Industry Research

There are many pathways for scientists in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology fields. Drug discovery and preclinical research jobs focus on initial screening and testing of potential therapeutic compounds. Clinical research positions involve human testing and draw on skills developed through research training such as experimental design, data analysis and report composition. Process development scientists work in protocol and manufacturing design and optimization. Speaker and networking events sponsored by the University of Chicago Biotech Association (UCBA), Postdoctoral Association (PDA) and Graduate Student Affairs offer excellent opportunities for exposure to organizations and professionals working in the field, while externships and internships will provide more in-depth contacts with specific companies.

Examples of institutions where you could work in this field:

Pharmaceutical Companies
Chemical Companies
Biotech Start-Ups

Examples of job titles that you might find at those institutions:

Senior Scientist, Field Application Scientist, Technical Support Specialist

Professional societies that are relevant to this career category:

Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), Biotechnology Innovation Association, Drug Information Association, American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists

Alumni in Industry Research

Julian Boggiano

PhD Development, Regeneration & Stem Cell Biology 2011
Senior Scientist, Ventana Medical Systems

What did you do as a trainee to prepare for your current career?
As a trainee, I tried to focus on developing skills that would be applicable to an industrial research setting (e.g. PCR techniques, microscopy, protein purification, enzymology, recombinant DNA technology, etc.) and highlighted these in my CV.

What are the typical things your job entails each day?
My current job as an R&D scientist involves a blend of project management, benchwork and supervisory activities. Some days it can be very labwork-heavy, whereas other days I will spend most of the day at my desk writing reports or design specifications for new products.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding part of my job is mentoring younger scientists and launching products that fill unmet medical needs. I try to keep the patient in mind in whatever I am working on and launch products that are of the highest quality.

Nikolai Suslov

PhD Biochemistry & Molecular Biology 2012
Senior Scientist, Takeda

What did you do as a trainee to prepare for your current career?
First and foremost, I acquired technical expertise (antibody discovery) that is directly transferable to industrial research. More importantly, I learned how to approach and solve challenging problems.

What are the typical things your job entails each day?
Running experiments, analyzing data, making reports/presentations, attending project team meetings, reading papers / industrial news.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I have heard several patient testimonials about their unmet medical needs (e.g. child with severe asthma, parent with early onset Alzheimer’s, etc). I am proud to play a part in an effort to transform lives of other humans in such a fundamental way.