6 Trends PhDs Must Know About The Biopharma Market

I had been working in the same lab for a few years.

Doing the same experiments with the same techniques, not really learning anything new.

I felt like I was going nowhere and not developing any useful skills.

I wanted to leave academia, but what good were my abilities outside of the academic environment?

It seemed like everyone around me just wanted to stay in academia.

I felt stuck in my dead-end academic job until I received a call from an old friend.

She was working in the biotech industry and had moved through a few companies.

To my surprise, she had found many opportunities available to her as a PhD outside of academia.

She explained all the exciting work that was currently being done in biopharma.

I suddenly realized there was a whole other world beyond academia.

I had been living in a miserable academic bubble and was finally seeing what was really available outside the university.

But, I had no idea where to start my job search.

It all seemed so overwhelming.

By networking with my friend, I was able to set up a few informational interviews and learn about the variety of positions in biopharma.

With a lot of research and a little coaching from my friend, I am confidently pursuing a new career in industry.

Why There Are Big Opportunities For PhDs In The Biopharma Market

Biotechnology and pharma have been growing steadily for many years now, and there is no sign that this growth will plateau any time soon.

As reported by Ernst and Young, despite a decrease in biopharma market capitalization last year, the industry still saw a 14% increase in the number of employees.

And this year, the industry has bounced back and is looking strong.

The emergence of strong Chinese venture capitalism and the $30 billion Johnson & Johnson’s acquisition of Swiss bellwether Actelion have set the year off on the right foot.

Additionally, the boom in both medicine and biotechnology has seen some tech industry veterans getting their feet wet in the biopharma industry.

As reported in The New York Times, Larry Page, co-founder of Google, started the company Calico to invest in the study of aging and the diseases that come with it.

For PhDs making the transition from academia to industry, this means traditional biotech and pharmaceuticals companies should not be the only places you are looking at for employment.

There are many new and growing companies looking to hire talented PhDs.

According to the US Department Of Commerce, in a single year, the biopharma industry added $1.2 trillion dollars to the US economic output.

There is no shortage of opportunity for PhDs in the biopharma industry.

But, to beat out the competition and land the industry position you want, you MUST be aware of current industry trends.

Companies are often weary of hiring academic PhDs because they lack the business acumen required to succeed in industry.

Prove that you are a PhD who is ready to become an industry professional by following and understanding the latest industry trends.

6 Current Trends In The Biopharma Market That PhDs Must Know

The world of science and technology moves fast.

It can be difficult to keep track of everything.

However, it is essential that you put in the effort and learn about what is happening in industry.

This information affects you, your job search, and your future job prospects.

Here are 7 current trends in biopharma that PhDs must be aware of…

1. CRISPR/Gene editing.

With the advent of CRISPR, the world of gene editing has changed dramatically.

The CRISPR method holds great potential for use in many applications.

The method itself is known to be inexpensive, compared to older methods, giving it the economical edge for widespread use.

Recently, as reported by Nature, CRISPR has successfully been used to edit the genome in human embryos and fix disease-causing mutations.

CRISPR is also making its way into the antibiotic market.

Fiercebiotech reported that Eligo Bioscience recently acquired $20 million from Khosla Ventures and Seventure to look into research using CRISPR to fight antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

With seemingly unlimited uses for CRISPR in healthcare, there has been an unsurprising rise in CRISPR-related funding and patent applications.

CRISPR is considered to be the discovery of the 21st century, and as more applications are investigated, CRISPR will surely continue to grow.

PhDs with technical experience in CRISPR gene editing should be aware of the many applications of this technology in industry.

By leveraging both your technical and transferable skills, being familiar with the CRISPR method opens a variety of doors in industry.

2. Precision medicine.

The Precision Medicine Initiative, originally formed to create a more personalized cancer treatment method, is now moving toward developing personalized treatment for all diseases.

The one-size-fits-all model for treatment of human diseases is coming to an end.

With this shift in treatment model, there is a need for new developments in diagnostics, treatments, and data management.

In terms of data solutions, there is a push to combine genomic information with clinical and lifestyle data to fill any voids in precision medicine. Notably, companies like IBM, Watson, N-Of-One, and 2bPrecise LLC have entered this field.

There was also a recent analysis done by the Diaceutics Group, where they found that two-thirds of phase 3 pipeline therapies, dependent on diagnostics and biomarkers, were in non-oncology fields.

Last but not least, Illumina and Vertex have been investing their capital into precision medicine, and both stocks have risen significantly.

3. Immuno-Oncology, CAR T cells.

This is a new field where a patient’s own immune cells are modified to fight against cancer when reintroduced into the patient’s body.

The cells are given a foreign antigen from a dead virus, called the chimeric antigen receptor (CAR), which allows the cells to recognize tumor cells.

Although a part of precision medicine, attention on CAR T cells has recently overshadowed many other forms of precision therapy and thus, it has been separated into its own category.

Clinical trials have been restricted to patients with advanced stages of cancer, but recently the FDA approved a CAR T cell therapy by Novartis for acute lymphoblastic leukemia in children, marking the first FDA approval in the CART T cell field.

Due to the high success rate of this new therapy, stocks in CART T cell therapy companies such as iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB), BlubirdBio, Juno Therapeutics, and Nektar Therapeutics have risen substantially, as reported by CNBC.

4. Microbiome.

Research into the importance of the microbiome on overall health is a current hot topic.

Studies have linked the microbiome to several human ailments, including obesity, gastrointestinal disorders, and even diseases that affect the brain and behavior.

So, it is no surprise that there has been a high interest in companies researching the microbiome.

In fact, as reported by The Wall Street Journal, the growth of venture-capital investment in companies focusing on microbiome solutions has outpaced the growth of overall venture-capital investment.

Last year alone, there was $616.9 million raised for microbiome companies — this is more than the previous 4 years combined.

Although the highly publicised microbiome news has mainly focused on companies interested in the biomedical uses of the microbiome, such as Human Longevity Inc., other companies are investigating alternative uses for the microbiome.

For example, Indigo Agriculture Inc., has found that microbiome bacteria can be used to make the cotton plant more drought-resistant.

The applications of microbiome research are diverse, just like many of the other trends in biopharma, so as a PhD you need to remember to keep an open mind when looking for industry positions.

5. Antibiotics discovery.

No major antibiotic discoveries have been made since the1960s.

Infectious bacteria are gaining resistance to our current antibiotics, which causes alarm worldwide.

Cases have arisen where none of our current antibiotics are able to fight an infection, and the patient has died.

Antibiotic resistance is not only passed down from drugs, but from our food sources as well.

Recently, fish farms from around the world were able to find and measure antibiotics in their fishmeal, which ultimately led to resistance genes being found in oceanic bacteria.


As reported by Forbes, many big pharma corporations seem to have given up on finding new antibiotics, due to the lack of profitability in these drugs.

However, government funding into antibiotic development has increased.

France recently invested €15 million into companies trying to discover the next generation of antibiotics, such as Destiny Pharma and Summit Therapeutics.

Several European countries and South Africa have come together to invest €56.5 million in the Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership (GARDP).

And, CARB-X is the result of a transatlantic partnership and was given $350 million to combat drug resistance.

With so much concern and funds being shuttled into antibiotics discovery, this field is in the spotlight for venture capitalists investing into startup companies willing to take on the risk of developing new antibiotics.

The antibiotic discovery field highlights that concern industry include for-profit companies, non-profit companies, and government institutions — all of which have positions that need talented PhDs.

6. R&D outsourcing.

We live in a society that demands economical growth, and with greater pressure on biopharma to churn out the next generation of treatments while still making a profit, companies are increasingly outsourcing their R&D work.

Companies are feeling the pressure of R&D costs, as there was a 12% increase in R&D spending last year.

Biopharma companies are looking for ways to reduce this cost, including outsourcing

It is more cost-effective to send your R&D work to an established laboratory than to build the infrastructure and hire the people needed to finish the job using your own capital.

This trend is responsible for the rise of the Contract Research Organization (CRO).

The R&D outsourcing market is also expanding the use of e-commerce.

It is estimated that 70-80% of sales and marketing of life science tools will be done using e-commerce by 2020.

Currently, 8 of 10 pharmaceutical companies have used Science Exchange, the world’s leading online marketplace for such services, to purchase external research services.

No matter where you are in your career, it is always good to keep in touch with the latest industry trends. Not only could knowing these trends lead you to your next job, but it will give you insight on how business transactions are made, which is also important to know in industry. A few trends to be aware of now are the widespread use of CRISPR gene editing, the rise of precision medicine, the development of CAR T cells, the increasing interest in microbiome and medical cannabis research, and the current R&D outsourcing trend. It is time to get out of the lab and start looking for an industry career. It is never too early or too late to start looking at what options lay beyond the horizon.

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
Tavis Mendez, PhD
Tavis Mendez, PhD

Tavis Mendez is a scientist in transition who has a passion for benchwork and communicating biomedical research to the public. Dreaming of becoming a scientist since his adolescent years, he obtained his Ph.D. in a parasitology lab, but has also travelled across the USA and to Asia to study cancer and hypertension. In his free time, Tavis loves to conduct culinary experiments in his kitchen.

Similar Articles

Best Of Transition: Ph.D. Jobs & Job Search Strategies, October 16th 2021

Best Of Transition: Ph.D. Jobs & Job Search Strategies, October 16th 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.…

3 Steps To Taking Back Control Of Your Career

3 Steps To Taking Back Control Of Your Career

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Academia takes away all of your control. You probably started your PhD as a confident student, knowing exactly who you were and what you wanted.  But after years facing lack of support, lack of structure, and lack of clear deadlines, you have probably lost a lot of that initial motivation. You probably are not sure of what the next steps are. You feel that you lost all the control of your future career. Something similar happened to me when I was trying to get out of graduate school. I was in a very unique situation, where my PI was the…

Best Of Transition: Ph.D. Jobs & Job Search Strategies, October 9th 2021

Best Of Transition: Ph.D. Jobs & Job Search Strategies, October 9th 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.…

Best Of Transition: Ph.D. Jobs & Job Search Strategies, October 2nd 2021

Best Of Transition: Ph.D. Jobs & Job Search Strategies, October 2nd 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.…

Is The Cheeky Scientist Association Worth It?

Is The Cheeky Scientist Association Worth It?

By: Amanda Johnson

The professor I was speaking with took a full step backward.  Her eyes widened. I had just casually repeated a piece of feedback I received on one of the graphs that I had created for a lab presentation verbatim: “I hate your colors.” I had shared the comment solely to illustrate that data visualization didn’t come naturally to me.  Sure, I wouldn’t recommend critiquing someone’s work this way. But I had heard so much worse in academia.  On top of that, I had been bullied repeatedly into apologizing anytime I showed any sign that such comments had hurt my feelings.…

Best Of Transition: Ph.D. Jobs & Job Search Strategies, September 25th 2021

Best Of Transition: Ph.D. Jobs & Job Search Strategies, September 25th 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.…

Have A Ph.D.? Use These 3 Scripts To Breakthrough The Silence On LinkedIn

Have A Ph.D.? Use These 3 Scripts To Breakthrough The Silence On LinkedIn

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Robust LinkedIn network is necessary for hiring. PhDs often think that they have plenty of time to work on the next step in their career and that they can postpone setting up a job search strategy.  Sadly, many of them wait so long that they end up in a desperate position, where they need a job yesterday. They start fixating on things like “I gotta get hired. I gotta get somebody to help me get hired. I gotta really pitch myself. I gotta talk about all my skills, I gotta ask for help on my resume.” So, they start bombarding…

Best Of Transition: Ph.D. Jobs & Job Search Strategies, September 18th 2021

Best Of Transition: Ph.D. Jobs & Job Search Strategies, September 18th 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.…

What Is Your LinkedIn Social Selling Index (SSI Score) And How To Increase It

What Is Your LinkedIn Social Selling Index (SSI Score) And How To Increase It

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

If you are in academia and want to transition into industry, you need to take the LinkedIn SSI score seriously. It doesn’t matter if you are a PhD student, a postdoc, or are unemployed. If you have a LinkedIn profile, you need to take actions to make it impactful now. You might think that you can put this off until you’re actually ready to transition, but your profile is visible right now. Hiring managers can come to your profile now and make decisions based on it. Decisions that can impact your job search down the line. One of our associates…

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.