Bayer Scapes
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Bayer Scapes

Starting a new chapter in Boston

Move to a different country? Build a new team? Drive R&D projects that create a better life for patients around the world? Three Bayer scientists share how their move to Boston is transforming Bayer’s R&D landscape and their careers.

Bayer in Boston

Bayer’s presence in the Boston area continues to grow. Our new collaboration for lung-diseases, the Pulmonary Drug Discovery joint Lab, with Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital opened in 2019. Our new center for oncology research and innovation is currently being constructed in Kendall Square. Our Precision Cardiology Lab with Broad Institute has been using innovative technologies to better understand cardiovascular disease. We recently established a community for Boston pre-clinical research, bringing together scientists from all our labs in the area to exchange ideas at Bayer’s LifeHub. Learn more here.

Ashley Eheim PhD, VP- Oncogenic Signaling

Our R&D leadership examined what factors could really push us to the next level to become true innovators. We surveyed innovation hot spots around the world in oncology and biomedical research. Our presence at the LifeHub, our partners in the area and the high number of biotech and academics converging make Boston the prime expansion location in North America.

Whether you’re in a lab or office in Boston, there’s an undeniable excitement and innovation spirit that’s contagious- a buzz around the city even when you’re just getting coffee (and there are many coffee shops). Bayer’s long-standing passion for patient health adds to the buzz.

As we expand, we’ll transform to become an active cornerstone in this community as an R&D team. Our new Bayer Research & Innovation Center (BRIC) for oncology research in Kendall Square is where multiple functions will come together to bring our future direction and strategy to life. These efforts are not just open innovation, not just corporate, not just research, not just HR, but a critical mass coming together and working without silos to evoke change.

It has been almost five years since I joined Bayer in pre-clinical oncology research. During this time, I have experienced professional growth opportunities and worked with some of the brightest minds in cancer research, learning immensely about the drug development process. While this has given me a solid foundation, I don’t have a step by step instruction book for taking on my new role at the BRIC.

That’s why collaboration is so important. Building this site from scratch is truly “on the job” training and I am grateful I’m not doing it alone. I am fortunate to be supported by a core group of scientists and research associates moving here from Berlin and China. It takes a lot of courage for someone born and raised in another country to move their entire family to another part of the world and begin again. Our team is not afraid of a challenge! Our group has been working together to define, design and implement the new site and strategy for the past eight months. We will continue our important work with the help of our new recruits.

Christian Stegmann PhD, Head- Precision Cardiology Lab at Broad Institute

My son is a huge Boston Celtics fan, so when I told him and the rest of the family there was an opportunity with my job at Bayer to move to the states, he was as enthused as I was. I completed a University study abroad experience in California so returning to the U.S. was certainly appealing. But what led me here was Bayer’s approach to career development and stretch assignments. My stretch assignment is a privilege- building and leading a team of researchers focused on tackling the leading global killer, cardiovascular disease.

Bayer already had a partnership with the Broad Institute when I joined the conversation about how to build on the current success of our collaborations. I was excited by the innovation happening at Broad to use genomics to address big biologic questions. When the Precision Cardiology Lab started in 2018, I jumped at the chance to take on the new endeavor.

The energy of this new endeavor is pervasive in our lab with inspiring academic and industry professionals working together on cutting edge science. In my opinion, if there is a chance to deliver innovation for cardiovascular disease, it’s here at Broad. Our scientific teams are completely integrated. When you walk through the lab, you can’t tell who is a Bayer and who is a Broad Institute scientist. It’s also a cool opportunity for early career researchers deciding between academia and industry to see both worlds, while working on industry research and getting published in high ranking journals.

Working in such a high energy lab in a city full of innovation (and traffic), can be exhausting. That’s why our scientists and researchers have the flexibility to build their schedules based on their needs. My work-life balance involves a commitment of time to my wife and two kids and regular time to recharge through running. Since moving to the U.S., our family has had many hiking, skiing, and exploratory trips around the Northeast and we have plans to visit more National Parks soon. I have the best of both worlds — work and home.

Alexis Laux-Biehlmann PhD, Head — Pulmonary Drug Discovery Joint Laboratory with Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital

More than seven years ago I relocated to Berlin to work as a preclinical research laboratory head in the gynecological therapies group. Prior to joining Bayer, I was in the field of cellular neurobiology and inflammatory pain. This experience helps me contribute in my new role as head of our joint lab where my projects are truly at the intersection between neurobiology of pain, immunology and gynecology. Working across scientific disciplines can be challenging. Attempting to blend knowledge and techniques from very different disease areas while learning novel methodology and human pathology takes a lot of time and personal commitment.

Having an integrated team will help. I will not only have my own scientific experience to draw from, but also from our academic partner experts in the field and my knowledgeable colleagues in the Wuppertal, Germany pre-clinical research organization. Our integrated team will work on exciting new drug targets to treat chronic lung diseases in a non-industry lab environment. We will also participate in virtual and face-to-face meetings with Bayer R&D colleagues back in Germany to learn from each other (Brigham/MGH from Bayer and vice-versa) about the art of drug discovery with collaboration as our mindset.

Prior to making this career move, I spent the last five months in a short-term assignment (STA), learning from the colleagues in New Product Commercialization & Portfolio Strategy about other strategic areas of our business. Leading a joint lab in a more academic setting, as Christian has been doing for the past two years, is a new scientific adventure where I will contribute to exciting research projects together with academic experts. I can also share my knowledge as a laboratory head and from my STA with my new colleagues to further enhance the exchange between academia and pharma.

There are so many benefits to my new assignment. As someone coming from a smaller city in France, I am looking forward to experiencing not only one of the most renowned hospitals, but also the city of Boston itself. Working across disciplines and across cultures is an exciting opportunity that I plan to make the most of during my time in Boston.

To learn more about career opportunities at our locations in the Boston area, click here.

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