Fantastic Vaccines and Where to Find Them: Lessons Learned with Nima Farzan

The field of specialty vaccines can feel underloved, but with growing interest from public health groups, previously under-served diseases may soon have hope.

December 2017

Vaccines are one of the greatest public health achievements

I’ve been working in life sciences since my undergraduate days, starting with a human biology degree at Stanford University, California. Following business school, I worked for Novartis for a number of years covering different roles that took me from Switzerland to the US, and from marketing to R&D. Then an opportunity opened up to enter the vaccines space. Novartis acquired Chiron for their vaccine work and wanted to open up a vaccine division; I was offered a position and ended up loving it. The passion of the team working in that space and the impact your work can have on patients is unparalleled. When working with vaccines, you are combating powerful diseases and working to strengthen public health, which are powerful drivers for motivation. At Novartis, I had previously worked in hypertension. High-blood pressure kills many people, but each new drug is only usually marginally better than the previous one. Having the opportunity to develop an entirely new vaccine, which could substantially change disease and health rather than incrementally managing it, is exhilarating. It really gets into your blood (no pun intended!) and I have never looked back.