Andrea Els is an associate in Goodwin’s Boston office.

BMW: What is your favorite website?

Andrea: My favorite website is Wikipedia. In addition to being an incredibly valuable source of human knowledge, it is an inspiring example of distributed self-governance and large-scale collaboration. The combined effort of millions of contributors has allowed our collective wisdom to be memorialized with a high degree of reliability; at the same time, there is surprisingly little sabotage (unlike in many other corners of the web). My friends and I used to play a game on Wikipedia where someone would pick two disparate topics, and we would try to navigate from one to the other through the links in the articles in as few clicks as possible. I also love The Oatmeal, a webcomic by artist Matthew Inman who lives in my hometown, Seattle. The comics make funny observations about life and often contain obscure but fascinating information such as the impressive capabilities of the mantis shrimp. Many of Inman’s comics are about science and technology, which is an area I’m passionate about.

BMW: What is an interesting fact about you?

Andrea: A lot of the jobs I had growing up involved teaching. In high school, my first job was as a piano teacher. I had one student who was extremely shy – he never spoke a word to me all year. But it was obvious that he wanted to play, and once I taught him how to read music he developed enough confidence to practice his songs with me. I have also volunteered as a ski instructor and tutored students in computer science, which was my major in college. These experiences have really helped me as a lawyer because they forced me to learn how to distill my knowledge and communicate it effectively to others.

BMW: What motivates you to work in the biosimilars field?

Andrea: Biosimilars and the legal environment surrounding them here in the U.S. are both very new and show great promise. Biologics are revolutionizing treatment for serious, widespread diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and autoimmune diseases. Biosimilars have the potential to reduce costs and increase access to these treatments, both by creating competition in the market and by spurring innovations in production efficiency. They were only recently made economically viable, however, with the passage of the BPCIA’s abbreviated approval pathway in 2010. As a result, the boundaries of the law are still being defined, and this presents an opportunity to do cutting-edge legal work in an area of great social importance. I also enjoy the challenge of learning the science behind large-molecule drugs while working on biosimilars cases.

To learn more about Andrea Els, click here to view her full biography.