Boehringer Ingelheim
11 April 2018
Sarah Pfeffer

A new challenge every day

As John Snow, the father of modern-day epidemiology observed in the 19th Century, “It is the knowledge of the way in which disease is propagated which will cause them to disappear”.

Epidemiology is a challenging, exhilarating and worthwhile field of study.  Nadine Hartmann, like other epidemiological colleagues at Boehringer Ingelheim, discovered this exciting discipline whilst working in another field.  She admits hers was not a typical career path, but she is happy to have found such a rewarding career.

Treading a Different Path


After finishing high school, Nadine was interested in the field of health, and chose to do a 4-year B.Sc. degree in physiotherapy.  It was during this time that she was introduced to the basics of research.  Three years after graduating, and having treated many patients with different diseases, Nadine decided to look for a new challenge, “I looked for a graduate program that would combine my interest in maths with my knowledge of medicine,” she explains.  “I decided to pursue a Master of Health Sciences, requiring a six-month internship, which I completed in the Global Epidemiology Department of Boehringer Ingelheim in Ingelheim”.


Nadine recalls feeling very comfortable in the team and learned a lot during that six-month period.   She continues “I decided to write my Master’s thesis in collaboration with Boehringer Ingelheim while continuing to work in the department as a student.  Through Boehringer Ingelheim, I also had the opportunity to take three summer school courses in pharmacoepidemiology at McGill University in Canada.”  After handing in her thesis she began working as a full-time employee at the Global Epidemiology team.


A New Challenge Everyday


When asked why she chose epidemiology, her reply is instant, “For me, it’s simply interesting and exciting, and there are always new challenges.  It is motivating for me that our studies help doctors and patients gain a better understanding of medical conditions and treatments.” 


No two days in epidemiology are the same.  The team is constantly confronted with new challenges and interesting assignments, depending on the life-cycle of a medication.  As a member of the Global Epidemiology team, Nadine is responsible for her own epidemiological studies, and giving advice to other parts of the organization conducting this type of study themselves. Publication review and evaluation are also part of the team’s responsibility.


Positive Impact on Patient Lives


There are 17 members of the Global Epidemiology Team, based in Ingelheim, Ridgefield in the US and Beijing.  The department primarily works on epidemiological or observational studies, addressing different kinds of scientific objectives.  The objectives of these studies include determining the long-term safety and effectiveness of a medication, describing treatment patterns in specific patient populations or characterizing patient populations themselves to gain a better understanding of them.


“We also work a lot together with other departments, which I enjoy very much“ Nadine explains, “i.e. we are part of other cross-functional teams, ensuring that the epidemiological perspective is represented. 


Nadine works in the OFEV® team,  a product which is used to treat the rare and debilitating respiratory condition, IPF (idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis).  She clearly enjoys working with this team “I am constantly impressed by how my colleagues from different departments pull together and actively cooperate to provide patients with access to this therapy.  It is rewarding to see how we are able to help and support the different stakeholders in developing a better understanding of this debilitating condition and by that hopefully improve patient management.”


A Great Place to Work


Nadine describes the Global Epidemiology team as open, inquisitive and collaborative.  She explains “We are always openly discussing new methods, epidemiological publications and guidelines, as well as our own studies, which means we can stay up-to-date and ensure we are able to achieve the best possible outcomes on the projects we work on.”


Boehringer Ingelheim is both well-known and respected within the global epidemiological community, and knowing that the company is focused on the development of innovative medications and helping patients with serious conditions is what made Nadine want to work here.  “The company is open-minded and respects its employees,” she points out, “giving us the chance to learn and develop our skills.  ”


Asked about what skills those considering a career in epidemiology should have, Nadine responds “Like in other research areas it is important to be curious, open-minded and persistent, to be willing to engage and ready to take on challenges, and of course it is essential to be interested in pharmacoepidemiology”.

"I’d say my career path wasn’t typical, but I’m very happy to have landed here, says Nadine. "
Sarah Pfeffer

Epidemiology at Boehringer Ingelheim - Changing patients’ lives with a career in epidemiology

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