Slovenian scientists once again honored with Novartis awards for outstanding achievements in research and development

  • Novartis has announced the winners of this year’s scientific awards bestowed to scientists from Novartis and Sandoz development centers for their outstanding achievements in research and development (R & D Awards).
  • Slovenian scientists from Novartis development centers in Slovenia were among the award recipients also this year.
  • The awards received reaffirmed the key role of Slovenian scientists within Novartis and Sandoz research and development network and are an important recognition for Slovenian science.
2. 9. 2020

Slovenian scientists have once again proven that they are among the best Novartis associates in the world. The scientific awards that Novartis has been bestowing for more than 20 years, are designed to recognize pioneering individuals and teams, paving new ways in pharmacy. This year, the individual Leading Scientist Award was presented to Biljana Janković, PhD, Head of the IVIVC Team from the Development Center Slovenia, and Drago Kuzman, PhD, Head of Development Process Innovations at Biologics Development Mengeš. The team Leading Scientist Award was presented to Rok Grahek, PhD, Andrej Kocijan, PhD, and Nejc Golob MSc, from the Analytical Research Department at Development Center Slovenia. 

Biljana Janković received the Novartis Leading Scientist Award for her exceptional contribution to the development of more than 10 prototypes, 15 dossier submissions and more than 10 new product launches. In addition, she pioneered scientific excellence also as scientific lead, rolling out four research areas resulting in 14 formed scientific incubators. 

“The Novartis Leading Scientist Award is a professional recognition by the parent institution and is a confirmation that I am on the right path to continue my career growth. The award is bestowed on the highest level of Novartis. This paid off for all the effort and time I dedicate to – for me – the most attractive mission of drug development – to be a scientist. The award gives me a great incentive for further work and motivation to share the knowledge and approaches with my team and associates at Pharmaceutical Development at Development Center Slovenia,” said Biljana Janković. 

The Novartis award was presented also to Drago Kuzman, an interdisciplinary scientist who has successfully leveraged his profound knowledge of physics and pre-clinical medicine, bioinformatics and data science that allowed him to introduce novel paradigms, novel techniques and new approaches into several aspects of biologics technical development. He has successful introduced into practice a number of new concepts, including prediction of biologics shelf-life and interferometry with biolayers as a surrogate method for bioassays and pre-formulation platform for biosimilars.

“The recognition received is one more proof that Biosimilars Technical Development has the right team, innovation culture and outstanding conditions provided to us by our future-oriented leadership headed by Prof Uroš Urleb, PhD,« says Drago Kuzman adding: »In addition to research into new ways of treatment, the pharmaceutical industry is  strongly turning to digitization, the use of artificial intelligence, process automation driven by real-time sensors, etc. This shows that pharmacy is becoming an increasingly interdisciplinary field that will become even more interesting for attracting engineering talents. With the expansion of this field, however, the cooperation with academia will be now even more important.

Rok Grahek, Andrej Kocijan and Nejc Golob received the Novartis Scientific Award for their breakthrough contribution to detecting root causes of the presence of nitrosamines in medicines. Their discovery is significant not only for Sandoz but for the pharmaceutical industry in general. They stressed: "We are honored that Novartis has recognized our achievements. The award is a motivation to continue our scientific research work that contributes to achieving the company’s goals and the science community as a whole. We are all very enthusiastic about our work and inspired by the fact that additional effort can lead us to results that have an impact on the entire pharmaceutical industry. We are honored to receive recognition that emphasizes the dedication and professionalism of our team."

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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 eight years, the company has created more than 2,700 jobs, making us one of the biggest employers in Slovenia. Novartis invested in Slovenia more than EUR 2.5 billion since 2003. 

About Sandoz
Sandoz, a Novartis division, is a global leader in generic pharmaceuticals and biosimilars. Our purpose is to pioneer access for patients by developing and commercializing novel, affordable approaches that address unmet medical needs. Our ambition is to be the world’s leading and most valued generics company. Our broad portfolio of high-quality medicines, covering all major therapeutic areas, accounted for 2019 sales of USD 9.7 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 800 million people globally and we are finding innovative ways to expand access to our latest treatments. About 109,000 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