In this series, we’d like to introduce some of our long-time MedEngine employees. Let’s start with our beloved Heidi Loponen, a Senior Scientific Consultant on the Medical Data Science team.
Heidi is a calm, reliable, well-organized, and friendly person.
Heidi has her master’s degree in developmental biology from the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences at the University of Helsinki. She has a PhD in genetics, from the Institute of Biotechnology at the same university. “In my PhD, I studied the regenerative potential of inner ear sensory cells, using genetically modified mouse models and organ culture methods. During my PhD studies I also worked as a teacher in master’s level lab courses at the university”, she tells us.
“I’ve been interested in nature and animals since a very young age. My mother has stored notebooks which I created together with my friends as we played nature investigators or scientists: these include collections of different plants and even some collected samples, like rabbit feces”, Heidi laughs warmly. “Then in high school I had an excellent biology teacher and got even more interested in the field. In the year I graduated from high school I was the only one from our school with the highest Laudatur degree in biology, and that simple fact gave me the confidence to eventually pursue studies in biology. I’ve also always had this interest in sports and how the human body works and going that direction somehow seemed like a natural thing to do. In the end, it came down to deciding between biology and physiotherapy”, Heidi says, and she is seemingly happy to have chosen biology.
“Heidi also has another side to her, an almost-professional athlete one!“
Heidi also has another side to her, an almost-professional athlete one! “Swimming has always been a huge part of my life, from the age of 7 until 17 I actively competed in swimming, and afterwards I coached the sport for 10 years”, Heidi tells us excitedly. “Now when I look back, I think that’s probably one of the coolest things during my career before MedEngine. I started coaching the kids when they were 7 years old and stayed with them until young adulthood. It was very rewarding work to see them grow and develop in their athletic career as well as individuals.” That’s inspiring!
“Chance and an ability to seize the moment often plays a great role in life.”
Heidi’s way to MedEngine wasn’t a traditional one. The story shows just how chance and an ability to seize the moment often plays a great role in life. “I applied and got a job in a pharmaceutical company, but due to last minute changes, the company was not allowed to increase the headcount after all. Their Medical Director at the time asked MedEngine’s CEO Tero if MedEngine could hire me as a contractor instead.” And the rest is history. Heidi joined MedEngine in the fall of 2015. “I remember that signing well because it was my birthday!”, she exclaims.
From a handful of people to approximately 40 employees now, MedEngine has grown a lot during the years Heidi has been with the company. What makes this a unique place to work? “For sure it’s the people: they are open, friendly, and easy to approach. It’s cool how we reserve time to welcome new people. A shared breakfast is arranged, and we do a round where everybody has a chance to introduce themselves”, she describes.
“I think you can call me a soccer mom!”
In her free time Heidi likes to do various sports: group exercise classes, downhill skiing and hiking, to name a few. “Both my kids and my husband play football, so I think you can call me a soccer mom!”, Heidi exclaims. “Sometimes just to watch them play awakens the inner coach within me, even though football’s not my expertise. Although, I’ve been thinking of joining a female football team for beginners”, she adds happily.
Heidi also keeps in touch with her former colleagues from Uni. “I really enjoy spending time with a group of my friends with whom we started our biology studies and have been connected since 2001. We are a group of 6 women: 5 PhDs and 1 MD. We get together a few times a year for trips or just for a loooong brunch. We can easily talk for hours and pick up where we left off in the previous gathering!”, Heidi reveals.
To conclude, Heidi has one piece of advice for us all, “Remember that communication is the key in all challenges, major or minor!”.
Thank you, Heidi! Great to have you among us!