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The Experience Questionnaire: Deborah Dunsire

Deborah Dunsire is a trustee of Northeastern University and the CEO of Lundbeck, a neuroscience-focused pharmaceutical company based in Denmark. Raised in South Africa, she currently resides in Copenhagen.  

What is the most valuable lesson you’ve drawn from higher education?Your education gives you a set of tools, and it can take you to so many different places. I studied as a physician, always anticipating that I would be treating individual patients. I’ve ended up creating new medicines for people. I never could have imagined that. 

What advances in neuroscience are most likely to change the world in the next 10 years?
I’m very excited about new technologies that allow us to image the brain and do various analyses on it in real time, and then use genetic data to understand brain diseases better and treat them more precisely. 

What innovations from the pandemic era, born out of necessity, do you hope remain in the future?
It’s drug development. The rate at which the [COVID-19] vaccines are being progressed has shown us that we can move things more expeditiously than we previously thought. For instance, in our clinical trials of medicines, we’ve been able to move a lot of the assessment of patients who participate to telemedicine, instead of bringing them into a center.

How do you relax?
I’m learning Danish. It’s fun to engage your brain in a totally different, very difficult language. I’m now reading a couple of books in Danish and listening to them so that I can learn the cadence better. It’s a total distraction for the mind.

What is your proudest moment? 
Having been a part of bringing Gleevec to the market [with Novartis] for patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia. It turned a deadly disease into a disease that’s now treated chronically.

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Illustration by Peter Csuth


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