When you work for a digital health start-up, the conversation tends to drift toward product design, marketing strategies, and all-important funding. But our Research Lead, Claire Davidson, can always be relied on to bring the team back to what matters most—without efficacious scientific research grounding everything we do, there is no Mindset Health.
For this year’s International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we spoke to Claire about why a STEM career that allows her to share—loudly, and often—her passion for changing lives through implementing high-quality science was always her path.
Exploring the possibilities
“The plan was medical school,” Claire said about her time studying neuroscience as an undergraduate at Tufts University in the US. “I loved biology in high school and always gravitated towards it. But then in college, I started taking entrepreneurship classes and it became a second passion of mine. And, honestly, I just wanted to get going—medical school would have been years of further study, and residency, and on and on.”
With help from the prestigious Laidlaw Fellowship, which included a two-year leadership development program, Claire’s mind began to move in new directions, thinking deeply about how she could marry her passion for science with technology and entrepreneurship. “I wondered how I could make academic research more applicable and useful to real people, and engage them through sharing the science,” she said.
“Though, understanding the possibilities of what a STEM career could look like for a woman took me some time. So many think it’s just working in academic research, going to medical school, or becoming an engineer—that’s it, those are your options. Now I can see so many paths, and women don’t need to be boxed into these traditional systems. If I hadn’t started thinking about STEM careers differently, I’d still be in medical school right now! I love that I’m already out there, making an impact through my work.”
The fast track
As Mindset Health’s Research Lead, Claire is responsible for ensuring our apps incorporate the latest mind-body health research; guiding our network of healthcare clinicians to expertly facilitate our programs with care; and working closely with our Scientific Advisory Board to ensure Mindset Health’s products are efficacious, effective, and empowering for thousands of global users.
For Claire, speed is the best part of working for a digital health start-up.
“Academic research can be very slow, and, of course, most of the time it should be for safety and ethical protocols, but sometimes the systems feel archaic.
“Here at a digital health start-up like ours, it moves so fast and you get to push those academic boundaries. I’m not working on five-year deadlines here, often it’s more like five weeks. Digital therapeutics in particular is just a cool space to be in.”
Claire was aware STEM careers for women came with unique challenges, and she always knew she’d have barriers in her way if she were to pursue her passion for science.
“It’s a balance thing, and for women who want to have children and families, STEM jobs still aren’t as conducive to that lifestyle as they could and need to be. It’s just not set up that way. Just because a woman has a family, she shouldn’t be penalized. I want the job and the family to work together.”
The real world
Claire is a self-professed research nerd, through and through. And while she may comb through scientific journals for fun (with a few good-natured eye-rolls from her colleagues), Claire’s feet are grounded firmly in the real world, and she believes putting the science to work to change lives is what matters most.
“The best part of my job is seeing the impact of the products we release—it’s why we all do this. We put so much time into the research and creating efficacious products that lead to real outcomes for our users.
“Getting to see how their lives improve, often in a very tangible way, by reducing problematic symptoms or increasing their quality of life, is just amazing and so satisfying.”
February 11 is the United Nations’ International Day of Women and Girls in Science.