Edwards Lifesciences CEO Mussallem retiring after 22 years, to be replaced by VP of heart valve repair segment

After serving as Edwards Lifesciences’ chairman and chief executive since its 2000 spinout from Baxter International, Michael Mussallem is stepping down.

The longtime CEO has informed the devicemaker’s board of his decision to retire from the top job, Edwards announced Thursday. His departure will take place alongside the company’s annual stockholder meeting on May 11, 2023.

But Mussallem isn’t quite done with Edwards: At the May meeting, he’ll put himself up for election as non-executive chairman of the board.

“It has been a special honor and privilege to lead our team at Edwards Lifesciences for more than 20 years in their immense contributions to helping and advancing care for millions of patients around the world,” Mussallem said in the announcement.

“I am particularly proud of the ‘patients-first’ culture that is embodied by our employees and the commitment to innovation and excellence that our global teams demonstrate,” he continued. “Our success to date is a testament to our talented executive leadership and passionate global team, and we are well positioned for an even brighter future.”

Edwards has already identified Mussallem’s successor. Stepping into his shoes next May will be Bernard Zovighian, who’s currently corporate vice president and general manager of Edwards’ transcatheter mitral and tricuspid therapies business.

In the meantime, as of Jan. 1, Zovighian will become president of Edwards as he works with Mussallem and the rest of the company’s leaders to ensure a smooth transition of power.

“I am excited to have the opportunity to partner with our people around the world to build upon Edwards’ patient-focused culture and innovation strategy,” he said in the announcement. “Edwards has contributed over the last six decades to the advancement of treatments for structural heart disease and critical care patients, and our robust pipeline of technologies will enable us to help even more patients in the future.”

The incoming CEO joined Edwards at the start of 2015, when he was tapped to lead its surgical structural heart division as a VP and general manager. A year later, he was named corporate VP of the division, a move that brought him onto Edwards’ executive leadership team. He assumed his current role heading up the transcatheter heart valve repair segment in 2018.

Before his time at Edwards, Zovighian spent the better part of two decades at Johnson & Johnson. That tenure began with nearly 12 years at then-subsidiary Cordis, including a stint as the manager of its entire cardiovascular business in France, and was followed by another four and a half years as president of J&J’s medical device businesses in Canada.

He’ll be replaced at the helm of Edwards’ transcatheter mitral and tricuspid therapies business on Jan. 1 by Daveen Chopra, who currently leads the surgical structural heart division. Chopra’s vacated role, in turn, will be taken on by Larry Wood, currently the general manager of Edwards’ transcatheter aortic valve replacement business, who will lead both divisions as group president of TAVR and surgical structural heart.