Sitting down with… Catherine Emond, Novartis  

Immunity

Catherine Emond is the Head of Immunology and Neuroscience at Novartis UK. She is responsible for driving long-term strategies that can help change the lives of people with challenging immunological and neurological conditions. With over two decades of leadership experience, Emond is known for her broad brand lifecycle management achievements and for always maintaining a patient centric focus.  

Lu Rahman (Editor of DDW): What are some of the highlights for you in terms of Novartis’ work in immunology this year?

CE: It has been a positive year, with a deep focus on prioritising often-ignored conditions, like hidradenitis suppurativa (HS), to better serve those with few, or inadequate, options. HS is a painful, chronic, and progressive inflammatory skin disease with over 50% of people reporting a mental health impact.1,2 We have made it a priority to better understand the lives of people affected by HS, through publications like The Burden of Hidradenitis Suppurativa on Patients, the NHS and Society, which launched earlier this year, and was created in partnership with leading healthcare professionals. This focus has ensured patients are front and centre of our work. The launch of this research paper has fuelled our sense of purpose, as it ensures our colleagues understand the hard work they are doing to improve the lives of patients.  

LR: The European Academy of Dermatology and Venerology (EADV) 2023 was held recently – what were some of the highlights for Novartis?

CE: Annually, EADV is a highlight for industry as it is a time where the scientific community comes together to hear about the latest advancements and innovations in immunology treatments. Each year, I am inspired by the commitment the community has in striving for better care for those living with dermatological conditions. This year, Novartis hosted a symposium entitled: ‘Reimagining Immunology: Discovering new horizons in hidradenitis suppurativa’. This was a highly anticipated event, with Dr John Ingram, Clinical Reader and Consultant Dermatologist, Cardiff, participating on the panel, and attended by many dermatologists from across Europe. The aim of the Symposium was to emphasise the burden of this debilitating disease, specifically to highlight the lived experience of those affected. The panel also focused on contextualising the role of new and emerging therapies in HS from a clinical and patient perspective. It was a great continuation of our work at the UK-based British Association of Dermatology (BAD) 2023 conference where Novartis hosted another symposium on the management of HS, which was attended at maximum capacity, showing the excitement and renewed interest for innovative therapeutic options in this disease area.

LR: What is Novartis’ heritage in the development of medicines for immunological conditions?

CE: Immunological conditions collectively affect a large proportion of the UK’s population and one in 10 people are affected.3 Novartis envisions a world in which people living with these conditions shouldn’t have to go without sleep, sacrifice intimacy or feel like they’re missing out on their own life because of their symptoms. 

Over the last decade, our medicines have helped more than 1 million people worldwide living with immunological skin and joint diseases and other autoinflammatory diseases. We want to continue to build on this expertise in immunology and prioritise areas of high unmet need where there are few or inadequate options.   

LR: Where do you see the future for Novartis in the immunology space?

CE: Novartis is now concentrated on four core therapeutic areas: Immunology, Neuroscience, Cardiovascular, and Oncology. This focus provides the teams working in Immunology at Novartis to take a fresh approach in how we can change the lives of people living with immunological conditions.  

What drives my enthusiasm with this is knowing that our common goal is to create a world where people with immunological conditions, and those who treat them, can live without limitations. At Novartis we have a legacy of imagining new possibilities and translating them to medicines. I am proud to work for an organisation that creates and delivers medicines in immunology that can help to improve the lives of people living with challenging diseases.  

References 

  1. MedLine Plus. Hidradenitis suppurativa [online]. Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/condition/hidradenitis-suppurativa/ [Last accessed: October 2023].
  2. OHE. The Burden of Hidradenitis Suppurativa on Patients, the NHS and Society [online]. Available at: https://www.ohe.org/publications/burden-hidradenitissuppurativa- recommendations [Last accessed: October 2023].
  3. The Lancet. Incidence, prevalence, and co-occurance of autoimmune disorders ovr time and by age, sex, and socioeconomic status: a population-based cohort study of 22 million individucals in the UK. Available at: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(23)00457-9/fulltext [last accessed October 2023].

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