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The Big Picture San Diego Blog


26 life sciences PhD's trek to San Diego to explore industry

August 23, 2018

Last week, EDC welcomed a group of next-gen life sciences leaders to San Diego for an exclusive tour of the region’s life sciences industry. Over two days, 26 eager PhD candidates representing 15 schools across 11 states paid visits to seven local employers including ResMed, Takeda, BD, Janssen/JLABS, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Dexcom, and Rady Children’s Institute for Genomic Medicine. Upon completion of their PhD program, these students will enter high-demand occupations within the life sciences industry – namely, positions in bioinformatics, computational biology, genomics, and more. Our hope is that they chose to do so in our region.

EDC launched the San Diego Life Sciences Trek in 2017 as a strategy for attracting talent to support the growth of the region’s life sciences industry, mirroring the more typical MBA Trek model. Across the globe, leaders in genomics and connected health are gathering incomprehensible amounts of data with the power to unlock the human genome, make personalized care a reality, and enhance the way we live on a massive scale. Individuals skilled in bioinformatics, data science, and computational biology are instrumental in deciphering such data sets – a task with stunning implications across pharma, biotech, healthcare, genomics, and much more – and are thus highly sought after by companies and regions alike. The battle for talent is heating up.

Many trek participants attend this two-day program because they are curious about a career in industry, but with backgrounds in academia, have had limited opportunities to explore what one might look like. The Life Sciences Trek provides students a chance to get out from behind the lab bench to tour companies, talk with real professionals, and learn how their skills can be applied in life-changing companies in San Diego.

Through company tours, panel discussions, presentations, and a networking reception, students gained access to influential researchers and executives across leading life sciences employers. From drug discovery to connected devices, genetic sequencing to direct patient care, the breadth of opportunities for bioinformaticians became apparent within San Diego’s diverse life sciences ecosystem. In fact, after attending the trek, 90 percent of participants indicated that they plan to pursue a career in San Diego upon completion of their PhD program.

Below are their thoughts. See more at #SDlifesciencestrek.

“It was a fantastic experience for someone who's always been immersed in academia, but is interested in the industry.”

– PhD candidate in Bioinformatics, University of Michigan

“This was an incredible opportunity to network with the scientists that could be involved in hiring you in the future. It was an indispensable experience to see first hand the types of jobs that recent PhD graduates could be qualified for.”

– PhD candidate in Neuroscience, University of Southern California

“Seeing the positive testimonials from all the people at the companies regardless of their position about work-life culture will make me prioritize San Diego as my primary target for future job applications.”

 – PhD candidate in Animal Biology with a focus on Biotechnology, UC Davis

“The trek was really eye-opening and definitely changed my perspective about potentially pursuing a career there!”

– PhD candidate in Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Southern California

“The SD trek is a great opportunity to familiarize yourself with biotech opportunities in SD and to learn about a great town with a lot of potential for aspiring scientists.”

– PhD candidate in Microbiology and Immunology, Dartmouth College

 

The trek group represented 15 schools: Carnegie Melon, Cornell, Dartmouth, Duke, Georgia Tech, Stanford, Ohio State, UC Davis, UC San Diego, UC Santa Cruz, University of Southern California, University of Idaho, University of Illinois, University of Michigan, University of Texas. 


Trek highlights: Surprise guest Dr. Stephen Kingsmore, CEO of Rady Children’s Institute for Genomic Medicine and Guinness World Record holder for fastest genetic diagnosis through DNA sequencing.

  

You can't talk about San Diego life sciences without talking about startups. Trek participants tour JLABS followed by a panel discussion moderated by Ashley Van Zeeland, co-founder of Cypher Genomics and former CTO of Human Longevity.