PhDone….Now What?

I’ve been unintentionally absentPhDimage for several reasons. The main reason being…I’m graduating! Yay! Finally!

I’m not quite sure how to feel yet…will it be anticlimatic like the boards? will it be scary?

Mostly I’m excited for the next step. I’ve realized that I’m a wanderer at heart and I’m ready to move on to the next stage.

With grad school done…the next step is job hunting…the big, scary world or the real world awaits.

Because let’s face it, grad school is a warm, fuzzy cocoon of safe, science-y goodness…if you’re lucky. If you’re not, well then I’m sorry about that because it’s not going to get any easier.

I try not to be all preachy and only to give advice on what I know about. I wanted to wait until I finished and went through the job searching process before I gathered my thoughts together for this post.


So..10 things I’ve learned about job searching based on my experiences are:

1. START EARLY: this can be tricky because you know how lab work goes, and PIs can be, and thesis committees can be. But usually, if you get the green light to graduate, at least for us..there’s a 6 month “final phase” period. This is when you should start polishing up your resume and CV and cover letters.

2. ACCEPT THIS: It’s been my experience that most PIs are not looking to train someone with no experience in their field of interest. They want someone that has some experience and is ready to work right way! I know right!?! That sucks for people who want to use their PhD training in a different field. It’s rare, I’m sure they exist, but when I was searching, I never heard back from positions that I was interested in, but had no experience. Well. it’s their loss cause i’m awesome :)…But seriously, if you want to do something completely different…you might have to find someone at your current school in that new field and maybe get some apprenticeship going on for a couple of months..this would give you the experience, but also maybe a new ally that might know people in the field.

3. DECIDE WHAT YOU WANT TO DO: do you want to stay in your field? try something different? do a post doc? go into industry? work for the government? take a year off and teach english in Japan? It helps a lot to know what your end goal is early on because you know then, where to focus your energy.

4. DECIDE WHERE YOU WANT TO BE: this is easier I think, if you want to do a post doc, there are lots of universities everywhere and lots of great research. With industry, you’re pretty much restricted to the east coast or the west coast.

5. CREATE JOB AGENTS & ALERTS: Unless you’re going the “i know someone who knows someone who knows someone route”…For me the best places for finding jobs are on company websites, jobsearch engines (Indeed, Linkedin, naturejobs, science careers). Most of these websites have apps, so download the apps, personalize your search and they’ll have updates for you daily if you want.

6. NETWORK: If you’re a shy, timid grad student who doesn’t really have any experience with networking because you came to grad school straight from undergrad…SUCK IT UP!!! You have to learn, go practice at happy hours, go to career fairs, go apply for jobs you dont want just to get the experience of networking and interviewing.

Seriously, let’s be real for a second, the job market is tough, funding is being cut left and right, the natural order of things is out of whack because there are not enough assistant professor positions so people stay in Post-Doc positions longer (4+ year post-docs, i’m looking at you..with a sideeye…no..NO!!!   (i know! i know! i hate hearing it too but it’s sucks out there!)…it’s you or the next person….think of it like getting dont want to get scooped so you do your best to put yourself out there and go for what you want. It’s a jungle out there…let’s treat it as such.

7. THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX: I think the PhD training program truly prepares us for anything. There is essentially nothing we can’t learn or troubleshoot because we’ve been through the rigorous training that is grad school..fraught with failure, and fear and tears…making it through is truly a success. So don’t be afraid to think beyond conventional post-doctoral fellowships and do something different…I hope to have more on alternative careers soon.

8. BE PREPARED: at this stage, you should have hopefully a publication, if not, at the very least a story. On site interviews usually  require you to give a Job Talk. Make one…40 minutes, don’t overload with too much details…tell them a story, make it memorable.

9. BE YOURSELF:…again unless yourself is an arrogant, pompous jerk…then be the gracious, eager,learned graduate student you’re meant to be. Be curious, ask questions, be friendly.

10. BE BRAVE: it’s scary, I know, but after 5+ years, it’s time to move on…you have to do it’s ok to be scared. It’s not ok to let the fear consume you.


Falling (back) in love with Science


Happy New Year Science lovers!

I wish everyone a very productive lab year with a renewed love for life changing research. Which it really is and I think that grad students get so caught up with the experiments that we forget the big picture.

I know I’ve been AWOL for a minute but the truth is I’ve been struggling with my blog identity. Many Science Bloggers are very good at updating their blog  with what’s cool in the world of science and I think that’s great. I don’t want to be just another science blogger focused on just scientific research. One of the reasons why I blog is because I haven’t stumbled across many blogs geared towards the struggles graduate students in biomedical research face. That’s what I want my blog to be about. I’ll do my best to be true to that henceforth!

That being said…I think a quick recap of 2013 is in order.

For me, 2013 marked the beginning of my 5th year as a grad student and with that came feelings of “I can’t believe it’s been 5 years”. “I’ve accomplished nothing!” “I’m so ready to be done” “OMG, I’m never going to get out”. And I refuse to believe I’m the only one in this position so let’s all just leave our feelings of inadequacy in this moment and agree to move on ok? Cool

Moving On.

It helps to know that you are not alone in all this and I’ve taken the following steps to cope with and overcome those loser-ish feelings. I’ve come up with the 3 R’s.

1. Relax (aka Chill out dude!) : seriously, unless you’ve been an absolute bum for the last 5 years, they haven’t been wasted. So what if 99% of your experiments have failed? At least it worked 1% of the time. The hardwork you put in trouble shooting failed experiments shows resilience and will pay off in the long run.

2. Rejuvenate (aka Take a break!): vacation, staycation, a saturday off, a bath. Take some time off and do not think about your project(s). Just decompress and then come back with a renewed sense of purpose. I’ve heard a lot of accomplished people say’s necessary to take a step back and not think about your work. If they do can we. Also…some of the best ideas are thought up in the shower!

3. Reconnect! (aka Whatchubeenupto!): I don’t know if it’s the same everywhere, but at my school, after the first year of classes, classmates dissipate and we often end up in labs with people from different years. If you were that loner in the corner who made no friends…er..can’t help you. However, if you made at least one friend..reconnect with them. Have lunch..or coffee. Catching up with an old friend and seeing what they’ve been up to should motivate you to work harder to help you feel better about your situation.


That’s all I have for my first post of 2014. As for me…I’m hoping to wrap up this year and move on to the next step in my scientific career. Scary and exciting all at the same time. I can’t wait! I’ll keep you updated!


75 cents on the dollar

rosieforstem On one hand, I want to be completely objective and present   this post in a fair light. However, this post comes on the heels  of the Wendy Davis v. The Republicans of Texas and Classroom assistants v. Galloway/Dumfries. So I’m not feeling particularly objective today.

I’ve known for a while now that women do not get paid the same salary for doing the same work as men. Even with the same level of education and experience. Although the Equal Pay Act was passed in 1963,this is still going on in 2013. Mind boggling, I know…and also frustrating. It really doesn’t make much sense to me..and I would love to hear arguments in support of this craziness.

Let me give you some stats…they are about 2 years old but i don’t think there have been any major improvements to date.

  • Women make up 48% of the workforce but hold only 24% of Science,Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) jobs.
  • Women earn 41% or PhDs but only make up 28% of tenure-track faculty in STEM fields
  • 26% of women with STEM degrees work in a related field
  • Men earn 16% more per hour than women in STEM fields (this is compared to 27% more per hour in other fields)
  • Women working in STEM jobs earn 33% more than women working in other fields

Now, the last two points make a good case for why more women should consider pursuing STEM careers….as we should. My point in all this however is this…it goes without saying that women and any field..with the same level of education and experience..should receive equal pay. If all “men” are created equal according to the Declaration of Independence, then we should all get paid equally. Some reasons often cited as to why women don’t get paid the same are:

1. Women are always taking time out of work to have children (blank stare..apparently, the baby making process no longer requires a contribution from men)

2. Women work so that the household has a second income for extras

3. Women are less educated (not true apparently women have been earning more bachelors degrees than men since 1982)

4. Women are not as good at negotiating salaries as their male counterparts…(SO make it a law..punishable by death!..kidding!..that way no negotiation is needed)

  • This will blow your mind….”No job in our nation requires less experience than that of Senator or Member of Congress. All you have to do is get elected. From day one, a newly elected woman senator earns the same salary as her male counterpart with 5, 10, 20 or more years experience. Why? Because it is the law. ” –OpED

What say you?

Deep Impact


There are two things scientists hold dear:

1. Our credibility/ethics

2. Our impact on our field of interest and society as a whole

I think credibility is pretty much everything (in any field really), but especially in science because one misstep could be career suicide. One falsified piece of data…one retracted paper…even one allegation of misrepresentation could end decades of good work.

Which is why I think that the current measure of a scientist’s impact needs to be reevaluated. As a graduate student, one of the criteria for graduation, is to “make a significant contribution to science”..whatever that means. Essentially, I think it means publishing your work in a creditable journal. Seems “easy” enough right?..You do the work, you write a manuscript, you submit to a journal..and wait and see if your work is good enough to be published. Fair enough.

In comes Journal Impact Factors (IFs)….which rank journals based on “the frequency with which the “average article” in a journal has been cited in a given period of time”. The ranking system in and of itself is not the issue. In my humble opinion, I think it’s the power this impact factor is being given that messes things up for everyone. As a researcher, everything hinges on publishing in journals with high IFs..whether you get the competitive grant you’ve worked your whole life for, whether you get that postdoctoral position, whether you get the assistant professorship and even whether or not you get that industry job.

What you end up with are advisors who may sometimes push their lab members to the brink or delay graduate students and post-docs from moving on all in the name publishing in high impact journals like Cell, Nature and Science..aka CNS. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for competition, I think it drives good science and produces breakthroughs and results. However, I also think that “less important” fields get ignored and abandoned by researchers because they are not interesting enough to the reviewers and editors and may never get published….Even Bruce Alberts, editor-in-chief of Science magazine agrees with me. His editorial on Impact Factor Distortions, references the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assesment (DORA). DORA was initiated by the American Society for Cell Biology in conjunction with editors and publishers of scholarly journals. The document highlights the issues with IFs and suggests ways to improve upon current practices by funding agencies, institutions and publishers.

I think the ideas are brilliant, and if you do should sign the declaration (DORA link above). I don’t necessarily think IFs should be completely eliminated, but they should not play a major role in the decision making process. Personally, I think it discourages research and leads to disillusionment among up and coming researchers.

I can say with utmost certainty that none of us got into scientific research for money or fame (to a great extent).

{side story:…I remember seeing Carol Grieder on the subway in Maryland, after her Nobel prize. I had a mini-fangirl moment, but what struck me that day was that no one else knew who she was..or at least no one else was having a hyperventilating moment. I realized that if that had been Kanye West or Beyonce, they quite possibly would’ve shut down the entire train station…but there she was…walking up the escalator like the rest of us}.

So yeah, not for the fame or fortune. We do it because we are curious and we want to make a difference..and I think it’s a sad day for the scientific community and the world at large when we as scientists are judged not based on the content of our work but by someone else’s perception of the importance of our work.

What do you think?

So you wanna go to grad school?

who-wants-to-be-a-millionaireIt’s that time of the year again, when young, impressionable and in some cases..old, impressionable people who love science are preparing for their graduate school interviews. Ah interview weekends…scary and fun at the same time…i distinctly remember all my interview weekends. I was so nervous!

Here are some hopefully helpful things to keep in mind during your interview weekends

1. Do your homework: typically, they ask you to identify several professors you would like to meet. They also give you an itinerary, so you know who you are going to meet with. Visit the school’s website and find out what their research is about. Search their articles and find the most recent ones. Write down short blurbs about each person and a couple of questions to ask about their research and the school in general.

2. Know your stuff: be able to talk intelligently about the research you’ve done. If you published, make sure you can explain experiments and the results. Practice talking about yourself.

3. Talk to current graduate students: the interview weekend is as much for you as it is for the school. You want to know if the students enjoy being there. You also want to take their advice with a grain of salt. Some students might be further along and jaded, some might be in the early stages of their graduate careers and not really know enough. Talking to enough people will give you a good general idea of what you might be getting yourself into. One of the schools I interviewed had a graduate student who was coincidentally working with a protein that I had worked on and was interested in. As soon as I brought it up, she got upset and told me to keep my hands off her project…*RED FLAG*!…Competitive much? I hadn’t even gotten in!

4. Be yourself: Unless yourself is an opinionated know-it-all…in that the opposite of yourself. Nobody likes a know-it-all. It’s good to appear confident and knowledgeable, but graduate school is a training program. It is good to appear “trainable”. Graduate school is full of smart people, and the fact that you got selected for the interview means that they are interested in you. You do not have to go overboard with trying to impress them.

5. Say thank you: It’s just good manners. After the interviews, I always emailed the administrative assistants who planned the weekends, students who helped walk you from interviewer to interviewer  and at least one of the professors you met with. It makes you memorable.

6. Have fun: not too much fun. I know someone  who went to dinner with the graduate students after the interviews and then to “Howl at the moon”…had too many drinks (3), got “tipsy” and ended up on stage dancing with the dueling pianos! :)…that was a fun night! In my defense,I would’ve done the same thing sans alcohol.


Good luck future graduate students!

A life in science

It’s easy to get caught up in the daily hustle and bustle of life. As a grad student, sometimes I get so focused on one thing that I tend to forget to take a step back and really appreciate and acknowledge how awesome it is that I get to do research for a living. Such has been the last month of my life.

However, on the last day of the last month in 2012, I find it fitting to do just that.

2012 has been a great year of advances in science as a whole. Pretty amazing stuff. Even more amazing are the people who came before us that allow us to do what we do.

As a woman, I am intrigued and inspired by other women( in general because we are amazing creatures). And even more so by women in science from before my time..a time when seeing women working outside the home was not commonplace. The Marie Curies, Rosalind Franklins and Françoise Barré-Sinoussis of the world.

Dr. Rita Levi-Montalcini who recently passed away was one such amazing woman. She was 103. She had a very interesting life and won the Nobel prize in 1986 (with Stanley Cohen)  for discovering growth factors.

Today, I think it appropriate to share a quote from her.

“Above all, don’t fear difficult moments. The best comes from them” – Rita Levi-Montalcini

I wish everyone a new year filled with difficult moments and amazing breakthroughs!

Rita Levi-Montalcini (1909-2012)


Dr. Rita Levi-Montalcini (1909-2012)

Leaving the nest (MyIDP: career planning for graduate students and postdocs)

As I embark on the final quarter of my graduate career, I am often filled with a sense of uncertainty. Let me explain. My original goal was to return to graduate school in order to obtain a strong scientific foundation for a career in the pharmaceutical industry.

My plan was thus:

  1. Get a PhD
  2. Get a job in Pharma
  3. Work with other scientists to develop new drugs
  4. Save the world

However, I’ve had several bouts of doubt. I’m not sure this is what I want to do anymore. I’m not sure this plan aligns with what I really want to do for the rest of my life. As usual, I have decided to go about this by assessing my strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes.

So I said to myself: “Self, if only there was some cosmo type quiz I can take to determine what type of career I would be good at based on my likes, dislikes, strengths and weaknesses”…

Enter My Individual Development Plan,


My IDP was modeled after the employee career development concept used in industry. It expands upon a structure proposed by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) for postdocs in 2003.

What it is:Individual Development Plan overview page

Did it help me?

Honestly, the first time I took it, I just breezed through it. I gave myself a lot of 5s: “highly proficient” on the skills assessment (self-love much?). Then I went back, and really thought through each question and answered truthfully.

The quiz is divided into 3 sections

Skills: here you rank your skills on a scale of 1(highly deficient) to 5(highly proficient)

Some things that rank for me at :

1,2 :Writing grant proposals and statistical analysis

4,5: Technical skills related to my specific research area, experimental design

Interests: Ranking from 1: (never do in my career) to 5(do often in my career)

For me:

1,2: Analyzing financial budgets and assessing business trends

4,5: Learning how to use new equipment and techniques and planning new scientific projects or developing new research directions

Values: Ranking from 1(unimportant) to 5 (essential)

For me:

1,2: Work alone and work in a low pressure environment

4,5: Help society, competition, job security and family friendly

Based on my answers, my top 3 career path matches were:

  • Product development scientist or engineer
  • Scientific/medical testing
  • Drug/device approval and production

Funny enough, “research in industry” ranks much lower on the list based on my skills and interests than i expected. Not surprisingly, principal investigator and research staff in a research-intensive institution rank even lower.

What I really like about this assessment:

  1. It gives you a framework to work with.
  2. It really does take into account your skills and interests.
  3. It links you to information about careers based on your answers.
  4. It  shows you your strengths and weaknesses and offers advice on how to improve on the weaknesses.
  5. You can download blank assessments and discuss them with your P.I (Ahmazing!).

Has anyone taken it? Did you find it helpful? I would especially love to hear from recent graduates who have gone on to careers in different fields.

PS: My opinions were not influenced by anyone directly associated with MyIDP. It was initially introduced to me by a friend and then again at a conference.


The Real Final Exam

I’ve had the opportunity to hear Donald Coffey speak about cancer and scientific research twice. And while I’m a sappy person by nature, his talks always leave me kind of misty eyed but very inspired.

Most people who decide to go into biomedical research do not do so for the glory and fame of it all (those that do are MDs…kidding!!) 🙂


Anyway, here is a short article by Donald Coffey called “The Real Final Exam”…it’s a nice short read that I think holds a lot of truth. My favorites are #7,9, true!

 The Real Final Exam

Donald S. Coffey
Professor of Urology, Oncology, and Pharmacology Brady Urological Institute,

The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland


I have no more insight into science than many others; I was just naive enough to list the obvious to which most of us are blinded because of measurements by false yardsticks and examples which are always in vogue. I know that with time you can expand and improve your own list. In my weakness, I give students so many sheets or handouts of useless data to memorize that I thought a few important concepts might be worth sharing with you.


Calculate the time it takes to do an experiment, then put down the percent of time you actually thought about the results; you will be lucky if it is 10%. We usually don’t need more experiments, we need more clear thinking. If you can practice this to an art, you will always have new ideas and insight. Inhibitions to generate ideas and present trends and concepts, tend to paralyze this important process.


Your pet theory . . . . will usually turn out to be just that.


“When you assume, you are going to make an ASS-of U and ME” – Coach, in Bad News Bears.


The key observations are usually “swept under the rug” or rationalized away. The one fact that doesn’t fit the theory is always the most important fact.


If it isn’t worth thinking about, it wasn’t worth doing. A burning curiosity is the “ATP” of the laboratory.



A 500 tube experiment is very susceptible to Murphy’s first law. Don’t try to answer it all at once. Do a few things right. Too much phenomenology provides more complexity and little insight.


There are many experiments worth doing but only a few great ones. Don’t do the next experiment to come to mind. Try to think up a critical experiment that will go to the heart of the question.


Almost a billion years went into selecting the system that you are studying. Remember, Crick and Watson didn’t make the double helix, they only discovered an ancient system still operating today. It had plenty of time to be perfected.


There is a fine line between being persistent and being bullheaded. Remember, no one can make you feel inferior without your consent. Don’t give it. If your ideas are easily accepted, they are probably wrong. Most of the real great discoveries were first rejected and turned down for publication. There is a direct relationship between the unusual nature of a new discovery and the resistance to acceptance.


If the average reviewer can’t understand your point, the average reader probably won’t either; the reviewer usually spends more time with your paper. You know what you did, but you won’t be there to explain it to the reader. You don’t have to tell them every experiment you did and bore them to tears, just be sure they understand the most critical ones. A paper can be correct but not informative to the average reader. An example – read your insurance policy. Someone is going to try to confirm your observation; make it easy for them to repeat your work.


Never assume that those who oppose your ideas are stupid. The more you disagree with the data of others, the less chance you have of finding the truth. Try to devise a model that also integrates as many observations of others as possible. All good experiments must be accounted for in the end. You are not the only one who can do a good experiment.

 13.     GIVE EVERYONE CREDIT.                                                         

You are not the first one to study this problem, nor will you be the last. Remember, the ones reviewing and judging your paper have already worked in the same field and they also know who did what. Give the true credit where it is due. Your reputation will be made by all of your studies and by how professional you are.


The observation of the “proof” might be correct, but how was the experiment conducted? Most of what you and I think today will appear silly in 20years. At least, we can do our best. Keep in mind the limitations and state them.


They are often busy trying to prove someone wrong instead of trying to find out what is right or new. Every experiment, yours and others, is limited and is only an approximation. Look for clues because few things are ever proven. Test all theories.


If you aren’t willing to work long, hard hours and sacrifice in pursuit of this goal, then you are not willing to pay the price and maybe you should move over and give someone else a chance.

IN CONCLUSION: If you are lucky, the world will be paying you a modest salary for what you consider your hobby, and you, in turn, will be contributing to some important answers for our present and future society. As you teach and lead, you will amplify your efforts and those of others, and if appropriate, the influence will continue after you cease. What you learn from courses, lectures and books that are reflected in your course grades will be a very small fraction of your FINAL EXAM. Good luck in your careers.



                                          The Prostate 39:323–325 (1999)             

Russian Roulette…(aka Choosing a thesis lab)

DISCLAIMER: These opinions are strictly mine and not backed up by any scientific evidence.


As a 4th year graduate student, I don’t think I’m seasoned enough to be jaded/disillusioned. I also think I still remember my trepidation on choosing the lab I was going to spend the rest of my 20’s in.

So here we go…my top 5 things to consider when choosing a thesis lab

1. Do I like my prospective labmates?

I dig science too so I can talk about scientists. We can be awkward..socially awkward creatures focused only on our research and things that interest us. Perfectly content sitting at the microscope with headphones on and shutting out the world. However, if you are not this type of scientist and you are the more social type…do not convince yourself that you are in grad school strictly for the science and would do well in a lab full of the aforementioned scientists or people you do not get along with. Sure it might work..but it probably won’t.

You more than likely chose rotations based on science you were interested meaning that you could probably do “good science” in any of those labs. However, you are going to be spending a lot of time with these people, no point being unhappy.


2. Do I like my prospective P.I?

OK…like might be the wrong word here. Does anyone ever really LIKE their P.I (principal investigator)…(I actually do..great guy he is!). Depending on the school you attend, there will more than likely be a lot of big name, big time scientists (Nature/Science publishing types, Nobel Laureates, Demigods in theirfields even though no one in the real world knows them)….some with egos to boot. You want to have a healthy like/respect for your P.I. and not because of what they have published or what you think you will get out of being a member of the lab. P.I.s are people too..and if you wouldn’t like/respect your P.I in “real life”…what makes you think you’d be able to work for them for 5+ years…it’s a lose-lose situation.

3. Do I like the science?

I think rotations take care of this question. Unless you chose to attend grad school because your parents made you, you know you like science. You know you want to make some sort of contribution to the scientific community et al. You need to join a lab that even when you go through periods when your experiments don’t work (aka 3rd year), you are still excited enough about the field in general to stick around.


4. What type of worker am I?

I feel that the only people who successfully make it through grad school with their love for science intact are the ones that treat it like a regular job.

a. Set regular work hours and stick to it for the most part

b. Set goals (monthly, quarterly, annually) just like you would in your career and work to meet them

c. Do not be afraid to talk to your boss/challenge their ideas

d. Don’t let other people determine how far you go in your grad school career..take responsibility for every single aspect and take advantages inside and outside the lab to grow.


5. What do I want to accomplish during my time here? 

Set goals and timelines…talk about your goals with your P.I before you join to make sure they are on board. Be flexible…life happens. Be willing to reevaluate your project and determine if you are going in the right direction often! Don’t be afraid to ask questions…Don’t be that person who thought they knew everything until they woke up in year 9 realizing they just pissed away 9 years of their life and have nothing to show for it…ooooop! yep I said it!


The problem with big Pharma

The recent economic crises hit hard across the board taking no prisoners. Funding for academic research has dropped significantly and in industry there have been massive layoffs.

“According to recruitment specialists Challenger, Gray & Christmas (Chicago, IL, USA), the number of pharmaceutical industry jobs eliminated in the first ten months of 2010 was 45,263 (in 2009, it was 58,696 jobs). “

So what does this mean for fresh faced young PhDs and postdocs ready to begin their careers? Honestly, I don’t know…I’m not going to pretend to know how to fix the problem but I think I know what some of the problems are.

This article in Nature Biotechnology does a pretty good job of outlining the issues and presenting proposed solutions.

OK..that’s the good stuff backed by lots of background and research…here’s my opinion backed by 3 wonderful years working as a scientist in a pharmaceutical company. There are 3 main issues that I feel need to be addressed:

1. Too many chiefs not enough Indians:

There are too many layers of management and not enough people doing the work. Brilliant scientists are rewarded by being promoted as it should be, but each promotion takes them further away from the bench. While scientists left at the bench are good at what they do and have years of experience under their belt, they often lack the motivation to step outside their comfort zone.

Definitely not the best breeding ground for ground breaking science = not enough compounds in the pipeline = not enough new drugs on the market = not profit for pharma = layoffs and hiring freeze

2. Not enough educated risk taking:

“It’s a business”…the most overused phrase regarding drug companies. Often times, promising projects get killed way too early because it would take a more time and money to get the project off the ground. Rather than investing in a risky but promising project, a safer target is chosen which may or may not end up making it all the way to the market.

3. Failure to promote career development:

This kind of goes hand in hand with the number one problem. Getting a good, secure job is like a marriage. People get into a comfortable routine…come in at 9am…leave at 5pm…lunch at 11:30am, 2- hour long meeting and whatever work you can get done in between the meetings and all the compliance training modules/ faux team building exercises… wonder no new discoveries are being made.

I digress…

If career development is made a priority, employees can be pushed (gently at first..and the progressively less gently) to expand their horizons and explore other areas that they might find interesting…even if it means stepping away from the bench and exploring other avenues. This way, employees that want to be at the bench and develop their career in that direction and the employees that want to grow in another direction can do so with renewed zest thereby increasing company productivity. It’s a win-win situation for both employee and company.

Happy wife..happy life!

I guess my bottom line is this…to make it in industry, we have to stay flexible and be willing to expand our knowledge base to include learning new skills and techniques while retaining the ability to get down and dirty at the bench when the need arises..corner office, company car and personal assistant be damned!