Schuster further noted the gap in perception from academia to industry. He explained that in a recent survey, 92 percent of the postdoctoral life science fellows believed that their role in industry would be conducting basic science research. However, Schuster quickly added that in reality only 8 percent of jobs in the life science industry were in this area. Instead most jobs exist in other areas such as regulatory affairs, project management, corporate communications, quality assurance, clinical trials, production, intellectual property, corporate development, and marketing. Schuster explained that to perform in areas outside of basic science research, a technical background is necessary in addition to a thorough understanding of business. He went on to note that recent doctoral graduate students or postdoctoral fellows typically develop broad scientific knowledge and quantitative reasoning, but often do not develop a variety of other skills that industrial representations desire: ethical judgment, intercultural skills, teamwork, critical thinking, and adaptability.
According to Schuster, for researchers who have received a life sciences degree in the last ten years, most are currently postdoctoral scholars and earn roughly $38,000 a year. Schuster suggested that the current system is failing and doctoral students need to be educated differently. Schuster discussed the Postdoctoral Professional Masters in Bioscience Management program at KGI. He described the curriculum as a broad, team-oriented, project-based program, which focuses on enhancing the leadership and professional development skills of postdoctoral scholars, and providing extensive co-curricular activities. Schuster emphasized that the program is geared toward individuals who want to change their position and make an investment in their future.
Gail Naughton focused on educational programs that strive to better prepare scientists for roles in biotechnology and high-technology fields. She first provided a background context for the biotechnology field by emphasizing that scientists need to understand business. Further, she continued that business managers need to understand both scientific and regulatory components in order to be successful. As a consequence, Naughton stressed that educators need to teach students in the biotechnology field all of the parameters that contribute to a successful business venture, so that they are adequately prepared to overcome the high failure rate in the market.
To cater to this need, Naughton discussed efforts at San Diego State University, where they have launched a variety of degree programs, including an MBA in biotechnology and life sciences and a joint Ph.D./MBA degree program. She emphasized that one of the challenges with these programs is finding biotechnology-specific case studies. Negative data is rarely published, with the result that biotechnology entrepreneurs continue to make the same mistakes over and over again. Naughton stressed that in order to instill the passion for life science entrepreneurship and to train the next generation with the tools to be successful, it is important to write about the risks of these ventures, even in instances of limited triumph. Additionally, these business-driven degree programs highlight the role of intellectual property, discuss bio-ethics, place active venture capitalists in the classrooms to directly interact with students, and include finance courses focused on challenges related to the biotechnology field. Naughton further elaborated on the use of on-line courses to create flexible educational experiences for currently employed professionals in fields such as quality control and regulatory affairs.