicines company, we use innovative science and digital technologies to create transformative treatments in areas of great medical need. In our quest to find new medicines, we consistently rank among the world’s top companies investing in research and development. Novartis products reach more than 750 million people globally and we are finding innovative ways to expand access to our latest treatments. About 108 thousand people of more than 140 nationalities work at Novartis around the world. Find out more at

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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
Fax: +386 1 580 24 32