Acquiring the necessary skills is “a question of the student taking the initiative to familiarize him[self] or herself with other areas,” says Daniel Simberloff, a community ecologist working on forests at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
Many scientists opt for a research career in the pharmaceutical or biotech industry, so why not kick-start the process by also doing a postdoc in industry? Industrial postdocs often provide higher salaries and greater access to resources than their academic counterparts. But how do you find out about available positions and whether they are a good fit for you? Will a position as a postdoctoral fellow provide you a foot in the door at a company? And what if you don't like it? Will an industrial postdoc cut you off from returning to academia?
“There are not only opportunities for scientists in R&D and operations, but also in areas such as marketing, sales, and business development. We are always looking for talent in all these sectors, and we have openings and candidates for these positions all throughout the year.”
With so many options, from setting up one’s own company to internships and additional degrees, graduate and postdoctoral students have the opportunity to customize their career path in translational research.
Tremendous strides have been made in eradicating infectious disease scourges such as smallpox and polio that once killed and crippled millions; still, about 15 million deaths—or about one third of all deaths annually—result from infectious diseases worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. Of those, nearly half involve children under the age of 5 years, predominantly in poorer countries. The ongoing hefty death toll, the pharmaceutical industry’s increasing interest in the research and development of vaccines, and plentiful funding from multiple sources all combine to provide a range of opportunities for postdocs and graduate students in vaccine research. The field is high growth and, perhaps more important, the fruits of this work promise to have a real impact on the health of the world’s population.
"The tipping point is when scientists' commitments to industry-funded research compromise their ability to do what their university appointments require: promote the public good through training students and pursuing research on important issues."
"We're interested both in papers that identify a new feature of a disease or a new mechanism by which disease is regulated and studies that investigate the mechanism behind a response to an experimental drug or vaccine that's already in use." --Heather Van Epps