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Career Opportunities in Biotechnology and Drug Development

Subject Area(s):  BiotechnologyGeneral Interest TitlesCareer DevelopmentHandbooksLaboratory Techniques

By Toby Freedman, Synapsis Search, Portola Valley, California

View Chapter 9 "…Do you prefer the big picture." here

View a career overview chart here.

© 2009 • 409 pp., illus., index
Paperback • $46.00 36.80
ISBN  978-0-879698-80-5
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As the world of biotechnology has grown in leaps and bounds, so too have the career opportunities. But the choices can be daunting. What types of jobs are available? How do you get your foot in the door? What will your job entail if you become a “Preclinical Project Manager” or a “Process Scientist”? What's the difference between biotech and pharma?

Career Opportunities in Biotechnology and Drug Development provides a comprehensive and systematic overview of careers in the life science industry, with all their ups and downs. The author, Toby Freedman, Ph.D., has conducted interviews with hundreds of key players in the industry, who provide first–hand explanations of their day–to–day roles and responsibilities, and offer key insights into how they landed those jobs in the first place. Careers in everything from discovery research to venture capital are covered in detail.

Each chapter includes valuable sections on preparing yourself for a prospective career: educational requirements and personality characteristics needed; recommendations of books, magazines, and Web site resources; and issues to consider regarding salary and compensation. The book also includes interviewing and job searching tips, as well as suggestions on writing a resume specifically for industry.

Career Opportunities in Biotechnology and Drug Development is an essential guide for science graduates and medical, business, legal, high–tech or engineering professionals. With discussions of job security, future trends, and potential career paths, even those already working in industry will find helpful information on how to take advantage of opportunities available within their own companies and elsewhere. This book will help you make wiser and more informed decisions about what role you would like to play in the biotechnology and drug development industry.


1. The Pros and Cons of Working in Industry: Why Make the Transition?
2. How to Excel in Industry: What to Expect and What is Expected of You
3. So You Want a Job in Biotechnology and Drug Development...: Finding Your Way In
4. The Biotechnology Industry Resume: Putting Your Best Foot Forward
5. The Informational Interview: Researching Your Options
6. The Biotechnology and Drug Development Industry: An Overview

7. Discovery Research: The Idea Makers
8. Preclinical Research: The Bridge between Discovery Research and Clinical Development
9. Project Management: The Product Development "Orchestra Conductors"
10. Clinical Development: Developing New Products to Benefit Human Health
11. Medical Affairs: Working in the Post–Approval World
12. Regulatory Affairs: The Final Challenge—Passing the FDA Test
13. Quality: Consistently Making Good Products
14. Operations: Ensuring that Processes Run Smoothly and Efficiently
15. Bio/Pharmaceutical Product Development: The Chemistry Has to Be Good
16. Life Science Information Management: The Melding of Computer and Biological Sciences
17. Business and Corporate Development: Why Big Deals Really Are a Big Deal
18. Marketing: Communicating a Message to Customers
19. Sales: Generating Revenue and Educating Customers
20. Technical Applications and Support: Getting Paid to Be the Expert
21. Corporate Communications: Communication between External and Internal Worlds
22. Executive Leadership and Entrepreneurship: The Business Builders
23. Law: Providing Legal Advice and Protecting Property
24. Health Care Finance: Venture Capital, Institutional Investing, Investment Banking, and Equity Research
25. Management Consulting: The Strategy Advisors
26. Recruiting: The Business of Matchmaking




“In the preface to [this book], author Toby Freedman states that her intention is to ‘assist talented people in their search for satisfying employment in the life sciences industry’ and suggests that the book is designed to serve as a resource for the transition from academics into industry. She is president of Synapsis Search in Portola Valley, Calif., and an executive search recruiter. Without question, the newly published career guidebook accomplishes this goal. However, to dismiss the book as a resource specifically for so limited a target audience would be a disservice not only to novice professionals already at work within the biopharmaceutical industry but also to established professionals in the field.

Even curious individuals not contemplating a career transition will find Freedman’s text an interesting exploration of the biopharmaceutical industry and will, in fact, come away with a surprisingly rich understanding of ‘where drugs come from.’

From page one, it is clear that Freedman understands how little time most readers can afford to dedicate to even well-constructed books of this type. The book is consistently and meticulously organized in such a way as to facilitate the maximum transfer of key information. Each section and subsection is bullet-point driven, yet Freedman's ‘just the facts’ approach is sincere and engaging.”

You can read the full review HERE.

      —Chemical & Engineering News

review:  “[T]his book should be available in all university departments rather than held in a central library and both Honours students and PhD candidates should be introduced to it through a lecture format. It's a tremendously valuable resource.”
      —Australian Biochemist

review:  “Since I’m always interested in career development, and biotech is a field I don’t know enough about, I thought I’d check [this book] out. I must admit I was highly impressed with the material...The first 6 chapters of this book provide general career advice, giving an overview of what is expected in the biopharma industry, what it takes to succeed, how to write a resume, network, etc. Most of the advice applies to all jobs, but some is specific to science or these industries. The advice is very good, and includes lots of details, examples, and resources for further information. Freedman provides a balanced overview, pointing out both the good and bad points of this industry.”
      —American Chemical Society Careers Blog