Graduation Bonanza Banner

PhDs’ Role In The Vaccine Rollout

We finally have a COVID-19 vaccine. 

“Finally” is relative. 

It feels like it’s taken forever because 2020 dragged on and we faced one bad situation after another. 

However, when you consider the time it takes to research a new disease, create a vaccine (through a lot of trial and error), test it, and start distributing it, things have progressed relatively quickly. 

According to Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, a typical vaccine timeline can last somewhere between 5-10 years. In some cases, it can take even longer

PhDs’ role in the vaccine process is an important one and may be the proof you need to see that it’s worth getting your doctorate!  

What Is A PhD’s Role In A Vaccine’s Public Introduction?

Who do you think is at the forefront of developing the COVID-19 vaccines?

PhDs!

PhDs are heavily involved in creating vaccines, including the coronavirus vaccination. 

They analyze the virus, study data, test theories, and create life saving medicine that they further test before releasing to the public.

Ultimately, there are six stages to vaccine development and rollout, and PhDs play a crucial role in each of these stages.

  1. Exploratory: This is the research phase where PhDs explore potential antigens to treat/prevent disease.
  2. Pre-clinical: During this phase, PhDs test the antigen on tissue- or cell-cultures or animals to see how effective it is (if it’s effective at all).
  3. Clinical development: A sponsor submits an Investigational New Drug (IND) application to the FDA, or an equivalent regulatory body. The application is a summary of the data gathered so far. It also describes how the drug company plans to create and test the vaccine on humans. Once approved, clinical trials will begin. The vaccine must pass three human testing trials – less than 100 people, hundreds of people, and thousands of people. The goal of trials is to test the safety of the vaccine, study the responses subjects exhibit towards it, and learn more about dosage and immunization schedules.
  4. Regulatory review: Once a vaccine passes all three test phases, the developer submits a Biologics License Application to the FDA. 
  5. Manufacturing: Drug manufacturers have the means to produce mass quantities of vaccines, including the required equipment, personnel, and infrastructure. 
  6. Quality control: A drug goes through adherence procedures and tracking measures even after it is distributed. For example, Phase IV trials are optional studies conducted after a vaccine’s release. The goal is to monitor the safety and effectiveness of approved vaccines. 

Did you know that as a PhD, you are qualified to work at any stage of vaccine development?

COVID And Beyond: Why PhDs’ Role In A Vaccine Rollout Is Important

Humans coexist with numerous microorganisms that cause diseases – some of which we’ve almost forgotten about because of vaccines, such as polio and rubella.

We’re at this point because of the hard work, ingenuity, and innovation of PhDs like you. 

But we’re still struggling with many other diseases. Not only are we still dealing with viruses like HIV, Ebola, and Zika, but we’re also discovering new ones like SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19. 

The pharmaceutical and medical research industries need PhDs to lead the research into ways to eliminate the risks these viruses pose. 

Recently, Moncef Mohamed Slaoui, PhD researcher and former head of GlaxoSmithKline’s vaccines department, said that we can expect the work on the COVID-19 vaccine and a potential cure to be “recurring and long-lasting.” At the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in January this year, he asserted that we can’t simply hold out hope that the pandemic is going to disappear.

The PhDs’ role in vaccine development and improvement will continue to be vital to the well-being of people around the world. 

A PhD Qualifies You For A Job In The Pharma Industry

While a doctorate doesn’t get most PhDs very far in academia, it can help you secure a top job helping companies develop and distribute new vaccines. In fact, data released in 2019 showed that PhDs had just as many job opportunities in the industry as in academia. We know that careers outside of academia will continue to increase over time. 

Some of the jobs you can get hired as PhD in the pharma industry are: 

  • Medical Science liaison (MSL): An MSL establishes relationships with researchers, physicians, and other clinicians who are considered key opinion leaders (KOLs) in pharmaceutical companies and hospitals. Your skill to simplify and explain information to multiple audiences is key here.
  • Research scientist: Do you like the idea of being responsible for analyzing information from vaccine trials, medical experiments, and lab-based investigations? Your PhD is of great value for a job as a research scientist within research organizations and government laboratories.  
  • Clinical research scientist: As a clinical research scientist, you’ll conduct clinical investigations and research diseases. PhDs that pursue this career can help identify health conditions and assist physicians to establish accurate diagnoses. 
  • Medical affairs associate: A medical affairs associate is a part of a medical affairs team. These teams work within medical device companies, as well as the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. Their job is to relay knowledge/data gained from clinical trials to both stakeholders and medical professionals.  

The skills you developed throughout your PhD have trained you for a job in the pharmaceutical industry. 

Identifying new microorganisms and developing vaccines that work involves years of testing. You know you don’t expect to get the right answers the first time you test a theory. But, you are resilient to not give up after the first failed attempt. You have the skill of objectively studying failed experiments instead of taking them personally. You have the tenacity required to stick with a project even if it takes years to accomplish. And you have the skills to analyze and convey your data to convince the key stakeholders.

So, is your PhD worth it? Absolutely!

Cheeky Scientist Can Show You How To Get Hired In The Pharmaceutical Industry

If you’re ready to start a career in the pharmaceutical industry, we can help.  

We have a variety of resources including webinars, eBooks, and career programs. Our team can help you draft resumés that will impress potential employers. We’ll also help you negotiate a salary that fits your skill level and expertise. 

Our programs increase your chances of securing well-paid jobs that satisfy your desire to help others. 

Are you struggling to find your ideal clinical research position? Join the Clinical Research Coalition to receive the training you need to get the right job for your skills.

Join Cheeky Scientist Association
Get Free Job Search Content Weekly
Isaiah Hankel, PhD
Isaiah Hankel, PhD Chief Executive Officer at Cheeky Scientist

Isaiah Hankel holds a PhD in Anatomy and Cell Biology. An expert in the biotechnology industry, he specializes in helping other PhDs transition into cutting-edge industry career tracks.

Isaiah believes--from personal experience--that if you feel stuck somewhere in your life, it’s a clear sign that you need to make a change. Don’t sit still and wait for the world to tell you what to do. Start a new project. Build your own business. Take action. Experimentation is the best teacher.

Isaiah is an internationally recognized Fortune 500 consultant, CEO of Cheeky Scientist, and author of the straight-talk bestsellers Black Hole Focus and The Science of Intelligent Achievement.

Similar Articles

Best Of Transition: PhD Jobs & Job Search Strategies, May 8th 2021

Best Of Transition: PhD Jobs & Job Search Strategies, May 8th 2021

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Every week, we at Cheeky Scientist scour the Internet for the best articles on topics that help in the search for the Best of Transition: PhD Job Search in the industry. Our two consultants independently search for the most informative articles in the categories of networking, CVs/resumes, interviews, transferable skills, academic blues, industry positions, and business acumen. Our consultants vote on a top article for each category and a top overall article for the week – if it’s a recent article that can help readers find and acquire PhD jobs, then we want to include it in this weekly digest.…

Salaries For 43 PhD Industry Jobs (The Highest Paying Job Is No Surprise)

Salaries For 43 PhD Industry Jobs (The Highest Paying Job Is No Surprise)

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

PhDs are increasingly being hired in the top-paying jobs across industries. So, there is no reason for you to stay stuck in academia where PhD salaries are stagnant or plummeting. The U.S. National Institute of Health reports a starting annual salary of US $37,740 for academic postdocs and a study published in Nature reported a starting salary of US $23,660 — the minimum wage set by the U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act.  Even with the current inflation, the average salaries for postdocs are below $49,999 per year. This means that rent and prices of other day to day products and…

Best Of Transition: PhD Jobs & Job Search Strategies, May 1st 2021

Best Of Transition: PhD Jobs & Job Search Strategies, May 1st 2021

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Every week, we at Cheeky Scientist scour the Internet for the best articles on topics that help in the search for the Best of Transition: PhD Job Search in the industry. Our two consultants independently search for the most informative articles in the categories of networking, CVs/resumes, interviews, transferable skills, academic blues, industry positions, and business acumen. Our consultants vote on a top article for each category and a top overall article for the week – if it’s a recent article that can help readers find and acquire PhD jobs, then we want to include it in this weekly digest.…

How To Find Great Companies Hiring PhDs Now (+Take The First Step)

How To Find Great Companies Hiring PhDs Now (+Take The First Step)

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

I thought I was doing what PhDs were “supposed” to do. After 10 years of hard work, I was reaching a major milestone: my thesis.  But, in the back of my mind, I knew I was treating my thesis like a means to an end. How could I not? I was a 32-year-old student, who had never actually worked a day in the field, turning over stones for a groundbreaking discovery.  Sure, I knew my stuff and had confidence (I was a PhD after all). But there’s a certain type of confidence that you can only earn through the mundane…

5 Infuriating Reasons Why The PhD Crisis In Academia Is About To Get Worse

5 Infuriating Reasons Why The PhD Crisis In Academia Is About To Get Worse

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

There is a crisis in academia. PhD salaries are stagnant. The economy is facing inflation, yet PhD salaries are dropping. One of the worst mistakes you can make in your professional career is staying in academia beyond your PhD. The sooner you realize this, the better it is for your career and your overall future. PhDs are exceedingly valuable in industry. During your time in graduate school, you acquired mastery over a field of study. You learned how to research, analyze, innovate, and present data. Furthermore, you  learned to innovate and push the boundaries of knowledge.   You amassed skills such…

Best Of Transition: PhD Jobs & Job Search Strategies, April 24th 2021

Best Of Transition: PhD Jobs & Job Search Strategies, April 24th 2021

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Every week, we at Cheeky Scientist scour the Internet for the best articles on topics that help in the search for the Best of Transition: PhD Job Search in the industry. Our two consultants independently search for the most informative articles in the categories of networking, CVs/resumes, interviews, transferable skills, academic blues, industry positions, and business acumen. Our consultants vote on a top article for each category and a top overall article for the week – if it’s a recent article that can help readers find and acquire PhD jobs, then we want to include it in this weekly digest.…

11 Most Self-Destructive Excuses PhDs Make During Their Job Search (#7 Is Pretty Arrogant)

11 Most Self-Destructive Excuses PhDs Make During Their Job Search (#7 Is Pretty Arrogant)

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

I thought I had it all figured out when I started my industry job search from academia. I had several excuses. Before I even started, I told myself “There’s no rush Isaiah, you have plenty of time to get hired” and “You have a PhD and on top of this it’s a STEM PhD, you will be able to get a job in no time.” Then, of course, when I didn’t get any responses from the resumes that I uploaded online, I continued to tell myself lies like “There’s not jobs out there right now so I should just wait to…

Best Of Transition: PhD Jobs & Job Search Strategies, April 17th 2021

Best Of Transition: PhD Jobs & Job Search Strategies, April 17th 2021

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Every week, we at Cheeky Scientist scour the Internet for the best articles on topics that help in the search for the Best of Transition: PhD Job Search in the industry. Our two consultants independently search for the most informative articles in the categories of networking, CVs/resumes, interviews, transferable skills, academic blues, industry positions, and business acumen. Our consultants vote on a top article for each category and a top overall article for the week – if it’s a recent article that can help readers find and acquire PhD jobs, then we want to include it in this weekly digest.…

How To Leave Academia (6 Tips From A PhD Who Made The Switch)

How To Leave Academia (6 Tips From A PhD Who Made The Switch)

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

When I started the road towards my doctorate, leaving academia was the last thing on my mind. Academia was my daily life for so long already. University positions seemed secure if I kept at it long enough. Plus, I enjoyed the research.  And if I decided to leave academia, I’d have industry roles clamoring to hire me, right? It wasn’t until I finally earned my PhD that I realized my life in academia had only started. Like so many other PhDs, I was in my late 30s, facing an indefinite $30k academia salary, and staring down more than I wanted…

Top Industry Career eBooks

Complete LinkedIn Guide For PhDs

Complete LinkedIn Guide For PhDs

Isaiah Hankel

The LinkedIn tips & strategies within have helped PhDs from every background get hired into top industry careers.

20 Most Popular Industry Career Tracks For PhDs

20 Most Popular Industry Career Tracks For PhDs

Isaiah Hankel, PhD & Arunodoy Sur, PhD

Learn about the top 20 industry careers for PhDs (regardless of your academic background). In this eBook, you will gain insight into the most popular, highest-paying jobs for PhDs – all of which will allow you to do meaningful work AND get paid well for it.

Industry Resume Guide for PhDs

Industry Resume Guide for PhDs

Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Learn how to craft the perfect industry resume to attract employers. In this eBook for PhDs, you will get access to proven resume templates, learn how to structure your bullet points, and discover which keywords industry employers want to see most on PhD resumes.