Panelists at the Science Shaping Our World-SHOW event on Thursday evening shared their stories and offered valuable career advice to an audience filled with many post-doc and graduate students.
The theme of the night was “Life Science Trending Around the Globe – Making Local Innovations Go Global.” It was held at Merck Research Laboratories and put on Munevar & Assoc. Inc. in collaboration with Boston Children’s Hospital.
Philip Hemme, co-Founder of LaBiotech.fr, began the evening by sharing clips from his documentary The Tour de France of LaBiotecha. To make the film, Hemme and his fellow LaBiotech.fr co-founder Joachim Eeckhout biked around France interviewing executives at biotech companies all over the country. He plans to make similar films covering the industry in Boston and Ireland.
The event’s panel consisted of Dr. Masha Fridkis-Hareli, founder and president at Accelerating Translational Research LLC, Dr. Johannes Fruehauf, founder and president of Cambridge BioLabs and executive director of LabCentral, Dr. RK Narayanan of Partners HealthCare Innovation, and Dr. Jessica Tytell, senior director for life science innovation at Firefly BioWorks. Each panelist shared his or her path to success, including advice for others hoping to break into the life science field.
The event also included an hour-long networking session, led by Sarah Cardozo Duncan, CEO and founder of Career Strategist, where audience members could meet and speak with each of the panelists.
Dr. Tytell’s story emphasized the importance of keeping an open mind to new opportunities. She initially met with Firefly Bioworks so that she could learn how to start her own company. However, she ended up being so interested in Firefly and its technology that she joined the team, instead.
Dr. Fruehauf’s story was another that stressed the importance of not sticking to a rigid life plan. He came first came to Massachusetts planning to stay only one year to complete a post-doc. That was 14 years ago. He also emphasized the importance of mentorship. “You need to find people who will teach you different skills… you don’t need the mentor, you need lots of mentors for different areas of your career,” he said.
Dr. Fridkis-Hareli spoke about the difficulties she faced when trying to transition from the world of academia to industry. “There is a very wide gap between the communication and environment in industry and academia,” she said. It was this experience that led her to found Accelerating Translational Research, which helps people turn their ideas from academic research into products for the biopharmaceutical industry.
Dr. Narayanan was full of advice, telling students to be passionate, be purposeful, and be persistent. “If you’re persistent, you’ll find what you’re looking for,” he told the audience. Dr. Narayanan waited over a year after applying for his current position with Partners Healthcare before being asked to join the organization, but said it was well worth the wait.
Each of the panelists agreed that students and post-docs should not be afraid to consider a career in industry after academia. “It’s not as much of a risk as you think it is,” Dr. Tytell said.
Acknowledging the difficulties and pressures that can come from making the switch, the speakers still agreed that it had been the right move for them. “I can’t imagine doing anything but what I’m doing now,” Dr. Narayanan said.
This event was part of an ongoing seminar and networking series. For future SHOW events, keep an eye on MedTech Boston’s events calendar!
Anna Sims is an associate editor at The Warren Group, publisher of Banker & Tradesman. Her writing has appeared in New York Family Magazine, BDCWire.com, and Crushable.com, among other publications. Born and raised in Des Moines, Iowa, she came East to attend Boston University where she earned a B.S. in journalism and a B.A. in English.
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