In an industry often vilified for putting profits before patients, Daniel Vasella, chairman and chief executive officer of Novartis, the $40 billion pharmaceutical company headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, sits in a special spotlight. A physician grounded in science and clinical practice, Vasella is determined to put medical advancement before short-term shareholder returns. Rather than following the more traditional model of channeling R&D budgets into searches for new blockbuster drugs, he focuses instead on drugs that will treat patients with rarer ailments. If those drugs later prove to cure other diseases as well, thereby enlarging their commercial footprint, then so much the better. But potential market size is not what drives him, he says; using science to improve the lives of patients is.