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Author: Suzy | Views: 3265 | Comments: 12
Last by Suzy on May 28, 2011, 8:02pm
I began a series of posts that explained how products are born, that is, how they go from a concept or idea to a product on the shelf waiting to be bought. So far we've discussed what R&D does and what marketing does to make sure that a product has the greatest possibility for success. Well there is another person on this team who plays a critical role in the product development process and launch.

While the title of this person can vary, their department is in operations and their function is to control and organize all the tasks required to get the product manufactured. I want to talk about this leg of the product development lifecycle because I think it would be helpful to those of you looking at jobs in biotech and trying to figure out some of the job descriptions you might see advertised on websites. A position in manufacturing, QC, QA, or managing teams working in these areas are all viable job options for . . . More
Author: Dangerous Experiments | Views: 3747 | Comments: 7
Last by Suzy on May 17, 2011, 10:01am
Mary Canady is the founder Comprendia which provides marketing and social media consulting services to the life science and biotech industry. Additionally, she began the San Diego Biotechnology Network to help life science researchers and professionals connect online and at monthly networking events. Mary also serves as a liaison between life science companies and the science blogging community, and she can be found on Twitter at @comprendia.


There is an ongoing, fascinating discussion in the science blogosphere about women in science, covering such topics as being a mom as a scientist (including Jade’s post which prompted me to write this one), women scienceblogging, and the ever present salary inequality discussions. To contribute to these conversations constructively, I’d like to list the best advice I’ve received as a woman in biotech. Since getting my Ph.D. in biochemistry, and moving into ‘industry’ about ten years ago, I’ve gotten great advice and also learned a lot. These recommendations can also be used by those with a science background in general, as qualities such as self-denigration are common and may be perpetuated by the culture of higher education.

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Author: JaniceF | Views: 3154 | Comments: 5
Last by Spiny Norman on Aug 22, 2011, 11:34pm
Hermitage at Scientopia has a carnival on women in science. But it's sans bebes. She elicited questions and sent them to us. Here are my answers.

1. When you were looking for your post-doctoral position, how (if you knew) did you know that your PI would treat you fairly?

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Author: Suzy | Views: 3038 | Comments: 19
Last by Michelle on Nov 27, 2011, 10:37pm
Thank God it's Thursday because I am already burnt out from the first three days of this week. It has been an inordinately stressful week for multiple reasons, one of which I will talk about today.

It's not the lab. Lab work is like heaven for me. I love escaping to the bench, avoiding human contact, and focusing on how to get something puzzling to work.

It's not the next looming product launch, although it does have my stomach in knots and feels a little like a 800 lb gorilla on my back. I am still 75% sure we'll finish on time.

What’s really causing me mad stress this week is managing people.  I can see why experience in managing people is so critical to employers. Because it is tough and every problem situation is unique so there is no way to train for this.  You just have to learn through doing and then figure out what you could have done better after.

It all started with an email. Doesn't it always start with email? Email is so tricky, you know. Intentions and tone can be misinterpreted through email and this happens on both sides. When you send an email to someone, you have no idea what their day was like. They might be having the worst day ever and even the slightest comment may be perceived antagonistically. Even dealing with people you . . . More
Author: Dangerous Experiments | Views: 3006 | Comments: 3
Last by Dr. Girlfriend on Aug 09, 2011, 3:45pm
For those of you unfamiliar with me, here is a little bit of my background. I recently graduated in December 2010 with my B.S. in Chemistry. I did undergrad research and worked at an environmental lab after college. After about 5 months, I ended up in academia as an organic geochemistry technician at a very large prominent college in Oklahoma.

In the beginning, I was ecstatic and flattered that all my hard work landed me such an awesome position. As the weeks went on, I struggled trying to find my niche in this odd dynamic of a team. Firstly, I am the only American girl in the lab. I did bond with the other male technician and my lab manager but getting to know the postdocs was a whole other ordeal.

See, we get visiting postdocs every 3 weeks. Right now there are 6 here for their 1 year postdoctoralship. This is unfamiliar territory for me because I’ve never heard of that many in one department. They are all foreign as well. However, this is not a problem. I lived in Italy for 6 months and am very respectful and enamored by other cultures. Slowly but surely I won the hearts of the Brazilian, the Pollack and Frenchie. I want to share with you some things I learned regarding foreign colleagues and how my work environment is so much better now.

10. D . . . More
Author: Jordan Gaines | Views: 2976 | Comments: 3
Last by Mohammadbagher on May 20, 2012, 3:36am
A random sample of Americans was polled a few years ago. The purpose of this poll was to gauge our population's knowledge and beliefs on human life and evolution. Religious beliefs aside, this statement particularly stood out to me:

A quarter of Americans believed that this is true. This absolutely floors me.

But it also has me wondering: do people understand what, exactly, a genetic defect is? Do they understand what DNA is beyond, say, mentionings in the O.J. Simpson case or paternity tests on Maury?

Another poll states that 80% of Americans believe the U.S. should create a "DNA bank" of its citizens. What exactly are they believing in, then?

There is a great divide between the scientific community and the average non-scientific layperson. And just before I enrolled in my Ph.D. program to begin my scientific career, it became clear to me how I'd like to use my knowledge: to educate others, in their terms, about what's going on in their bodies.

There are two truths about which I have been certain for most of my life: I love to write and create, and science is endlessly fascinating.

Back home, a large box is filled to the brim with papers I'd taped together to create books—st . . . More
Author: JaniceF | Views: 2176 | Comments: 10
Last by JaniceF on Sep 30, 2011, 7:05pm
Every time I go to a conference, for some reason, I do something that is incredibly embarassing.

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Author: Suzy | Views: 1977 | Comments: 8
Last by Genomic Repairman on Aug 01, 2010, 8:34am
As more and more of my academic scientist friends become disillusioned with their prospects for a balanced life or financial freedom, moving to industry seems the logical choice. If you really want to make the big dollars, you'll want to move out of the lab and try out marketing or sales.

Now, you won't be able to go directly to a marketing position from the lab without some marketing experience or maybe having taken a few marketing classes. But scientists can transition from an industry lab position to a marketing position or go straight into sales, which only really requires that you are a scientist that is outgoing and friendly to others. (An oxymoron, I know).

If you do make the change to a company, even as an R&D scientist, you'll be interacting with marketing a lot. To aid in your understanding of your first marketing meeting, I’ve put together a list of marketing lingo that would be good to know. This isn’t so much a jaded article as much as my attempt to help those of you, who despite my bitching, still want to cross over to the dark side.

So here you go and please let me know if you have anything to add or need further explanation.

In alphabetical order:

Bandwidth: People
When used: To get out of doing something someone asks . . . More
Author: Suzy | Views: 2050 | Comments: 3
Last by Ruby Gadelrab on Jan 12, 2011, 7:24pm
For those of you who follow the tweets of @DivaBiotech, you are already familiar with the varied interests and activities of outgoing world traveler and international marketing guru in the area of genomics, Ruby Gadelrab. Ruby is one of my favorite tweeps, keeping me up to date on the personal genomics scene and the latest biotech science news. I asked Ruby to guest post on LabSpaces so we can hear more from this former molecular biologist turned marketing executive supertalent. Her background and experiences in biotech and her love for cutting edge science make her an excellent source of information and inspiration for up-and-coming biotech scientists.

Thank you Ruby for sharing this article with us. I hope we can print Part 2, when you report the results of your genetic profile. Depending on what comes back, I may do the same.


During the summer of 2009, I came across a fascinating Genetic Study that I decided to participate in. Part 1 of this blog will describe the study and some of its features I particularly liked. In Part 2, I will share some of my personal experiences in participating in the study.

The Coriell Personalized Medicine Collaborative ( . . . More
Author: Nick Fahrenkopf | Views: 2043 | Comments: 0
One of the research scientists at my college forwarded me a Nature article he thought I’d be interested in. This was the same guy who wanted to know how you feed DNA, so I was wary, but I took a look anyways. Now here I am breaking one of my only blogging rules and am writing about my own research. The paper came out in July in Nature titled “An integrated semiconductor device enabling non-optical genome sequencing” – it is open access too so take a look (after you finish reading here of course!)

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Author: Angry Scientist | Views: 1987 | Comments: 3
Last by Tideliar on Nov 22, 2010, 1:06pm

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Author: Angry Scientist | Views: 1895 | Comments: 1
Last by Alchemystress on Jul 17, 2011, 10:21am

With all of the budget discussions in congress this year, I wonder if we won't start seeing researchers get all NASCAR with biotech sponsorships.

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Author: Suzy | Views: 1850 | Comments: 5
Last by Alchemystress on Feb 10, 2011, 7:45pm
Think about all of the products you use every day, both at home and at work. Every single thing you use started out as an idea or concept from someone who thought, “If I had something like this, it would make life so much easier.” We all have those ideas. But how does a product go from concept to solid object sitting on a shelf waiting for you to buy it? The process is long and complex and involves many people. Even the simplest more inexpensive item requires the touch of dozens and sometimes hundreds of people.

Most of us never think about how that thing or kit came to existence and what was involved to make it happen.  But if you knew how much work went into every last detail down to the way it looks when you open it and how you heard about it, you would never look at a product the same way again.

Today I am going to tell you how this works.  Naturally this process varies greatly depending on the size of the company and the type of product (for example, software vs a DNA kit, vs a sequencing service are totally different). I am going to describe the process in more general terms. Because the truth is that even in a small company, this process must be followed. The system is in place to make sure mistakes are not made, that lemons are killed before too much t . . . More
Author: Dangerous Experiments | Views: 1820 | Comments: 9
Last by Ragamuffin on May 04, 2011, 12:57am
This week's guest blogger is Kristin Lammers. She has an MS in chemistry from Rutgers University and is currently a PhD student at Temple University in physical chemistry. Her thesis work is on environmental chemistry and CO2 sequestration.


I recently read Jade's post about what she would want to study if she wasn't working in the biotech industry. She indicated that she would love to research multiple sclerosis and this has motivated me to share with you my perspective on life as a graduate student. In actuality, we may all go through the thought process of questioning our current path in the sciences. This is usually catalyzed by some experiment gone wrong or when we are in the “negative region of the sine wave”, which is quite a common case in graduate school. However, my perspective really isn’t too far of a stretch from the life of a graduate student, just that there is one extra hurdle to deal with, and maybe an extra abundance of caffeinated drinks. I have been “blessed” with (a) MS. Yes, the degree in chemistry and the autoimmune disease, multiple sclerosis. Interestingly enough for me, I rec . . . More
Author: Suzy | Views: 1724 | Comments: 9
Last by Suzy on Mar 06, 2011, 2:45am
Picking up our discussion on the new product development life cycle, we last talked about R&D and before that feasibility. The next department to work on the new product is marketing. The person who will announce to the world the arrival of this new kit is the Product Manager or Marketing Manager.

(If you do not recognize some terms used here, please ask or check the Marketing Dictionary.)

Today's article is a lesson on how to calculate the size of a market and how to estimate how much money one can make in that market.

During feasibility, marketing provided the committee a financial analysis of the product. This is called the "business case". The key concerns are always around the numbers. There are numerous tasks to keep track of in preparation for a product launch and most of the early tasks revolve around market and cost analysis. The later tasks revolve around the creative aspects of marketing the product (design of . . . More
Author: Suzy | Views: 1481 | Comments: 4
Last by Suzy on Jul 27, 2010, 11:30pm
In between topics to rant about, I thought I would tell you a little bit more about what it's like to be a biotech scientist. I've been in many different sized biotechs and even between them, the culture can vary quite a bit. Therefore, I'll try and describe it in general terms to give you an overview of the life of an industry scientist in research and development (R&D). Of course, some people will disagree. Just like academics, there are good labs and bad labs with good managers and bad, and in some companies you get to do mostly R (which is the most fun) and in others it's mostly D (which can be tedious and not as inspired) and this will make a big difference in your perception of industry science.

These are my own perspectives but feel free to leave comments about your experiences if you like.

Time Management

Let's start with your freedom. In biotech companies, your time is heavily monitored. Unlike the days in academics where you could disappear to the library for a few hours to read or write, or have a coffee break at any time of day as your schedule permits, this is not possible in biotech. People will miss you. People will look for you. It doesn't matter whether you work long hours- or weekends- you are expected to be at the beck and call of your co- . . . More
Author: Disgruntled Julie | Views: 1433 | Comments: 17
Last by GMP on Aug 29, 2010, 7:29pm
Yesterday, LabMom discussed the problems with science and gender at a very young age when trying to enroll her daughter in science camp. Seeing as I have no children myself (nor will I anytime soon), I tend to steer clear of discussions relating to children and parenting. However, something else LabMom mentioned caught my eye.

“It is no secret that boys tend to lean towards subjects in the physical sciences, while girls tend to have more interest in the biological sciences, but I had just assumed there were be a few other girls at dinosaur camp.”

I feel like this is a topic that is coming up more and more frequently. While I used to just read about the problem with getting girls interested in science, more and more I see individuals phrasing it as a necessity to get females more interested in the physical sciences. (Note: I’m not trying to say that LabMom is doing this, but rather her post and subsequent comments made me realize how this is becoming a more common topic.)

But I have to confess… I don’t understand why this is a BAD thing. I’m not talking about situations where women are not exposed to science at the same level as men, but rather . . . More
Author: Holly | Views: 1385 | Comments: 3
Last by Holly on Aug 11, 2010, 7:36pm
The idea of becoming an entrepreneur is intoxicating. You get to pick your own hours, you are your own boss, you get to create things that didn't exist before. For us in the biotech field, it's doubly intoxicating. When we start our own business, we are doing things like curing cancer, creating things that enhance science and research, or educating the world. These are all causes that the average person would love to dedicate their lives to.

If you are thinking about creating your own bio-business, I am definitely not going to lecture you on the basics about starting your own business. Anyone who has gone through graduate school knows what it is like to work 'till 2 am and have to work weekends. You also know what it is like to have your mind completely engulfed by an idea, and how to continuously build and create upon it. Don't worry, you have already proven you can live and work in this environment. Beyond that, here are four questions you should ask yourself before you start your new business.

1. FAILURE- Can you handle it if your business fails? Sounds simple enough, you work in science, and you have experiments that fail all the time. I am not talking about handling little failures, I am asking how you would react to something you worked for a year on, for 14 . . . More
Author: Suzy | Views: 1493 | Comments: 17
Last by Suzy on Feb 24, 2011, 9:05pm
My travel schedule is set for another year. Every year I tell myself I’m not going to commit to so much travel but whenever I am asked to cover some event, it’s an opportunity for me to talk to people in diverse and burgeoning fields and get new ideas for products, so I don’t say no.  And who doesn’t enjoy attending conferences? So I’ll be traveling to a conference every month from now until October with a break in September.   

Does it sound like fun? There are pros and cons to traveling for work. If you like visiting different cities and enjoy meeting people and talking science all day long, you would love it. If you would rather chain yourself to the lab bench than talk to a hundred people in an 8 hour day, then this part of a biotech job may not be for you. Fortunately, it’s not required for all jobs and you can always decline.

I came up with my list of what I like and dislike about traveling for work.  Maybe this will help some people considering careers in marketing or sales, because this is a big part of the selling life.


The Good: I love meeting scientists, hearing about their work, and getting compliments on our products by scientists

The Bad: Talking for 8 hours a day to strangers makes me want to go back to . . . More
Author: Lab Mom | Views: 1282 | Comments: 6
Last by biochem belle on Aug 10, 2010, 3:47pm
I recently stumbled upon this Scientific American Article about advice Nobel Laureates gave to young scientists about how to succeed in science and in light of the recent work-life balance series I can't resist commenting on it.

Some of the advice in the article was obvious: Know when to throw in the towel, be a good collaborator, be able to tell a good story.. Okay, duh. That is just common sense.

What I was more interested in was the less obvious, something I hadn't heard before, advice that was a little outside-the-box.

From the article:
Make Time for Your Family. “You can’t exist as a scientist without some sort of relationship with other people and family is the most important,” said Smithies. [Oliver Smithies, winner of a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2007] A particular challenge for experimental scientists is the need to keep their research chugging along without consuming entire weekends. “Maybe pick two hours each day on Saturday and Sunday” to balance the needs of science and home life.

It is refreshing to get the perspective of someone who is considered a success in science (Yes I am defining a Nobel P . . . More