As a young boy, Emanuele’s father,
a surgeon, took him to the hospital
regularly. Emanuele knew all the
nurses by name. He also worked
in his dad’s private practice. “My
dad never turned anyone away,”
said Emanuele. Even on vacation,
he remembers acting as nurse
on their sailboat helping a fellow
boater who was in trouble. He followed him on house visits and saw
in his father a man who did anything necessary to help patients.
This was a conundrum for the
young boy. He too wanted to help
patients but was wary of becoming
overwhelmed by the responsibility. At Georgetown in a pre-med
program, he was volunteering in
the neurology department where
he saw patients not progressing.
He thought that maybe by going
into research he could help people
for whom there was currently no
help. At Harvard he got a PhD in
chemistry and collaborated with
researchers at Harvard Medical
School and MIT, developing new
material surfaces and approaches
to controlling single cells.
The technology was interesting
and he joined a startup that would
commercialize it. He loved understanding the science and soon
realized he was also fascinated by
taking a product to market. This
was the test of whether your discoveries really made a difference.
To get a grounding in business
and strategy, he spent four years
at McKinsey. “They had the guts,”
Emanuele said, “to take people
with PhDs and teach them the
basics of business and send them
out working with clients.” It was
like getting an MBA through real-world experience.
Eventually, wanting a more hands-on impact, he went back to Boston
and became VP of Business Development at Nano Terra, another
startup. While there, he started
a biotech, Enumeral Biomedical
Holdings, with a former colleague
who became a professor at MIT.
But there was still a bigger picture
he wanted to see, the process from
discovery through manufacturing, approval, sales and marketing.
So he started talking to Sandoz,
a generics company. Against the
advice of colleagues and friends,
he was convinced that it was the
right business for him to join.
The cycle times were fast, so he
could see very quickly how products were developed and sold. He
oversaw many launches globally
and learned how to run branded
and generic pharmaceuticals busi-nesses as Head of Specialty and
Hospital Franchises and Head of
Business Unit Rx and Regional
Alliance Manager. He worked in
Eastern Europe, managing growth
and expansion strategies in the
backdrop of highly volatile markets – important skills for what
was to come.
DREAM COME TRUE
That’s when the opportunity with
CAR-T arose. It was a dream come
true role for Emanuele when he
joined Novartis in 2017. He had
been watching the area develop
from a distance and was amazed
by the impact the therapies were
delivering to patients. He moved
Great Advice From Great Minds:
Novartis Oncology Head:
from Medicine to Management
Emanuele Ostuni, currently Novartis Head of Cell and Gene Therapy in Europe, has
seen patients up close since he was a boy in southern Italy. He is now living his dream
job helping patients as Europe Head, Cell and Gene Therapy at Novartis Oncology.
The interview, by Jill Donahue