09/14/2011 01:46 EDT | Updated 01/12/2012 02:17 EST

Mundel to head Gates Foundation's global health program, was exec with Novartis Pharma AG

SEATTLE - The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has picked an executive with pharmaceutical company Novartis Pharma AG to be president of its global health program.

The foundation said Tuesday that Dr. Trevor Mundel starts his new job Dec. 1. He succeeds Tadataka "Tachi" Yamada, who left the foundation in June after five years as head of the global health program.

In a statement, foundation CEO Jeff Raikes said Mundel's "deep understanding of the complexities, challenges and opportunities to improve global health made him a prime match" for the post.

Mundel will lead the foundation's efforts to develop and deliver drugs, vaccines and other tools to fight developing world diseases.

He has been a senior executive and scientist with Novartis since 2003, serving most recently as global head of development.