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Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen appointed as new CEO of the Novo Nordisk Foundation

Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen, Executive Vice President, Head of R&D and Chief Scientific Officer at Novo Nordisk A/S, will take up the position as CEO of the Novo Nordisk Foundation effective from 1 March 2021. He will replace Birgitte Nauntofte, who has been the Foundation’s CEO since 2009.

“Mads is one of the most competent and committed persons I know, and I am extremely happy that he has agreed to take on the important task of leading the activities of the Foundation in the years to come,” says Lars Rebien Sørensen, Chairman of the Novo Nordisk Foundation.

With the assistance of an international headhunting firm, the Novo Nordisk Foundation has spent more than six months in its search for a new CEO. More than 100 qualified candidates have been screened before the Board of Directors decided to offer Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen the position.

“For many years, I have been following the incredible development of the Novo Nordisk Foundation at close range, and it is both with a sense of enthusiasm and humility that I now take over the reins after Birgitte,” Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen notes. “Today, the Novo Nordisk Foundation is among the three biggest foundations in the world, and over the last couple of years it has built a highly experienced and competent organization, which I look forward to working with. The ambition is to support even more initiatives and projects that benefit people and society.”

The Novo Nordisk Foundation has been undergoing a significant development over the last ten years. When Birgitte Nauntofte was appointed as its CEO in 2009, the Foundation had three employees and awarded approximately DKK 200 million in grants each year. By the end of 2020, the organization had expanded to 211 employees, and approximately DKK 5.5 billion had been awarded in grants that year.

“I would like to thank Birgitte for her incredible effort in building up the Foundation from a small organization with a limited number of grants to becoming one of the world’s largest and most professional foundations. It has been an incredible journey with Birgitte at the helm,” says Lars Rebien Sørensen. “We will of course continue to draw on her experience and expertise in connection with various activities.”

The initial preparations for the change in leadership were made back in the beginning of 2020, when Lars Rebien Sørensen and Birgitte Nauntofte agreed that the time was right to start searching for the Novo Nordisk Foundation’s next CEO. After 12 years at the helm, Birgitte Nauntofte wanted to be able to devote the last part of her professional career to other tasks. In addition to this, the Foundation is currently in a development phase where a change in leadership would be natural, before the work of preparing the Foundation’s next five-year strategy period begins.

To ensure a smooth transition and thorough handover to Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen, Birgitte Nauntofte will stay with the Foundation until the end of March. After this, she will continue to be available to the management for a period of time. In addition to this, she has been appointed as board member of both LIFE and BII, which the Novo Nordisk Foundation established as independent foundations in December 2020.

“It is of course hard to say goodbye to the Novo Nordisk Foundation and to all my competent colleagues after all these years, but I am very glad to be able to hand over the reins to Mads, who I have known for many years,” says Birgitte Nauntofte. “I am equally pleased that I can maintain a connection with the Foundation as a member of the boards of BII and LIFE. Both of these foundations will in the coming years be able to make significant contributions for the benefit of society.”

Further information

Christian Mostrup, Senior Programme Lead, Communications, phone: +45 3067 4805, [email protected]

Steffen Pierini Lüders, Senior Vice President, Communications, [email protected]

Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen, [1960], Started as a PhD student at the University of Copenhagen, after which he worked three years as a researcher at LEO Pharma. Thirty years ago, he joined Novo Nordisk, initially as Head of Growth Hormone Research and subsequently as Senior Vice President of Diabetes R&D. In 1995, he was appointed Senior Vice President of Discovery and in 2000, he became Executive Vice President of Research & Development/Chief Scientific Officer. Over the years, he has headed the development of 20 medical drugs. Originally, he is a trained veterinarian and holds a DSc. He has served as President of the Danish Academy of Technical Sciences and Chairman of the Board of the University of Copenhagen, where he is also an adjunct professor of Pharmacology.

Birgitte Nauntofte, [1958], CEO of the Novo Nordisk Foundation since 2009. Between 2000 and 2009, she was a professor at the University of Copenhagen and Vice Dean at the Faculty of Health Sciences. She is a trained orthodontist since 1982 and holds a PhD and a DDS from the University of Copenhagen. She has been Vice Chair of the board of the Steno Diabetes Center, Chair of the board of the Kennedy Center and member of the board of the Danish Pharmaceutical University. In addition to this, she has served as a member of the Committee on Foundation Governance, of KL’s Bankråd (Local Government Denmark), of the Danish Council for Research and Innovation Policy and of the Danish Council for Independent Research – Medical Sciences.

LIFE was established in 2018 by the Novo Nordisk Foundation. Its aim is to strengthen public knowledge as well as education and research activities in relation to natural science. Special focus is on boosting the motivation and fascination of Danish children and young people for natural science. LIFE develops and provides enquiry-based thematic teaching courses for primary and secondary schools.

BioInnovation Institute (BII) was established in 2017 by the Novo Nordisk Foundation. The most ambitious initiative of its kind, its aim is to promote research, innovation and entrepreneurship within biotechnology and life science. More than 85 research projects and start-ups from Denmark and the other Nordic countries have received support through BII for the development of new life science innovations and solutions within pharma, bioindustry and health technology.