Ageism in biotech

Without question, ageism exists in biotech. Recently, a feature in Forbes (Gray Hair in the C-Suite: Experience, Age and IPOs in Biotech) highlighted that the median age of biopharma CEOs at IPO was 54 years, and 75 percent were 48 or older. I’ve experienced ageism. At 37 years, I am more than 15 years younger than the median biotech CEO. The average age of first-time CEOs at IPO is 51. While this should be surprising…

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A call to male scientists in 2019 – #moreXXscience

I’ve taken a longer than usual break from work this holiday season to spend quality time with my two children (the youngest of whom I’m about to go on parental leave with from Feb-May). During this time I came across several articles, blogs, tweets, etc, surrounding people’s commitments to 2019. As is often the way with inspiration for my blogs, a combination of little things has prompted this post on how male scientists can help…

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Slowly but surely, postdoc advocacy is working

Postdocs play an important role in the scientific enterprise and yet they often seem to slip through the cracks. Although often referred to as “trainees”, postdocs are not students and they are also not faculty, which leaves room for ambiguity around their status at institutions. As competition for tenure-track faculty positions in academia has increased, the duration of the average postdoc has also increased and postdocs now represent a much larger cohort of researchers. Because…

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Focusing on the positives – some good ideas for improving science

Sometimes, you just get lost down the rabbit hole of the Internet. In one of these episodes, I came across a valedictory address by Australian comedian Tim Minchin in which he bestows his life lessons for young graduates. While it wasn’t a mind-blowing speech, one of the life lessons that resonated with me was “Define yourself by what you love” with the rather glib catchphrase of “be pro-stuff not just anti-stuff.”  The basic message being that…

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Ownership structure of intellectual property at universities

This article is a continuation of a series on the state of translational research in North America: The opportunity cost to doing scientific research at a university A brief history of translational research funding in North America The current status of translational research funding in North America Bridging the gap between public and private research   Relevant associated articles by David Kent: Scientists can’t take risks until they are in their 40s Despite improved wages,…

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Could fake grants help clean up the peer review process?

My office mate and I were discussing the apparent randomness of grant assessment the other day. We traded stories of amazing grants that got shafted and horrible grants that somehow got cut a cheque for hundreds of thousands of dollars. In academia, we all have these tales, but funnily enough we don’t always agree on what “amazing” and “horrible” are. So how can we possibly improve the situation? In the face of such subjectivity, we…

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Bridging the gap between public and private research

This article is a continuation of my series on the state of translational research in North America: The opportunity cost to doing scientific research at a university A brief history of translational research funding in North America The current status of translational research funding in North America   Relevant associated articles by David Kent: Scientists can’t take risks until they are in their 40s Despite improved wages, troubling trends emerge from postdoc survey The grass…

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Advice on Athena SWAN in Canada: universities need to focus on practical changes

The last two months have featured quite a lot of chat about the planned “Made in Canada” version of the U.K.’s Athena SWAN initiative.  University Affairs has already detailed the nuts and bolts in an excellent article from Anqi Shen where some imperfections were also highlighted including the costs (financial and time) of implementing and monitoring effective programming. As a U.K.-based researcher since 2009, I’ve had nearly a decade to watch the Athena SWAN programme…

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The current status of translational research funding in North America

While university environments can restrict academic freedom, private industry will often attach strings. It is typically very rare that the sole financier of scientific innovation is also the leading scientist, and so sponsored research typically proceeds at the direction of its investors. While there are no practical limits on what can be researched, and there is certainly enough money in the hands of enough people with enough worldviews that just about anything can be financed…

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Scientists can’t take risks until they are in their 40s

When you imagine what goes on in university research centres, you probably don’t think of scientists doing boring predictable things.  Indeed, the romanticized version of academic would suggest that scientists are constantly trying new ideas, pushing the boundaries of what is possible and that out from this process (on a global scale at least) emerges knowledge that explains how the world around us works or translates into useful, practical things for the betterment of society.…

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