I finished my PhD at Pavia & Copenhagen University in 2003 and after a couple of years working at the university as a Post Doc Fellow, I got the opportunity to join Skin Research at LEO Pharma where I work in the pre-clinical phase of drug development. As a pre-clinical research scientist my job is mostly focused on elucidating immunoinflammatory processes within disease and drug mechanisms of action, and together with my colleagues, I aim to understand the disease and the target that our drug is supposed to be raised against to. In addition to that, we need to understand how the activities in the disease and the target interact and hence, how the drug works. To this end, we identify and drive explorative and experimental initiatives to create models that replicate disease features, target biology and hence, can be used to further disease understanding and target validation.
A vital aspect of my job is to be updated on the scientific advances of relevance for disease and target understanding as well as to discuss with my colleagues the learnings acquired while working. Together we present and challenge ideas and go through project outlines and experiment outcomes. It is a team endeavor. Indeed, innovation is driven by diversity and hence acceptance and inclusion of diversity, curiosity towards each other skills and ideas and finally team challenge and support are key for a successful project. Furthermore, working as a team is also fun – so a clear win-win situation. Together with my colleagues, we support the implementation of an innovation culture that can manage the risk that comes with working with first-in-class targets projects.
The best part of my job is the exciting and challenging projects I get to be part of, and - in particular - the unknown space that I face when investigating how a certain disease develops or why a given drug works as treatment. It intrigues me to connect the dots of what we know to understand what we don’t know yet. It is like building a puzzle; it’s not easy, you are learning as you go, and you face many unresolved questions or unexpected results that disprove your initial hypothesis. However, a negative result or a disproved hypothesis are never bad things. Actually, they only teach you something new that can be used to increase your understanding.
One of the special things that keeps me at LEO Pharma is my fantastic colleagues with whom I share the passion to advance disease understanding for better tailor-made treatments. In addition, I like the journey LEO Pharma is on. When I joined, it was clear that the company had just started a transformation journey. One could tangibly feel the wish to change, the will to dare and grow. Like the pupa stage of a butterfly life cycle, many changes were ongoing to become a butterfly, but too early to understand how the butterfly will look like at the end. However, the excitement and the will to go through the transformation were driving energies that I was attracted to. That willingness has been there ever since and it is quite energizing to be part of a growing and developing company.
I can warmly recommend LEO Pharma as a place to work. People listen, you’re heard and it’s very rewarding because you feel that you have an impact on the whole company.
If I could invite any life science pioneer for dinner, I would invite Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519) – a Renaissance “knowledge man”. He mastered many disciplines and in my opinion, he had the essence of a scientist and pioneer mind because of his curiosity and capability to connect known things to generate new knowledge and hence, to progress. Mostly, he understood that all things and phenomena are indeed connected. I am sure he will inspire us in how to further pioneer in science now that modern technologies allow to explore at a molecular level.