Slovenian scientists recognized with highest Novartis scientific award

7. 10. 2010

Jeff George, Head of Sandoz, and Gerhard Schaefer, Head of Sandoz Global Product Development, recently presented the Novartis annual VIVA Awards to leading scientists within Sandoz as recognition of their outstanding and ongoing scientific achievement. Slovenian scientists have once again proven to be a key asset in the Sandoz and Novartis development network – three of this year’s five awards and title of »Leading Scientist« have been given to Dr. Simona Jevševar, Dr. Zdenko Časar and Peter Mrak of Slovenia, next to Johannes Ludescher and Johannes Raneburger of Kundl, Austria.

This is the 12th year that Novartis has presented its VIVA awards in recognition and honor of scientists that have demonstrated Vision, Innovation, Value, and Achievement in their work. The award recognizes scientists from across the Novartis Group to foster a creative environment conducive to innovation and achievement followed by reward and recognition.

Sandoz’ Lek one of the strongest development centers in Slovenia

The Development Center Slovenia is one of the key global development centers in Sandoz, carrying out about a quarter of all global development activities. Since 2002, the number of development projects has grown steadily – there are currently over 200 projects underway in various stages of development. Together with the Biopharmaceuticals Development Center in Mengeš, it creates one of the strongest pillars of the Sandoz global development network.

From 2003 to today, Novartis has invested around 900 million euros in Slovenia, nearly half of which has been in research and development. Continued investments by its owner are further proof of the importance of Slovenian talent to the Sandoz global development network.

Lek’s R&D facilities employ more than 450 associates, of whom 24% hold doctorate and more than 6% Master’s of Science degrees. The Company’s R&D activities are divided into two key areas: classical generic medicines and biosimilars development. Around 300 associates are dedicated to the development of classic generic medicines at the Sandoz Development Center Slovenia in Ljubljana and Mengeš, about 150 to biosimilars at the Biopharmaceuticals Development Center in Mengeš, and some development associates working in the field of anti-infectives.

Lek, a Sandoz company, has worked closely with Slovenian universities and research institutes in the field of research and development for many years. The Company’s global presence and perspective offers Slovenian professionals an excellent opportunity to work with state-of-the-art technologies, benefit from continuous education, as well as expand their knowledge and experience through participation in various international projects.

VIVA Awards recognize high achievements of Slovenian scientists

Dr. Simona Jevševar was awarded for her significant contribution to the establishment of Sandoz’ PEGylation platform, which prolongs the presence of protein-based medicines in the body, and decreases administration frequency. This platform was the basis for development for the recently opened PEGylation manufacturing facility (POMP) at Sandoz Biopharmaceuticals Mengeš, which is now considered a PEGylation Centre of Excellence for the whole Novartis Group.

Dr. Zdenko Časar was recognized for his work in the area of organic synthesis and design of innovative synthesis processes of final active pharmaceutical ingredient (API). His exceptional knowledge of organic chemistry together with chemical process engineering has allowed him to develop state of the art processes, that have to date resulted in 9 patent applications.

Peter Mrak received the VIVA award for his contribution to the research and development of API production processes. His work has resulted in innovative approaches in the areas of genetic engineering, biotransformation and synthetic biology, which enable new approaches to the use of modified biological systems in complex molecules synthesis. Such expertise allows Sandoz to strategically develop “difficult-to-make” API in-house in an environmental friendly and cost effective way.

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Lek is an important subsidiary of Sandoz, the second largest generics company worldwide. Its role within Sandoz is to act as: a global development center for products and technologies; a global manufacturing center for active pharmaceutical ingredients and medicines; a competence center for the development of vertically integrated products; a Sandoz competence center in the field of development and manufacturing of biosimilar products; and, a supply center for the markets of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), South East Europe (SEE) and Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), and it is responsible for sales on the Slovenian market. For further information please visit

Sandoz, a Division of the Novartis group, is a global leader in the field of generic pharmaceuticals, offering a wide array of high-quality, affordable products that are no longer protected by patents. Sandoz has a portfolio of approximately 1000 compounds and sells its products in more than 130 countries. Key product groups include antibiotics, treatments for central nervous system disorders, gastrointestinal medicines, cardiovascular treatments and hormone therapies. Sandoz develops, produces and markets these medicines along with pharmaceutical and biotechnological active substances and anti-infectives. In addition to strong organic growth in recent years, Sandoz has made a series of acquisitions including Lek (Slovenia), Sabex (Canada), Hexal (Germany), Eon Labs (US), EBEWE Pharma (Austria) and Oriel Therapeutics (US). In 2009, Sandoz employed around 23,000 people worldwide and posted sales of USD 7.5 billion. For further information please visit

Novartis provides healthcare solutions that address the evolving needs of patients and societies. Focused solely on healthcare, Novartis offers a diversified portfolio to best meet these needs: innovative medicines, cost-saving generic pharmaceuticals, preventive vaccines, diagnostic tools and consumer health products. Novartis is the only company with leading positions in these areas. In 2009, the Group’s continuing operations achieved net sales of USD 44.3 billion, while approximately USD 7.5 billion was invested in R&D activities throughout the Group. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis Group companies employ approximately 100,000 full-time-equivalent associates and operate in more than 140 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 further information contact:

Katarina Klemenc Dinjaški

Corporate Communications

Lek Pharmaceuticals d.d.

Phone: + 386 1 580 22 43

Fax: + 386 1 580 24 32