Dr Juliet Roberts, Boehringer Ingelheim, UK & Ireland Medical Director

What drove your decision to move from the NHS into pharma?

It was all rather out of the blue. I received a call from a headhunter about Boehringer Ingelheim (BI) – a research-orientated, family- owned pharma company who were looking for a medic with an interest in cardiology to join their clinical trials team. I always had an interest in clinical pharmacology and drug development from my medical student days, and rather to my surprise I found myself accepting the job offer. So I left my busy medical registrar role at Oxford and joined BI.

How do you feel you have made a significant contribution to your field?

It is probably not for me to judge, but if I look back at my 23 years at BI, I’m very proud of the continuing sheer volume, focus and quality of our clinical research programmes. Whilst I cannot take personal credit for this, leading the clinical research department of BI UK and Ireland for many years I’ve witnessed first-hand the dedication to quality, safety and ethics of every team member. Additionally, contributing to pharmaceutical medicine specialty training (PMST) as an Educational Supervisor (ES) and Specialty Adviser (SA) and also as an Examiner for the Diploma in Pharmaceutical Medicine (DPM) I feel has been important.

What has been your greatest professional challenge, and how did you overcome it?In 2007, BI decided to look at a new indication for a marketed drug in acute coronary syndromes. There was no one in the company to take on the Global Clinical Development Lead role for medicine. So I was asked, in addition to my day job, to cover this. Within three months, together with collaboration from a well-known Swedish academic group, we designed and set up an innovative Phase II trial with adaptive randomisation. Only possible due to an excellent team, all of whom played a key role.

What inspires your work on driving continued education and training in pharmaceutical medicine?

In 2000, I was given a fantastic opportunity to lead the global clinical development of a compound in BI’s cardiovascular pipeline. Luckily I was also studying for the DPM exam at the time and it was absolutely invaluable knowledge I could apply to my day job. Without the DPM courses/revision I think I would have been absolutely lost. When Pharmaceutical Medicine became a GMC recognised medical specialty I jumped at the chance and was in the cohort that obtained specialist registration in the first year (2005). I was always grateful that colleagues before me taught courses and put together the DPM exam and PMST. So when I was able to give back as a DPM examiner and also become an ES and SA I was delighted. It means I continue to learn new things – and relearn some that I have forgotten!

What advice would you give your younger self?

Life is a marathon, not a sprint!