The scientist that spearheaded the development of Novartis' chronic myeloid leukaemia drug Glivec (imatinib), Alex Matter, is to direct the Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases (NITD) in Singapore.
Dr Matter retires this month as worldwide head of Novartis' oncology research and also as head of the Novartis Institute for Biomedical Research in Basel, Switzerland, a post he has held for the past 15 months.
In the late 1990s, after more than a decade of research focused on the role of kinases in cancer, he led the team that discovered Glivec, the first Bcr-Abl inhibitor to reach the market.
Novartis and the Singapore government set up the NITD two years ago to discover novel methods of treating and preventing major tropical diseases, focusing initially on dengue fever and drug-resistant tuberculosis which together affect more than 200 million people every year.
The company intends to make treatments discovered at NITD readily available on a non-profit basis in countries where tropical diseases are endemic.
Dr Matter is replaced in this position by Dr Alexander Kamb, the founder of US biotechnology firm Arcaris and a member of the research team at Myriad Genetics that identified the involvement of the BRCA1 gene in breast cancer.