Making history at LDI: An interview with Rachel Werner

Eighteen years ago, when the young Penn physician Rachel Werner began her Ph.D. studies in the Wharton School/Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics (LDI) health care management program, it was beyond her imagination to think she might one day run LDI. 

Rachel Werner

“Back then,” Werner remembers in an interview in her new second-floor LDI office, “David Asch was in charge of LDI and I was never going to be David Asch. Frankly, even a year ago, I couldn’t have imagined I would be doing this.”

“This,” of course, is her recent appointment as LDI’s executive director, the first physician-economist and first female to hold the position in the health services research organization’s 51-year history.

“The physician-economist perspective is a perfect fit for LDI,” says Werner. “It presents a great opportunity to cross the divide between the main Penn campus and the medical school, to further develop the bridge between all of Penn’s schools that has defined so much of LDI’s past success in fostering interdisciplinary collaboration. It also gives me insight into the importance of using rigorous economic methods to answer questions that matter the most to patients.”

As to being the first woman to head LDI, she has mixed feelings.

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