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Biotech bound, Liz Barrett passes Novartis’ top oncology job to Susanne Schaffert

Liz Barrett

Novartis’ insistence on centralizing top execs in its Swiss headquarters has cost the pharma giant a key leader: Liz Barrett has put in her notice just 10 months after taking on the oncology chief role.

“After much personal reflection, it became clear that my family would be unable to relocate to Basel where the oncology headquarters is based,” Barrett said in a statement.

Susanne Schaffert

Susanne Schaffert, president of Novartis subsidiary Advanced Accelerator Applications, is replacing Barrett as CEO of the oncology business unit. A 20-plus-year veteran of the company’s sales and marketing force, Schaffert has spent much of her time growing the oncology business, overseeing the integration of GSK’s oncology portfolio and most recently helping launch AAA’s Lutathera.

Schaffert fills a crucial position previously occupied (for three years) by Bruno Strigini at a time Novartis is looking to grow sales for its pioneering CAR-T therapy while battling manufacturing issues and going all in on radiopharmaceuticals.

Meanwhile we will keep our eyes peeled on which US-based biotech has scooped Barrett as its CEO, a move she mentioned in a press release.

Endpoints asked Liz Barrett abut her plans on LinkedIn. Her response:

I’m sorry but I can’t say just yet. It will be announced after the New Year. Happy Holidays.

A J&J veteran, Barrett joined Pfizer in 2009 and was global president of oncology during a period Pfizer notched several approvals for potential blockbuster cancer drugs.

Barrett “made a significant positive impact on the organization in a relatively short time and I wish her the very best in her future endeavors,” Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan said in the farewell statement. “As testament to our pipeline of talent, I am delighted that Susanne Schaffert, current president of AAA and a long-time oncology and Novartis executive, has accepted the role of CEO, oncology. […] She has our full support and confidence as we continue to invest in both our internal pipeline as well as external assets to strengthen our presence.”


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Research Scientist - Immunology
Recursion Pharmaceuticals Salt Lake City, UT
Director of Operations
Atlas Venture Cambridge, MA

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