Coming Full Circle: From Curiosity About Life on Earth to Transformative Therapies at Novartis

A Journey from Curiosity About Life on Earth to Transformative Therapies at Novartis

When I was young, my fascination with science began with the natural world and animals. A BBC Nature presenter and biologist, David Attenborough, was a significant idol of mine in the UK. Around the age of ten, I discovered his book “Life on Earth,” which deepened my interest in science. My dream was to be his field assistant, marking my first scientific ambition.

A memorable moment in my life was when I bumped into David Attenborough on a British Airways flight during a work trip. I felt like an awestruck teenager as I approached him and said, “You’re my inspiration to be a scientist.” He graciously replied, “Oh, well thank you,” while storing his carry-on luggage in the overhead locker. His kindness made me feel as if my journey had come full circle.

With this budding interest in science, I began to consider how I could turn it into a career. I initially gained work experience in a veterinary practice. While I enjoyed being around animals, it led me to think more about working with people. I wondered if there was a way to help people through exciting science and change the course of their illnesses.

Moving into Industry

I decided to become a physician. After training as a doctor and working in the British National Health Service for ten years, I sought to broaden my horizons and moved into the industry about seven years ago. Four years ago, a Novartis recruiter contacted me about a position focusing on gene therapies. Gene therapy, at the forefront of new scientific areas, intrigued me. This led to my current role as a Translational Medicine Expert at Novartis Gene Therapies and later at Biomedical Research. I translate data from bench scientists into a human context, incorporating patient and expert insights, to design clinical trials that determine whether we have developed new, safe, and effective therapies. I find profound meaning in this process, as it transforms scientific discoveries into life-changing medicines.

Collaboration: A Real Strength

At Novartis, we collaborate globally, which I believe is a significant strength. Our teamwork resembles a relay race, where we can hand off projects to colleagues in different time zones, allowing continuous progress. This global collaboration fosters diversity of thought, crucial for finding the best solutions and avoiding catastrophic mistakes that can occur when everyone thinks the same way.

Our high-performing Translational Medicine team consists of experienced physicians with significant careers before joining Novartis. They bring a wealth of life experience, career insights, and scientific knowledge, making them inspiring colleagues from whom I learn and grow.

The science at Novartis is remarkable, with deep expertise and understanding among our scientists. It’s a luxury to work with so many talented, dedicated, and knowledgeable individuals across various functions. Together, we strive to develop new medicines that have the potential to change people’s lives.

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