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Cortex - Life Sciences Insights

| 3 minutes read

Inspirational Women In Life Sciences: Maria Muresan

This week’s featured inspirational woman in Life Sciences is Maria Muresan, Legal, Ethics & Compliance Director BA South East Europe, Romania at Novo Nordisk. 

Maria discusses some of the many reasons why she loves her role with Novo Nordisk, the importance of persistence, asking questions when faced with challenges, and having a broad and varied knowledge base to draw from to enable lateral thinking. She also discusses Novo Nordisk’s collaborative approach to ethical issues and her hope that increased representation and diversity within the life sciences and healthcare industries (particularly at a higher level) might translate to closing the health gaps which exist between different portions of the population.   

Interviewing Maria is Irina Macovei, life sciences regulatory lawyer and counsel at DLA Piper’s Romanian office. 


For extracts of the interview, please see below: 

Maria discusses her background and journey into her role as a life sciences lawyer

I finished law school and had as additional studies a master in business law, took my Bar exam and then I was curious to connect business with legal fields. So I did an MBA in Innovation and Entrepreneurship and following that a masters degree in International Governance, Risk and Compliance from the ICA Association.”

Maria has experience helping to set up legal and compliance teams in the Telecoms, FMCG and life sciences sectors. 


How did you find changing sectors particularly from FMCG to the life sciences sector?

“It started with curiosity. I heard about the ARPIM Code of Ethics [at a conference] and this is what triggered actually made me turn my attention to life sciences. [ARPIM is the innovative industry association and part of EFPIA] It was a great decision and I enjoy being part of the community shaping legal, ethics & compliance in life sciences sector.”


What challenges have you faced and how did you overcome them?

On expressing an interest in working in pharma, Maria was told that she would be bored. She found that to the contrary, that it was a struggle at the start to be on top of the complex matrix that forms the life sciences legal environment – being aware of and applying Romanian law, European Requirements and FDA requirements as required. 

The first 3 months were not the success I expected” but she remained resilient, “I don’t easily give up”. She recommends that approach when facing with a challenge: “Don’t stop; ask questions” and find a way to move forward, even just a little bit at a time. 


What is your favourite thing about your job?

There are a lot of things that I really like” 

Maria goes on to name the work environment and culture within Novo Nordisk and constantly evolving nature of the industry and work. She also discusses “Ethics Angels” team of volunteers set up within the company, focused on promoting the ethical mindset of the company – addressing any ethical dilemmas and questions. Maria particularly notes how this team allows individuals from other business teams across the company to consider and engage with these issues beyond the legal and compliance department. 


What exciting developments are you looking forward to in the coming years?

There are a lot of legal and compliance processes that we can optimize [through AI]” freeing up individuals to focus on more challenging topics that are not clear cut or require simple application of legal requirements. 

We have to balance the requirements and the benefits but I’m confident that AI will influence [our profession and the industry] positively.” “We should see it as a partner…and give the right boundaries [for instance identifying biases].” 


What advice would you give to the women or girls thinking of pursuing a career in the life sciences sector?

Try, be curious, and believe that you can do whatever you set your mind to.”

You don’t have to have everything planned out … sometimes it’s good to go with the flow.” “It is said that you need to invest 2 years in something in order to be able to really assess whether it’s for you.” 

Maria also emphasises the importance of a varied reading diet and being able to connect various different sources and types of information. 

The lawyers of the future are the ones that are able to mix different elements and not just stick to the classical way of approaching things.”


Finally, Maria outlined her aspiration that we might close the women’s health gap 

Whilst 75% of entry-level employees in healthcare are women, this does not translate into C-suite percentages (as discussed by Elena Coluccelli-Guerin earlier in this series). 

Maria highlights the potential that exists to encourage more women into the industry and channel this increased diversity into focusing on addressing the women’s health gap, which, whilst partially attributable to genetics and environment, is also believed to be partially due to gender bias.[1] 


Next week in the IWD: Inspirational Women in Life Sciences Series 

This series features inspirational woman working in the life sciences sector with the aim of increasing access and visibility of female role models in the Life Sciences sector: a recognised factor in increasing entry and retention of women in STEM fields. 

Please tune in for the last episode of this year’s series featuring Narguiz Birk-Petersen.

[1]Management of cardiac emergencies in women: a clinical consensus statement of the Association for Acute CardioVascular Care (ACVC), the European Association of Percutaneous Cardiovascular Interventions (EAPCI), the Heart Failure Association (HFA), and the European Heart Rhythm Association (EHRA) of the ESC, and the ESC Working Group on Cardiovascular Pharmacotherapy - PubMed (