Not every doctoral degree results in an academic career. For those considering an entrepreneurial vocation in the biotech industry, the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) in partnership with the Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) in Claremont, CA, offers a week-long summer course designed to give an introduction to the subject. Only 50 students are admitted and applications will be accepted from ASCB members until April 17. (See details and a link to apply at the end of this story.)
“Traditional graduate and postgraduate programs, while training scientists to solve problems and develop their technical skills, often neglect to educate scientists about the business of science,” said Christine Clarke, who took the course in the summer of 2016. Clarke earned her PhD from Howard University in microbiology and immunology in 2016 and has experience in biotech start-ups. “I was particularly inspired to register for the ASCB-KGI Biotech Course because of its attempt to educate scientists on the core operational competencies needed to thrive in industry and its insights into the commercial aspects of the life science industry.”
Clarke added that she found the way that the course was taught to be particularly appropriate.
“The MBA-style case studies were most interesting as they provided a realistic and critical assessment of the nuances and challenges faced by bioscience companies. The importance of leveraging professional associations and effective networking strategies as critical formulae for success in the industry was particularly enlightening,” Clarke said.
Others who took last summer’s course discovered non-academic career paths that they had never considered. Ricardo Romero-Moreno is working on his PhD at the Harper Cancer Research Institute at the University of Notre Dame. He said the course helped him begin to consider new possibilities for his background in science. During the course, Romero-Moreno met a patent lawyer who chatted with him about intellectual property and patent law.
“This led me to now pursue a career in patent law, and I am currently working toward taking the patent bar and becoming a patent agent,” Romero-Moreno said. “(T)his course helped me shape my career path and make a turn I may not have been willing to take without the people I met there. I think that the course also helped me think of a different way to approach things and not just what we are usually taught in school.”
Romero-Moreno also enjoyed the team project.
“(T)he dynamics to come up with a business plan is a different experience from anything I have ever done before. I really liked the fast-paced work we were doing in teams,” Romero-Moreno added. “I liked having to do the job of a consulting firm to advise people (whether) they should invest or not into a company and explain why from a lot of different points of view.”
Both Clarke and Romero-Moreno highly recommend the ASCB course to their peers.
“I recommend the ASCB-KGI Biotech Course because it uniquely and effectively exposes scientists to the myriad career trajectories and opportunities within the bioscience space, while providing the necessary preparation to function within the industry,” Clarke concluded.
Romero-Moreno added, “I learned so many things from different areas in such a short period of time that it would be hard to find an experience like this in other places. I would definitely recommend it for anyone looking for science careers outside of academia.”
“Managing science in the biotech industry: an intensive course for students and postdocs” will be taught from July 9-15, 2017. In partnership with KGI, ASCB launched the course in 2014 with funding from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund to help fulfill of the society’s strategic priorities: professional development for the workforce in cell biology and basic science. Each year the program has grown, attracting hundreds of applicants for just 40, and now 50, slots. ASCB’s partnership with KGI makes the course unique in that KGI is a respected leader in developing successful professional development training that help people with PhDs in science and engineering disciplines into non-academic life sciences careers. KGI’s location in southern California puts them in close proximity to many bioscience industry partners.
Students are introduced to the concepts of commercialization, bioscience business models, market assessments, innovation management, networking, and entrepreneurship. They also complete a team-based project. Enrollment is limited to 50 participants who must also be (or become) members of ASCB. Applicants should have completed at least three years of doctoral research or be a postdoc. The course registration fee is $300, with an additional, optional accommodations package of $570. Applications are open now through April 17. Click here for more information and to apply.
About the Author:
Mary Spiro is ASCB's Science Writer and Social Media Manager.