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Lessons from David Brühlmann on How to Bring Life-changing Medicine to People

By Josiane Muhorakeye

“Design the world in a way you would love to see it happen. How can you tie your entrepreneurship to that?”


This is a great quote from David Batstone posted by David Brühlmann on his LinkedIn profile. This is very interesting because in my opinion, this relates to Biotechnology. Scientists see health problems in societies and find effective sustainable solutions to make a difference. David has personified this in different ways throughout his career, not only in biotechnology but also pursuing other ventures that are close to his heart.

Born and raised in Switzerland, David now lives in Cambodia where he remotely offers consulting services such as business strategy, project management, scientific writing and coaching to helps other scientists communicate their work. It was interesting that his motivation to live in Cambodia is outside of his expertise in biotechnology. In 2019, he decided to leave his comfortable job of 13 years within the healthcare industry so that he could focus on humanitarian causes, particularly around education. He also is an author of a new book called Single for Season, focused on helping adults who are not married.

“Everything is all about prioritization,” says David.

This prioritization has enabled David to set and achieve different goals. With his Master’s in Chemical Engineering and a Ph.D. in Biology, David worked at Healthcare Business of Merck KGaA for 13 years (2006 to 2019), where he held several positions such as compliance specialist and process engineer, among others. As a Manager in Bioprocess Technology innovation in 2017 to 2019, he led a group of scientists in developing innovative cell culture technologies. This involves observing how responsive animal or plant cells are to certain changes that can then be used to inform the effectiveness of biotech processes.

With his skills in the field, David has been lucky enough to work on big successful projects.

“Some clinical drugs we worked on have already been released for cancer patients and there are others that are still in clinical trials,” said David.

Keys to success in bringing new drugs to the market

I can only imagine the effort that goes into conducting years of research to test such drugs before they are available for public use. David shared the following keys to his success.

· Do not give up. David shared an example of a time at the lab when his work was affected by a bacterial contamination. Challenges are part of the journey but you don’t have to give up. You have to learn from mistakes and do better.

· Keep learning. Innovation is about learning. The more you learn the more you understand things. The world changes every day so it is important to learn new things and adapt to changes just like during this pandemic.

· Value diversity. “Scientists need to involve and learn from different people during their innovations so that they get more ideas,” David said.

He now is using his experience and knowledge to help other scientists, particularly around another important key to success in biotech: effective communications. Everyday new clinical and marketed products are released into the market so, it's very important for scientists to have clear steps and a clear way of organizing and communicating their projects. Science is a big part of our lives and it is important for scientists to have this support. Poor communication could lead to lack of marketshare or even lack of credit to their work.

“There are scientists taking part in big projects, but are not able to clearly define their work,” said David.

With his outstanding skills in public speaking and presenting, he helps scientists communicate their ideas to broader audiences. This is beneficial to them because it increases the awareness of their amazing achievements.

“Seeing my clients happy and getting positive feedback from them is a sign that my consultancy has been successful,” said David.

I was curious to know what motivated him.

“I think I got the scientific part from my father who is a mechanical engineer,” said David, “I grew up with a strong love for science and was lucky enough to have good teachers who supported me at school.”

Key takeaways

Talking to David was very interesting. I learned that taking risks and patience are very important in innovation. For example, a scientist can take years conducting clinical trials and other procedures to come up with the perfect clinical drugs for patients. This could take 10-15 years, but the result is always worth it. Wanting quick results sometimes can end up ruining things by rushing them.

Most of us see scientists as highly intelligent people but we forget that they are also taking risks to improve our health and save lives. Looking at it this way makes me more appreciative of their hard work.

“Science is about taking risks,” said David.

Rwanda, where I live, is like most developing countries. It is still faced by poor health which is often cause by poor advocacy. I want to use my communications skills to help people access better health services and save lives by educating people about how to overcome different health issues. It is encouraging to know that there are innovators out there like David who provide an example of how to do this.

Learn more about David Brühlmann via LinkedIn.

Josiane Muhorakeye is a graduate from Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication with a Concentration in Business. Connect with her on LinkedIn.