In July 2015 ASCB and the Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) offered Managing Science in the Biotech Industry: An Intensive Course for PhD Students and Postdocs. EMD Millipore provided generous funding for the course. Here one student discusses her experiences in the course.

Delira Robbins

Delira F. Robbins

The business side of science encompasses a breadth of disciplines and people, has the potential to broadly impact society and science, and allows you, the scientist, to be in the driver’s seat of change. This summer, I participated in the ASCB-KGI course Managing Science in the Biotech Industry. There were 40 participants, including graduate students and postdocs with various interests in consulting, intellectual property, and business development.

For two weeks, we were immersed in the business landscape of science. In the mornings, we reviewed and discussed case studies with KGI faculty members and associates. Following that each day was an afternoon session on professional development. During most of the afternoon sessions, a panel of professionals engaged in various facets of industry provided insights into their career paths and tips on how to explore various career options. The career panels provided an opportunity for graduate students and postdocs to make vital contacts in industry and gain insight into the day-to-day life of successful industry professionals.

One of the many things that made the ASCB-KGI course so valuable was its combination of classroom discussions with practical applications of business concepts through team projects. The team project was one of the most valuable experiences for me during the course. The ability to work in a team environment is becoming increasingly important in industry, and teams are often used to address certain tasks. The benefits of working with talented graduate students and postdocs

from around the world are immeasurable. We were able to share diverse perspectives on commercialization from our previous experiences and build great relationships that may help us to propel one another toward our future professional goals.

For the project, we worked collaboratively in teams of five to create an opportunity analysis of a diagnostic biomarker based on scientific validation, market potential, and economic and patient value. The project provided an opportunity to bounce ideas around and think about the pros and cons of each marketing approach. At the end of the course, we presented our analysis along with an investment recommendation to a panel of KGI faculty and guest industry professionals. This provided an excellent opportunity to develop stronger business communication skills and receive feedback on how to improve critical elements of our project from business professionals.

The ASCB-KGI course was a rewarding experience that has changed the way I view my research and its potential contributions to the biotech industry. Overall, my personal experience in industrial research and technology licensing and the MBA-style case-based teaching and market analysis strategies that I encountered during the ASCB-KGI course have equipped me with a diverse skill set that will be conducive to my career transition from academia to industry.

—Delira F. Robbins, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Delira Robbins

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