Rutgers Eagleton Institute of Politics: Regulating the Power of Gene Editing

By: Samantha Avina

On Friday February 21st the Rutgers Eagleton Institute of Politics in collaboration with the Rutgers iJobs program hosted the CRISPR Governance Workshop to discuss the current issues in developing policy to regulate genome editing. The objective of this workshop was to encourage open discussion about the use of genome editing technologies and give students insight into potential careers in science policy.

Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeat (CRISPR) technology is a novel biotechnological tool that allows direct editing of a gene of interest and which has been utilized in biomedical research and diagnostic tools.

The ability to make such changes to the human genome has stoked contentious debate amongst politicians and scientists regarding if and how this technology could be applied as a therapeutic agent.

Debates predominantly focus on whether CRISPR technology should be used to make germline genomic edits that pass from generation to generation.

At the Eagleton Institute of Politics workshop, science and policy experts were invited to speak as voices on different sides of the debate. Keynote speaker Dr. Jonathan Moreno, renowned bioethicist and Professor of Ethics at The University of Pennsylvania began the workshop by giving an overview of the ongoing debate and how similar issues have been treated in the past.

photo courtesy of mayoclinic 2016
photo courtesy of mayo clinic 2016

“We need to have science diplomacy with other institutions internationally and domestically,” Dr. Moreno stated when discussing the recent backlash to Dr. He Jiankui’s genome editing experiments in 2019. Dr. He’s controversial work resulted in two human embryos born to term in China with permanent deletion of the CCR5 gene in an attempt to reduce susceptibility to HIV. His work was publicly condemned by the scientific community who demanded a moratorium on human genome editing with CRISPR technology and led to major public outcry.  Dr. Moreno went on to discuss how the ability to regulate genome editing technology needs to be present in both authoritarian and democratic institutions, where it was previously thought scientific discovery thrived predominately under a democratic system.

“To flourish, science needs democracy as the lifeblood of good science…are we sure we can say that now?, Dr. Moreno stated concluding his talk his talk.

After Dr. Moreno’s talk, Drs. Patrick Hill and Wise Young of Rutgers University both gave lectures on the potential of CRISPR use in the future. With dissimilar perspectives, their talks and the following panel discussion gave attendees a glance into the heart of this controversial debate. Dr. Patrick Hill, an associate professor from the Rutgers School of Planning and Public Policy stressed the importance of a prudent approach to CRISPR use stating, “Just because we can utilize this technology doesn’t necessarily mean we should…editing is not new, this is different in degree but not kind.”

Alternatively, Dr. Wise Young from the Rutgers Center for Collaborative Neuroscience argued in support of CRISPR use in germline editing and proposed that there is no intrinsic difference between molecular, pharmacologic, or genetic therapy. While Dr. Young condemned inappropriate use of the technology, he noted that people are bound to start trying to use CRISPR. He explained that this will happen despite policy makers and the implementation of proper use checkpoints to regulate the technologies use in a safe and effective manner. “I don’t think memorandums are good”, stated Dr. Young, “We shouldn’t be afraid of genetics. We will have a lot of safety nets to make sure things don’t get out of hand.”

Following the speaker lectures, an open panel was formed where attendees could interact with the invited speakers and ask questions involving science policy and CRISPR regulation.

Rutgers faculty and students asked questions ranging from what the extent of science communication should be, to how to minimize CRISPR off target effects and who decides what will happen with this technology in the future.

Guest speakers had an array of responses ranging from pragmatic and opportunistic utilization of the CRISPR gene editing tool, to conservative and prudent approaches to its use.

Members of the Rutgers community were also able to participate in an interactive science policy exercise and allow their own opinions to flourish in round table discussions. The exercise focused on the example of CRISPR engineered gene drive constructs that result in the reduction of disease vector mosquito populations.

photo courtesy of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation sourced from Hammond and Galizi (2018)
photo courtesy of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation sourced from Hammond and Galizi (2018)

Specifically, the gene drive is constitutively expressed and passed down vertically through generations resulting in the sterilization of subsequent progeny to reduce or completely terminate the mosquito population. Just as in the panel discussions, attendees had many factors to consider when determining if gene drive use was ethical, environmentally sustainable and controllable.

The CRISPR regulation of gene editing workshop held by the Rutgers Eagleton Institute of Politics in collaboration with the iJobs program gave students insight into the incredible world of science policy and all the complexity it entails. At this workshop students had the opportunity to grapple with the issues of CRISPR currently at the forefront of this contentious debate. This event demonstrated to students that science policy is a critical crossroad of regulation and scientific advancement. Those interested in shaping laws to regulate genome editing and other biotechnology inventions will find a career in science policy delightfully exciting and rewarding!

Junior Editor: Brianna Alexander

Senior Editor: Tomas Kasza

SciPhD: Preparing Scientists for Professional Careers

Written by Xuyuan Kuang

The Four-Day SciPhD Program led by Larry Petcovic and Randall Ribaudo, closed up on February 2nd where 40 PhD students and post-doctoral associates received certificates of the program completion supported by the Rutgers iJOBS program. Among 40 participants, most of them are from Rutgers University New Brunswick Campus or Newark Campus, and the rest are from Princeton University, and Rowan University.

The course covered a wide range of activities including lectures, group discussion and interview practices. Lectures included the topics: communication skills, leadership, networking, negotiating, and financial literacy. Additionally, on the evening of third day, a VIP reception created networking opportunities for trainees to discuss career options with professionals.

The program first helped participants to realize the requirements of business and social skills in a job advertisement. It clarified the differences between scientific methods and business process, and emphasized the most important competencies for entry-level positions in industry were strategy, communication, and excitement. Attendees participated in self-assessment to understand the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). The MBTI describes people’s preferences for interacting with others (extraversion or introversion), gathering information (sensing or intuition), making decisions (thinking or feeling) and organizing their lives (judging or perceiving). Knowing MBTI about oneself and others could help the basis for building up communication skills.

In the communication courses, Larry and Randall introduced several techniques to develop emotional and social intelligence which are necessary for career development. The “3 m&ms” technique was a technique to use each m&m to ask questions during a conversation, which helps to understand an issue better. Larry and Randall reminded the trainees that switching from expert to learner is the most powerful technique to control and limit the cognitive bias. Briefly, learner mode means not being negative or defensive, arguing any point, pointing a finger or talking louder. Being a learner is beneficial when one needs a deeper relationship with the person or audience who one interacts with.

Moving forward, the training session about leadership was titled ‘Developing your people’ . The course talked about how to establish collaborative relationships that enable others to succeed, by being sensitive to their level of competence and independence for essential tasks. Three principles of effectively managing teams were introduced including clearly defined goals, using appropriate encouragement and praising success, and providing necessary criticisms with empathy. Using the knowledge of MBTI also helps to develop a targeted approach to provide needed support to people.

During the discussion of networking, a number of tips on preparing business cards and editing a LinkedIn profile were introduced by Larry and Randy. For example, one needs to pay attention to the material of a business card is made from, so a receiver can write on it with pen if necessary. Further, job seekers can use LinkedIn to get badges for skills in addition to skills certified by co-workers. When talking about the leadership, team performance tools such as brainstorming, priority matrix, SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis as well as process mapping and value added analysis, was explained and practiced in the program.

Last but not least, distributive and integrative negotiation strategies were proposed in a topic covering “negotiating with the hiring manager.” Distributive negotiation involves haggling over a fixed amount of value—that is, slicing up the pie, while integrative is often referred to as “win-win” and typically entails two or more issues to be negotiated. It often involves an agreement process that better integrates the aims and goals of all the involved negotiation participants through creative and collaborative problem-solving. I learned to find salary information on websites and by job title, and to think in terms of a 3-year horizon when selecting a career.In addition, I was taught that during a negotiation it is best to try to avoid getting defensive.

The training about financial literacy includes lecture and teamwork of participants. After learning the basic income statement financial terms, students were assigned to be mimic employees in different companies or organizations including bank and drug investment or development companies. The financial procedures include buying and selling a company, and merging and getting loans from a bank.  Goals were set to increase revenue, net income as well as earnings before interest, taxes, and amortization (EBITA) with certain amount of cash. The financial procedures with banks, nonprofit organization and companies, motivated trainees to better understand the financial state of a business.

Lastly during the VIP reception SciPhD attendees had the opportunity to talk with previous SciPhD trainees and Rutgers alumni, which include scientists in industry, medical communications and non-profit sectors.When I discussed with professionals in different fields, they shared their day-to-day routine, and mentioned the challenges they confronted within their position. Moreover, they talked about how SciPhD and other iJOBS events or trainings helped them in their career. From what they said, I realized SciPhD could be a start to change my way of thinking and communication.

Apart from the 40-hour program, the software Flamingo, a new online web application was provided to certified trainees aiming to help them select a career, identify and develop relevant business and social skills, and prepare targeted resumes for free.

For me, SciPhD has been the most helpful workshop I have attended to handle job interviews and understand business procedures. It has given me a new angle to think about communication. I feel confident in creating a resume for any job.I am not only aware of my personality better but also fearless to enhance my business communication. I now have a clearer sense of how to effectively explore career options.

Junior Editor Samantha Avina

SciPhD: Preparing Scientists for Industry Careers

Sciphd

Written by: Maria Ibrahim

Are you interested in learning about a variety of possible careers after completing a  Ph.D. or post-doc? Do you want an insight on how to brand yourself for a job interview? Do you want to know what leadership skills are necessary to be an effective employee? If the answer to these questions is yes, then I highly recommend the SciPhD (The Business of Science for Scientists) workshop. The four days (36 hours) workshop is a “must attend” iJOBS event!  Additionally, SciPhD is an NIH endorsed career development program which focuses on helping participants become competitive and successful as professional scientists, regardless of an academic or industry setting. The SciPhD certification program provides a “hands-on” method by encouraging participants to work together on their business skills.

Over the past two weekends, at the Newark and Piscataway campuses, I joined other eager participants who wanted to gain business and social skills. The topics covered in the workshop include: the business of science, successful communications as a scientist, six leadership styles, developing your people, negotiation and finance, and building effective teams. However, the workshop is not limited to that, it also includes a comprehensive portfolio that provided a review of everything taught in the class. Also, each certificate program attendee received a free subscription on Flamingo, career couch and job analytics web tool.  Flamingo provides help on tracking job listings, identifying critical skills, and developing a tailored resume targeting a specific job. Through all the interactive and team building exercises, I left SciPhD with a LinkedIn profile filled with new connections.

Day 1

Larry and Randall, the coordinators, started with a brief introduction about themselves and the goals of the workshop. They asked us to describe our expectations and what we hoped to learn in these four days. I really enjoyed learning about the many different job opportunities available to Ph.D.’s. The possibilities are truly endless, and it was such a breath of fresh air to have Larry tell us that we are not overeducated or overqualified for our dream jobs. Lastly, to learn successful communication as a scientist, we took the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)  personality test to understand different communication styles. I’ve attached the link to the free MBTI test so everyone can find out their communication style!

http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp

Day 2

Continuing from day one, the topic of the second day was emotional and social intelligence. Larry stated that during interviews most Ph.D.’s when asked a question are quick to respond with an answer. However, that probably isn’t in our best interest because it can come off as aggressive in a non-technical conversation. Larry’s resolution was simple, pretend to eat m&m’s, this allows for a clear and comprehensive answer to the question in a non-aggressive manager. Thus, helping with our soft social skills that will help land that perfect job!

Day 3

The day started with a leadership exercise that involved managing a company, co-workers, and customers. Without providing too much information, teams work together to mimic a business environment. Though it is not similar, the concept of management and social interaction is important in having a successful company. After the activity, we worked together on a research proposal to understand finance and performance. As a group, we created a process map to increase the flow of our research proposal. This budgeting exercise transitioned into the most anticipated topic of the seminar, negotiating as a scientist. The key point was that negotiating is an exercise of social intelligence and communication skills. Randal kept repeating the phrase, “Never negotiate just your salary! Always negotiate your total compensation package!” I learned how to ask for a sign-on bonus, medical benefits coverage, educational assistance programs, student debt assistance, and equity opportunities. Overall, this was the densest part of the workshop, but the most beneficial. The day ended with a VIP networking session with professionals from a variety of companies from medical communications to more traditional Pharma companies answering questions and interacting with the participants.

Day 4

The two topics remaining were financial literacy and strategic project management for scientists. It may seem daunting to end with these challenging topics, but Larry always has a plan. To tackle financial literacy, participants were divided into ten groups that included venture capital firms, pharmaceutical companies, nonprofit organizations, and banks. The goal of the exercise was simple, integrate and reinforce all the previously learned subjects from the workshop to achieve financial goals set for each group. My newly acquired scientific and business skills were used to negotiate and communicate opportunities to complete the exercise.

The last topic was project management, which scientist practice every day in their careers, yet few scientists realize this. The key concept and implementation of project management are similar in parallel to the scientific method. They further emphases the overall goal of the workshop, which is using our scientific training to target professional careers outside of academia. In the workshop we learned and experienced processes that are parallel to a business lift-cycle. The workshop ended with all participants receiving their well-earned certifications and enjoying the new friendships that they have made.

Conclusion

Throughout this workshop, I learned how to tailor a resume, understand the parallels of business management in science, and be confident in my previous experiences when applying for a job. Additionally, I can now add SciPhD to my toolbox when I’m ready to leave the lab and join the workforce. This workshop is highly recommended for a reason so definitely check it out!

https://sciphd.com/

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Junior Editor: Janaina Cruz Pereira

Senior Editor: Monal Mehta

Innovation and Science Lead to More Effective Governing

Author: Brian Canter

“Better outcomes for new methods will lead to more trust of new institutions.” This was my major takeaway from hearing Beth Noveck speak in November at the Eagleton Institute of Politics. The event was part of the Eagleton Science and Politics Initiative  and was titled Where Science, Innovation and Civic Engagement Meet.

Dr. Noveck is New Jersey’s first Chief Innovation Officer and runs the GovLab affiliated with New York University (NYU). She leads a team whose mission is to “strengthen the ability of institutions and people to work more openly, collaboratively, effectively and legitimately to make better decisions and solve public problems.”

The core argument of the GovLab is that in improving institutions, first, the individuals working in those institutions must be trained in new ways to solve problems. The first step in creating change is problem identification, like conducting scientific research. Crucially, in identifying the problem, one must talk to those individuals being affected by the problem. Biomedical research has also incorporated this concept through the creation of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, which includes patients in the decision-making process.

This idea of working to solve problems, with the individuals being affected, is known as human-centered design. Unlike in scientific research, there are no randomized clinical trials for policies and government intervention. Data is necessary for the groups like the GovLab to solve problems, but Dr. Noveck also emphasized the need for her team to be skilled in problem solving by listening to people. Therefore, it becomes imperative to facilitate a sundry of experts from academia, industry, and policy when solving problems faced by public institutions. However, it’s also necessary to include those civil servants who must serve the public.

A seminal report coauthored by Noveck this past August detailed the need for human centered design in reforming Australia’s public sector. The report surveyed over 400 Australian public employees who, while open to innovation and change, did not have the resources to implement changes. Public employees had a high interest in coaching and mentoring, yet often received neither. A minority of public servants had the skills needed to be innovative, and reported that they used the skills frequently. Noveck and her coauthors encouraged public institutions to consider their employees needs and equip them with data driven, participatory methods to tackle the challenges of the 21st Century.

Noveck has been working as Chief Innovation Officer for only eighteen months. Yet during the event, she mentioned countless examples of projects she and her team were working on, or planning to work on, here in New Jersey. The first project she mentioned was the ENJINE challenge, an initiative that elicited innovative ideas from New Jersey state government employees. The initiative resulted in over 2000 state employees from twenty different departments and agencies submitting over 300 reforms. Some of the top ideas, as voted on by state employees, were allowing for telecommuting and working from home, implementing blockchain and smart contract technology, workplace fitness and wellness, and workplace childcare.

A second initiative Dr. Noveck has spearheaded is the NJ Skills Accelerator. The project provides an online learning program for NJ state government employees to acquire ten innovation skills. These skills include human-centered design, an introduction to open data, and developing experiments for change. State employees can complete the modules at their own pace. Following completion of the modules and a self-assessment, civil servants will be able to submit projects of their own through the Office of Innovation.

Dr. Noveck also mentioned there are several problems the Office of Innovation has not yet fully addressed. One major issue is tackling the problem of long-term unemployment in New Jersey. Nearly one out of every three unemployed New Jersey residents has been unemployed for more than twenty-seven weeks. The state has one of the highest rates of long-term unemployed residents. While Dr. Noveck noted an online toolkit had been developed for this group of people, she also noted that reading a website may not be sufficient for this group of people to find jobs. Instead she will focus on understanding the needs of the long-term unemployed population, and see what has been done by other public institutions to combat this chronic problem.

Another challenge faced by Dr. Noveck and the Office of Innovation is a return on investment. Government officials are desperate to know what the Office of Innovation will produce in terms of outputs. This is the same demand scientists face from grant funding agencies, foundations and charities. The Office of Innovation combines the spirit of entrepreneurship with the critical thinking skills from science to make government better positioned to carry out its mission of better serving the residents of New Jersey.

Following the event Dr Noveck patiently spoke with any attendees who wanted to connect and had questions. Before she was hustled into a car and dialing into an NYU faculty conference call, I had a chance to briefly chat with her. We discussed how her message of working for and with organizations that are mission based resonated strongly with me. I told her about Science Policy and Advocacy at Rutgers, a student run science policy group that I co-lead, and she was excited to hear that early career scientists are extending scientific thinking outside of the lab and classroom.

I’m excited to see what the future holds for Dr. Noveck and the Office of Innovation. She’s a shining example of how scientists and academics can better the world through collaborating and bettering public institutions. Improving public institutions and increasing the public’s trust in them will serve the scientific community. More trust in the public institutions funding science, means more trust in science. More trust in science makes our university, state and country better technologically equipped to deal with all the problems we will face in the future.

 

Noveck

 

Senior Editor: Monal Mehta

Exploring the field of Regulatory Writing

By: Brianna Alexander

“The most fulfilling part of being a medical writer is being part of the treatment paradigm and knowing that what you do translates to patients and quality of life.” These are the words of Dr. Aaron B. Bernstein, a consultant medical writer, when asked to reflect on the most fulfilling part of his job as a medical writer. 

This past Wednesday, December 4th, Rutgers iJOBS hosted a panel/information session on careers in regulatory writing with guest speakers Dr. Aaron B. Bernstein, Marjorie Winters and Dr. Qing Zhou. Regulatory writing falls under the larger class of writing known as medical writing. Medical writing is a style of medical communication which, according to the American Medical Writer’s Association (AMWA), supports the “production of materials that deal specifically with medicine or healthcare.” Moreover, there are different fields of medical writing, each intended to provide useful health/medical-related information to a specialized audience. The chart below is a brief overview of a few medical writing subtypes. In this article we will explore the “Regulatory Documents” panel highlighted on the far right in red.

ijobsfigure2

*Aud=Audience. The items listed in this chart were compiled (using Microsoft PowerPoint) based on information provided from: James Lind Institute, “Types of Medical Writing: Documents written by Medical Writers”. Posted July, 6, 2012.*

So what is Regulatory Writing? Regulatory writing, according to ScienceMag, is a field in which the writer, “assists in the production of clinical documentation required by […] national regulatory agencies when assessing the safety and of drugs.” These are oftentimes documents that include Food and Drug Administration (FDA) forms, Institutional Review Board (IRB) forms and importantly, Investigator’s Brochures (IBs). Moreover, these documents are often constructed in a team effort, and help with the progression of a new drug through preclinical and clinical trials, and eventually to market. In his talk, Dr. Bernstein expanded on Investigator’s Brochures: what they are, why they are important and how they are constructed—all of which is detailed below.

What is an Investigator’s Brochure and why is it important? Dr. Bernstein opened with a simple and precise definition of an IB.  As sourced from: ICH E6 Guideline for Good Clinical Practice, Section 7, Investigator’s Brochure, “An Investigator’s Brochure is a compilation of the clinical and nonclinical data on the investigational product(s) that are relevant to the study of the investigational product(s) in human subjects.” In other words, it is a document that compiles all data collected from animal and human subjects on the new drug being investigated. This type of document, Dr. Bernstein stated, can easily be 100-150+ pages and will oftentimes undergo several revisions before final submission to 1) the FDA, 2) the IRB and 3) the investigator (usually the physician consulted to help conduct the study). He also stated that the Medical Writer in this capacity is crucial for not only writing and constructing the document, but  in determining the planning and organization strategy so that the document is written and submitted on time with all relevant information.

The purpose of the IB, also sourced from ICH E6 Guideline for Good Clinical Practice, Section 7, Investigator’s Brochure, is “…to provide the investigators and others involved in the trial with the information to facilitate their understanding of the rationale for, and their compliance with, many key features of a clinical study protocol.” Some key information that these documents include are: dosing regimen, safety and usage as well as reporting of any adverse events. Thus, this information is critical for new investigators who may be interested in the use of a drug because it can help ensure that the drug is used safely and appropriately.

What’s in an IB? There are various parts of an IB, as Dr. Bernstein explained, each serving a distinct purpose which supports the overall document. The first few parts of the document are the introduction and summary, which touch on the need for the drug, as well as the rationale and plan for its use. The next section is dedicated to the physical, chemical and pharmaceutical descriptions of the drug and is followed by the nonclinical data and a summary of drug toxicity. This is proceeded by data on the effect of the drug in humans as well as safety and efficacy recommendations. Lastly there are sections on marketing experience, and an overall summary of drug guidelines for the investigator. Each of these sections are presented in both a logical and chronological order that will allow the investigator to appreciate the progress of the drug and make an informed decision on what steps to take next to get the drug to patients.

Practical Exercises One feature of the information-packed session was an interactive portion conducted by Marjorie Winters, a freelance medical writer and editor, aimed at reviewing the concepts that Dr. Bernstein discussed. Her presentation included true/false questions and multiple choice questions that students answered as a group; all answers were discussed to clarify points of confusion or misconception. Marjorie’s segment also included a portion called, “What to Look for in Source Material” where students had the opportunity to read a sample clinical abstract and practice extracting pertinent information (that an investigator might find important) which might be included in an IB. During this section students worked in small groups to answer the questions provided and then each answer was discussed with the entire group. This was a very nice addition to the segment which helped reinforce key points while also encouraging team building and critical thinking among students.

AMWA The last portion of the event was an open segment where students got to ask questions of the AMWA members present, including Dr. Qing Zhou, president of the New York AMWA chapter, who traveled in for the event. Dr. Zhou discussed AMWA’s goals and mission—to educate and promote excellence—and shared information about how students could get on the AMWA mailing list to learn more about current and future opportunities. When asked to reflect on the most fulfilling part of being a medical writer, Dr. Zhou replied that for her it is the “intellectual contribution,” and expressed her excitement and passion in finding a career so suiting.

This was overall a very informative session covering the ins and outs of medical regulatory writing as well as AMWA and how students can get involved and learn more. One of the things that I appreciated as a participant at this event was the way that the speakers all explained the relevancy of graduate training to their success in their current positions. For example, Dr. Bernstein mentioned that discipline, knowledge of the scientific method and a keen sense of organization were all skills from his graduate training that continue to be relevant in his work. In addition, I liked the inclusion of the interactive exercises in which students could engage with the material and interact with one another. This event highlighted one of the many non-traditional post-graduate careers in which writing is both essential and impactful.

Junior editor: Vicky Kanta

Senior Editor: Monal Mehta

 

 

 

What Can You be with a PhD: Day 2, Part 2 – Careers in Science Communication and Media

By Rukia Henry

For the final instalment on the series detailing “What Can You be with a PhD” career symposium, experts in science communication and media shared their experiences detailing their job positions, what it took to get there, and how a career in this field can be rewarding.

This panel session was moderated by Ben Lillie, CEO of Caveat, and featured panelists that included Dr Dave Bernstein, Senior Director of Science and Strategy at Stand up to Cancer, Dr Sally Burn, Director of Scientific Communications at Sema4 and Dr Julie Wolf, Science Communications Specialist at American Society for Microbiology.

Science communication is becoming increasingly important in our current era of social media, and every day we see evidence of false narratives and information being perpetuated to the public. As easy as it can be for scientists to put the blame on agencies and other organizations for sharing information lacking in knowledge and evidence-based facts, we must face the truth that oftentimes, scientists themselves are not the best at communicating their work to the public. With the use of complicated scientific words and jargons, there can be a huge disconnect between the world scientists exists in and what we expect the public, who aren’t privileged to have our background or expertise, to know.

Image from hindawi.com
Image from hindawi.com

That is why Dr. Ben Lillie was inspired to co-found Caveat, a live show venue that combines science and entertainment in a fun way. Dr. Lillie worked at TED for a number of years. It is here he realized that while telling a story can be compelling, he noticed that it might not be interesting if it can’t keep one’s attention. So, he decided to venture into making a space that could combine the seriousness of science, that affects our everyday lives, and convey that message in an entertaining way to audiences.

Academics have the opportunity to tell their stories in a fun and lighted hearted way to an audience that will probably find their work not only amazing but funny. As it was described, “If you just want to laugh, go somewhere else. If you want to laugh, learn, love, and be inspired by a unique performance with a great drink in an awesome venue, Caveat is the place for you.”

Dr. David Bernstein takes a different approach to get his message of cancer awareness to the public – he utilizes and employs celebrities. On his end of the job, as the director of science and strategy, he is responsible for overseeing the grant portfolio that funds translational research, and he works closely with donors that help to fund research by explaining why the work is important. In addition, he works with the media and entertainment industries to engage celebrities to participate in campaigns that are aimed at sharing factual information about cancer and medicine to their large followings. A few celebrities who have been ambassadors for Stand up to Cancer include Ariana Grande, Beyoncé and Alicia Keys, just to name a few.

Dr. Bernstein explained that during his PhD, he gained an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) fellowship. This allowed him to gain experience in public engagement and science education, which helped forge the path to this current career and position. He advised that during your PhD, or even post-doctoral appointment, you should work beyond what you’re doing in the lab. That can include volunteering or taking on positions that are closely related to your career of interest.

Dr. Sally Burns works as the director for Scientific Communications at Sema4, a company with an interest in providing information and helping women with reproductive testing and family planning, and delivering precision therapeutics for cancer. Dr. Burns is involved in writing materials about reproductive testing, and also consults with mothers, a position that allows her to create a story that can be understood by other pregnant moms. Before her position a Sema4, she held a post-doc position for 8 years, during which he had an interest in pursuing a career in science communication. To this end, she began to write for blogs and run the social media page for different academic clubs and organizations. This experience proved to be valuable, and she learned to write stories that people, and ultimately her clients, care about.

Furthermore, Dr. Julie Wolf, Science Communications Specialist at ASM, is responsible for translating and communicating science from microbiologists to the general public. She also regularly hosts podcasts, creates YouTube content and also curates the Twitter account for ASM. During her PhD, and after she defended, she worked as a freelance writer for scientific journals. Because of her stellar work, she was hired full time by ASM. She recommends that students interested in this career path should first seek to build their own portfolio. This can be through starting a blog of your own, or writing for your school’s blog or other scientific publications. Your experience will exemplify your caliber, and it will be much easier for you to be hired right after obtaining your PhD. If you are interested in this type of career path, and if you are looking to build your portfolio, consider becoming a writer for the iJOBS blog!

Resources for Careers in Science Communication

Some resources the panel collectively suggested to sharpen your communications skills included learning to utilize the tools on The Open Notebook, an online science journalism database where thousands of contributions from scientists can be pitched and published on a daily basis. In addition, scientists can consider contributing to tvtropes.org, a Wikipedia-like platform that is more related to pop culture and current trends and events. One major way that you can also potentially prepare for a career in science communication is to volunteer you time teaching in spaces to audiences with a general interest in science.

This post was edited by Vicky Kanta and Monal Mehta

iJOBS Career Panel: GlaxoSmithKline

By Janaina Pereira

On November 11th, the iJOBS program hosted an event focused on the global company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). With this panel, we had the opportunity to hear from panelists holding different positions in the Human Genetics and Functional Genomics Departments about their projects and career paths in computational biology, genomic statistics, and genetics at GSK.

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GSK is one of the world’s leading healthcare companies with the vision of helping people to “do more, feel better, and live longer.” The company has over 95,000 employees across the globe, and last year delivered around 3.8 billion consumer healthcare products, 2.3 billion medicines, and 770 million vaccine doses. The company is well known for its vaccines, consumer healthcare and pharmaceutical products, which include the first vaccine for meningitis B called Bexsero, and expert recommended brands such as Sensodyne, Parodontax, Poligrip, Voltaren, Panadol, Otrivin and Theraflu.

The event started with Dr. Alison Acevedo discussing her career path as a Computational Biologist at GSK. Dr. Acevedo is a Rutgers alumna; she finished her Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering, within Androulakis Lab in June 2019, and started working at GSK in July 2019. Her Ph.D. work focused on computational and statistical methods to analyze high-throughput genetics data, and she has used these techniques to analyze cis-regulatory data for targets across therapy areas and identification/characterization of cell lines at GSK. Dr. Acevedo also discussed her hiring experience in the company. She was first contacted by a GSK recruiter through LinkedIn to apply for the company Future Leaders program. The Future Leaders consists of a trainee program in which you can rotate within three departments to increase experience and gain first-hand knowledge in the field. The program is offered in different countries and covers diverse areas such as business operations, sales and marketing, manufacturing and supply, and research and development. Unfortunately, Dr. Acevedo was not selected to participate in the program. However, she had cultivated a relationship with the GSK recruiter that led to the opportunity to apply for the Computational Biologist position in the department of Human Genetics. Important advice alert “be[ing] kind to your recruiter” as they can contact you about different job opportunities. She also mentioned that the hiring process consists of three phases: a phone interview with Human Resources, a technical phone interview with your potential manager, and an onsite interview (consisting of a presentation and a series of meetings throughout the day). Dr. Acevedo precisely explained how the company is encouraging the employee’s career growth by offering in-house training, the opportunity to participate in a variety of related-field conferences, and by offering a “10% Program” in which the employees can spend 10% of their time in a project of their interest.

Next, Dr. Dawn Waterworth, Senior Director of Human Genetics Department at GSK discussed her career path. Dr. Waterworth did her Ph.D. in Human Genetics from the Imperial College of London, held a Postdoctoral position in the same area at UCL, and worked as an Assistant Professor at Rutgers University. In 2002, Dr. Waterworth transitioned from academia to industry through a position as a director at GSK, leading the genetics projects for cardiovascular, metabolic and dermatological diseases in the drug discovery and development department. Dr. Waterworth holds an outstanding curriculum, which includes being recognizing as the top 5% of scientists in GSK and author of over 150 publications. She focused her presentation on the projects being developed within different teams in her department, which include genomics analytics and computational biology, applied genetics, genomic data strategy and pharmacogenomics team focusing on target identification and validation. She also mentioned that the group is interconnected and the members can experience working in a variety of fields from immune system diseases to infectious diseases. She finished her presentation discussing a case study of GLP1R (a target of albiglutide), which gave us an idea of the importance of working as a group to answer real questions.

We next heard from Dr. Diptee Kulkarni, the Genetics Therapy Area Head at GSK. Dr. Kulkarni is a licensed physician with a Ph.D. in cancer molecular biology and genetics from Rutgers University. Before joining GSK, Dr. Kulkarni was a Postdoc, as well as a Research Teaching Specialist, both of which were at Rutgers University. Dr. Kulkarni started her presentation talking about her group, which is focused on genetics in oncology. She briefly presented some examples of how genetics is applied to cancer drug discovery and development such as identification of oncogenic somatic BRAF mutations to medicine and identification of drug safety and efficacy by using genetics approaches.

The last panelist was Dr. Johannes Freudenberg, Director of Computational Biology Department at GSK. Dr. Freudenberg started his career as a computational scientist and later on did a Ph.D. in Bioinformatics at the University of Cincinnati. After he fished his Ph.D., Dr. Freudenberg worked as Research Associate at the University of Cincinnati and later as a Research Fellow at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). Eight years ago, Dr. Freudenberg joined GSK as a Scientific Investigator and now he holds the position of Scientific Director of the Computational Biology department and is a GSK Fellow. Dr. Freudenberg started his presentation talking about the Computational Biology group, which is responsible for supporting the company’s drug discovery pipeline. Dr. Freudenberg walked us through the pipeline steps from target identification to the clinical trials and mentioned the contributions made by the Computational Biology group to the pipeline, which includes the use of machine learning and AI (deep learning) technologies. He finished his presentation with examples of recent projects in computational biology, such as meta-analysis of the human gene expression in response to Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection and lung microbiome studies.

After the panelist presentations, we had the opportunity to ask them questions about the company and industry, in general. I was impressed by how the audience had come prepared for this panel. Some of the audience members had already applied for a job position at GSK and others came with their printed resume on hand.

 

Image source: https://www.theladders.com/career-advice/31-things-you-should-remove-from-your-resume-immediately
Image source: https://www.theladders.com/career-advice/31-things-you-should-remove-from-your-resume-immediately

 

I have selected some discussed questions to share with you that I believe are important for a career at GSK and industry as a whole.

Audience: What is the difference between Future Leaders and the Fellow program?

Dr. Waterworth: Future Leaders is a smaller program than the Fellow program. The idea behind the Fellow program is to include 5% of the GSK R&D scientists and you have to be a GSK employee before applying to the program.

Audience: Which skills should I improve during my Ph.D. that can be important to apply for a position as computational biologists, statistical geneticists or geneticists at GSK?

Dr. Acevedo: Most of the skills I used during my Ph.D. were carried on to my job position. However, you can improve some of your skills in R and Python, get familiar with available databases, and have a good knowledge of high throughput screen approaches as well as pathway analysis approaches. The computational tools and databases that you used during your Ph.D. can be skills that you can carry on to your future job position.

Audience: Are you looking for people that work with plants, for example?

Dr. Kulkarni: The things that we are looking for are the tools that you are using to answer your question in the plant field, for example. The questions are not that important but the skills that you have developed to answer those questions are really important and are the things that we look for on a candidate profile.

Audience: Is it important to have a Postdoc experience before applying for a job at GSK?

Dr. Waterworth and Dr. Freudenberg: It is not extremely necessary. We, for example, came with different experiences: some of us worked as post-docs but others didn’t. GSK is hiring people for different position levels.

Audience: Is it difficult to transition between careers or departments in the company?

Dr. Freudenberg: It is not difficult to transition between careers or departments in the company as GSK offers plenty of opportunities to work in collaboration with other departments.

Audience: Which skills can be learned in academia that could help with the transition to industry?

Dr. Waterworth: Communication skills are key skills in industry. You have to be able to talk about your idea and project to a diverse audience.

 

Overall, I really enjoyed participating in this panel. I not only learned about the GSK global company but about the industry field in general. I enjoyed listening to the panelists and I absorbed their advice coming from experiences in different career stages, from the directors to the recently hired employee, everyone had contributed with extremely important information. I will certainly take their advice on my path on transitioning from academia to industry. I confess that after this panel, GSK is on my list of the top dream companies to work for.

If you want to have the whole experience, please check out the podcast of the event.

 

This article was edited by Huri Mücahit and Helena Mello.

 

What can You be with a PhD – Day 2: Part 1- Careers in Science Outreach and Informal Education

by Rukia Henry

As a young researcher and scientist in training, I have come to realize that there is a huge disconnect with the work that I and other scientists perform in the lab, and the translation of that work to the public. As scientists, we don’t perform experiments or do science for ourselves, and if we take a close look on social media, we can easily find a mass of misinformation being circulated and perpetuated to the public – hello antivaxxers!

It is becoming increasingly important that scientists actively take roles in effectively communicating factual and evidence-based science to the public. While this might seem as a hobby, have you considered that this can be your fulltime career?

On day two of the career symposium at NYU Langone Center, the importance of science outreach was discussed on a panel session moderated by Dr. Jeanne Garbarino, Director of RockEDU Science Outreach at the Rockefeller University. The panelists for the Careers in Science Outreach and Informal Education included Dr Christine Marizzi, Lead Community Scientist at BioBus Inc, Dr Odaelys Walwyn-Pollard, Scientist and Educator at The Rockefeller University, and Dr Latasha Wright, Chief Scientific Officer at BioBus Inc.

The goal of science outreach is to essentially bring science to the public. In addition to its importance in providing factual information and dispelling scientific myths, science outreach can have profound effects in encouraging young students to pursue degrees and possible careers in STEM, especially individuals and students from marginalized communities.

What is Science Outreach and How can it be Done Effectively?

Dr Wright noted that it is important for scientists to first understand that science outreach is a dialogue between a scientist and a non-scientist. As a scientist, you have to be able to share your work with different cultures and have an understanding that not everyone will be readily open to hearing your point of view. So, while it is important to you share your scientifically-supported message, listening to your audience, their vacillations and finding a way to work with and around that will make your outreach efforts highly effective. You have to meet and engage your audience where they are.

Dr Marizzi explained that science communication and outreach may not even be just directed to the general public at large, but even to a targeted group such as politicians, where your job might be to influence policy. You must go into it with an attitude that is receptive to their point of view as well. There must be room for mutual learning. It is imperative that you understand why their beliefs and values may be shaped in certain ways, and only then will you be able to tackle those barriers that may have incorrectly informed their decisions.

To that end, Dr Garbarino noted that before you start, you should create a framework that details your goals, your specific area of expertise, and how you can frame your message to target your audience of interest.

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Source: http://rwjms.rutgers.edu/education/gsbs/student_affairs/communicating-science.html

 

Where is the Science Outreach field Heading?

Science outreach can be considered a fulltime job. There are universities who are beginning to offer semester-long courses in science communication and even advanced degrees. Rutgers University, for example, has developed a course called “Communicating Science,” with the aim to teach graduate students how to effectively present their research to non-scientists in an effective way. It takes a lot of effort to frame the work that you hope will target a specific audience. Whether it be through social media channels like Instagram or Facebook, or creating digital content in the form of podcasts or YouTube videos, the time and resources necessary to make your communication successful possibly requires your time and energy like any other 9 – 5 job.

One of the challenges that can be encountered in this field is the perception of the job held by others, especially by other scientists and other academics. However, one important message that the panelists wanted to make known was that one fundamental mission of science communication and outreach is to change human behavior for the better, and that can certainly be a full-time job.

Aspects of the Job

BioBus Inc – Dr Wright explained that the mission of BioBus is to spark and cultivate an interest in science, while simultaneously providing access to science and information, especially in marginalized communities. BioBus goes to different schools in the New York area and showcases varying aspects of science and experiments that they have prepared for students on the bus. Students come on board, and they are able to be exposed and become excited about science.

One memorable moment that Dr Wright recounts is when a young boy came on the bus and asked her, ‘scientists can wear dresses?’. Science outreach is important in changing the perception of what a scientist should be or look like, and it’s a job that Dr Wright noted she wouldn’t trade for anything else.

RockEDU – RockEDU provides equitable access to science for students in K-12. It is a program that is designed and catered to teachers and students, providing access to science that may not have been available at their school. The program provides access to a laboratory setting where students are trained and taught different lab techniques. The RockEDU program also provides mentorship to children in this grade.

Compensation and Benefits in Science Outreach

Now as exciting as a job may seem, we all know at the end of the day it all boils down to the size of the paycheck. Is this a career that can be both mentally and financially rewarding?

BioBus Inc:

-Starting pay begins at $50,000 to $60,000

-Three months paid family leave

-Unlimited PTO

-Health and Vision insurance

-You create our own working schedule

RockEDU:

-Starting pay begins at $60,000

-Health, dental and vision insurance

-Six weeks maternity leave for vaginal delivery and eight weeks leave for C-section

One important point that the moderator, Dr Garbarino noted is that as a scientist with a PhD Degree, never accept a job below $60,000. Know your worth and negotiate!

This article was edited by Helena Mello

What can you be with a PhD? A Science and Technology Career Symposium: Part 2

by Rukia Henry

The Science and Career Symposium was held on the weekend of October 19th-20th at New York University, Langone Health Center. It showcased a vast array of professionals who engaged in sessions detailing the careers they pursued in fields outside of academia. Panel sessions focused on various career paths from public health and medical communications to science consulting. The second panel session that I attended detailed the experiences of PhD graduates who decided to pursue careers in business and entrepreneurship. More specifically, these graduates founded their own startup companies.

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Day One, Part 2 – Entrepreneurs: From Science to Startup

One of the most profound observations that I made while attending the career symposium was that every business and company present at the event had one thing in common: they were founded by entrepreneurial enthusiasts. Businesses that offer science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) services most frequently include scientists with a sound background on the product being made for consumers.

Whether it be data or biomedical services, scientists are important for understanding and crafting the products.

The panellists for this session included Dr Michal Yanai, Associate Director of the Biomedical Entrepreneurship at NYU Langone Health, Dr Maria Luisa Pineda, Co-Founder and CEO of Envisagenics, and Dr Colin Malone, Co-Founder and Head of Biology at VNV NewCo. The session was moderated by Dr Anita Kishore, Founder of Access to Opportunity Consulting (A2OC).

At the core of being a scientist is the ability to generate new information and create knowledge. This often transcends into the creation of innovative discoveries that have widespread benefits to the general population. So how can individuals make an impact with their innovations, and market their product to a targeted consumer base? This boils down to entrepreneurship, and the panellists shared how they were able to do so, as detailed below.

Where to Start

All innovations and scientific discoveries first started with an idea. Entrepreneurs have an innate curiosity that is unquenchable, and with the possible discovery of a valuable product or service, they must first gauge their passion and decide if the investment is worthwhile. Once having recognized the value that the product holds, one should consider working for a similar startup company. Most scientists aren’t trained in the area of business and entrepreneurship, and it may be difficult to make a complete 180° transition from doing scientific research to founding a startup company. By first working for a company in the startup stage, you are able to gain valuable experience in this field that can be beneficial for a scientist interested in entrepreneurship. You should aim to work smarter, not harder, and gaining experience in the startup industry will allow you to learn from the accomplishments and mistakes of others, before becoming a founder yourself.

Sources of Funding

Most of the panellists, including Dr Pineda and Dr Malone, noted that the primary source of funding for their startups came from venture capital. Venture capital, as explained by Dr Pineda, is money that comes from private equity or investment funds that are primarily used to invest in small companies with the potential to gain a profit of investment in return. Most venture capitalists hold primary shares in the companies in which they invest. However, with venture capital investment, there is a period of time that venture capitalists are most concerned with, and that was described as ‘the valley of death.’ This is usually the first critical stage of a startup where companies must thrive with just their initial investments. The equity that was invested from their initial shareholders is burned through in developing the product, and the startup must be able to get through this period successfully.

However, before getting to the “valley of death”, how do you prove to venture capitalists that your startup is worth investing in and can survive that period? Dr Pineda noted that most investors look for advanced assets, so creating your road map or curve and providing a plausible scenario to get through that period is important. Dr Malone shared that you should also be able to prove that your service is one of a kind or different than what’s on the market. Venture capitalists love when your service is in a field that is wide open. For example, Dr Malone’s discovery that proteins can act as viruses was something interesting and unexplored with a large therapeutic benefit, so it was an investment trusted by investors.

Other sources of funding that the panellists shared included funding from universities that might be interested in developing and commercializing a product you created. Further, the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) is a US Government grant program designed to help fund small businesses and firms that may conduct and develop research. Another investment group Dr Malone noted was Angel Investors: a group of primarily affluent individuals who have spare wealth to invest in startups.

Picture2                       Photo by Clark Tibbs on Unsplash

Do you need Post-Doctoral Training?

While not a necessary requirement, the panellists agreed that it can be beneficial to obtain post-doctoral training. One important point Dr Yanai noted was that venture capital can be hard to obtain if your innovation is in the biological science field. However, you can use this period of post-doctoral training to better develop your product. In addition, if the type of product or service you created is in the field of translational research, publishing the data can be important. However, should you make some kind of groundbreaking discovery that you have an intention of developing further, it is imperative that you patent your research before you decide to publish or present your data, mostly in the form of a provisional patent.

What is exciting about working in Startup?

All of the panellists noted that the most exciting thing about working in the startup world is being able to provide a service that can be of great value to the general public. It’s even better when you get investments and funding to continue commercializing your innovation. It is important to love what you do because it can be daunting if you don’t receive funding or investments, but your love and passion will be key in helping to drive your company to the next level.

This article was edited by Brianna Alexander and Helena Mello

Non-profit Sector: Where Do the Ph.Ds. Fit?

By Samantha Avina

When the idea of non-profit organizations come to mind it is most often associated with thoughts of fundraising and philanthropic work for the better of humanity. Although accompanied by these great attributes, non-profit work doesn’t automatically call attention of the lone Ph.D. candidate doing niche specific benchwork. So, how does the idea of the non-profit sector and their increasing need for Ph.D. holders go hand in hand? With that in mind, on November 6th, iJobs hosted the non-profit panel event at the Rutgers Piscataway campus. Panelists from different non-profit organizations gathered to discuss Ph.D. recruitment in the field and what skillsets these organizations are searching for during the hiring process. As the trend of Ph.D. holders looking for non-academic jobs continues to increase, those in the non-profit field are casting their recruitment net to Ph.D’s now more than ever.

Panelists, Dr. Sean Sullivan and Sarah Sprott, came as representatives of The Helmsley Charitable Trust , a self-funded non-profit organization dedicated to supporting research efforts in a variety of health disparity fields. Dr. Sullivan is the Senior Program Officer for the Type I diabetes project at Helmsley. He described his desire to help others in combination with wanting to explore careers outside academia as attributes to his change of career path. “Non-profit was not something I initially thought about but seeing how I could directly help people when I talk to top researchers and companies and find out new research projects that directly help people, that’s the fulfillment I get at Helmsley”, said Dr. Sullivan.

non profit buzzword stock photo
Image source: https://www.nonprofitexpert.com/about/

Human resources manager Sarah Sprott, who is directly involved in the hiring process at Helmsley, emphasized the important skillsets Ph.D. students attain through their training that make them desirable candidates that thrive in this field. “What we are really looking for in the hiring process are skillsets that show us you can speak confidently and answer unexpected questions while presenting information in a clear, concise, and professional manner. We try to see how you can bring a different perspective to the team with the breadth of knowledge that we know Ph.D.s have”, said Sarah.

As the trend of Ph.D. holders looking for non-academic jobs continues to increase, those in the non-profit field are casting their recruitment net to Ph.Ds now more than ever.

These professional traits are sought from Ph.D.’s not only at large non-profit organizations like Helmsley, but across all organizations even at the grassroots level.  Panelist Dr. Alycia Halladay, who is the Chief Science Officer at the Autism Science Foundation (ASF)  and Rutgers Alumni, has worked at different non-profit organizations and agrees Ph.D. holders are highly sought candidates in her field. More than solely emphasizing desired skillsets, Dr. Halladay drove home the importance of Ph.D. students taking advantage of different opportunities that may arise during their training that can pave the way for more career opportunities in the future. “Always seek opportunities to work with other people whether its joining a committee, doing a collaboration with another lab, or writing a grant…you don’t know where it will lead you and those things will really make your application stand out”, said Dr. Halladay when asked how she got involved in non-profit work.

“Always seek opportunities to work with other people whether its joining a committee, doing a collaboration with another lab, or writing a grant…you don’t know where it will lead you and those things will really make your application stand out”

ASF is a smaller non-profit that depends primarily on donors to fund its initiatives unlike Helmsley which is self-funded, and this brought up another series of topics on the panel regarding job security and salary. Each panelist had different responses to these topics but concluded across the board that things like job security and salary depended on highly variable factors including the size of the organization and your experience when entering the job market.

November 6th, 2019 iJobs Non-profit Panelists (From left to right): Dr. Sean Sullivan Helmsley SPO, Dr. Alycia Halladay Autism Science Foundation CSO, Dr. Jane Adler panel moderator, Sarah Sprott Helmsley HR manager.
November 6th, 2019 iJobs Non-profit Panelists (From left to right): Dr. Sean Sullivan Helmsley SPO, Dr. Alycia Halladay Autism Science Foundation CSO, Dr. Jane Adler panel moderator, Sarah Sprott Helmsley HR manager.

In Helmsley’s case, because they are self-funded and have great investment teams that ensure monetary investments continue to increase, job stability is relatively a non-issue including benefits like paid maternal and paternal healthcare. At smaller organizations, such as ASF, who are relatively new and depend primarily on donations, each project and the allotted resources set toward that project are determined at the beginning of every year so that project funding is not a major area of concern but can still vary from year to year. Salaries for Ph.D. holders in the non-profit also vary with an entry level position ranging from 65-80K a year depending on experience garnered during your training including publications, post-doctoral positions, and prior industry experience.

The non-profit panel event lasted approximately an hour and a half with the first session focused on moderated questions directed toward the panelists and the second portion focused on an interactive activity. In the interactive portion audience members broke off into groups to discuss a prompt of questions formulated by the panelists meant to simulate situations often presented to those in the non-profit sector. These questions touched on different components of non-profit work ranging from ethical conduct vs donor interests, to handling of misconstrued scientific information streamlined to the public. By giving the audience the opportunity to simulate handling these situations, the audience got an even better understanding of the communication, professionalism, and networking skills needed to be successful in the non-profit sector. These are skills that Ph.D.’s candidates have literally been trained for.

Salaries for Ph.D. holders in the non-profit also vary with an entry level position ranging from 65-80K a year depending on experience garnered during your training including publications, post-doctoral positions, and prior industry experience.

The non-profit  career path  has been a hidden gem of the Ph.D. job market that has not been promoted to the same extent as professorship or industry, yet often leads to a fulfilling and successful career path. As the era of non-academic Ph.D. careers continues to gain momentum, organizations like Helmsley and ASF are actively seeking Ph.D. holders to apply for project design and leadership positions because their training, regardless of the field, has enabled them to succeed in these positions.

Sometimes we forget, through the monotony of failed experiments and constant deadlines, that our time as a Ph.D. is more than just an accumulation of technical skills but is an actual degree in being able to think critically, manage time effectively and solve complex problems in any environment. So, if you are interested in using your skills for a greater cause with direct impact on people this may be the career path for you and the job market will be waiting for your application with open arms.

This article was edited by Emily Kelly Castro and Helena Mello