Nathalie Conrad: International Women's Day 2019 Profile

Nathalie Conrad’s research focuses on epidemiology and health services. She joined The George Institute for Global Health in 2014, where she specialises in analysing large-scale electronic health records data.

Originally trained as an engineer, Nathalie has always had a keen interest in medicine.

“Working in medical research allows me to combine the best of both worlds – using my engineering and data analysis skills to create new knowledge that will, hopefully, impact patients’ lives.”

Nathalie was first attracted to working in academia by its potential for having positive and lasting impacts on society.

“I recently completed an analysis on the management of heart failure patients in the UK, which revealed important gaps in care and disparities by age, sex and socioeconomic status.”

“After presenting my results, I received a lot of interest from clinicians and scientists, but also from general media outlets, pharma companies and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. I found that very rewarding and a great motivator to continue this work.”

Nathalie says while research using routinely collected data has been expanding rapidly, we have only just started realising the immense potential it represents to improve the health of patients.

“The amount of health-related data being created around the world is growing at exponential rates, but so far only a fraction of it is available or utilised for research purposes. We need to support and accelerate efforts that make more data accessible, both with more detailed information from existing cohorts but also new cohorts in countries or sub-groups that are currently underrepresented.”

Nathalie says that there tends to be many women in junior positions in the medical research community but they remain largely underrepresented in leadership roles. To achieve better gender balance in senior roles, she says equal opportunities need to be ensured across all aspects of an organisation.

“Talent programmes that raise women’s self-awareness and help them navigate through career paths are helpful. Yet, in my view, career support for women is often offered too late, is too selective, and carried out after the candidate pool has already become too thin.”

“To address this, the hierarchy needs to ensure unbiased recognition of achievements and provide more guidance and support in the early stages of women’s careers.”

For Nathalie, this year’s International Women’s Day theme, #Balanceforbetter, goes beyond just equal rights for men and women.

“Balanced representation of women at all career stages is important and has been shown to improve performance and work atmosphere. But let’s not forget that while gender balance is important, it’s equally important that we strive for balance in diversity by ethnicity or social background.” 

Read more from Nathalie on Twitter at @nathalie_conrad