Slovenian researchers awarded for their outstanding scientific achievements

  • Associates from the Sandoz Development Center Slovenia and Drug Product Development Mengeš have received nine Sandoz awards for research and development. 
  • Slovenian researchers have been awarded in categories Scientific Excellence, Innovator of the Year, Leader of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Operational Excellence, Best Poster and Time Challenge.
  • The annual selection of the most prestigious Sandoz and Novartis scientific awards awarded to Slovenian scientist proves that in Slovenia we have superior knowledge and excellent cooperation between the economy and the academic sphere.
22. 11. 2019

Sandoz, a Novartis division and a leading global company in generics and biosimilars, presents annual awards to their associates for outstanding achievements in research and development. Among this year’s winners, Slovenian researchers from the Sandoz Development Center (SDC) Slovenia and DPD Mengeš dominated once again, receiving a total of nine Sandoz awards that were bestowed in ten categories.

With the Scientific Excellence Award, Sandoz annually recognizes the best scientists with many years of outstanding achievements in development and research. This year, both awards went to Slovenian scientists, Barbara Podobnik, PhD from the Drug Product Development Mengeš and Biljana Janković, PhD from the Development Center Slovenia.

  • Barbara Podobnik, PhD is an accomplished scientist with solutions-oriented mind-set. She contributes importantly to early biosimilar development with scientific lead, challenge& advice. She demonstrated effective work on the interfaces between technical, analytical and pre-clinical development, and made important contribution to knowledge sharing between functions. She has a leading role in the cross-divisional Sandoz-Novartis initiatives on improved biologics
  • Biljana Janković, PhD showed great scientific curiosity and passionate commitment in the field of Pharmaceutical Sciences as well as in Generic Drug Development. She is an accomplished scientist that provides great ideas and delivers innovative solutions. She showed tremendous achievements, starting with building models from process parameters to simulate product robustness and ending up in 12 scientific incubators to address future challenges. She fosters great collaboration with other Novartis units and external partners and is a mentor to several PhD students.

The winner of this year’s Innovator of the Year Award was Polona Smrdel, PhD. She received the award for her outstanding contribution to the SDC Slovenia community. Kaja Gantar, also an associate from the SDC Slovenia who joined the team from the Faculty of Pharmacy in Ljubljana, became the Rookie of the Year.

Luka Peternel, PhD, who took on the role of Head Pharmaceutical development in Sandoz Development Center Slovenia in the middle of 2017, received the Leader of the Year Award. He convinced the panel with his attitude and by leading people honestly and with a passion for promoting their development and excellent leadership in strategic initiatives.

The Operation Excellence Award went to Andrej Preželj, PhD, who created multiple automation and reporting tools using smart and innovative approaches leveraging available resources.

For their knowledge and skills, the Slovenian researchers from Lek were awarded also in the category the Best Poster, where they received two awards, namely for Rosuvastatin FCT: The first QCE certificate and multinational company tender, and for LinComplex: From the Development to Launch in Two Years. 

Sandoz awards its associates for their innovation also with the Time Challenge Award. This year’s winner in the Automation category was Ana Krese. PhD and the team. By using the ELWIS web application, the winning team reduced the analysis preparation time with regard to manually created tasks, by 200 days.

The number of Slovenian researchers among Sandoz winners proves that Lek plays an important role, both as a leading development center within Sandoz, and as one of the key development sites for technologically demanding projects and biosimilars. Every year, Lek researchers achieve remarkable and sustainable scientific and business results, of which the company is extremely proud. At the same time, this is also a great reflection of the exceptional collaboration of the Slovenian economy with the academic sphere, since scientific achievements are always the result of cooperation.  

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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. Over the last seven years, the company has created more than 2,250 jobs, making us one of the biggest employers in Slovenia. Novartis invested in Slovenia more than EUR 2.3 billion since 2003. 

About Sandoz
Sandoz, a Novartis division, is a global leader in generic pharmaceuticals and biosimilars. Our purpose is to pioneer access to healthcare by developing and commercializing novel, affordable approaches that address unmet medical need. Our broad portfolio of high-quality medicines, covering all major therapeutic areas and increasingly focused on value-adding differentiated medicines, accounted for 2018 sales of USD 9.9 billion. Sandoz is headquartered in Holzkirchen, in Germany’s Greater Munich area.

Sandoz is on Twitter. Sign up to follow @SandozGlobal at

About Novartis
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