My name is Thilo Krüger. I’m 41 years old and I’ve been working for Bayer at the Wuppertal Research Center since October 2013. After completing my degree in medicine at the university in Düsseldorf, I worked for about 13 years in the Nephrology Department (kidney diseases) at Aachen University Hospital. In that time I became a specialist (board certified) for Internal Medicine/Nephrology, most recently working there as a senior physician.
Parallel to this process, I have dealt with basic – and later also clinical – research since my studies, beginning with my doctoral thesis. In 2014 I qualified as a professor (German “Habilitation”). My research focused on the origin of and influence on arterial stiffness and vascular calcification, as well as on calcium/phosphate imbalance in the context of chronic kidney disease.
My position at Bayer is that of a “Global Clinical Leader.” In this function, I’m responsible for the planning and implementation of the last steps in the development of a drug product: the so-called “Phase 2” and “Phase 3” trials. Should the latter be brought to a successful conclusion, the next step is the market launch.
My transfer to the pharmaceutical industry
I ended up at Bayer through a job offer. At the time, the desire for a new career challenge was beginning to grow in me, but a transfer to industry wasn’t at the top of the list because I wasn’t aware of the possibilities that existed there. Upon closer inspection and considering my interest in research, however, it soon became clear that I could continue to pursue this very interest at Bayer. I was also attracted by the prospect of being able to actively work on tomorrow’s therapeutic options for patients.
After an initial readjustment phase – after all, there’s quite a difference between working in industry and in a hospital – I have to say that I am especially impressed by the high level of professionalism and expertise at Bayer. I find the interaction between the various units of the pharmaceutical industry – chemistry, preclinical experimental research, preclinical drug testing, marketing, drug pricing design, relations with agencies, etc. – at this high level to be very exciting. All of this has considerably broadened my horizon and thus greatly enriched my life. Although it was sometimes frustrating in industry at first, in retrospect I clearly don’t regret transferring away from the patients – although I really enjoyed working as a doctor. I find it particularly exciting to deal on an international basis with leading researchers and doctors – a process I began in my own research “career” at the university and that I can now further expand in my current position. My experience in the clinical and academic field is certainly very helpful in dealing with internationally recognized researchers and clinicians.
What have particularly impressed me at Bayer are the high ethical standards that apply when developing new medicines. Now that I’m a Bayer employee, I can’t in the least confirm the sometimes skeptical attitude toward the pharmaceutical industry. On the contrary, I have to counter it. A new medicine’s safety and benefits for people are always the paramount principle at Bayer. This aligns fully with my traditional mindset as a doctor, and makes me view the pharmaceutical industry more than ever as a partner to doctors and patients. It’s thrilling to be able to actively participate in this process, and you’re aware every day of the responsibility you hold. “Do you want to make life better? We expect that at Bayer.” Of Bayer’s four slogans, this one of course motivates me the most as a doctor and best reflects my efforts at Bayer.
You never stop learning at Bayer. Even though my own learning curve is still very high at the beginning of my career here, new challenges are constantly arising from an environment that is changing both scientifically and in a medical and socioeconomic sense. There are very few patent remedies for problems. Your own creativity is required here. One new aspect for me was that I have to convince various bodies within Bayer of my development steps and defend my approach. It is motivating to be able to improve my communicative abilities over time and to see progress in this regard.
The transfer to Bayer also gave me new opportunities to further evolve. Bayer enables – and supports – transfers to other areas of activity and foreign assignments to gain experience. I’m very curious to see how my career will develop. Not everything is planable, which makes it all very exciting. Anyone who is able and willing to react to constantly changing challenges, and anyone who is fascinated by science has development opportunities available at Bayer that cannot be encountered in medical care. As I mentioned, I am happy about these new horizons and opportunities. It was the right decision to come to Bayer.
This post is also available in: German