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In the News: For Postdocs, Pursuing Business is Not Selling Out
KGI President Sheldon Schuster’s soon-to-be-published article explores the challenges that PhD’s in the life sciences industry face upon graduation. While the number of PhD graduates increases, the demand for PhDs in academic institutions shows slow growth due to predicted decreases in federal research spending and state support. Limited opportunities in academia lead PhDs and post-doctoral students to consider careers in industry, which carries its own challenges. Dr. Schuster elaborates that while PhD students are uniformly excellent in the underlying methodology and thought processes involved in high-level research, there appears to be greater variability among PhDs in their understanding of the processes, strategies and challenges of the life sciences industry.
“In our recent survey of US postdoctorals, 96% said they were interested in research careers in industry – precisely the category in which about 4% of the jobs exist! The interest in business areas such as operations, marketing, quality assurance, production, project management, strategy, intellectual property and clinical and regulatory affairs – where there are numerous jobs for PhDs – hardly exists compared to the holy grail of ‘research.’ The problem therefore is not just a lack of education to develop essential skills, but the lack of even the most rudimentary or realistic knowledge of opportunities beyond research within the industry.”
Dr. Schuster continues by challenging educators and PhD/postdoctoral program administrators to place more emphasis on career opportunities for postdocs and PhDs outside of research insofar as teaching business skills required for these students to be successful in industry settings where job opportunities are plentiful and PhDs are in high demand.
KGI’s Post-doctoral Professional Masters program aims to fill the need in industry for highly trained analytical thinkers while providing postdocs with an opportunity to acquire business skills and experience required to make meaningful advancements in the applied life sciences.
Look for Dr. Schuster’s article entitled “Attitude Adjustment: Educating PhD scientist for business careers,” in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education in 2011.
To request more information about the PPM program, please click here.
By Christina Lai (MBS '11)