SAPA-CT Career Development workshop

making the leap - prepare for a career in life science

Authors: Wanqing Lyu, Mingzhou Fu, Zhuo Chen   Photo: Zhuo Chen   Web editor: Liming Chen

May 14th, 2018



The Sino-American Pharmaceutical Association-Connecticut (SAPA-CT) successfully organized the second Career Development Workshop  at University of Connecticut (UConn) on May 13th, 2018.

The workshop, under the theme “Making the leap: prepare for a career in life sciences”,  targeted mainly students and young professionals. The organizing committee invited six speakers with diverse backgrounds to share their successful stories on career development.

The workshop Co-Chair, Dr. Ming Cheng (Boehringer Ingelheim) started the event by welcoming all the attendees. Ming thanked all the speakers and volunteers for their efforts to make this event possible. Dr. José Manautou, interim Department Head and Professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at UConn  gave opening remarks at the workshop. Dr. Manautou thanked the SAPA-CT team for organizing this event to help students and young professionals. He also shares his views on career development and emphasized the importance of “agility” on preparing for a career in life sciences. Dr. Jin Zhou (Boehringer Ingelheim), President of SAPA-CT, gave a brief introduction on SAPA-CT. She shared the missions of SAPA-CT, and emphasized the commitment of the organization on cultivating supportive networks for students, scholars, and professionals in the biomedical field.

In the plenary sessions, six guest speakers discussed the theme topic from different angles.  Dr. Tycho Heimbach from Novartis kindly offered the practical tips on writing resume and preparing for interviews.  He emphasized the importance of constructing an effective resume and suggested job seekers to think from the positions of hiring managers. He also advised the audience especially students with no prior industry experience to read NDA reviews from FDA website to gain knowledge on drug development, which can help individuals to stand out.

Dr. Jason Wang from Allergan gave an introduction on the career path in Health Economic & Outcomes Research (HEOR). He talked about the roles and responsibilities of HEOR, which stands at the intersection of Market Access and Medical Affairs. He  described the qualifications for an entry level job in HEOR, and encouraged those who are interested to start their careers as research scientists or field scientists in HEOR.

Dr. Naitee Ting from Boehringer Ingelheim talked about the responsibilities  of a biostatistician in life sciences and inspired the attendees to think more about the difference between a career and a job. He encouraged the audience to explore themselves and pursue careers where they can develop to reach their maximum potentials. He also suggested young people to be proactive and take ownership on tasks and projects.  Furthermore, he talked about job security, and pointed out that the true security doesn’t come from outside, but from within.

Dr. David Worthen from Alcinous Pharmaceuticals energetically shared his own career venture with different positions and emphasized that ‘it’s good to be happy’. He described the pros and cons of working in big pharmas, small companies, academia as well as starting one’s own business.  He believes the career choice has to be made by balancing factors such as sense of achievement, personal development and flexibility.  

The talk given by Dr. Xiao-bo Zhong at University of Connecticut helped the audience understand the rigorous process of landing an assistant professor job. He pointed out that the benefits of working in academia are scientific freedom, potential job security and the opportunity to mentor students. He recommended that students if interested ideally should decide the academic career path in the middle of their graduate study to be more prepared. He also recommended a few resources to look for a job in academia.

Dr. Cheryl Li from Pharma Synergy vividly described the booming life science industry in China. She shared her personal story on starting up a company in China, and illustrated things to be considered before deciding a career in China.  She pointed out that China is a relationship-centered country, which can bring both challenges and opportunities. She also elaborated on the CFDA reform, Chinese people’s demand for better medicines, and the increasing capitals poured into the healthcare industry in China. Together, these are considered the driving forces behind the thriving life science industry in China. There are great career opportunities in China for those who have the right skill sets.

After the plenary sessions, the attendees broke up into 6 groups to attend the small-group coaching session, which was designed to provide an opportunity for the attendees to have direct conversations with guest speakers. The session was very well-received.  According to the feedback from audience, the session was very valuable and helped clarifying individuals’ specific questions.


Check the Chinese version of workshop report here.

For lecture slides, please click the link below:

Dr.Heimbach: Hit the Ground Running: Successful Resumes, Interviewing Techniques, and Career Boosters

Dr.Ting: Career Development in Pharmaceutical Statistics

Dr.Zhong: Tips on Getting First Assistant Professor Job in Biomedical Areas