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MIT, Novartis schedule April 29 symposium

The Ciba-Geigy professorships, established in 1989 by the Swiss health care and pharmaceutical firm, will be officially renamed the Novartis professorships on April 29 when Novartis AG executives and researchers visit MIT for a symposium on research.

Novartis was formed last December when Ciba-Geigy merged with Sandoz, another Swiss firm. Novartis is derived from the Latin novae artes, or "new skills." The new company concentrates on healthcare, agribusiness and nutrition.

The current Ciba-Geigy chair holders and Dean of Science Robert J. Birgeneau will conduct a two-hour symposium with Novartis officials from Switzerland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina and California at 4pm on Tuesday, April 29 in Rm 6-120. The symposium is open to the MIT community.

"It is an honor to have such a distinguished group of scientists and corporate executives from Novartis coming to MIT," Dean Birgeneau said. "It will provide us with an opportunity to forge close bonds between this great new pharmaceutical company and MIT."

Professor Joanne Stubbe, a biochemist, and Professor David E. Housman, a molecular biologist, were appointed to the chairs last May. Professor Stubbe holds joint appointments in the Departments of Chemistry and Biology. Professor Housman is affiliated with the Department of Biology and the Center for Cancer Research. They will discuss their research projects at the symposium.

Professor Housman will be introduced by Professor Richard O. Hynes, director of the Center for Cancer Research, who will discuss the Center's mission and accomplishments. Professor Stubbe will be introduced by Professor Stephen J. Lippard, head of the chemistry department, who will give an overview of his department's projects.

Dr. Francois L'Eplatteniuer, chairman of the Novartis Venture Fund, will discuss the transition from Ciba-Geigy to Novartis. Dr. Joerg Staehli, chief officer of the Science Boards of Novartis International, will talk about the central role science and technology play at the newly formed company. Novartis has budgeted 3.5 billion Swiss francs ($2.45 billion) for research.

A chemical engineer and expert in organizational behavior, Dr. Staehli joined Sandoz in 1965 and headed the Department of Technology Planning and Transfer from 1990-96. At Novartis, he is responsible for monitoring research projects and coordinating the use of knowledge among the firm's various entities.

Novartis AG is based in Basel, Switzerland, and employs about 100,000 worldwide, generating sales of about $22 billion. Novartis Corp., with headquarters in Summit, NJ, employs 35,000 in the United States and accounts for about 35 percent of the company's worldwide sales.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on April 16, 1997.

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