John Tsai, M.D.

Head of Global Drug Development and Chief Medical Officer for Novartis since 2018

John Tsai, M.D.

Head of Global Drug Development and Chief Medical Officer for Novartis since 2018

As Head of Global Drug Development and Chief Medical Officer for Novartis, John Tsai is responsible for one of the strongest pipelines in the industry, with more than 160 projects in clinical development and over 500 ongoing clinical trials targeting around 50 diseases.

Since taking up his role in 2018, John has led the US approval of more than 10 new medicines and multiple approvals in other markets, including several based on advanced therapeutic platforms such as cell and gene therapy. Momentum is continuing to build, with dozens more submissions planned in the upcoming years. John is particularly focused on the Novartis mid-stage portfolio, which contains a number of compounds that have the potential to bring transformational benefits to patients with serious diseases.

Making a meaningful difference to people’s lives is what originally inspired me to study medicine, and the potential to make an impact on healthcare at scale led to my passion for drug development. I’m honored to lead a dedicated and pioneering team with so much potential to transform patients’ lives, and I can’t wait to see how we progress in delivering our next wave of innovation.

John draws on more than two decades of experience in the pharmaceutical industry. He trained as an electrical engineer before qualifying as a physician, giving him a unique combination of skills. He is passionate about the potential to apply technologies such as artificial intelligence and data science to the challenge of developing new medicines, and has led a number of initiatives to simplify and streamline the Novartis drug development engine.

Born in Taiwan and fluent in Mandarin, John grew up in the US and has lived in Europe with his family for five of the last eight years. Having exposure to diverse cultures has enabled him to understand and provide different perspectives on drug development. This experience, combined with a natural curiosity, underlies his quest to develop cutting-edge, life-changing medicines.

Nationality: American | Year of birth: 1967

Professional experience

  • Chief medical officer and senior vice president of Global Medical, Amgen Inc., US (2017–2018)
  • Global head of clinical development for marketed products, Bristol-Meyers Squibb Co. (BMS), US (2016–2017)
  • Full development team leader in oncology, BMS, US (2015–2016)
  • Head of Worldwide Medical, BMS, US (2014–2015)
  • Chief medical officer for Europe, BMS, France (2012–2014)
  • Vice president of US Medical, BMS, US (2010–2012)
  • Vice president of Cardiovascular Medical, BMS, US (2006–2010)


  • Doctor of medicine, University of Louisville School of Medicine, US
  • Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering, Washington University in St. Louis, US

Information is accurate as of Dec 31, 2020