Aurélia Tison completed her thesis in 2016 in health economics, under the supervision of Alain Paraponaris and Bruno Ventelou. Today she is Director of Innovation, Occupation, and Organization of the Association régionale pour l’intégration des personnes porteuses de handicaps (Regional Association for the Integration of People with Disabilities, or ARI).
CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PROFESSIONAL TRAJECTORY SINCE YOUR TIME AT AMSE?
I completed my thesis in 2016 in health economics, under the supervision of Alain Paraponaris and Bruno Ventelou. In it, I explored “decisions on the labor market in a context of both economic and health uncertainty for people diagnosed with diseases and more particularly for self-employed workers diagnosed with cancer”, focusing on risk aversion and financial decisions. During my time at AMSE, I also had the opportunity to participate in an exchange study program at the Harvard School of Public Health. I was able to work there with James K. Hammitt, a renowned researcher on decision theory.
I really enjoyed the research aspect of my thesis, but afterwards, being a pretty active person, I needed change. So I went to work in the corporate realm, where I ended up doing data analysis in the pharmaceutical industry. This experience put me up against different challenges and introduced me to a completely new way of working. I worked in the Market Access department for the American biotechnology company Amgen, which primarily engineers innovations in oncology and then for a consulting firm named Stratégique Santé, later purchased by IQVIA, a major private player in healthcare data collection. My two main functions included collecting data for clinical trials and observational studies (such as efficacy and side effects) and negotiating drug prices with health authorities, based on budget impact production models as well as cost efficiency, cost effectiveness, and cost utility analyses.
I have now been working for three years as Director of Innovation, Occupation, and Organization for ARI, a sociomedical organization in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur.
I also continue to teach, which I started to do during my PhD. This allows me to give something back to the universities that shaped me and it is always a pleasure to interact with students, who will be the future decision-makers. I still teach graduate-level courses in Public Policy Analysis at AMSE, and now I also teach Medical and Social Management at the University of Paris-Dauphine.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON CURRENTLY?
ARI manages fifty structures that support children and adults with disabilities. Part of my work includes seeking out medical innovations, negotiating their prices, and helping teams use these innovations.
I’m also working on developing research and science within ARI. When I arrived, I realized that there was little research on disability. This makes the provision of care particularly problematic, since the absence of research leaves quite a bit of room for subjectivity. As a response, we implemented the “Years of Science” program. Every couple of years, people with disabilities, families, and professionals come together to work on a specific scientific subject. Our first edition, for example, focused on neuroplasticity. Local and national researchers were invited to participate in related conferences. Afterwards, professionals, people with disabilities, and families met in working groups to collectively assess the organization’s current practices. This then led to an action plan being voted on; I now oversee the plan’s implementation and ensure that it is sustainable.
But when it comes to research, there are to this day very few exhaustive databases on, for instance, the number of children with disabilities at school or on certain disabilities. Furthermore, there are only a small number of studies on informal care for people with disabilities and its economic cost. Yet, I am sure that the hidden economic cost is huge.
The same applies to the impact of covid19 on people with disabilities: more research on this will be needed to understand what happened and to guide future policies. There is a lot to explore at the economic level and in terms of social justice, the stakes are also immense. So, I am launching an appeal : we need researchers in this field!
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR TIME AT AMSE?
I’m a bit nostalgic about my time at AMSE. I miss having time to read, delve into a topic, explore an issue, and go to conferences and seminars to hear about others’ research and to defend yours and your intellectual approach...what a luxury!
PhD students in France are still discriminated against when they leave their research environment. So the pharmaceutical industry was a completely different world for me. I may not have been fully prepared when it came to understanding how companies function, manage, recognize, reward, and communicate; I had to learn on the job.
That said, my strongest asset is what I learned during my thesis. Whatever the subject, I immediately know where to find the necessary expertise, and I have no problem reading and exploring a subject in depth to establish arguments based on rigorous analysis. Economics furthermore taught me to consider things from both a macro and a micro perspective; this helps enormously with strategic thinking. During my thesis, I learned how to manage a project—yes, doing a thesis basically comes down to managing a project from A to Z! I also learned how to go out into the field, how to observe and interview people so as to understand what they do and why, and to “get my hands dirty.” Being able to teach is also an asset. You learn how to speak in public, how to deliver messages. When I have to facilitate workshops with young people with behavioral problems or workers with disabilities, it really helps.
Finally, one of AMSE’s greatest strengths is the teaching staff’s in-depth knowledge, particularly in mathematics and statistics. The teaching is not just based on simply learning a formula by heart. At AMSE, they go through the mathematical demonstrations to explain where the models come from – and that’s worth a lot.
© Fondation FDJ Marseille/Wlad Simitch
→ This article was issued in AMSE Newletter, Summer 2021.