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!!!!!!!!!

Astra Zeneca Will Layoff 1,150 Sales Reps

Posted in BioJobBuzz

Last week, US unemployment dipped to 8.6%, it lowest level since 2008. Stock markets rose and everyone was buoyed by a possible economic recovery. What a difference one week can make. Today, Astra Zeneca announced that it will layoff 1,150 sales reps; a few short weeks after announcing plans to eliminate 400 jobs at is US headquarters in Wilmington, DE. The company currently employs about 61,000 workers worldwide, including 14, 000 in North America.

According to the president of Astra Zeneca US, today’s announcement is part of the larger layoff of 10, 400 employees announced back in 2010. These layoffs are largely the result of loss of patent protection for several of Astra Zeneca’s largest selling drugs including Crestor (cholesterol), Nexium (acid reflux) and Sereoquel (anti-pyschotic).  Today’s announcement brings the total of US pharmaceutical employees who lost their jobs this year to about 20,000 according to a post on the Pharmalot blog.

Tis the season, after all!

Until next time…

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


Ten Female Biotech Executives to Watch in 2012

Posted in BioBusiness

Fierce Biotech conducted its annual survey to identify top female executives in the biotechnology industry. After receiving 130 nominations, they compiled a Top 10 List for 2011.  While some notable women executives may not have made it onto the 2011list, there is always next year.

Their list is as follows:

  1. Katrine Bosley—CEO, Avila Therapeutics
  2. Susan Desmond-Hellman, MD—Chancellor of USCF (formerly @ Genentech)
  3. Deborah Dunsire,MD—President and CEO, Millennium, the Takeda Oncology Company
  4. Carol Gallagher—CEO, Calistoga Pharmaceuticals
  5. Melinda Gates—Co-Founder and Co-Chair, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
  6. Maxine Gowen, PhD, MBA—President and CEO, Trevna
  7. Rachel King—CEO, GlycoMimetics
  8. Tina Nova, PhD—CEO Genoptix Medical Laboratory
  9. Gail Schulze—CEO& Executive Chair of the Board, Zosano
  10. Daphne Zohar—Pure Tech Ventures

If you think that someone who is not on the list deserves to be there, add a comment to this post.

Congrats to the women who made the list!

Until next time…

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


How to Determine If Laboratory Research Is The Right Career Choice For You

Posted in Career Advice

Most aspiring young scientists tell me that they love doing bench work and that they want to do it for their entire career. I am never certain whether they actually feel that way or they are simply telling me what they think I want to hear.  Nevertheless, I want to share my own feelings about bench work because I think it may be instructive for jobseekers who may not be entirely certain about their chosen career paths.

While I enjoyed doing research, first as a graduate student and then as a postdoc, bench work was not much fun for me and I found that the less I did it the happier I was. This should have been a warning sign but I ignored it because I believed that once I landed a tenure track position and had my own laboratory that I would be spending much less time at the bench. Much to my dismay that assumption was completely wrong and for the next seven years I was always at the bench when I was not writing grants, papers, serving on committees or teaching. And, not surprisingly, I resented it! But, then again, what did I expect? After all, I was a research scientist!

Interestingly, I have come to know that I am not the only card-carrying PhD life scientist who was not completely enamored with bench work. Many graduate students and postdocs share with me their aversion to bench work and their desire to get out of the laboratory. If you are one of those persons who feel this way, then I highly recommend that you eschew a career as a research scientist and pursue an alternate career path. Like it or not, you have to LOVE doing laboratory research to be a successful research scientist. In fact, not being able to be in the laboratory should be a disappointment rather than a time to rejoice! I believe this to be true because every single successful scientist that I know always talks about a time in their career when they were able to spend every waking minute in the lab and could think of no better place to be! To wit, in today’s NY Times Science Times, Michael S. Gazzaniga, PhD, a renowned psychologist, shared the following tidbit with his interviewer:

“I would be getting up at midnight and heading over to the lab — these experiments took great preparation, and that was the only really quiet time over there. It was busy, busy; I was up and around at all hours. I was totally lost in it, and those were the greatest years of my life. It just couldn’t have been better.”

If you do not feel this way, then a life long career as a research scientist may not be a wide career choice for you. Take it from someone who knows!

Until next time…

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


Alternatives to Pharma Jobs: Working For CROs and Biotech Start Ups

Posted in Career Advice

In today’s tough economy, one of the more challenging things after graduating college or graduate school is finding a job. Many life sciences graduates are beginning to realize that skills and training that they received in college have not adequately prepared them for jobs in the real world. Furthering, “previous industrial experience” is almost always a requirement for most jobs at pharma and biotechnology companies. As many students ask me “How can we get previous industrial experience if nobody will hire us to get that experience?” 

While this may appear to be a typical “Catch 22” situation, it is not an insurmountable one A convenient way to acquire the requisite previous industrial experience is to volunteer or land an internship (paid or otherwise) at a small, local life sciences company. Many of these companies can use the help and will gladly give you an opportunity as long as they don’t have to pay you much. Another strategy is to seek employment contract research organizations (CROs) like Huntingdon Life Sciences. These companies conduct research for their pharmaceutical and biotechnology clients and are frequently willing to hire relatively inexperienced but talented scientists into entry level jobs. This is because the demand for well-trained scientists continues to grow at CROs as more and more pharma and biotechnology companies outsource R&D activities and continue to shed jobs. 

Another option is to look for entry-level jobs at local start up companies. Typically, most of these companies are venture-backed and have limited financial resources. Consequently, salaries offered by these companies to employees are generally lower than those at CROs, biotech and pharmaceutical companies. Nevertheless, while you may not get paid as much as you expected or like, working as a research scientist at a start up company definitely counts as industry experience and it may help to jump start your career in the life sciences industry. 

If you cannot get a job at a CRO or a local start up, you can always start your own company! However, while this may sound like an exciting idea, it is probably a good idea get some entrepreneurial training before you take the leap. For example, Washington University offers a program called the BioEntrepreneurship Core, which combines biomedical research methods with business and entrepreneurial skills. The program offers outreach programs that connect would-be entrepreneurs with business and financial leaders in the St Louis, MO area. Also, it frequently hosts networking events and has access to state resources that can be allocated for new ventures and start ups.

According to a recent article in the St. Louis Post Dispatch, the city of St Louis has many life sciences graduates, but lacks the businesses to employ them all. To that end, BioSTL, a local initiative backed by hospitals, research facilities, and private investors was recently created to build a life sciences industry in St Louis and provide jobs to its talented pool of life sciences graduates and scientists. Ultimately, BioSTL hopes that its efforts will allow the St Louis metro area compete with established biotechnology markets on the East and West Coasts.

Finally, it you cannot land a job at a CRO, a local start up or you are not interested in starting your own company, you can always go back to graduate school. However, if you choose this path, then I highly recommend that you do some research to determine which jobs are likely to be in high demand over the next 5 to 10 years! While going to graduate school may help to defer repaying your undergraduate students loans, you run the risk of incurring more debt and possibly not have a job after you graduate unless you choose your next career option wisely.

Until next time…

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


Emerging Job Opportunities in the Life Sciences Industry

Posted in BioJobBuzz

I just returned from the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) meeting in Washington DC where I gave three talks about biocareer development strategies. One of the talks, "Emerging Job Opportunities in the Life Sciences Industry" was reported on (see below) by a writer from Fierce Pharma.  While I don’t usually "too my own horn." about my achievements, I thought a Number 2 ranking in the publications daily top 10 list was certainly worth a mention.  

New job opportunities emerging in Big Pharma
October 26, 2011 — 7:24am ET | By Maureen Martino

Since 2001, 300,000 pharma employees have lost their jobs, primarily in R&D and sales. That’s according to Clifford Mintz, the founder of BioInsights, which develops and offers bioscience education and training. Mintz spoke at a session on new job opportunities in biotech and pharma at the annual AAPS meeting in Washington, D.C. While the losses have been steep, they’re balanced by emerging, in-demand careers in the industry.

The industry’s struggles are well-known: Many companies are facing loss of exclusivity on their biggest sellers but have little in the pipeline to pick up the slack. Productivity is dropping as the cost of bringing a new drug to market soars. Government and payors want more effective drugs for less money. The list goes on.

Developers are looking to new markets and new technologies to address these issues. But how do these trends play out for the pharma job seeker? Many people, particularly Ph.D.s, may have to consider getting additional training if they want to land their dream job. "Companies used to be willing to just hire smart people. But with the economic downturn and global competition, companies can no longer afford to invest in people who have promise. They need to see proven skills," Mintz explained. With the right blend of skills and experience, however, there still some pharma jobs that are in demand.

Clinical Research and Regulatory Affairs

"Clinical research is the lifeblood of the industry," Mintz said. As developers expand in emerging markets, there’s a particular demand for people to manage and organize overseas clinical trials. "There’s a huge need for clinical research professionals worldwide," he said, noting that most Phase I and II trials are conducted outside of the U.S.

Another one of the industry’s perennial needs is regulatory affairs professionals. "Regulatory affairs experience is a skill that all companies large and small would die to get their hands on," explained Mintz. The increasingly complex and uncertain world of FDA regulation–particularly when it comes to new technology and science–means that companies are always on the prowl for individuals with solid regulatory knowledge and ability to interact with the FDA. You can read more about the demand for clinical research and regulatory affairs jobs here.


The pharma industry’s interest in biologics remains strong–just look at Sanofi’s buyout of Genzyme, or Roche’s purchase of Genentech. They’re lured by disease-altering biologics that are less likely to face generic competition than traditional drugs. As a result, there’s been increased demand for professionals who can navigate the complex world of biomanufacturing. Those with a background in upstream and downstream processes, large-scale protein purification, fermentation technology and bioengineering can make the transition to biomanufacturing.

Healthcare Information Technology

The rise of bioinformatics and genomics coupled with the push for electronic medical records has created jobs in healthcare information technology. Health informatics–the intersection of healthcare and IT–is ideal for people with expertise in genomics, bioinformatics or software that understand how to work with and manipulate large data sets and databases. The Obama administration has made EHRs a priority, and there’s a need for software engineers and biologists who are comfortable working with medical information.

Medical Devices

"The medical devices industry has been experiencing explosive growth for the past decade," Mintz said. Regulatory hurdles in the medical device industry are much lower than they are for biologics or small molecules, making the industry a more stable alternative to biotech and pharma. The demand for devices, which address problems that can’t be treated with medicine, will continue to grow as the population ages. Job seekers with strong backgrounds in bioinformatics, genomics, engineering and translational medicine are best suited to this field.

Medical Communications

Medical communications–which includes medical writing, editing, graphic design and science journalism–continues to boom. The demand for these jobs has risen because companies need a slew of communication materials to send to patients, physicians, researchers, investigators and the general public about their products and business.

Patent Law and Technology Transfer

Recent changes to U.S. patent laws have increased the demand for patent agents and patent attorneys in the life sciences field. Pharma’s growing reliance on basic research from learning institutions means that there’s a need for technology transfer experts. These experts manage the patent estate and intellectual property of universities and colleges that may engage in licensing deals with the industry. A law degree is a must to compete in this field.

Until next time…

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

Consolidation Continues in the US Life Sciences Industry

Posted in BioBusiness

Earlier this week Roche Holding AG announced that it would pay $230 million to acquire the San Diego, CA-based biopharmaceutical company Anadys. The reason for the acquisition is to bolster Roche’s standing in the hepatitis C market which is projected to grow to as much as $15 billion annually by 2019.

Anadys has a fairly large experimental pipeline of hepatitis C drugs, the most advanced candidate being setrobuivr that is being clinically tested in combination with the generic antiviral drug ribavirin and Pegasys (PEGylated α-interferon) as a hepatitis C treatment.

The Anadys deal comes on the heels of an agreement last week between Roche and Merck & Co to jointly market hepatitis C treatments in the US. Merck recently won approval last May for Victrelis (boceprevir) the first new hepatitis C treatment in over a decade. Also, late last month Vertex Pharmaceuticals received approval for a new hepatitis C drug called Incivek (telaprevir). Anadys is also conducting early clinical trials on ANA773 as a possible treatment for hepatitis C infection, cancer and other chronic diseases.

In other news, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is rumored to be contemplating purchasing Maryland-based Human Genome Sciences (HGS), which recently received US approval for Benlysta a novel monoclonal antibody treatment for the autoimmune disease systemic lupus erythematous. 

Benlysta was the first new drug to be approved to treat lupus in over 50 years. GSK is HGS’s commercialization partner for Benlysta which is expected to be a blockbuster drug. The reason for the takeover rumors is likely HGS’s stock price which has fallen from 52-week high of $30 to its current value of $15 per share. 

Until next time…

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


More Workforce Diversity is Needed in the Life Sciences

Posted in BioBusiness

As scientists, we all  subscribe to the notion that diversity is a critical component to the evolution of any species. While we this is a well known fact, the life sciences industry, like others, struggles with workforce diversity mainly in the area of research and development. For example the number of minority students—blacks and hispanics—who receive PhD degrees is miniscule as compared with their white counterparts.  Graduate schools struggle to promote diversity in their programs but their efforts to date have been lackluster.

One of the factors that contribute to the lack of representation of minority students in the life sciences may be the lack of access to equal educational opportunities. With this in mind, the folks over at onlinecolleges.net sent me a post that has a plethora of information about the state of minority education in the US. I culled relevant information from the list and reproduced it for this post.

Stereotyping impairs performance

A startling Ohio State University study exploring the effects of racial stereotyping uncovered some very unfortunate truths. Nearly 160 African-American students were asked to write an essay about an average college student, either named "Tyrone" or "Erik," with the implication being that the former is black and the latter white. Those assigned Tyrone scored an average of 4.5 on a standardized test, while Team Erik ended up with 6.2. Although possessing equal academic aptitude, researchers believe prevailing stereotypes negatively impact performance — thus creating an unjust cycle reinforced by students and teachers alike. 

Hispanic high school students had the highest dropout rate in 2009

The National Center for Educational Statistics shows that 17.6% of Hispanic high school students drop out before completing their diplomas or GEDs. Reasons vary from kid to kid, of course, and do not necessarily denote poor grades or discipline. On a positive note, however, Hispanic dropout rates decline steadily every year, with 2008 seeing 18.3% of the high school population leaving before graduating. 

Minorities comprise 32% of undergraduate enrollees

Undergraduate enrollment has actually increased among all racial and ethnic demographics, although minorities remain heavily underrepresented on American college campuses. Only 32% of postsecondary students are minorities as of 2004 statistics, but their numbers increase yearly — certainly a positive trend. Between 1976 and 2004, Asians and Pacific Islanders experienced the highest rate of increase, boasting a whopping 461%. So while the number still seems low these days, minorities are definitely catching up on campus and enjoy more opportunities to have their voices heard and heeded.

Minorities comprise 25% of graduate enrollees

With increased minority undergraduate enrollment came more representation in graduate programs, though at a slower pace. 2004 statistics showed that 25% of master’s and doctoral students were minorities, up from 11% in 1976. The most rampant increase occurred among Hispanics, at 377%. Once again, there’s absolutely nothing "scary" about more opportunities and representation in higher education. But the numbers could definitely be higher, especially since more enrollees means more imperative to address diverse needs.

Minorities comprise 10.2% of private school principals

In total, of course, as statistics vary rapidly depending on what — if any — denomination owns and operates the schools in question. Seventh-Day Adventist institutions lead the way, with 26.4% minority principals. Administrators of black, non-Hispanic or Latino descent are most prevalent, particularly in Seventh-Day Adventist (17.7%) and Pentecostal (14.7%) schools. They also make up 5.2% of total minority principals. When it comes to private education, more needs doing to ensure minority students and staff alike see their requests properly met.

The majority of black and Hispanic students attend high-poverty schools

Statistics from 2005 school year revealed that black and Hispanic students populate high-poverty schools more than any other minority. The National Center for Education Statistics considers "high-poverty schools," which are those with 75% or more attendees receiving free or reduced-price lunches. Forty-eight percent of black and 49% of Hispanic 4th graders hail from such desperately wanting institutions, while Asians and Pacific Islanders are more evenly distributed across economic demographics. 

Hispanic and black students are less likely to have internet access at home

Because of this, they adapt to classroom technology at a slower pace than their white, Asian and Native American peers. Twenty-six percent of Hispanic and 27% of black students use the internet at home, compared to 58% of Asian and 47% of Native American kids, resulting in a very unfortunate achievement gap. Numbers are improving, of course, but there’s still a ways to go before the gulf starts shrinking.

Schools with black or Hispanic majorities are more likely to hire underqualified or novice teachers

In fact, 25% of math educators at schools with 50% or more black students do not hold a degree or any other qualifications in the subjects they teach — probably the most egregious example. And once said teachers rack up the experience, they usually flee to more affluent (and white) areas. Such an unfortunate and enduring phenomenon plays a major role in perpetuating, if not outright widening, the achievement gap. Without knowledgeable, experienced and engaged teachers, students in affected schools typically lag behind and never receive the academic opportunities that should be afforded all youngsters. 

More black students repeat grades than any other racial or ethnic demographic

Both genders, too. In 2007, 25.6% of black males and 15.3% of black females between kindergarten and 12th grade had repeated at least one grade. These numbers, though, only reflect the issue as it relates to public school students. 

More black students receive suspensions and expulsions than any other racial or ethnic demographic

Between 6th and 12th grades, the 2007 school year saw 49.5% of black males and 34.7% of black females reporting that they had received at least one suspension in their academic careers. When it comes to expulsions, 16.6% of males and 8.2% of females said they had been dismissed from school at least once.

Hispanic teenagers have the highest pregnancy rate

In 2007, 81.7 out of every 1,000 Hispanic teenage girls gave birth — more than any other race or ethnicity. Across all demographics, however, the numbers are steadily decreasing.

This probably has something to do with improved sex education and easier access to necessary birth control devices, though the problem still requires considerable intervention. Especially since popping out babies as a high schooler is all trendy these days.

Clearly, until some of these problems are addressed, then it is likely that workforce diversity in the life sciences will continue to lag.

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!


A Glimpse Into The Lives of Five Successful Women Scientists

Posted in Career Advice

Workplace diversity, whether gender or racial, is critical to the success of any scientific or business venture. Yet, while the number of women entering graduate school in the sciences is now greater than the number of entering male students, tenured male scientists continue to outnumber female scientists at almost every US academic institution. The same is true at most science, technology and engineering companies where the number of male executives and managers far exceeds the number of female ones. Unfortunately, gender inequality in the sciences still exits despite years of concerted efforts to rectify and correct the problem.

With this in mind, Gina Kolata, a well known science writer for the NY Times, published an article in today’s Science Times that showcases five highly regarded and established female scientists who share their insights into what it takes to be a successful scientist in today’s highly competitive world.

Read and learn!

Until next time,

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


Consolidation Continues in the Pharmaceutical Sector: Teva to Acquire Cephalon for $6.8 Billion

Posted in BioBusiness

The world’s largest generic pharmaceutical company Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries LTD today announced that it has agreed to purchase Pennsylvania-based Cephalon, Inc for $6.8 billion. Teva will purchase Cephalon for $81.50 per share, a 12 percent premium to the $73-per share unsolicited offer tendered by Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc, on March 29, 2011. Cephalon’s board of directors rejected Valeant’s offer on April 5, 2011.

While most of Teva’s revenue comes from the sale of prescription generic medications, the company also sells several branded pharmaceutical products including the multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone and the Parkinson’s disease Azilect. Cephalon’s best selling drugs include Provigil for narcolepsy and the cancer drug Treanda. In addition to its marketed products, the Cephalon development pipeline contains potential cancer treatments, a tamper-resistant opioid painkiller, and an asthma treatment. The Cephalon acquisition is a pivotal part of Teva’s strategy of growing branded drug revenue to $9 billion by 2015.

Teva currently has about 40,000 employees worldwide while Cephalon employs 4,000 persons. It is not clear what ever the acquisition will have on job layoffs or organizational structure.

Cephalon’s stock price rose $3.25 or 4.2 percent to $80.26 after the deal was announced.

Until next time…

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