Blizzards and the American Work Ethic

Posted in Career Advice

It’s been a while since my last blog post but the hysteria over the would-be blizzard of the century got me thinking again.  The Great Recession that began in 2008 (which appears to be over) has forced the American workforce to work harder (without commensurate increases in salary and vacation time) than ever before. Consequently, those who were lucky enough to retain their jobs are frequently stressed, fatigued and pushed to the breaking point. Therefore, it is not surprising (to me at least) for any excuse –like an exaggerated, overhyped blizzard–to not go to work!  Put simply, looking for cataclysmic climatic events to get the vacation time that employees so desperately need is not in the best interest of the American workforce!  Perhaps employers ought to allow employees to take more time off and guarantee them paid sick time rather than rely on blizzards to give their workers a much needed break.

The US economy seems to be in good shape as compared with the rest of the world.  Although American productivity is at a historical high, I do not think US workers will be able to maintain it into perpetuity. That said, the US greatest advantage over other countries in the world is ingenuity and innovation.  And, to innovate, people need time to think and identify the next “big thing”   And, while a snow day here or there may be restful, the time off is certainly not sufficient for workers to garner enough time to think about the next world-changing technology or innovation.

Until next time….

Good Luck and Good Digging Out (if you got any snow)


Tales and Musings From A Life Sciences Job Seeker: The PhD Industry Career Gap

Posted in Career Advice

Ryan Raver, PhD author of the Grad Student Way blog and formerly of the University of Wisconsin_Madison (my alma mater) posted a piece on his blog about his personal discoveries and revelations about searching for an industrial life sciences jobs.  In my opinion, Ryan’s piece is one of the best that I have read to date that provides a reality-based road map for recently-minted PhDs who want to eschew a postdoc and enter the life sciences industry (he is now working for Sigma in St. Louis, MO)

Ryan has allowed me to reproduce his brilliant piece on BioJobBlog.  Also, I recommend that you visit his blog which is choc full of great ideas and strategies for graduate students considering careers outside of academia.

5 Ways to Gain Valuable Skills Outside of Your Academic Training

November 14, 2013 by 

The PhD Industry Career Gap

We already know that the PhD Market is saturated, and articles that “promote awareness” or point out the PhD-Industry Gap are a dime a dozen. What’s missing from the equation are the solutions.  The reality is that the first job that you obtain directly out of graduate school is the most crucial. It is also the most difficult. Therefore you need to be aware of all of your possible options.

The odds are against you. You look like a science person. You want to go into industry but they look at you as an academic with only one marketable skill: bench science.

The doom and gloom articles aren’t going to help you get anywhere. And frankly, I think we are all just tired of reading them.  Many experienced working professionals are aware of what the market looks like, but as long as they are employed, who wants to think about what they could have faced?

The newly minted PhD is experiencing the hardships right now and searching for answers. The reality is that many just don’t know how to provide real practical solutions and the attitude is that “hard work” will get you to where you need to be. And it’s “good luck” to you because you are entirely on your own.

If you could rewind and go back a few years maybe you wish you knew all this sooner rather than later. Maybe you finally decided to join the 85% club and face reality (only 15% will land a tenure-track position within 5 years). But you need to put the past behind you and move on.

The bottom line is that if you have the right personality, drive, leadership, and strong interpersonal skills and the ability to work well in a team environment, then breaking into a field of your choice is very feasible. You just need the know-how. This ‘right personality’ will be valuable as you work in a team and develop your needed skill set(s) that will carry with you into your future career. Although there is a glut of capable job seekers, do not let this discourage you.

Before we dive deeper, you need to understand that there is no set career path, and everyone’s career path is UNIQUE. Many working professionals stumble into their current career path by accident, chance, change of interests/goals, life situation, or series of occurrences. But hopefully with the advice given, you will find your calling.

If you ask, let’s say an experienced manager in industry, how they got to where they are today-many will tell you that they did not plan on jumping into their field directly from their PhD. That’s because the majority of PhDs don’t really do any career planning. You’ll jump into the postdoc only to leave after you spent X amount of years figuring out what you truly want to do. During graduate school, the focus is on getting the PhD and the attitude is that things will just unfold and work themselves out. This can continue throughout the postdoc position(s).

There is a sense of entitlement among PhD’s. Their ego takes ahold of them. “I worked this hard, therefore I deserve this position or X amount of salary.”  Guess what? You have to pay your dues just like everyone else.  The PhD doesn’t guarantee you the job, and although you may have published a Nature paper, it doesn’t add any value to a company or client (and when you hand your business card to a customer, they see your name, company, your position title, letters next to your name, and nothing else). The real question is can you work well in a team? Can you communicate effectively without putting yourself above others? Once you realize there is a bigger picture than just YOU and how you are just a piece of the puzzle, than you will finally start to see the benefits.  Be someone who under-promises and over-delivers.

There is also a backwards strategy that many PhDs take on during their career search. They focus on the position and match that up to the company. The problem with this is that it takes the focus off how you can add value to a company. It becomes more about you. The point is that if the position that you obtain within the company will add the most value based on your strengths and contributions, then it is the best fit. Therefore, when doing your job searchfocus on the company first, how you can add value, then backtrack to find the correct position. This means you should have multiple roles in mind that play on your strengths and not just one. If you haven’t figured this out yet, here is what you missed earlier.

When it comes to a resume or cover letter, there is too much emphasis placed on these two items. They are simply a tool to get you an interview and nothing else. Once you reach that interview stage, you need to get over what is written on your resume and focus on the value that you can add to a company. Not brag about what you did with your thesis work. No one really cares to hear about your thesis anymore.  A PhD is a training program to help you develop as a scientist and launch your career.

If you are banging your head against the wall that’s probably because you aren’t doing it right. Or you just lack the marketable skills to crossover (which is discussed later in this article). Or it could be a combination of both.

To quote Donald Asher who is author of Cracking the Hidden Job Market, “You get a job by talking to people: You don’t get a job by having a great resume, a good interview look, a firm handshake, or a solid education. You get a job because you get in front of somebody and they decide to add you to the payroll. Most job seekers look for jobs by talking to computer software. It’s faster to talk to people. People are more likely to pass you along than computers are. Computers are picky. People are helpful.”

You can beat the odds. Frankly, you have to beat the odds.

“The United States quit creating jobs more than a decade ago. Then the Great Recession hit, which I date from September 14, 2008, when Lehman Brothers failed. This smacked down workers even more. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 1999 and 2009 the U.S. economy created only 121,000 new jobs, a growth rate of .01 percent/year. A decade to create 121,000 net new jobs! It takes 125,000 new jobs per month  to keep up with the population growth alone. It will take considerable time to create enough jobs to absorb the 30 million people who are unemployed, underemployed, or discouraged and off the market.”

The economy is exacerbating anxieties. A survey done in 2012 in Nature shows the concerns of many scientists around the world as the global recession squeezes research budgets. The shortfall in grant funding is nothing new, but many will soon realize that industry offers many attractive ‘alternative’ career options.  On the bright side, the unemployment rate for PhD’s is below 4%. But getting a PhD doesn’t mean that you are immune to economic hardships or the struggles of finding a job.

Half of PhD candidates in the life science and engineering field still requireseven years or more to complete their degree. If you have invested all this time and have decided to finish, don’t you want to see a return on your investment without ‘giving up’ even more years of your life? In other words, if you don’t plan on staying in academia, why are you spending 5+ years as a postdoc?

So the question becomes, how can you beat the odds? What can you do NOW as a PhD student or postdoc that will give you the marketable skills to crossover? And when you gain these marketable skills, how can you couple this with NETWORKING so that you are tapping into the “hidden job market”?

Solutions to Beat The Odds

Now that you are aware of the problems and what you will be faced with or are going through, there needs to be solutions that give you an edge.

If you haven’t already, make sure you read the article: “The missing piece to changing the university culture.” The biggest challenge that we are faced with today as PhD students is a culture change:

70% of life science PhDs pursue a postdoc after graduation (based on 2010 data) which means that PhDs are unsure of their careers and/or unequipped for a nonacademic career. 40% of graduate students are indifferent or unsatisfied with their graduate school experience. Current PhD programs will continue to train primarily for an academic career. But this is a ‘false hope,’ and you may be in your mid-30’s until you’ve come to realize this and decided to make a change. It is time that Universities, faculty, and professors stop looking the other way when it comes to fixing the problem.

The Biotechnology and Life Science Advising (BALSA) group was founded in 2010 by a group of dissatisfied postdocs and graduate students. The result is that through their collaborative efforts, they have developed a model where post-docs and graduate students work with startups in the form of 6 to 8 week consulting projects. The result? BALSA has worked with 37 companies and 53 projects. Graduate students and postdocs are coming out with real world business experience.

Even researchers with NO prior business knowledge are making valuable contributions to both early and late stage companies. As a PhD student or postdoc, you are trained to analyze and think critically. The best part is that BALSA’s partnership with Washington University in Saint Louis and the Office of Technology Management has provided Universities and Principal Investigators as a means to commercialize their work.

Although BALSA’s efforts look promising, we are still left with the question as to whether these efforts can be expanded on a national level. Also, are they sustainable? Will Universities and Professors push more for the adoption of these efforts? Only time will tell.

The bottom line is that you aren’t going to sit around and wait for BALSA to come along to your University. So in the meantime, you have to go create these opportunities on your own. BALSA may give you hands-on experience (via projects) with industry challenges, business concepts, competitive intelligence and market analysis, technology due diligence, regulatory affairs, project management, and licensing/business plan development. Does this sound like a checklist of wishful thinking? Well, there is nothing stopping you from gaining some or a combination of these skills and experience during your time as a graduate student/postdoc.

So here are the top 5 solutions to gain valuable skills outside of your academic training and beat the odds once you get your PhD:

1)      Consider Consulting

There are many consulting opportunities available for scientists. These many options span freelance work, working for a consulting firm or even starting your own consulting company. Whichever that may be, I would highly recommend doing freelance consulting work during your PhD. This could shuttle you into a management consulting position upon graduation.

Find a unique skill set that you are good at and offer your services to a company. If you need an example, check out how a graphic illustrator/scientific visual communicator went freelance during and out of graduate school.

Another example is self-taught SEO or social media marketing consulting. Many companies (including start-ups) are blogging and doing digital marketing, and learning the ropes of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. If you are already running a professional blog (all PhD students should!), you have already learned how to effectively run social media and marketing campaigns, and chances are you could do part-time work offering your services. You are also developing your technical writing skills in addition to sharing scientific ideas and making worldwide network contacts.

**Management consulting can be an excellent way to put your analytical and scientific training to use while you develop your business expertise. If you have the passion to innovate, drive change, and help companies be more successful, it might be the career choice for you. You will learn how to lead teams, manage people, and take on challenging and interesting problems. The connections that you make with top business professionals will also open doors to future career opportunities. And, your hard work and efforts could also have a huge impact on the future direction of the company.

Further Reading:

2)      Consider doing a summer internship during your PhD studies or during your postdoc

As mentioned in a previous article, the most practical solution for many is to obtain a paid internship (ideally) during your time in graduate school. Internships are CRUCIAL and I cannot stress enough that graduate students and post-docs should take a summer off (or balance the internship 50% and graduate school 50%) and obtain industry experience. That way you will come out with real-world industry experience and some marketable skills. You need to negotiate and leverage this in any way that you can.

A lot of companies are willing to try you out for a short 3 months. That initial spark will come from their interest in you via informational interviews (see below). Chances are if they like you at the end of the internship, you might also have an offer waiting for you upon graduation at that same company.

The first step to land an internship position is to do informational interviews and start networking. You can read more about informational interviews here. Read: How To Network and Add Value to Yourself and Others to get a good starting point. Just because internship positions aren’t posted doesn’t mean they can’t be created or they don’t exist. Ask around and you’ll be surprised what you will find.

Internships also boost Postdocs’ skills and really add to their marketability. The challenge as any might imagine, is getting your PI to agree.

3)      Consider auditing or taking business classes, participating in workshops, or leading/organizing business events on campus.

If you are a science person, then take a business class and start networking with business professors and MBA students. If not business, find a secondary interest and step out of your comfort zone. Get involved in patent law, tech transfer, computer programming, or entrepreneurial classes. This will come down solely to you and your interests. Many business professors will allow you to sit in their class even if you aren’t taking the class for credit. Entrepreneurial management classes for example, will expose you to writing business plans and doing SWOT analysis, and growing local starts-ups via group projects.

4)      Start a side business, professional blog, develop a product, or find like-minded individuals preferably with an entrepreneurial mindset or business drive.

5)      Network every week. Then network some more.

Step 1: Network to obtain an internship and gain the marketable skills that you need

Step 2: Network to obtain a job post-PhD

Did you catch that? You need to network to create opportunities. Then you network to create more opportunities beyond that. During or after PhD, it doesn’t matter. If you lack marketable skills, you’ll need to network to obtain them or find out what those specific skills are. Even with internship experience under you belt, you will need to network beyond the PhD to land an industry position. Obviously, it is MUCH easier to use the power of networking when you already have the marketable skills to find an industry job versus networking from scratch (i.e. skipping Step 1 and jumping right into Step 2). But whatever stage you are in, it is never too late to start. There is no stopping when it comes to networking and the truth is that it is a lifelong process and requires continual effort.

PhD graduate students and postdocs simply don’t network enough. How can you understand the needs of a company if you don’t speak to people? How can you know the industry, the market, and the customer? Chances are a startup company in your area has a need. What value can you add to fulfill that need?  This ties into #2 above.

There are many more examples. The reality is that it is not impossible to create opportunities, take on an internship, do consulting, and/or run a professional blog during your PhD and come out with a huge leg up upon graduation. Those that do #1-#5 or a combination thereof will stand out from the crowd and will most likely beat out other PhD students who focused on nothing else but getting their degree. Chances are you will land a job in industry and work in a fulfilling career. Gaining the marketable skills to crossover is no easy task, but with hard work, patience, and the right connections anything is possible.

Keep pushing and you will see good things come your way.

Email me with any questions. Future article will be on how to transition into Product Management, Marketing, or Sales.

Further Reading:

Internships Boost Postdocs’ Skills, Worldliness, and Marketability

The PhD Industry Gap

Life after the PhD: Re-Train Your Brain

3 Things PhDs Leaving Academia Should Know About Business

Taking Charge of Your Career

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Seeking!!!!!!!!!

Is A PhD Degree Worth It?

Posted in BioEducation

There is no longer any question that it is becoming increasingly difficult for PhD life scientists to find jobs. Further, there is no longer any doubt that the academic system responsible for the current glut of PhD life scientists on the market is broken and needs to be fixed. However, it is important to point out that the decision the get a PhD degree is a very personal one and, in most cases, is not based on the prospect of future long term employment.  In fact, most graduate students and postdoctoral scientists that I have talked to over the past 10 years, don’t think about the need to find a job until they learn that their funding is running out.  The point  is, that just because you have a PhD degree it does not entitle you to a job. Further, looking for a job takes commitment, time and a lot of work and unfortunately some PhD scientists mistakenly  think that the “jobs will/should come to them.”  Put simply, if you aren’t willing to put in the work to find a job, which may mean additional training or a possible career change, then you have nobody to blame but yourself.

In 1974, shortly after I was admitted to the graduate program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I received a congratulatory letter from my soon-to-be PhD adviser. In the letter he made a comment about “the blood, sweat and tears” that are required to earn a PhD degree.  At the time, I was a youthful, ambitious 21 year-old, who thought he could do anything and I had no idea what he was talking about!  Seven painful and often tearful years later, I finally understood what he meant by those words; because I had lived them!  I  have no doubt that many who are reading this post have had similar experiences. However, earning your  PhD degree is only the very beginning of your journey. And, like it or not,  the only thing that a PhD guarantees is that others will call you “doctor”and that you can add the letters “PhD” after your name!

For the past several months I have been following a question on a LinkedIn group that asked: “If you had to do it all over again, would you have still chosen to get your PhD degree”. For me, the answer is an unequivocal YES!  And, like the first time, that decision would not have been based on the notion that there would or should be a job waiting for me at the end of my training.  My decision was a personal one based on my “love of microbiology” not the guarantee of future employment.

So,  to those of you who feel like the system has let you down and that you have been abused, I feel your pain but offer the following. If you wanted a guaranteed job at the end of your training than you ought to have considered a career in medicine, nursing, law, engineering, physical therapy, carpentry, plumbing or any other profession where a license is required to practice. These professionals offer a “service” to people and, in exchange for services rendered, they get paid for their efforts.  Like it or not, laboratory research is a not a service or fee-based industry and consequently has minimal short term personal value to people. And, not surprisingly, the demand for PhD life scientists, well trained or not, is not high.

In closing, nobody said getting a PhD degree was going to be easy. And, as somebody once said to me, “if getting a PhD degree was easy, then everybody would have one!”  That said, be proud that you earned your degree; but the hard work has only just begun!

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!

Negotiating a Job Offer

Posted in Career Advice

Because of the challenging job market, I spend most of my time advising jobseekers about ways in which they can improve their chances of landing a face-to-face job interview. However, one of the trickiest parts of the whole job seeking process is negotiating an employment offer if one is extended. And, for whatever reason, there is a lot of anxiety, trepidation and misinformation surrounding the entire job negotiation process. This post provides some insights into negotiating a job offer and debunks some of the urban legends about the negotiation process itself.

One of the more important (perhaps THE MOST important) aspect of the job offer negotiation process is starting salary. While many people tend to downplay its importance, at the end of the day, it is always about money. And, there is no reason why a jobseeker should not try to get the best possible salary from a prospective employer. Therefore, it is incumbent upon jobseekers to gather as much salary intelligence about a possible position before the interview and after an offer is extended. Websites like and, which list salary ranges based on industry and geography, are a great place to start. However, because these are self-reporting websites, a better option may be to talk with employees working at the company that extended the offer or with others who work for its competitors.

An urban legend that I feel compelled to debunk is the notion that a job offer will be rescinded if the person who received the offer dares to ask for higher pay. Companies spend a lot of time, effort and money to get to the point to extend an offer to the “right fit” candidate. The prospect of starting the job search process all over again or settling for the “second best” candidate is usually not a viable option for most employers. For this reason, I advise persons who receive job offers to not immediately accept them (unless of course they fit into the category of “too good to refuse” which admittedly are very rare even in the best of times). In fact, since this is the last time that a jobseeker will be able to negotiate with his/her employer, I highly recommend “getting as much as you can.” However, as my financial adviser and longtime friend once told me, “the bears and the bulls make money, but pigs always get slaughtered!”

Until next time,

Good Luck and Good Negotiating!!!!!!!!

Live From Shanghai, China: The 1st Sino-British Cell Death and Disease Symposium

Posted in BioEducation

Recent progress in cell death, stem cell biology and cancer research has created a new paradigm of research direction, shifting from pure analytical approaches toward a more translational one with animals and patients. The purpose of The 1st Cell Death and Disease Symposium to be held in Shanghai,China onMay 8-9 2013 is to create a forum for the interaction among scientists from China and other parts of the world. It will also provide a platform for development of collaboration.

This year’s symposium is the 4th installment of a series of Sino-British workshops and symposia on cell death. Presenters include scientists from China, England and Australia. Unlike previous conferences, this one will stream live on the Internet for those who are interested in real time viewing.  Vcasts of the symposium will also be available upon conclusion of the event.  For more information about the conference, presenters and agenda please click here

Live streaming in China is still very much in its formative stage. Therefore, those of you who are interested in paid access to a live video stream for the meeting or paid access to vcasts, please contact me via .  Please indicate in the subject line of the message if you are interested in the live stream or the vcasts.

Please note that registering for the conference online does not grant access to live or archived vcasts. This is a special feature offered by BioInsights, Inc in association with the conference organizers.

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!!!

The Biotechnology Job Market: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Posted in BioBusiness

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, a Tarrytown, NY-based biotechnology company, today announced plans to add 400 new employees to its fast-growing staff upon completion of two new buildings; additional laboratories and office space.  Regeneron, founded 24 years ago, recently hit its stride after receiving regulatory approval for its first big product called Eylea —a treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration—which generated $825 million in sales revenue this past year. This past August, the company received FDA approval for Zaltrap; a colorectal cancer drug that was co-developed with Sanofi.  Finally, the company has a cholesterol-lowering monoclonal antibody drug in Phase III clinical development.  Over the past six years, the headcount at Regeneron has grown from 682 to over 2,000 and the company is still hiring!

Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS), which eight months ago purchased San Diego-based Amylin Pharmaceuticals for $5.3 billion for it diabetes drug franchise, announced today that it will close Amylin’s corporate headquarters in La Jolla at the end of next year. Employees will be given the option to transfer to other BMS locations. Those who don’t transfer will lose their jobs. At present, 420 people work at Amylin’s corporate headquarters and hundreds will likely be layed off. Before the acquisition, Amylin employed about 1,250 workers. Roughly 300 employees at an Ohio manufacturing site and about 400 sales persons have been absorbed into the BMS workforce. To date, approximately 400 Amylin employees have lost their jobs.

Three weeks ago, pharmaceutical giant Astra Zeneca announced that it was cutting 1,600 R&D jobs by 2016.  Two days later, the company announced that it would cut 2,300 additional jobs (mainly sales and administrative jobs). This brings the layoffs that the company has announced in the last 15 months to 5,050. Since 2007, the company has eliminated over 32,000 jobs.  While this may sound draconian, it is not: most of Astra Zeneca’s competitors including Merck, Pfizer, Novartis, and Bayer etc. have  layed off just as many employees during the same period.  In fact, since 2001 the pharmaceutical industry has shed well over 300,000 jobs.

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!!!!





Here We Go Again: AstraZeneca to Cut 1,600 Jobs

Posted in BioBusiness

Just when many pharmaceutical employees’ anxiety about  job security was beginning to wane and things appeared to returning to “normal”, yesterday AstraZeneca (AZ) announced that it was slashing another 1,600 jobs.  While this was not unexpected, these new cuts add to the massive number of pharmaceutical employees who have lost their jobs over the past five years.

According to a press release, the cuts will help AZ to save roughly $190 million per year through 2016.  Most of the lost jobs will come from restructuring of AZ’s R& D operations in the UK, Sweden and the US.  To that end, all R&D activity will stop at AZ’s Alderley Park facility in Northwest England, the former hub of the company’s R&D activities.  Az’s MedImmune subsidiary in Gaithersburg, MD will be the main center for biotech drug R&D while AZ’s research center in MoeIndal Sweden will focus on small molecule discovery and development.

AZ’s new CEO Pascal Soriot said the reorganization and restructuring were necessary to better focus the company’s R&D efforts in the key therapy areas that include cancer, cardiovascular and metabolic disorders and respiratory and inflammatory diseases. The company will reduce its efforts in the areas of neuroscience and antiinfectives.

Interestingly, many of the job cuts were made so that the company can build a new $500 million all purpose facility in Cambridge, England to leverage the R&D and clinical talent in that part of Britain.  The new facility is expected to be built by 2016.  Looking on the bright side, many of the employees who just lost their jobs, can find new ones three years from now!

AstraZeneca has already reduced its global workforce by around 10,000 as it has struggled to cope with generic competition and disappointing progress in finding new drugs. It now employs a total of 51,700 around the world.

Don’t be surprised if other big pharma companies announce new job cuts in 2013.

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!

Some Good and Bad Investment News for Biotech Companies

Posted in BioEducation

Let’s start with the good news first. A report issued by the National Capital Association and PricewaterhouseCoopers found that venture capital investment in biotechnology grew 22 percent in 2011. And, now the bad news; initial funding for biotechnology startups seeking investment hit a 16 year low last year. The consensus among financial analysts is that life science investors are increasingly focusing on later stage companies because they carry less clinical and regulatory risks as compared with early stage ones. Put simply, VCs, like everyone else, have become much more risk adverse and do not want to invest in companies that don’t have a minimum history of success.

According to the report, venture firms spent $4.73 billion on 446 biotechnology companies in 2011, the highest dollar amount since 2007. Approximately, 153 biotechnology and medical devices companies received their first round of funding last year.

Finally, the US Food and Drug Administration approved 30 drugs in 2011; 13 of which were developed in part by venture funding.

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!!!!!


China By The Numbers

Posted in BioEducation

Much has been written about the emerging markets in China. While there are likely thousands of business article and white papers on China’s economic expansion, I was unable to find a single source that provided me with some vital economic and social statistics to explain China’s rise as an economic power; that is until I received OnWisconsin, a quarterly publication from my alma mater the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

An article entitled “Delicate Balance” by Jenny Price ’96 provided me with a plethora of data that cogently and expertly explained the Chinese ascendancy as an economic power. Not surprisingly, the data offered by Price was compared with economic, social and business data from the US. Some of the information was startling to say the least (bold italics); so here goes:

Urban Population

United States 82%

China 47%

Median Age

United States 36.9 years

China 35.5

Total Fertility Rate

United States 2.06 children born per woman

China 1.54 children born per woman

Infant Mortality Rate (death per 1,000 live births)

United States 6.06

China 16.06

Net Migration Rate

United States 4.18 migrants/1,000 population

China -0.33 migrants/1000 population

Largest City

United States New York/Newark 19.3 million

Shanghai 16.6 million


United States $1.903 trillion/$1.27 trillion

China $1.307 trillion/$1.506 trillion

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by Sector


United States 1.2%

China 9.6%


United States 22.2%

China 46.8%


United States 76.7%

China 43.6%

External Debt

United States $13.98 trillion

China $406.6 billion

Public Debt

United States 58.9% of GDP

China 17.5 % of GDP

Budget Revenues/Expenditures

United States $2.092 trillion/$3.397 trillion

China $1.149 trillion/$1.27 trillion

Population (2011 estimate)

United States 313,232,044

China 1,336,718,015

Literacy (ages 15 or older or can read and write)

United States 99%

China, 91.6%

Life Expectancy at Birth

United States 78.37 years

China 74.68 years

After reviewing the data, it became much more apparent to me as to why so many companies, most notably pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, are investing heavily in the Chinese market. Financial analysts predict that the Chinese pharmaceutical market will surpass the US (currently the world’s largest) by the end of the decade. That said, I think it may be time for the American public to learn more about China. Learning as much as possible about the competition is essential if you want to stay in the game.

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!!!!


Some Tips to Land Academic Research Jobs

Posted in BioEducation

In many cases, people looking for jobs in healthcare will pursue job search strategies no different from any other line of employment. These jobseekers browse career websites, like BioCrowd and BioJobCenter, attend job fairs, send emails to hiring managers, and check corporate websites for job listings. Also, they will talk to friends and network with colleagues to get the inside track on job opportunities. No matter what healthcare opportunity or laboratory position that you may be seeking, the approach taken will often be a relatively straightforward and predictable one.

But certain subsets of the healthcare industry including biotech and the pharmaceutical industries have their own unique features and considerations when it comes to the job search. For example, academic research positions – while not necessarily the most difficult to obtain – are certainly the kind of jobs where a slightly different search approach may be helpful. If you are currently looking for laboratory work, (especially in academic settings) and want to maximize your ability to find a job, here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Contact Professors/ Principal Investigators Directly

Rather than visiting job boards or directly applying to your institution for an academic research position, it is a much better idea to directly contact the professor whose laboratory you are interested in working in. Unlike CEOs and hiring managers in the private, professors and principal investors (PI) are usually easy to email and initiate a conversation with. Take advantage of this opportunity. Find academic institutions in your region and start sending emails to individual researchers. If you interest them, and they have funding, the likelihood of securing a position is much higher than those who take a more passive job search approach.

Grant Money Is a Limiting Factor

A major factor that that impacts the availability of many academic research jobs is insufficient grant monies. Obviously, if a lab that you may be interested in working in doesn’t have sufficient grant money  then the chance of working in that laboratory is unlikely. However, graduate students or postdocs who are able to obtain their own funding will have little difficulty in landing positions in most laboratories.  Sadly, this pathway to employment is not open to those who are not graduate students or possess a PhD degree in the sciences.

Develop A Plan And A Pitch

Landing a research job is not much different than those used to secure other types of employment. The key is developing a focused job search strategy that highlights your skills, unique talents and past work (laboratory) experiences. In addition, it is vitally important that you learn how to “sell” yourself to prospective employers. Unfortunately, many persons seeking research positions almost exclusively focus on putting together“killer” curriculum vitae (CV) or resume. It is important to remember that a CV is simply a vehicle to help procure a face-to-face interview. Once a job interview is secured, it is entirely up to a jobseeker to convince a prospective employer that he/she is the best and only person who is right for the job. To accomplish this, jobseekers must spend time developing a convincing pitch. While many scientists are not very good at this, it is essential to land jobs in economically-difficult times. 

While this is not an exhaustive list, these tips may be helpful to those of you who may be seeking research jobs in academic laboratories. It is important to remember that looking for a job, especially in these trying economic times, take a lot of hard work, commitment and tenacity.

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!