Dr Nicole Bru

The career of a woman of conviction and action


Nicole Magniez studied medicine in Paris (Faculté Necker–Enfants Malades), and during that time worked as an intern in a neurology department and then an internal medicine department.

Researcher and entrepreneur

In 1971 she entered the pharmaceutical industry, joining the Laboratoires UPSA in the Training Department, demonstrating her determination and passion for innovation.

In the course of her career at UPSA she served as:

  • Medical Director (1976);
  • Director of Research and Development (1985);
  • Chief Scientific Officer (1986);
  • Head of Scientific Affairs and Strategy (1987). As a Director, she sat on the organisation’s Executive Committee. She led the organisation alongside Jean Bru.

When her husband passed away suddenly in 1989, Nicole Bru decided to take over the business. In 1990, she became Chairwoman and Chief Executive Officer of the UPSA Group.

She independently took the reins of the organisation, which at the time had 1,400 employees including 200 researchers. Thanks to her work, the organisation rose to the highest echelons globally in its areas of expertise: under her leadership, UPSA doubled its revenue in five years and became the top European company for pain medication and world leader in effervescence technology. In 1994, the UPSA Group had 2,000 employees. In 1994, Dr Nicole Bru sold the family-owned business. She served as Chairwoman of the Supervisory Board of Laboratoires UPSA from 1994 to 1997. 1994 – 2002: Dr Nicole Bru served as Chairwoman and Chief Executive Officer of HALISOL, a holding company she developed after selling the UPSA Group. One of HALISOL’s notable investments was in the PHARMAFARM laboratory, which Nicole Bru grew significantly before selling it to concentrate on other activities.

An enduring commitment

Before stepping away from industry, Dr Nicole Bru channelled her insatiable thirst for entrepreneurship into a strong commitment to public interest causes:

  • In 1989, she joined forces with Professor Victor Izraël to found APREC (Alliance for Cancer Research), for which she served as Vice Chairwoman from 1994 to 2001;
  • In 1993, Dr Nicole Bru created the Institut UPSA de la Douleur. She co-financed this institute and became its Honorary Chairwoman in 2001;
  • In 1994, she founded the Association Docteurs Bru, which opened in 1996; and the Maison d’accueil Jean Bru, a reception centre for under-age girls who have been victims of sexual abuse or incest. Website of the Maison Jean Bru;
  • In 2005, Dr Nicole Bru founded the Fondation Bru to memorialise the founders of Laboratoires UPSA. Website of the Fondation Bru.

“To be present in places where excellence and ground-breaking, ambitious projects serving worthy causes must be supported” is the guiding principle she gave the foundation, which now encompasses all its patronage initiatives. In this way, the values of the researchers and entrepreneurs that the foundation is named after will live on.

  • Since 2008, Dr Nicole Bru has presided over the Palazzetto Bru Zane – Centre de musique romantique française, which strives to cast light on the composers of the long 19th century and to help unearth forgotten works. Website of the Bru Zane Centre

Awards and distinctions

  • 1994 Businesswoman of the Year – Veuve Clicquot Award
  • Officer of the Legion of Honour (2002)
  • Commander of the National Order of Merit (October 2010)
  • Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters (September 2012)

“What counts in life is one’s capacity to influence the course of things!”

Motto of Nicole Bru, physician, researcher and businesswoman.