From academia to business development. Idella Yamben, PhD is currently the Program Manager for the Center for Technology Commercialization (CTC) at UW-Extension. In this role, she administers the CTC micro-grants and coordinates outreach activities to assist technology entrepreneurs in commercializing their innovations. Since graduate school, Dr. Yamben has had a passion for mentoring and training students interested in scientific careers. She developed and managed a mentoring program for undergraduates in the life sciences in collaboration with faculty and staff at the UW-Madison. Curious about career trajectories in the sciences, Mrs. Yamben took a position as a scientific recruiter for Kelly Scientific Resources. Here, she staffed entry to senior management positions for a variety of scientific companies within Wisconsin. In this role, she also managed the 2012 Career Connection program for the 2012 BioForward Vision Summit and served on the Future Scientist Internship program committee for Kelly Scientific representing the East Coast and Midwest regions. Dr. Yamben continues to mentor scientists in early career transitions and has had the opportunity to present at the Medical College of Wisconsin, University of Arkansas Medical College, and the 2011 BioForward Career Connection program. Mrs. Yamben earned a BS in biology from University of Chicago and a PhD in Cellular and Molecular Biology from UW-Madison.
David M. Giltner, Ph.D. is a physicist by training, and a product manager at Zolo Technologies, a company that develops laser-based combustion monitoring systems for industrial furnaces. He spent most of his graduate career thinking he would follow the traditional scientist career path into academia. It was during his final year in grad school that he decided the lifestyle and career of a professor was just not for him. Two months after defending his dissertation, he moved to California with a three month consulting contract from a silicon valley laser company as his only career prospect. In the 17 years since then, he has held a wide range of positions developing laser-based products for optical communications, materials processing, remote sensing, and lab instrumentation applications. In that time, not once has he regretted his decision to make the leap from the 'traditional' science career path to the world of product development. He remembers the challenge of selling himself as a scientist in an engineer’s world, however, so in 2010 he published “Turning Science into Things People Need.” This book contains interviews with other scientists who successfully made the transition from science research into industry. It is a very useful career reference for any scientist who is considering a similar move and wants to understand what to expect and how to best position themselves to create a rewarding career. This Spotlight Conversation was conducted and recorded by Dr. Brian Postdoc from ThePostdocWay on October 2013.
Dr. Kamens received her PhD in Genetics from Harvard Medical School then spent 15 years at BASF/Abbott, ultimately serving as Group Leader in Molecular Biology. In 2007 she joined RXi Pharmaceuticals as Senior Director of Research Collaborations. In 2011, Dr. Kamens became the Executive Director of Addgene, a mission driven, nonprofit dedicated to helping scientists around the world share plasmid reagents. Dr. Kamens has been raising awareness of women scientists since 1998 upon realizing that an entire week had gone by at work and not one other woman had been at any meeting she attended. Dr. Kamens founded the current Boston chapter of the Association for Women in Science and was Director of the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association Boston Group Mentoring Program for 3 years. In 2010, Dr. Kamens received the Catalyst Award from the Science Club for Girls and is a Fellow of the Massachusetts Academy of Science. In 2013 she was recognized as a PharmaVoice 100 Most Inspiring. She lives in Newton, MA with her husband the rocket scientist and misses her two kids while they are in college. This interview was conducted, recorded, and edited by Dr. Brian Postdoc @ThePostdocWay on October 13, 2013.
Chad E. Beyer, PhD, MBA. Dr. Beyer is the President & CEO of Promentis Pharmaceuticals (www.promentispharma.com). He is also a father, golfer, skier, assistant hockey coach and scientific professional with more than 15 years of experience in the development of medications designed to treat brain disorders.
Prior to joining Promentis, Dr. Beyer worked in the Discovery Neuroscience group at Wyeth Pharmaceuticals. He held positions with increasing responsibility including serving as the Head of Neurochemistry and leading the Psychiatry Task Force. During his career at Wyeth, Dr. Beyer managed several drug discovery teams, contributed to the submission of more than 30 INDs and provided supporting data for the commercialization and life-cycle management of Effexor® and Pristiq® -- two blockbuster antidepressants.
Dr. Beyer’s research career began at the National Institutes of Health in NIDA’s Addiction Research Center and he subsequently received a PhD in Neuropharmacology from LSU Medical Center and an MBA from the Rutgers Business School. Notably, Chad has authored more than 70 manuscripts, 5 patents, is the co-editor of a psychiatry review book, is co-founder of the journal "Technology Transfer & Entrepreneurship” and is an adjunct faculty member at Thomas Jefferson University. This Spotlight Conversation was recorded and conducted by Dr. Brian Postdoc @ThePostdocWay on October 2013.
Prize-winning freelance journalist Beryl Lieff Benderly contributes both the monthly “Taken for Granted” column and frequent blog posts on science labor force and early-career issues and blogs to the Science magazine website. Her hundreds of articles have appeared in Miller-McCune, Scientific American, Scientific American Mind, Prism, Slate, Ladies Home Journal, Smithsonian and the New York Times and LA Times book reviews, among many other prominent publications. The author of 8 books, she has appeared on CNN, the “Today Show,” and several NPR stations and has taught science and health writing at the University of Maryland and in workshops co-sponsored by the International Center for Journalists and universities in Mexico, in Panama and Chile and the U.S. National Institutes of Health. Elected a Fellow of American Association for the Advancement of Science, she is treasurer of the National Association of Science Writers. Her 10 national writing prizes were awarded by IEEE-USA, the American Association of University Professors, the American Psychological Association and other organizations and cover topics including biomedical engineering, the scientific labor market, cancer genetics and linguistics. She prepared for her writing career by long ago earning an M.A. in anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow and later dropping out of doctoral work at Washington University (St. Louis). This episode was recorded September 23 and conducted by Dr. Brian Postdoc for ThePostdocWay Spotlight Conversation Series.
PhD to Entrepreneur. In this spotlight, Dr. Laura Strong stops by to discuss her transition from organic chemist and bench scientist to entrepreneur. Dr. Strong is currently the President and Chief Operating Officer of Quintessence Biosciences. In this position, Dr. Strong is responsible for developing and executing the product development plan and overseeing the development of the human clinical plans for the company¹s drug products. Further, Dr. Strong is responsible for developing relationships with current and future customers and collaborators. As a National Institutes of Health predoctoral fellow, Dr. Strong earned a Ph.D. in organic chemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Strong is co-author of fourteen publications and co-inventor on four patents.
Crowdsourcing Science: Dr. Samuel Wertheimer is Managing Director of Poliwogg, LLC, a newly formed company that seeks to finance future healthcare companies through crowdfunding. In brief, crowdfunding involves raising money for projects from private investors via online platforms such as Kickstarter or Indiegogo. However, in the words of Dr. Wertheimer, “What none of those companies can offer is an equity share in a company…“[Poliwogg] will enable individuals to purchase equity in innovation.
Dr. Wertheimer started his scientific career at the bench following the attainment of his master’s degree in epidemiology and his doctorate in biomedical sciences. However, concerns about supporting himself and his family on a postdoc salary made him realize that the academic life was not for him. As Dr. Wertheimer notes, “Academic science is a fantastic career if you’re in the top 5% of grant recipients. Otherwise, it’s a brutal life.”
Dissatisfaction with academia led him to a local law firm. There, he learned about patent law and how biotech intellectual property claims were prosecuted. During this time, Dr. Wertheimer also took an interest in the financial services industry, learning how biotech start-ups raised venture capital and get funded. He eventually joined OrbiMed Advisors and enabled this biotech investment group to raise and invest over $1.5 billion.
Currently at Poliwogg, Dr. Wertheimer will soon be helping biotech start-ups utilize a novel way of raising capital- by working with individual investors who will buy equity shares of those start-ups. In this interview, Dr. Wertheimer shares his 20 year journey away from the bench, to the courtroom, and then to the boardroom- and all without having a J.D. or MBA. He also notes how, despite his work seeming far removed from the world of beakers and culture flasks, “I use a great deal more science today than I ever did when I was a bench scientist.”
Dr. Wertheimer is also a keynote speaker at the upcoming 2013 Bioscience Vision Summit in Madison, Wisconsin.
Dr. Wertheimer has taken some unexpected paths to stand at the intersections of business and science, financial services and social media. This conversation was recorded by Dr. Halina Postdoc and edited by Dr. Brian Postdoc @ThePostdocWay in August 2013.
Peering into the World of Technology Transfer – Where Business, Law, and Science Meet. Our guest this week, Mark Staudt, is a Licensing Associate at the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) located on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. Often termed Technology Transfer, this field involves working with professors and other campus inventors to determine the best commercial path forward for their technology. Frequently this involves some type of intellectual property protection, which we help to secure most often in the form of a patent. Like many in the field of technology transfer, Mark followed a tortuous path to arrive at his current position. It began at the University of Texas with degrees in Chemical Engineering and the Plan II humanities program. After a short stint as an engineer in industry with BASF, it wound back to academia at the University of Wisconsin for a PhD in Biomolecular chemistry. Looking for opportunities away from the bench, he next took an internship at WARF that initially introduced him to this field where he has finally found a home – first working at Rice University’s Office of Technology Transfer, then rejoining the WARF licensing team back in Madison. As you can imagine, such a varied background leads to an interesting story. In this episode, Mark shares some of his thoughts on his current job, and how despite the many seemingly convoluted turns, he’s managed to find a great fit for himself in technology transfer. This conversation was conducted and recorded in June 2013 by Dr. Brian Postdoc @ThePostdocWay.
Exploring the wealth of opportunities at your fingertips. Our esteemed guest this week, Melanie Sinche, comes to us from Harvard University. Melanie currently serves as Director of the FAS Office of Postdoctoral Affairs in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University. In this role, she serves over 1,000 postdocs across a variety of disciplines, assisting with their career and professional development, and advises university administrators on issues pertaining to postdoctoral scholars. Melanie is also currently serving on a committee for the National Postdoctoral Association to improve data collection on postdoctoral scholars across the U.S. Melanie came to Harvard from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) where she served as a Consultant and Career Counselor. In this Spotlight Conversation episode for ThePostdocWay, we discuss career opportunities for postdocs, the importance of networking, communication, and postdoc education, and how to explore the world of alternative careers. This conversation was recorded in May 2013 by Dr. Brian Postdoc @ThePostdocWay.