Novartis has been busy selling off its stake in Roche but quietly this month also got a little extra from its fellow Swiss native after nabbing Bob Baloh, M.D., Ph.D., to run its growing neuroscience division.
Baloh joins the company as Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research’s (NIBR’s) global head of the neuroscience disease area. He comes from a similar position at Roche, where he served as vice president and global head of research in neuroscience and rare diseases in the Pharmaceutical Research and Early Development division.
He had a relatively short stint at Roche—just a year—but spent nearly a decade before that at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in California as a renowned neurodegeneration and peripheral nervous system disease expert as well as a passionate physician-scientist.
Novartis also tells me he is a talented surfer, and that skill will be needed to ride the choppy waves of neuro that have caused so many to wipe out.
He comes amid a loss of neuro talent from the Big Pharma, and takes over from Gopi Shanker, Ph.D., who had been the NIBR’s head of neuroscience before leaving in May for a transfer-RNA-based gene therapy startup.
At Novartis, Baloh will help work on a host of diseases and disorders in a field beset with setbacks for the industry but containing some of human biology’s biggest unsolved problems.
Novartis is currently working on new therapies for spinal muscular atrophy, Rett syndrome, autism spectrum disorders, intellectual disabilities and epileptic encephalopathies as well as bipolar disorder, depression, substance use disorders and schizophrenia.
It’s also got its eyes on Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, frontotemporal dementia and several rare monogenic diseases along with multiple sclerosis.
by Ben Adams
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