FEATURE4 July 2022

Wesley Michael – Research Hero

Features People

The Market Research Society launched the Research Heroes programme to celebrate the sector’s unsung heroes. Wesley Michael has joined the cadre of Research Heroes 2022.

Wesley Michael, President and Founder, Rare Patient Voice LLC 


Since Wes founded the company in 2013, Rare Patient Voice has conducted thousands of studies and rewarded patients and caregivers with more than $8m for their participation. Many have been recruited in person by Wes and his team at patient events like fund-raising walks and patient conferences, and through a referral programme with patient advocacy and support groups. Rare Patient Voice now covers non-rare as well as rare diseases and conditions, and has expanded from the US to Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Australia and New Zealand.

Before launching Rare Patient Voice, Wes worked for healthcare market research firm Kantar Health. He was a brand manager and market research manager at McCormick (the spice company) and General Mills (working on Wheaties, Total and Kix cereals). He has a BA from the University of Pennsylvania (with a year at the University of Edinburgh) and an MBA from the University of Chicago.

Wes lives outside Baltimore, Maryland, with his wife, Cathy, children Julia and Cliff, grandson Taylor, and dogs Ace and Stanley.

Wes was nominated for “providing rare disease patients and their caregivers with the opportunity to voice their opinions through surveys and interviews to improve medical products and services”.


What is the biggest challenge you have faced during your career?
Moving industries, from consumer products/food to healthcare, was a challenge. On one hand, applying everything I learned dealing with consumers to patients and physicians was exhilarating. On the other hand, healthcare is not only more highly regulated, it is so much more important to those who suffer from diseases.

What will be the next big trend or development in the research industry, and why?
The next big trend will be the oldest one – talking directly to people to determine the ‘why’ behind their attitudes and behaviours. The use of big data analytics is amazing. We are learning so much, but it reminds us that we need to find out the why – what are the experiences, emotions and opinions of people driving the actions we see in big data? 

Who inspires you as a researcher?
Each patient and caregiver we interact with inspires me. It is amazing what so many have to deal with daily, as so many diseases are quite devastating. I remember meeting a young woman at a Sjogren’s event who signed up with us to take part in studies. Autoimmune diseases like Sjogren’s often accompany other diseases. She started listing her many conditions, and had to ask “Can I write on the back of the form?”

View the full list of Research Heroes for 2022