A blog post by Lara J. Wolfson, Executive Director, Biostatistics and Research Decision Sciences (BARDS) : Everyday Inspiration at Work

«I’m inspired tremendously by the rapid development and growth of Health Technology Assessment systems around the world, but particularly in Europe, trying to ensure the best possible options for patients.»

Lara J. Wolfson, Executive Director, Biostatistics and Research Decision Sciences (BARDS)

I’m the kind of person who likes to be inspired. I’m very fortunate that the work I do, and the people I work with, inspire me every day!

Our company’s mission is saving and improving lives; to that end, we design and implement clinical trials to demonstrate that medicines and vaccines can obtain regulatory approval, passing the first three hurdles - safety, efficacy, and quality. I lead a team of statisticians that re-analyze that same data for the purpose of Health Technology Assessment (HTA), so that these same medicines and vaccines can achieve reimbursement (the “4th hurdle”) at the local level. We quantify the safety and efficacy of our products compared to local standards of care – so the (complex!) analytic needs of HTA vary considerably across countries. I’m inspired tremendously by the rapid development and growth of HTA systems around the world, but particularly in Europe, trying to ensure the best possible options for patients.

I’m inspired by the decision of our company to open an MSD Hub in Zurich, focused on accelerating the development and commercialization of many of our medicines and vaccines – and thrilled that I was approached in 2019 to be part of the founding team for this Hub, and the opportunity to be part of a transformational re-design of how we work.

In late January 2020, I took a business trip (little did I know this would be my last for a while!) to London and Brussels to let our BARDS teams there know about the growth we were about to undergo (tripling the size of our European-based HTA Statistics and Statistical Programming teams) and our expansion to Zurich. I’m inspired by how the teams came together to work with the Zurich project management team to launch an incredible recruiting effort – and then how we all pivoted together – like countless other teams – to take an entirely different virtual approach with the challenges of COVID-19.

I’m inspired by the resiliency of my family – my husband and now 7 year old twin sons – at taking on not only the challenge of an international relocation, but managing all the uncertainties introduced by the COVID pandemic. Despite the 4 month delay in our move, we’re all happing settled in our “new normal” in Zurich.

I’m inspired by the accomplishments of my team - we’ve virtually recruited and onboarded more than 50 new members! While we’ve had to be creative with virtual team-buildings to get to know each other within and across our sites, we’ve had a lot of fun along the way (COVID Secret Santa, online games of Hangman, escape rooms and more…!)

I’m inspired by our MSD journey to collaboratively design our future new Zurich office at “The Circle”, and the transformation in thinking about how to work differently; we are using the opportunity of having changed our ways of working due to COVID to reimagine what our future office design and dynamics will be.

I’m inspired by the rapid development in the discovery, development, testing, and approvals of new vaccines and medicines to combat COVID-19, and the willingness of the global community to work together to combat this disease.

Everyday, the work I do and the people I work with inspire me. It puts a smile on my face every single day.

By watching what our BARDS Europe team have been able to do in the last year with all these obstacles in our way, I feel hopeful and excited for our future – and look forward to moving into our permanent Hub home in the Circle later this year.


CH-NON-01097, 04/21