Cheeky Logo
Ready To Get Hired?
Apply To Book A Free Call With Our Transition Specialist Team

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. 

If you’re ready to start your transition into industry, you can apply to book a free Transition Call with our founder Isaiah Hankel, PhD or one of our Transition Specialists. Apply to book a Transition Call here.

Book a Transition Call
Get Free Job Search Content Weekly

ABOUT ISAIAH HANKEL, PHD

CEO, CHEEKY SCIENTIST & SUCCESS MENTOR TO PHDS

Dr. Isaiah Hankel is the Founder and CEO of Cheeky Scientist. His articles, podcasts and trainings are consumed annually by millions of PhDs and other professionals in hundreds of different countries. He has helped PhDs transition into top companies like Amazon, Google, Apple, Intel, Dow Chemical, BASF, Merck, Genentech, Home Depot, Nestle, Hilton, SpaceX, Tesla, Syngenta, the CDC, UN and Ford Foundation.

Dr. Hankel has published 3X bestselling books and his latest book, The Power of a PhD, debuted on the Barnes & Noble bestseller list. His methods for getting PhDs hired have been featured in the Harvard Business Review, Nature, Forbes, The Guardian, Fast Company, Entrepreneur Magazine and Success Magazine.

Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Similar Articles

Should You Apply To More Than One Job At A Company? (& 3 Other Tough Job Search Questions Answered)

Should You Apply To More Than One Job At A Company? (& 3 Other Tough Job Search Questions Answered)

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

“Isaiah, I applied to ThermoFisher two weeks ago and a hiring manager got in touch with me and I had my first interview…. But then a second hiring manager reached out to me about another job I applied to there.  I started talking to this second manager and they asked if I applied to any other positions there.  I couldn’t lie so I told them about the other job and the other hiring manager.  Now, neither of the hiring managers will get back to me.  What should I do?”  This is what a PhD told me over the phone last…

How LinkedIn Ranks Job Seekers With PhDs, EdDs & Other Degrees

How LinkedIn Ranks Job Seekers With PhDs, EdDs & Other Degrees

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

“Be real Isaiah, there’s not a government bureau keeping track of how our resumes perform.”  This is what a frustrated job seeker said to me recently.  “What do you mean I have a reputation score?” they asked.  “Of course there’s not a bureau dedicated to this, at least not yet” I said.  “But you absolutely are being scored and ranked” I went on, “and your ranking is used to indicate how reputable you are as a job seeker.”  This is what I’ve explained to countless people looking for a job in today’s job market, most of whom were getting initial…

How The Academic PhD Job Market Was Destroyed

How The Academic PhD Job Market Was Destroyed

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

“I spent over a year looking for a job in academia and flew to multiple interviews. I didn’t get one offer.” A PhD told me this recently and many other PhDs have told me similar stories.  Of course, the stories involve more than just looking for a job for a year.  They involve living on a meager academic budget, trying to support themselves and their families, often in very expensive cities where many of the biggest universities are located.  They involve decisions to never go on a vacation, to feed their kids cheaper, less healthy food, and to work all…

Give Yourself The Gift Of Leaving Academia Forever

Give Yourself The Gift Of Leaving Academia Forever

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

My last year in academia, I didn’t have enough money to fly home for Christmas. So I spent it in Iowa City, mostly alone.  I was broke (of course) so I decided to shovel snow out of driveways for $10 per driveway. I remember thinking how ridiculous it was to be a PhD shoveling snow for money. “What I wouldn’t give to have a better job”, I thought.  That was the gift I wanted for Christmas and the holidays.  A better job.  Not to be a student or a postdoc or an academic PhD getting paid less than I was…

The Ideal Keyword Density For Targeting Your PhD Resume To An Industry Job Posting

The Ideal Keyword Density For Targeting Your PhD Resume To An Industry Job Posting

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Writing a resume for an industry job is one of the biggest sticking points I see with PhDs entering the job market.  What worked even a year ago is not working today due to recent and rapidly accelerating advances in Applicant Tracking Systems.  These systems, called ATS or just AI today, are software tools used by companies to filter resumes.  They scan for specific keywords related to the job role, abilities, credentials, and qualities desired in a candidate.  As a PhD seeking very competitive roles, including relevant keywords in your resume is essential to pass through these systems and get…

AI Is Replacing Recruiters. Here’s How PhD Job Seekers Should Adapt

AI Is Replacing Recruiters. Here’s How PhD Job Seekers Should Adapt

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

“I had a recruiter reach out to me, Isaiah, and after I gave them my resume and answered their questions, they never got back to me. What should I do?”  I hear this a lot.  I also hear, “Isaiah, I was on the phone with a recruiter and as soon as they heard that I needed a visa, they hung up” …”or as soon as they heard I had no industry experience, they hung up.”  Man, I personally hate this. What a waste of time. The recruitment industry is broken.  The good news is its being devoured by Artificial Intelligence,…

Why PhDs Are Powerhouses Of Productivity (& How It Can Get Your Hired)

Why PhDs Are Powerhouses Of Productivity (& How It Can Get Your Hired)

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

“Nothing makes sense today in the job market”, a PhD expressed to me recently.  “No one is responding to my resumes. I don’t understand why they would ask for a scientist at the company and then not even want to talk to me”, they said. They went on: “I’ve even had some friends refer to me, but still didn’t get an interview. I feel like I made a mistake getting my PhD.”  It’s hard hearing this from PhDs who invested so much in their education and in advancing research for humanity.  Still, I hear it a lot.  My response is…

Employers Are Hiring PhDs Because They Learn Faster Than Other Job Candidates

Employers Are Hiring PhDs Because They Learn Faster Than Other Job Candidates

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

“Why would any employers hire me… I don’t have industry experience, my skills don’t match the positions I want, and I’m not hearing back from any positions I’ve applied to… Plus, I don’t know anyone in industry.” I heard this from a PhD recently who was mentally broken from their job search.  They had been applying to jobs for months and either hearing nothing back or getting rejected very quickly.  When they asked their peers for insights as to why, they heard the usual stuff, “maybe you’re overqualified?” Or… “Actually, you’re underqualified because you don’t have industry experience.” “You can’t…

What Are Ghost Job Listings & How PhDs Should Handle Them

What Are Ghost Job Listings & How PhDs Should Handle Them

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

“I’ve applied to hundreds of job postings” a PhD recently told me. “Using the same resume?” I asked.  “No.” they replied.  “I targeted every resume. I’ve heard nothing back. In some cases I was sent a rejection email within the hour. What’s happening?!”, they wailed.  “Ghost job listings.” I replied.  They asked me what a ghost job listing is and I explained that ghost job listings are jobs posted by real companies but they’re jobs that these companies have no intention of actually filling. Of course, this PhD wanted to know why and I told them that the answer is…

Top Industry Career eBooks

63 Best Industry Positions For PhDs

63 Best Industry Positions For PhDs

Isaiah Hankel, PhD & Arunodoy Sur, PhD

Learn about the best 63 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.

AI & ATS Resume Filters

AI & ATS Resume Filters

Isaiah Hankel

In today's competitive job market, understanding the impact of AI is crucial for career success. This involves ensuring your resume stands out in the digital realm, mastering your online presence, and being aware of how AI assigns reputation scores. Discovering how to leverage AI to your advantage is essential, as it plays a pivotal role in shaping professional opportunities.

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.