iJOBS Simulation: Introduction to patents and how to be a technical specialist

patent law



By Emily C. Kelly-Castro

On October 2, 2019, I attended the iJOBS Simulation: How to be a technical specialist. So, what does it mean to be a technical specialist you ask? A technical specialist works closely with patent lawyers to advise on specific patents. A patent lawyer will examine an invention, guide an inventor through the patent application process and help an applicant get a patent for your invention. So, you might ask yourself, what is a patent and why is it important? Based on the definition given by the Webster dictionary a patent is a written document securing for a term of years the right to exclude others from making, using, or selling an invention. What makes an invention patentable? The invention must:

  • Encompass “patentable subject matter”
  • Be useful
  • Be new
  • Be non-obvious
  • Be supported by a written description of the invention, written by any person skilled in the art, and show the best way to do it.


This session was directed by two technical specialists, Victor Ghidu, Ph.D. and Thomas H. Walls, Ph.D., along with Shean Johnson, a legal staff recruiter. Victor Ghidu, Ph.D. is currently an associate at Morgan Lewis law firm while Thomas Walls, Ph.D. works as a Patent Attorney for Bausch Health. Shean Johnson is the Director of Legal Staff Recruitment for Elm & Broad Recruiting Solutions. For more information about the speakers, you can check out their bios on our iJOBs event webpage.

During the first part of this session, participants directed questions at each of the guest speakers. Here I will discuss some of the questions asks and a brief summary of what their collective responses were.

  • What are some of the skills you look for when recruiting a technical specialist?
    • The applicant must have a clear understanding of the technical background of a patent or a field, whether it is in engineering, pharmacology, or in the biochemistry field.
    • A prospective technical specialist should have a willingness to be trained.
    • Being able to “talk nerd”. It is important for technical specialists to have the ability to communicate the science written by a Ph.D. or MD to a lawyer and to a public audience.
    • As a prospective technical specialist, you will need to educate yourself about topics outside your field of expertise. Some topics might not be within your technical field, but because you are the specialist you will be expected to learn about the topic and communicate your knowledge to the patent lawyer.
    • You should be able to write a proper, organized document using the correct language that describes the invention. It is important to find opportunities to improve your writing ability while completing your Ph.D. before seeking a position in technical writing.
  • Is there a demand for technical specialists in the biological/health field?
    • Right now, there is a high demand for technical specialists with technical expertise in electrical engineering, molecular biology, and physiology.
  • Could you explain the interviewing process?
    • Getting an interview is already a big step. When you get called for an interview you may be asked to discuss your research work, get quizzed on technical questions on your field, and demonstrate that you can communicate using appropriate technical language. The type of interview you get depends on the company, but you should be prepared for any of these scenarios. It’s also important to convey why you want to work in patent law.
  • How would you describe the workload for a technical specialist?
    • It depends on the type of law firm you work for. It would be really hard to tell you will be strictly working a “9 am to 5 pm” shift. It all depends on your workload and organization. Sometimes you will have to put in extra hours whether it is extended work nights or during the weekends. Small law firms are usually based on productivity, while large law firms get billed by the hour.

During the second part of this session, Victor and Thomas discussed two patent cases: a drug method case and a chemical compound case. A method patent doesn’t cover something physical or tangible, it covers the steps that need to be performed to complete a process. On the other hand, a chemical compound patent will cover either the chemical name or the chemical structure, or both. This comprises a core chemical structure with several optional chemical groups that may be attached to the core structure.

The first case discussed was about isobutyl gaba, or commercially known as Lyrica, and its derivatives for the treatment of pain. This is method case, where it describes how this one compound can be used to treat different types of pain. The patent was first filed in 1996, approved in 1997, supposed to expire in 2017, but it was extended until June 30, 2019, due to granting pediatric exclusivity.

The second case was about a γ-aminobutyric acid analog and its optical isomers. This is considered a chemical compound case, where you patent the whole compound, for any type of use. Having a compound patent weighs more than a methods patent because it covers a broader description when it comes to patenting an invention.

In both situations, a technical specialist will be responsible for studying in detail the invention that is desired to be patented. They will translate the science to the lawyer and work closely together to write up the patent document for the researcher’s invention.

This was a great event to learn about being a technical specialist in a patent law firm and how patents work are applied to scientific inventions. Personally, I was not aware of this type of opportunity as a researcher. Through this workshop, I learned that there are more ways of communicating science in environments outside of academia. If you are passionate about communicating science to a diverse audience, you should consider pursuing a career as a technical specialist.


If you want to listen again to this session you can check out the podcast and the slides at our iJobs events webpage.

Junior Editor: Eileen Oni

Senior Editor: Tomas Kasza

iJOBS Simulation: Equity Research

Written by Monal Mehta

On September 25th 2019, Rutgers iJOBS held an Equity Research Simulation event. Two individuals, both from Guggenheim Securities, LLC, came down from NYC for the evening to give students more insight on what an equity research career might entail. The first speaker, Charles Zhu, Ph.D., is an Equity Research Senior Associate covering small- and mid-cap Biotechnology stocks with a focus in oncology. Before obtaining this position, Dr. Zhu worked as a biopharmaceutical market access and strategy consultant at The Dedham Group. Dr. Zhu is a Rutgers Alumni, with a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Rutgers University – New Brunswick! The second speaker, Anvita Gupta, Ph.D., is an Equity Research Associate covering Rare Diseases and Gene Therapy cap names in the Biotechnology sector at Guggenheim Securities. Before this position, Dr. Gupta earned her PhD in Microbiology and Immunology from New York Medical College in 2018, followed by a Credential of Readiness certification in Business Analytics, Economics for Managers and Financial Accounting from Harvard Business School Online.





Before the simulation, iJOBS attendees were able to ask Dr. Zhu and Dr. Gupta questions about their careers. One of the initial questions was “What is equity research?” Dr. Zhu described the field as a team of analysts and associates that evaluate publicly traded companies, such as biotechnology companies, in order to give a pitch to investors, wealth managers, hedge funds, etc. that might have funds to put into stock. Other than Guggenheim Securities, there are many other firms, including Evercore, Bank of America, etc.! Dr. Gupta then went on to describing the interview process. “The interview process started with a phone interview, followed by an in person interview with the analyst and a co-worker, which was then followed up by an assignment requiring me to create a slide deck on a drug for a particular diseases… in total there were about 6 rounds of interviews, but after about 3 rounds you knew where the interviews were headed.” Dr. Zhu also shared his experiences, and wanted guests to know that as an interviewee you should have an idea of what equity research is, demonstrate you can act and work fast, but that it is not super important to know finance – the science is more important, and the financial knowledge will come while doing the job.

It is also important to know that an entry level position has the official title of “Equity Research Associate” while a more senior position is the “Analyst.” If you get hired as an equity research associate you will have to complete 4 licensing exams (on topics such as finance, compliance, regulation) within the first year of working. Until you pass all exams, you are not granted authorship on notes, cannot talk to clients, and cannot speak publicly. So, it is very important to complete and pass all exams! Dr. Zhu described the exams as time consuming to study for, however if you put in the effort you should be able to pass. As a final note on the job description, both speakers mentioned they get to the office very early each day, 7 A.M., or 7:10 A.M. at the latest, and are expected to work ~12-hour days. While this seems daunting coming from a graduate school-work day, there is no weekend/after-hours work, and the job comes with a 6-figure salary!

After the initial Q/A session, we moved on to the simulation portion of the evening. Here, the goal was to compare 2 cancer drugs targeting Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors (GIST), from two different pharmaceutical companies, Deciphera Pharmaceuticals and Blueprint Medicines. We were given press releases from both companies on their drug, Ripretinib from Deciphera, and Avapritinib from Blueprint. We were then asked to compare and contrast the two drugs and answer the following questions.


Dr. Zhu explained that often when two competing companies release similar drugs, he will have to write up reports explaining what happened, and the potential impact of the drugs on stocks. This can be a very fast paced field. He went on to give us an example, “One morning I missed my bus from Port Authority, and my co-worked had just texted me about a press release that had been dropped at 7 A.M., there was no time to waste so I had to run all the way to the office. By 8 A.M. had the report sent to my boss for his revisions! When news hits, it is important for us to get the report out as soon as possible.”

This simulation lasted about 40 minutes and gave us insight into the little time that might be available for a report to be written up. As someone who is not in the cancer field, and is not used to reading about drug reports, the simulation was not easy. We had to decode clinical and drug related jargon to figure out which drug might be the best, and lead to the most market success. While challenging, it was a very stimulating and exciting to work under “pressure” to get a report out.  If you missed the event and would like to recreate the stimulation on your own time, you can follow these links to get the information on both drugs: Avapritinib and Ripretinib.

Overall this was a very interesting stimulation. We, in the audience, were able to ask questions about what equity research entails, and participate in an activity allowing us to determine if this field might be one to look into while hunting for jobs. In my opinion, the amount of job opportunities available to a Ph.D. scientist can seem endless at times, so attending iJOBS events covering different careers can be helpful when trying to narrow down the list. If you are like me, and haven’t narrowed down your career interests, consider attending iJOBS events to get more knowledge. To find a full list of iJOBS events, click here, the page is updated regularly so check back often!


Junior Editor: Jennifer Casiano-Matos

iJOBS Career Panel: Data Science

By Janaina Pereira and Tomas Kasza

“There is a sea of data and it might be useful to learn how to sail on it.”

In the past few years, we have generated a gigantic amount of data. Technologies such as next-generation sequencing, digitalization, cloud computing, and even smartphones have provided a massive amount of data. This data has become more and more accessible. If you stop and think about what you did today, you may find that you have contributed many drops into this sea of data. The picture you have posted on social media about your lunch, the review that you have written about a new favorite restaurant, your opinion about that new trending cosmetic on a survey or even the digital form that you filled out in a doctor’s appointment. All of these data points can be very useful to answer different questions, you just have to learn how to use them. For instance, the picture you posted on your social media account can be used to help identify faces or food. Data science is a field that uses specific strategies to find meaningful information in big data.  As data generation has increased over the years, the need for a professional to extract meaning from data has arisen in companies across diverse industries. Therefore, data scientists have become experts with in-demand skills. To learn more about this growing field, iJOBS recently promoted a panel about this subject, where data scientists with different backgrounds discussed their career paths.

Image source: https://resources.whitesourcesoftware.com/blog-whitesource/bigger-data-bigger-problems-three-major-challenges-in-big-data-security

The event started with a quick talk from each one of the speakers about their respective career paths and backgrounds. The first speaker was Dr. Ariella Sasson, a Senior Research Investigator at Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS). She has a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a Ph.D. in computational biology from Rutgers University. Her Ph.D. work was focused on the technical and analytical aspects of Next Generation Sequencing. At BMS, Dr. Sasson often develops pipelines and storage solutions for genomics, transcriptomics, and proteomics from preclinical and clinical datasets, work that allowed her to develop expertise in how to extract information from big data.

Next was Dr. Yodit Seifu, a Senior Principal Scientist at Merck, who holds a Ph.D. in statistics from the University of Toronto. She started working on oncology in the pharmaceutical industry and over the following 19 years has built up an impressive background in data analysis for Phase I-IV clinical trials and registries. Currently, in her role at Merck, she is responsible for providing statistical support to the Safety and Risk Management group.

Image source: https://bvijtech.com/big-data-future-of-big-data/

Then we heard from Dr. Matthew Koh who works at Bloomberg as a Machine Learning Engineer.  He holds a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Before changing careers, Dr. Koh participated in the Insight Data Science Program in 2017, which helped him to achieve his position at Bloomberg.

Finally, we heard from Dr. Alexander Izaguirre, a Chief Data Officer and Sr. Assistant Vice President at New York City Health and Hospital. Dr. Izaguirre holds a Ph.D. in viral immunology from Rutgers University and started his career in academia as an assistant professor at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. Later on, he transitioned to an IT leadership position at New Jersey Medical School and Executive Director of the Office of Information Technology at Rutgers University. In 2013, Dr. Izaguirre founded his own start-up called “Aprenda Systems,” which is focused on solving data challenges between payers, providers, and hospitals through the use of big data. Throughout his career, Dr. Izaguirre has received many awards on technology and innovation.

Data, the next Frontier

In the second part of the event, we listened to how a diverse set of panelists had found themselves at the forefront of the data frontier. Several of the panelists had obtained their Ph.D. before the data revolution had been kicked off. Now they find themselves leading teams to try and extract meaning from the seemingly endless and vast data sets that are being generated. Most of the panelists had graduated a decade or more before this panel occurred, so they described their current management and hiring problems. Shockingly, the panelists reiterated how coding experience, while appreciated, was not required on an application. Employers are in search of passionate employees who have a desire to seek out training themselves.

There was a noticeable sigh of relief from the audience when the panelists said how programming experience was not required. Many of the audience members were afraid that coding would be a prerequisite to applying for a job as a data scientist. The panelists explained that while employees could be taught the necessary programming skills, those same employees could not be taught how to be passionate about data and data analysis. The panelists did mention, however, that there is a coding interview for some jobs, but the test can easily be passed with basic programming training. The panelists also mentioned a website called HackerRank, which posts several common coding interview questions to help interviewees get practice for the coding interview.

Potential Training resources

I have found, as the panelists described, that there are many online resources available to help train and familiarize anyone who would like to learn to code. For those that would like to get started in data science before applying, the panelists suggested visiting several different online teaching websites including coursera, EdX, and datacamp. In addition, they also suggested completing projects, basically taking a data set and extracting meaning from it. The panelists said that completing practice projects works best when you experiment around and challenge the practice data set with insightful questions. The main two programming languages discussed were python and R. Dr. Matthew Koh described how he uses python almost exclusively at Bloomberg, whereas the other panelists used R. The software environment R has useful libraries with complex built-in functions, so you do not have to be an expert code writer to solve data science tasks!

Specific questions:

After the panel discussion, we broke into small groups where we had the opportunity to ask questions to each of the panelists individually. These are questions that were asked to Dr. Koh and Dr. Izaguirre.

Q (Audience): Is there any computational model-building in industry data science jobs?

A (Dr. Matthew Koh): There is very little in biomedical sciences, but there is some in the finance industry. Computational models are less common within biomedical sciences because they are not applicable yet to any model systems whereas building computational models is applicable to financial markets.

Q (Audience): What are the hours of a typical data scientist?

A (Dr. Alexander Izaguirre): That depends on the boss or who you work for. For some bosses as long as you get the work done on time you can show up whenever. For others, it seemed like 9-5 was mandatory. There also seemed to be a lot of meetings to go to but that’s typical for any job.

Are you a potential data scientist?

From the panelist’s comments, data science careers are plentiful, and employers are hiring inquisitive minds to work on extracting meaning from large data sets. The panelists were handing out business cards and clearly looking for potential employees. There is no denying that a fresh Ph.D. who enters data science will make much more than other potential industry jobs. Our panelists came from a diverse set of backgrounds that did not necessarily include computational training; this suggests that there are diverse paths leading to a career in data science. Read some of our other blog posts about data science to find out if it is the right field for you!

Junior Editor: Brianna Alexander

Senior Editor: Monal Mehta and Tomas Kasza


iJOBS Networking: BioPharma Networking Group and Alumni with Current Trainees

By Tomas Kasza

The BioPharma Networking Group (BPNG) held a networking event between current and former graduate trainees in Piscataway, New Jersey on September 10, 2019. It was a great opportunity for current graduate student to get acquainted with industry professionals, industry careers and create networking bonds. The iJOBS blog caught up with several of the attendees to hear them tell their stories and experiences. These attendees included: Camille English, Vaidhyanathan Mahaganapathy, Vinam Puri and Ning Chiang.

Q1. Graduate students have diverse reasons for attending networking events, can you let me know what your interest in attending the event was? Was there a specific area you were interested in and did you find you could get the answers to your career questions?

Camille: “No specific area, I wanted to see what was available to me outside of academia. I didn’t get all the answers, but I wasn’t expecting to. It was my first time at one of these.”

Vaidhy: “I was interested in knowing the companies that are attending such events and establishing contacts with people from different industries. These contacts might come in handy when I graduate. Also, I wanted to know the types of companies I would be better suited to, given my skillset and I was able to get some idea from two recruiting consultants at the event.”

Vinam: “I am planning to graduate next May but am looking for opportunities to start work in January, which is why I thought the NJBP networking event may be a good event to attend. I went in with interest in Scientific/Medical Affairs and also got exposed to other roles like that of Shekerah Primus, who recently started role of the NGS Study manager at Genewiz. She is a Phase-4 iJOBS trainee who shared her career path and her experience as an iJOBS trainee.

Ning: “I went to the event because I am currently looking for a job, ideally a research scientist position. I would like to grow my network and get some advice on job searching strategies, especially about position selection, resume writing and interview skills. People were very willing to share their experience, either from applicant’s or recruiter’s viewpoint.”

Q2. Many iJOBS events discuss the importance of networking in a diverse set of fields. Did you find it easy or difficult to network? Did you find that the industry scientists in attendance were approachable?

Camille: “It wasn’t too difficult to network. I spoke to people from different career sets: chemist to admin assistant. I ended up speaking to people for a long time, so didn’t meet a lot of new people probably 4 or 5. I actually met someone who works on the same floor as me, but just knew in passing; we chatted and I found out we have similar issues dealing with graduate school. Yes, people were approachable.”

Vaidhy: “I definitely found them approachable, given that they showed up to a networking event knowing eager students will be looking to talk to them.”

Vinam: “I did not find it difficult to network, however I did notice that it took some time for the industry and academia groups to interact. When it got from intra-group to inter-group discussions, it was more helpful. I also found that staying till the end of the event was useful in order to connect with everyone.”

Ning: “Since I am an introvert and super shy, I always find networking a very difficult task. I know networking is important, so I force myself to talk to strangers during networking events. The industry scientists I have met were all very friendly and easy to approach. It was mostly my own mental obstacle that hinders me from being proactive. It takes a lot out of me after each networking event – I feel drained every time.”


Q3. Was there a new career that you discovered and are looking into further? What did you learn from attending?

Camille: “Maybe: Medical communications consulting. This was just a job listing, I want to look further into what this career entails.”

Vaidhy: “I did not find a new career, rather I established contacts with industries I might consider working for in the future.”

Vinam: “I had almost stopped looking at Project Management roles, but because of Shekerah’s experience, I have started looking into it again. I did not discover any new careers but refreshed an old one that I had started feeling may not be for me.”

Ning: “I was formerly avoiding contract jobs because my goal was to find a full-time permanent position. However, I have talked to an attendee who has been doing a lot of contract jobs, and she said she learned a lot and it was worth it. Therefore, I probably will also consider contract job as an alternative.”

Q4. Would you recommend networking events such as these to other graduate students?

Camille: “Definitely!”

Vaidhy: “I would absolutely recommend graduate students to attend such events. I was a bit under-prepared for the event as this was my first attendance but in future, I look forward to attending similar events with business cards printed out.”

Vinam: “Yes, I would. You never know where you meet someone that can lead to a pivotal moment in your job search. I can give you an example of an interaction that I was not expecting at this event. In a chat with the Executive Team Lead and NJBP Host, Mr. Anil H. Vaidya, we discussed in detail about the application process and how to use the NJBP chapters to my advantage. Anil also took the time to explain in detail, the resume tailoring process and I think that was helpful.”

Ning: “Yes, I would love to! However, I would suggest them to prepare some questions in mind to ask like I did. This way could make the most out of this great opportunity.”


Whether you are looking for an industry mentor or your next job, take an opportunity to network at the BPNG events! As you can see 4/4 graduate students recommend it! Our panel of interviewees advise coming to networking events prepared with questions to ask potential contacts. It is also important to push yourself outside of your comfort zone, and try to encounter professionals within industry as Vinam suggested. Several of the attendees discovered new career areas while others rediscovered job potential in places they thought were closed to them. Whether you are looking to expand your network, get career advice, or find a new job, the iJOBS networking events are a great place to start!

Junior Editor: Emily Kelly

Senior Editor: Monal Mehta

iJOBS Simulation: Tech Transfer

By Janaina Pereira

Tech Transfer, also known as Technology Commercialization or Knowledge Transfer, is the process of transforming research ideas, systems, platforms, molecules, knowledge or technology into a commercial product or service. In the past ten years, the field has consistently grown as the knowledge transfer partnerships between academia and industry have expanded to include startups, according to an article published in Nature. This is a very exciting non-academic career for Ph.D.’s or any person with a scientific background, as you can actually participate in the thrilling process of converting research to a product. Therefore, iJOBS recently promoted a simulation event about Tech Transfer, where participants could hear directly from the field experts about their career path transitioning from academia to technology commercialization and patentability assessment, as well as participate in a case study.

Image source: https://compassmag.3ds.com/6/Cover-Story/TECH-TRANSFER
Image source: https://compassmag.3ds.com/6/Cover-Story/TECH-TRANSFER

The event started with Dr. Yong Zhang and Dr. Lisa Lyu discussing their similar career paths: both started in academia but transitioned to Tech Transfer. Dr. Lyuholds a Ph.D. in Pharmacology, and before becoming a Licensing Manager/Patent Agent at Rutgers Office of Research Commercialization (ORC), she worked as a Postdoc and Assistant Professor, during which she developed an impressive track record in cancer pharmacology. Dr. Zhang holds a Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and researched important metabolic diseases for 7 years as a Post-doc before becoming a Senior Licensing Manager/Patent Agent at ORC. Among the many different careers in Technology Transfer, Dr. Zhang highlighted two and provided the steps to successfully move from academia to a Tech Transfer position:

  • Academic Technology Transfer
    • Attend, as a student, field-related meetings such as AUTM and LES
    • Take IP and Licensing courses
    • Participate in an internship program or volunteer at Office of Technology Transfer (TTO)
  • Business Development in Industry
    • Attend, as a student, field-related meetings such as AUTM and LES
    • Workin a company in another position and then change careers
    • Start your career in an academic TTO or start-up company to gain experience

Dr. Zhang and Dr. Lyu share a very similar career path, where both of them participated in the ORC Internship Program offered by ORC/Rutgers before achieving a position in the Tech Transfer field. The Internship Program is offered to postdoctoral trainees and senior graduate students that are interested in pursuing a career in Tech Transfer. The minimum requirements are at least two semesters commitment to the program with the capability of dedicating 5-10 hours (where 3-7 are working remotely hours) per week, as well as being a current Rutgers student or Postdoc, and have PI approval. During the internship, you will learn and develop skills to protect inventions, evaluation, and commercialization of inventions, and business terms used in diverse agreements. If you match the requirements and are interested in the internship program, apply now as applications are being accepted during the fall semester.

We also had the opportunity to hear from Dr. Jon Viola, the Business Development Manager of Ximbio, about his career path from academia to the Tech Transfer field. Dr. Viola transitioned from academia directly to a position at Ximbio after he finished his Ph.D. in Biochemistry in early 2018. In Ximbio, the world’s largest non-profit tech transfer organization, Dr. Viola continues his relationship with academia by managing the US internship program for Ph.D. students and Postdocs, called “Ximbassador”, between Ximbio and affiliated Universities such as ORC/Rutgers.




The Ximbassador program is a part-time paid internship where Ph.D. students and Postdocs will closely work with laboratories on campus to uncover new reagents and materials that have a potential interest to other scientists. The internship requires five hours a week during a 6 month period, which involves biweekly meetings with ORC/Rutgers and the Ximbio team. During the internship, the Ximbassador will develop key skills for the Tech Transfer field such as negotiation, networking, product management, intellectual property knowledge and licensing. For more information about applying and requirements, please contact zhangy5@ored.rutgers.edu or ximbassador@ximbio.com




At the end of the event, we participated in a fun invention summary simulation supervised by Dr. Zhang and Dr. Janet Alder, where we worked in groups to write a brief invention Summary about Cell Line Platform. The simulation consisted of reading a paper about the new discovery and writing about its background, invention, market application, and advantages. It was an exciting and changeling experience to read the paper and write a summary in just 30 minutes, while avoiding scientific jargon. However, it gave us an idea of the day-to-day challenges of the field.

More information about the history of Tech Transfer can be found through the link.


Junior Editor: Huri Mücahit

Senior Editor: Monal Mehta

Non-Traditional Careers for PhDs – 5 Alumni Share their Stories

By Vinam Puri

iJOBS recently organized a panel of 5 Rutgers Alumni who graduated with PhDs and went on to pursue non-research jobs. Moderated by Dr. Janet Alder, the panel shared their unique stories including their career paths and day-to-day activities of their current position. This post will capture the experiences shared by all panelists.

Anna M. Dulencin is the Sr. Program Coordinator for Science and Politics Initiatives at the Eagleton Institute of Politics. She is responsible for developing programs that explore how science, technology, and politics intersect.

Anna graduated from Rutgers with a Ph.D. in Neuroscience and took a break to think about how she could make a difference with her skill set. She stayed very proactive during her break and continued networking, which helped her at several stages of her career path. She developed an interest in politics and got in touch with NJ Chief of Staff to see how someone with her background can be useful. This led to a job offer in DC but she could not accept due to relocation issues. During this process, she connected with a Scientist who helped her transition to Montclair State University as a Biomedical Research Consultant. She shared an interesting point from her networking experiences –

“If you ask people for money (jobs), you get advice and if you ask them for advice, you get money (jobs).”

While at Montclair she started attending workshops at Eagleton Institute out of her interest in politics. She became aware of an opening for a coordinator, applied, got accepted and has made tremendous progress in the initiatives she is working on.

For Anna, most days at Eagleton Institute are focused on the Eagleton Fellowships and Workshops. She works on how to run these events in the best possible way by expanding on issues that could engage scientists in a civic way. A lot of her work includes organizing and managing the various details of these events.

Dawn Lee is a Scientific Director at Scientific Solutions. For Dawn, graduate school was a time of self-reflection and she was able to focus on some key factors – she is passionate about science and communication and she wanted a break from research. She started attending iJOBS events and learned about medical writing through an old contact.  Realizing that she wanted a role that is more connected to science she secured a job as a Medical Writer, which involved writing for publications and she absolutely loved that. She stayed in that role for 5 years and had opportunities to help pharmaceutical companies liaise with PIs in order to communicate science. She then got curious about the other side of the Pharma industry and wanted to do something that was patient-focused and had more impact on the end game. She found medical affairs to be an area that is patient-focused, involved a wide range of projects, more than just writing, and something that involved creative innovation. She now has many years of scientific communication and medical affairs experience.

A lot of her daily activities involve receiving client tasks, signing contracts and Statement of Works, agreeing on deliverables by applying her project management skills, resourcing tasks to writers and quality control. She has to do a lot of client consultation and show them better options to communicate their content.

Her suggestions to the attendees include tailoring the resume to fit target that the employer seeks. She emphasized not being afraid to apply to jobs that require some experience. This is where all those years of doing extra activities in the lab could become really helpful.  Most organizations need to see a sense of responsibility, a pro-active personality, and organizational skills that most PhDs already have.

Fatu Badiane-Markey got her Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology from Rutgers last Fall and is currently working in Communications at the Rita Allen Foundation. When Fatu was in grad school preparing to take her qualifiers, she realized that she truly loved science, but she did not want to stay on the lab bench. Soon she started as an iJOBS trainee and found out about science policy. She got fully involved in both by starting to write for the iJOBS blog and participating in the Eagleton Fellowship. While the blog strengthened her as a communicator, the fellowship was an eye-opening experience for her. She learned how the government works and she understood how much of an impact research can have.

Having learned about her inclination to work in the communication area of science, she started applying for jobs a year before defending. She was introduced to some policy jobs in DC, but she was more interested in local policy. She also applied to science writing positions coming from the experience of writing and editing for the blog. When she found out about a communication position at an NPO, she tried to learn more about the foundation and really liked what it did. The Rita Allen Foundation supports research and the environment around research; it provides grants and helps researchers conduct biomedical research. Her position combines her science policy interest with generation of engagement through communication. She has been at the job for less than a year and completely loves it.

Fatu’s day at the job involves general and science communication. She gets to reflect on the researchers work and generate communication for a variety of audience. She does outreach activities and identifies potential funding receivers. A lot of her effort is on generating interest in the audience through content in various formats and to connect the community to science.

An assistant professor at Montclair State University, Bob O’Hagan, learned about different career paths through iJOBS. However, he did know that his number one career choice was academic research the alternative would be working for a Non-Profit Organization. While on a job hunt he did not send out a lot of applications, but he knew the location has to be NJ. He heard back from a few jobs but honed in on undergraduate schools. Bob had no teaching background and knew it was going to be challenging for him so he started doing demo lessons to get feedback, which helped him get selected for the current position. His advice on job applications is to keep fine-tuning your application package. It is important to look at the details of the posting and tailor your application.

Bob’s day at the job involves a lot of teaching prep; he is constantly looking for new ways to teach. Since he is going to start his own lab, a lot of his time also include ordering items needed to run the lab.

Charles Song is a recent graduate from Rutgers with a Ph.D. in Neuroscience who is now working as a Senior Analyst at Flywheel Partners. In the 3rd year of his Ph.D., he started thinking about his future career. He calls this his “Interest Finding Stage” where he started paying attention to the things that he found interesting. That is when he realized he needed something more than bench science. As an iJOBS trainee, he attended events to find out what kind of jobs he could do with a Ph.D. He found out about a lot of options but to avoid getting overwhelmed, he decided to eliminate the options that he definitely did not want to do. Not being a native English speaker, he ruled out writing as a career. However, he was interested in the business of pharma and also had an interest in investments.

The next phase involved “Bulking up his Resumé”. When he realized he had little to put on his resumé other than his publications, he started to do more to bulk it up. He joined iJOBS Phase 2 and got a short-term internship. He got a mentor who he would meet once a week and shadow at his job at an NYC consulting company. This is where he developed an interest in the area of consulting and joined the consulting club at Rutgers. He took a consulting class and participated in case competitions that demoed what his projects could be like and even won a contest in Princeton. He also got selected for a 3-day program by McKinsey & Company where he worked on another case with a group. He did all these as he was finishing up the last stage of grad school.

In his “Application” phase, he started to get interviews but no offers for some time. He really refined his resumé strategy and made it a constant process to get people to review and act on tips received and kept it to one page. He incorporated buzz phrases and keywords to tailor for the industry. Being an international student, he also had the challenge of visa issues and to overcome that challenge he made sure he prepared really well for his interviews. His case contest experience really proved useful as he was able to use it for his interview presentation at the company that hired him.

Charles’s regular day at the job is divided into two main activities – working on the projects and managing projects, with the former taking up 60-70% of his time. His work includes content creation, preparing client materials for review, putting together launch strategies and some excel coding. The other part of the job requires constant communication and coordination to align with the vision of the organization with that of the client.

As I prepare for a leaving graduate school, I think this event opened me up to a number of possibilities and experiences that can help me shape my next step in career development. Let us know if you found something in the 5 stories above that influenced you in any way.

This post was edited by Maryam Alapa.

FDA’s role in expediting the development of novel medical products

By Huri Mücahit


The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as the name suggests, is the primary regulatory organization for food and drug safety, including biologics and medical devices. However, surprisingly, the FDA regulates much more in the name of protecting public health, such as cosmetics, veterinary products, and tobacco products. The range in regulatory jurisdiction speaks to the long history of food and drug regulation that came about in response to the highly unregulated nature of medicine production in the early 1900’s, resulting in the death of 22 children due to contaminated vaccines. Since then, several laws have been passed requiring the licensing and inspection of food and drug manufacturers, as well as mandating the demonstration of not only safety, but also efficacy of a drug. Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D., Director for Biologics and Research Evaluation, discussed the FDA’s history and approval process in this iJOBS seminar.


Of particular interest to Ph.D. students in the health sciences, is the FDA’s role in promoting the development of products that address the public’s unmet medical needs. The agency addresses these needs through several factors, such as extracting user fees for each application examined, so that performance metrics can be placed on the FDA to ensure timely review. In addition, to further facilitate drug and biologics development, sponsors of the applications, which are typically pharmaceutical companies, can ask for OrphanDesignation, apply for Priority Review vouchers, or apply through any of the expedited development programs. As the first category suggests, the Orphan Designation covers treatments for rare diseases affecting less than 200,000 people, and it features tax credits, 7 years of market exclusivity, and user fee exemption. Priority Review vouchers can be applied for neglected diseases of the tropics, rare pediatric diseases, and for medical countermeasures. This option ensures the review process will be completed within 6 months rather than the standard 10, however, the sponsors must demonstrate significant improvement in safety or effectiveness. Additional programs targeting treatments for serious conditions, like Fast Track, Accelerated Approval, or Breakthrough Therapy, may offer advantages such asrolling reviews in which the committee will review components of the application as they are prepared, approval based on surrogate endpoints, or extensive guidance from the review committee. Finally, sponsors can also be granted the Regenerative Medicine Advanced Therapy Designation (RMAT), if they provide cell therapies, tissue engineering products, or human cell and tissue products.


While the FDA has many paths to approval for new treatment applications, the agency naturally follows a standard process to ensure safety and efficacy of the treatment. This might include an initial information meeting between the FDA and the sponsor to go over the application procedure and provide guidance on the types of studies required prior to clinical trials. If the results look promising once the necessary pre-clinical trials are conducted, a manufacturing process will be developed, keeping with Good Manufacturing Practices. A second meeting might then be scheduled to propose Phase I trials and protocols, which, if approved, will be used to generate data for further review. Upon proving that the treatment has the potential to address an unmet need, the FDA will assign a specific designation, such as RMAT or Fast Track, and review the additional data produced from Phase II and III trials, as well, as manufacturing protocols. Finally, after a series of informal, mid-cycle, and late-cycle meetings, an advisory committee consisting of experts within the field will meet to grant or deny approval. This committee may also require post-marketing studies to be conducted to further test the safety of the treatment. If the sponsor fails to complete these studies, the FDA has the authority to rescind approval.


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For Ph.D. students interested in working with the FDA, those within epidemiology or biostatistics fields have the highest chance for employment immediately following their defense. However, to be a hired as a regulatory reviewer or research reviewer, post-doctoral research associates are preferred. Additionally, since the laboratories and the majority of offices are housed in the main facility in Silver Spring, Maryland, these positions are only available at this site. If the applicant wishes to remain local, there are inspector positions available throughout the country. The FDA also provides internship opportunities for interested students from a variety of backgrounds, including undergraduates and post-docs.


Overall, the FDA is a crucial agency in aiding the development of drugs and biologics and ensuring safety and efficacy of these treatments. Given the sheer number of drug applications received, Ph.Ds. have a wealth of opportunities for employment in reviewing these applications or conducting lab work within the FDA. Ultimately, these opportunities provide a medium to enact significant change and guide the path for new treatments.


Edited by: Jennifer Casiano-Matos and Monal Mehta

This blog post was written after attending the iJOBS Career Seminar: Jobs at the FDA on June 13th, 2019.


iJOBS 2Actify Workshop: How to design a magnetic and focused LinkedIn profile


On June 4, 2019, I attended a LinkedIn workshop by 2Actify offered by Rutgers iJOBS. This workshop was focused on helping design a LinkedIn profile, by making it more attractive with the necessary information for recruiters. The 2Actify program was founded by Penny Pearl, a Rutgers’ alum, dedicated to helping others prepare for their future.

Job searching can be very stressful and time-consuming. When seeking a job, you might encounter several challenges such as not knowing where to start, who to approach, or even figuring out the right words to use in your application. The 2Actify workshop emphasized that the job search is a step-by-step process composed of the 3-C’s: Collateral, Connections, and Conversations.

  • Collateral: Build your profile
  • Connections: Network and create relationships
  • Conversations: Start conversations with your connections that could potentially help you find a job

The 2Actify workshop was divided into two parts:

  1. How to make a magnetic and focused LinkedIn profile
  2. How to find a job through referrals


With Penny’s help, attendees went through the important parts of a LinkedIn profile that should make it more eye catching. First, your profile will need to be visually attractive. Penny advised that having an adequate picture of yourself, such as a headshot, is important. Also, LinkedIn gives you the option to have a cover image. This image should reflect who you are as a professional. Second, make sure to adjust these 3-key settings within your profile page:

1) Turn OFF the “Notify your network” button. This way every time you make a change to your profile your whole network will not be notified. Unless is something important that you really want to put out there.

2) Make your profile visible. The popular opinion is to have a private account, so that  only people you know personally would approach you. However, this is not helpful if you want recruiters to look at your profile! Often, recruiters will simply look at profiles that match a certain skill set they have in mind. So, if you are job hunting, having visible profile is the best option.

3) Get notified by email when you have received a message. This way you can be more aware if anyone that tries contact with you.

Penny also discussed key sections in your profile that a recruiter would definitely look at.

  • Tag Card and Headline: What you do and who you do it for.
  • Summary or “About”: This section would be outcome based. Let them know how you would respond in different situations, and what makes you the best candidate. You should use first person when writing, use easy scan categories, and describe your skills using key words.
  • Experience: Here is where you lay out all the experiences you have had in similar job markets.
  • Accomplishments: This section will allow recruiters to see how your accomplishments have helped you and the people you have worked for succeed and look good.
  • Recommendations: Penny advises to have at least 5 references. You can ask people to talk about one of your most outstanding skills.

Be active in your profile. Share articles you have written or read, and share at least one article a week. If you aren’t in the habit of doing so, you should start scheduling to read and share articles on your profile. This will help you to get more connections, which eventually can become referrals. It is better when you are referred to a job as this shows loyalty and confidence to the recruiters.

The 2Actify workshop is more than a 2-hour workshop, it is a whole program! If you are interested in this program you can access more info at https://2actify.com/.

Hopefully following these tips will make the career searching process less stressful and time-consuming!

This article was edited by Eileen Oni and Monal Mehta.

A visit to the Institute of Life Science Entrepreneurship

Written by Vinam Puri

The Institute for Life Science Entrepreneurship (ILSE) is a non-profit organization at Kean University, NJ whose mission is to accelerate life science discoveries by supporting startups in the field. In May 2019, Rutgers iJOBS organized a visit to ILSE to help future entrepreneurs get initial guidance through interaction and advice from a panel.

When entrepreneurs start out with life science companies in the NJ area, they do not have many resources. This is mainly because of how new startup culture is in the area. That being said, the ILSE institute is unique in that it is an incubator space that provides laboratory space for startup companies that may not yet be ready to invest in a space of their own. Additionally, ILSE is also an accelerator that supports scientists and entrepreneurs that may not have the contacts or expertise required to start to their ventures. Specifically, ILSE also contains a Genomics and Bioinformatics center called Microgenomx, that provides services like sequencing, metagenomic analysis, and functional bioinformatics analyses. In collaboration with the American Type Culture Collection (ATCC), ILSE has formed the ATCC Center for Translational Microbiology (ATCC-CTM) which conducts innovative research in the areas of microbiomes, antimicrobial resistance, genomics, and bioinformatics analyses as well as industrial microbiology.

The iJOBs visit to ILSE began with a panel introduction of the institute led by Dr. Sam Kongsamut, who is the executive director of the Entrepreneur Center. Each member of the panel was distinguished in his/her area of expertise and had unique experiences leading to their current positions. The panel members each shared their experiences, and attendees interacted with them to learn with respect to their own specific interests. Other panel members included Dr. Neal Connors, the Director of Research, Dr. Bob McLaughlin, Vice President of Research and Dr. Ajay Kumar who is the Vice President of Program and Alliance management – ILSE and CTM, and Dr. Holly Sutterlin, the Director of Biology and Prokaryotics Inc., an antibacterial discovery organization and one of the incubator’s residents at ILSE. Also present was Dr. Keith Bostian who is the CEO of ILSE. Dr. Bostian’s background is a unique mix of academia, industry, and entrepreneurship. He shared his journey of becoming an entrepreneur and deciding to give back to young For prospective future entrepreneurs, this was a great set of people to seek advice from and there were many interesting discussions that took place.

After the presentation, the iJOBS attendees were broken into two groups for tours around the institute. This was where we got a chance to interact with some of the members of the incubator startups. One such company was MDSeq Inc. This company is developing a proprietary molecular diagnostic platform. Fortunately, they were kind enough to let us in their space to give us an overview of their work. During this visit, the students were able to meet and interact with Dr. Terry Roemer, the founder and CSO at Prokaryotics. Dr. Roemer shared his unique journey and advice to young scientists preparing to enter the industry. One particular piece of advice he emphasized was –

“If you want to enter the industry to help with the science, you better be good at it!”

He stressed how important it is for young scientists entering the industrial workforce to bring something new and valuable to the organizations we work for. This is key to how we can stand out and make a difference.

Overall, we learned that there is a facility close to us in New Jersey, one which can help us with our entrepreneurial goals and give expert guidance and direction to increase our chances of being successful at forming independent life science startup companies. Everyone we met with was very helpful and willing to provide any help to connect students to employment opportunities in the many organizations they work with.

This article was edited by Brianna Alexander, Eileen Oni and Monal Mehta.

Meet the Blogger: Monal Mehta

Hello everyone!

My name is Monal Mehta, and I am finishing the 4th year of my PhD in Neuroscience at Rutgers University. I have actually been contributing to the Rutgers iJOBs blog since 2017, but am just now finally getting around to writing a post introducing myself! Time has really flown by since I arrived at Rutgers in 2015.

My interest in the brain was sparked when I was young, before I even knew the field of neuroscience existed. I was fascinated that humans all had the same organ – a brain – but everyone was so different, from their thoughts, experiences and memories, to their likes and dislikes. From there, I had a deep desire to learn more about how the brain works and wished to gain insight on how an organ makes you who you are.

Before coming to Rutgers, I did my undergraduate work at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey studying neuroscience. I quickly got involved in Alzheimer’s research, studying the insulin deficiency that is often seen with the disease. Because my liberal arts school was very small (no graduate students or post docs), I was able to gain an immense amount of hands on experience. I learned how to dissect embryos from pregnant rats, plate primary cortical neuronal cultures, and different cell viability assays. It was here where I fell in love with bench work. I enjoyed mastering new techniques, caring for my cells, and thinking of new ways to combat neuronal death in the presence of an insulin deficiency. By the time I was close to finishing my degree, I knew I wanted to continue doing research and go to graduate school.

After graduating, I came directly to Rutgers to begin my PhD in Neuroscience. I went from researching neurodegeneration to researching neurodevelopment! Now my research questions involve figuring out the developmental differences between individuals with and without autism. Specifically, what is going on in brain development that leads to this disorder? To study this, we use patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), an approach that is coming out of its infancy and possesses great power for personalized medicine.

So what do I plan to do after graduate school? Not sure! You might think a student finishing their 4th year would have an idea, but that is not the case. I have many interests, and it has been hard to narrow them down. I love bench work, so I could potentially be happy doing a postdoc, or transition to the industry/biotech world. However, I am also interested in the overlap between business and science, so maybe consulting, or venture? I am looking forward to attending more iJOBS events and opportunities during my final years of graduate school in hopes of discovering my passion. For now, I remain undecided, but am excited to find a career path that brings me joy and is stimulating!

I hope you enjoy reading my blog posts, and coming along with me on this journey through graduate school to figuring out my career!


Edited by Eileen Oni and