22nd September 2015.
An eye into the future of Biotechnology.
This year, I was privileged to attend the “Building Biotech dinner and Networking” event organized by the Student Biotechnology Network. Sponsored by the MasterCard Foundation Scholarship, I attended a night full of learning among outstanding figures in the Biotech industry in Canada. This was my first exposure to different role players in the biotechnology industry; I got the opportunity to meet economists, scientists and human resource professionals from different Universities and Biotechnology firms.
Academic research or Biotech industry?
My interactions with three post graduate students have contributed to my knowledge about the conditions of academic research and industry career paths. Since I am in the process of choosing what path will support my professional development and impact, this insight was helpful in helping me organize my own thoughts. Through assessing the challenges of each career path from the personal experiences of the professionals that have taken them; I learnt that the academic path offered more freedom in research than the industry, but offered many challenges as regards career development because of its limited focus on “vertical” development towards a few available professional positions. Overall, this information will add to my thought process for my future decision between the two options.
Economics in Biotechnology.
To my surprise, many of the guests and some of the panelists were economists who sometimes started out as scientists. Through hearing the professional story of Aura Danby, the Territory account manager of Illumina, my understanding of the possible ways to contributions to science have been broadened. Also, the contributions and influence of economic policies and systems on research funding has been illuminated. One particularly interesting highlight of the night was the 5000 percent increase in the price of a vital drug by Turing pharmaceuticals. Though disheartening in its implications for patients that rely on the crucial drug at the time, this “pharmaceutical catastrophe” was crucial in building my understanding of the undeniable influence of economics on my own potential career progression towards medical research and pharmaceuticals. Because scientific research is dependent on funding, it is important to pay keen attention to economic policies and conditions.
Laboratory research and Graduate school.
Perhaps my biggest take away from this networking event was from my lengthy discussion with Dr. George Haughn, a Biology faculty member who has been involved in Botanical research at UBC for over 20 years. Dr. Haughn’s perspectives on the importance of plant research on human health and survival were insightful. This seemingly distant research is potentially one of the most vital contributors to the future Global Food Economy, and pharmaceutical research. Furthermore, I got an insight into the vetting process that Faculty members use in choices of funding Graduate students, and laboratory employees. This is fundamental information in my own aspirations for Graduate school and laboratory involvement.
Overall, this has been a momentous event that I am glad to have attended. Scientific research, like my own career goals, isn’t isolated but rather part of a mesh involving very many contributors that must all be factored in making decisions.