Business and Commercialization

Business careers in science-intensive industries can involve performing or managing research and development, consulting, clinical development if in healthcare, manufacturing, sales, marketing, or business development. All of these domains are deeply informed by the underlying science involved, with an overlay of additional challenges added by consideration of timelines, risk, valuation, investment and return, intellectual property, industry structure, manufacturing and distribution costs, pricing, and strategy. Work environments place a premium on teamwork, with associated skills related to management of people, organization, communication, negotiation, and leadership. Often, new discoveries emerge from the biomedical sciences fields, making advanced training advantageous for many start-up ventures and entrepreneurs. Scientists in the field of technology transfer work to commercialize research by evaluating the commercial merit of discoveries, protecting them with copyrights and patents and then licensing them to companies, either established or new.

  • Product Development and Management: Shepherding Products through the Life Cycle (Winter 2024)
  • What IS Management Consulting (Autumn 2023)
  • Landscape of Finance Careers (Spring 2023)
  • ​Intro to the Polsky Center: Resources for Research Trainees (Winter 2023)
  • Medical Science Liaison Careers: Communicating Science for Industry (Autumn 2022)
  • How To Break Into Careers in Finance & Investing (Spring 2022)
  • Business Management in BioPharma (Spring 2022)
  • Startups: From Idea to Founding a Company (Spring 2022)
  • Building Bridges Between Research & Business (Spring 2022)
  • How To Break Into Management Consulting (Winter 2022)
  • Consulting Careers: Management vs Boutique (Spring 2021)
  • Careers in Medical Affairs: Analyze, Coordinate, Communicate (Spring 2021)
  • Careers in Product Support & Field Engineering (Spring 2021)
  • Parsing Careers in Finance for PhDs (Winter 2021)
  • Green Science & Sustainability Series: Cleantech Commercialization (Autumn 2020)
  • Green Science & Sustainability Series: Consulting (Autumn 2020)
  • Running the Pipeline: PhDs in Product Management Roles (Winter 2020)
  • Entrepreneur vs. Scientist: Leveraging the Overlap for Career Success (Autumn 2019)
  • Using Competitive Intelligence to Break Through in the Pharmaceutical World (Autumn 2019)
  • The Landscape of Healthcare Finance: How Does this Really Work? (Spring 2019)
  • Careers in Biotech: Field Applications Science and Customer Support (Winter 2019)
  • Science Commercialization: Roles for Postdocs and Graduate Students (Autumn 2018)
  • Biopharma Consulting: Translating Science Skills into Business Strategy (Spring 2018)
  • The Path from Bench Research to Chief Development Officer (Winter 2018)
  • Translating the Language of Science to the Language of Business (Winter 2018)
  • How to Succeed in Business by Accident (Autumn 2017)
  • Careers in Finance for PhDs (Spring 2017)
  • Careers in Consulting (Winter 2017)
  • Meet the Polsky Center: how to get involved with entrepreneurship, innovation, and technology commercialization at Uchicago (Autumn 2016)
  • The Professional Facilitator: Building Biotech/Industry Partnerships (Spring 2016)
  • Investment Banking for PhDs: Financing and Selling Businesses (Spring 2016)
  • Hedging Your Bets: Translating Your Scientific Skill Set to the Business World (Winter 2016)
  • Diverse Careers in Biotech Start-Ups: What It’s Really Like (Winter 2016)
  • Technology Transfer: From PhD to Commercialization Professional (Winter 2016)
  • What Makes a Good Consultant? (Autumn 2015)
  • Innovation-Based Careers for Scientists (Winter 2015)
  • Consulting Careers for Scientists (Winter 2015)
  • The Business of Science: Licencing and Sales of Scientific Products (Autumn 2014)
  • A Convoluted Path Through Science (Autumn 2014)


  • Financial Skills for Scientists (Summer 2023)
  • Creating and Selling Your Story: An Entrepreneurial Approach to Communicating the Value of Your Research (Autumn 2019)
  • Creating and Selling Your Story: An Entrepreneurial Approach to the Business of Science (Winter 2018)
  • Language and Concepts of Business (Summer 2016)


Examples of institutions where you could work in this field:

Start-up Incubators
Technology Transfer Departments at Universities and Hospitals
Venture Capital Firms

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

Equity Research Associate
Innovation Pipeline Manager
Market Research Analyst
Project Manager
Sales Specialist
Team Lead

Professional societies that are relevant to this career category:

Association of Commercial Professionals-Life Sciences
Association of University Technology Managers
International Association of Innovation Professionals
International Society for Professional Innovation Management
National Association of Sales Professionals


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Alumni Working in Business & Commercialization

Maryam Saleh

PhD Computational Neuroscience 2011
Director of Member Experience, MATTER, Chicago

What did you do as a trainee to prepare for your current career?
I took several courses at the Booth school of business and tried to network outside of my academic circle.

What are the typical things your job entails each day?
I am working on designing initiatives and programs between different stakeholders in healthcare in the Chicago region, with the goal of growing healthcare innovation in Chicago. Most of my day is spent meeting with life science entrepreneurs, professional organizations in medicine, and healthcare-related companies to understand their needs and interest in innovation and design a program or experience that addresses their needs.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?
My job involves a lot of quick creative thinking and a decent understanding of issues in healthcare. I get a lot of satisfaction when I help people understand each others’ points of view. I also get a lot of satisfaction from bringing people together to work on something that matters – improving healthcare.

Michael Seiler

PhD Immunology 2011
Manager, Scientific Marketing, Taconic

What did you do as a trainee to prepare for your current career?
I viewed my time as a Postdoc as two roles, with priority ranked as follows:
A. Conduct exemplary science
B. Use the extensive University of Chicago Resources to build value in fields away from the bench, in areas of business, finance, management.
In some cases the resources already existed (PDA; I was Vice President for 2 years), NPA (Fundraising committee chair, 2 years). In other cases the tools were present but the infrastructure was not; In this case, I leveraged the tools to create something new: I founded UCBA and helped establish the CIM fellows program. Building these relationships at UChicago allowed me to compete in the Booth School of Business New Venture Challenge and further my networking reach.

What are the typical things your job entails each day?
My job involves many aspects of science and business development. I work with sales, finance, and executive leadership to predict the value of new products. I set pricing based on market trends. I set revenue goals based on prior year, and expected sales, and coordinate marketing campaigns to achieve them. I also function as subject matter expert in immunology and deliver platform presentations on new products at scientific meetings, trade shows, and as an invited guest at client sites.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I very much enjoy learning how pharma and biotech companies take advantage of new animal models for drug development. For example, there is a strong push from pharma to use humanized immune system mice in the development of next generation oncology treatments. Because our mouse models are so novel and complex, I am required to stay on top of the field. Clients expect to discuss scientific processes with subject matter experts, and this expectation means staying on top of the latest developments in immunology research. I use many of the skills and contextual knowledge I learned in the Bendelac lab to build client confidence.

Thelma Tennant

PhD Cancer Biology 2003
Assistant Director, UChicagoTech, University of Chicago

What did you do as a trainee to prepare for your current career?
Aside from technical familiarity on particulars of cancer research that I gained as a graduate student, what my graduate work prepared me best for in my current career is that I developed the skill to find and analyze scientific information and data, and learned how to communicate complex scientific concepts effectively in a variety of modes, including verbal, written, and visual. The technology transfer position requires developing proficiency in licensing and negotiation and in patent law and IP management, and these are not typically acquired in a science graduate program. At UChicagoTech, we utilize on-the-job training combined with some available external training programs to get new project managers up to speed.

What are the typical things your job entails each day?
I manage over 300 intellectual property portfolios from the University of Chicago across a range of disciplines (not all scientific). I interface with faculty, students and postdocs to learn about new technologies and inventions that have been developed here, and I assess those technologies from both a commercial and an intellectual property perspective. I work with patent attorneys to file and prosecute patent applications with the US Patent and Trademark Office and international counterparts, and I work with business development professionals to market and license technologies. After technologies are licensed, I manage the relationship with the licensee and monitor the development of the technology by the licensee. I also work with other offices at the University to identify and transact new opportunities for collaboration between researchers and companies, and I review and negotiate intellectual property terms in grants that faculty receive. Finally, part of our job is also education, and staff in our office (including myself) regularly give talks and seminars on tech-transfer related topics, both at the University and externally.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I love my job because I am working on the absolute cutting edge of research that may translate to benefit society, and my efforts to bridge the gap between discovery and development make it possible for great research to connect with commercial partners that will help it become useful products.