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The week that it was- 20th to 26th Feb, 2017

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Different career options – academic and non academic, transitioning from the former to the latter, the key skills to further your career and the best places to find your dream job – all this and more that CSG members have been discussing over the last week.

While UK still remains a coveted option for many Indian under and post-graduate students there are also Indian private universities coming up that are research and not teaching based.

Ernst and Young don’t think so and won’t bother with degree classification anymore as their entry level criteria.

As the world sees a turn in the political ideologies in many parts, do scientists have to ‘justify’ their research more clearly and more often than ever? Harvard University is trying to help scientists to communicate better.

New places come up on the world map where getting funding is still easier than the rest of the known places for doing science. India also eases it for IIT, Madras and colleges affiliated with Calcutta University in India to get more PhD students. But are the funds going to suffice to have permanent scientific staff positions in the coming years to utilize all the resources spent in training this scientific personnel?

For those interested in academic jobs, see how to write your resumes effectively.

Puzzled with how to put forth your ideas effectively on powerpoint. Look no further and get some really cool templates.

Find a repository of different non-academic career options that you can consider. Check what it takes for each one of these and which one suits you.

And for those who would want to move out of academia into industry, do they need an MBA to top up their PhD degrees?

A week long course for you to get MBA-styled case-based teaching to understand the culture and infrastructure of life science companies.

Industries are getting more interested in ‘givers’. Who are these people and how do industries identify them?

Here is a list of the current openings:

Happy working and networking! CSG is looking forward to an enthusiastic week ahead.





MedNess-Pill for Alzheimer’s?

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Hello and welcome to yet another exciting week of MedNess. We bring the news from medicine and healthcare with greatest impact. It seems like; year 2017 will be the year of neurology! It is just the second month of the year and treatment strategies for various neurological disorders are making headlines.

Merck halts Phase 3 study on Alzheimer’s drug- another setback for amyloid theory

Clinical trials on Verubecestat- a small molecule BACE 1 and BACE2 inhibitor were called off after an interim analysis on Phase 2/3 studies did not show promising results. The analysis team concluded that there was “virtually no chance of finding a positive clinical effect”. However, another trial on patients with early symptoms of Alzheimer’s will continue. It has been speculated that the drug was too weak, or was dosed inadequately or the disease had progressed too far in patients for the drug to show concrete effect. The failure of this trial is another blow to the famous “amyloid theory”. According to this theory, the amyloid plaques are believed to be cause of the disease. Verubecestat is a beta secretase inhibitor. This disappointing cessation of clinical trial came months after Eli Lilly’s Alzheimer’s drug; Solanezumab failed in Phase 3 clinical trials in November last year. Unlike Verubecestat, Solanezumab targets plaque rather than beta secretase enzyme. This brings in disappointment not only for the patients but also for the researchers. The evidence suggests that once the disease has advanced and patients have established dementia, the removal of amyloid plaque might not yield effective outcome.

                              Do we have a pill to cure Alzheimer’s? Some quick facts:

  • Alzheimer’s is an irreversible brain disorder causing cognitive impairment
  • More than 5 million Americans are expected to suffer from Alzheimer’s
  • Sixth leading cause of death in the USA
  • No new drug has been introduced to provide symptomatic relief or to halt its progression since last decade

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There are couple of drugs at various stages of trial that are being tested under the amyloid plaque hypothesis. These drugs either act on the plaque or beta secretase enzyme (BACE inhibitor) or available as amyloid immunotherapy. These candidate drugs are from Biogen, AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly, Amgen and Novartis. Apart from BACE inhibitors, hopes are also high for Axovant’s intepirdine. Intepirdine is believed to improve cognitive symptoms by targeting receptor 5-HT6 that stimulates the release of a neurotransmitter. Interestingly, intepirdine was abandoned by GSK in 2010. The drug failed when compared to placebo. However, one study showed tangible effect on cognitive symptom when intepirdine was paired with the approved Alzheimer’s drug Aricept.

MedNess: Merck’s stock suffered severe blow after the announcement of cessation of clinical trial. On the contrary, shares of Eli Lilly, AstraZeneca, Biogen and Roche, the fellow Alzheimer’s drug makers, increased. (Fierce Biotech, Business Insider, STAT news, The Boston Globe)

Axovant’s nelotanserin passes phase 2 study for Lewy body dementia

Axovant Sciences declared successful completion of phase 2 study of nelotanserin. The company is now setting its foot forward for phase 3 study that is expected to initiate later this year. Axovant Sciences reported preliminary results from the first small group of 11 patients.

Lewy body dementia or LBD is the second most common form of dementia. The hallmark characteristic of this form of dementia is the build up of abnormal proteins i.e. Lewy bodies thus affecting cognition, movement, behavior and alertness.

The study included patients with either LBD or Parkinson’s disease dementia. These patients experienced frequent hallucinations as assessed by mini mental state examination (Pharmaceutical Business Review)

CRISPR battle of patents: The Broad institute and MIT wins!

The scientists who first demonstrated the use of most powerful gene editing technology in biotech suffered a major blow on Wednesday, February 15, 2017, in their fight to gain exclusive rights on their invention. CRISPR gene editing system has revolutionized the field of biotechnology enabling scientists to make changes in DNA. Jennifer Doudna, a UC Berkely biochemist and her European collaborator Emmanuelle Charpentier first published this gene editing technology in prokaryotic system (type of bacterial system) in 2012 in Science. UC Berkely and University of Vienna filed for U.S. patent in March 2013. There were 155 broad claims to the CRISPR-Cas9 technology. Feng Zhang, a biologist at the Broad Institute, demonstrated the use of this technology in eukaryotic cells (type of plant cells, animal cells and human cells). The Broad Institute filed their patent in 2013; months after Berkeley group filed their patent. Since the patent claims by Broad Institute were fewer than Berkeley’s, the Broad Institute’s patent was issued on April 15 2014 through accelerated approval while Berkeley group is still awaiting their approval. After the Broad Institute was granted their patent, UC Berkeley filed an interference claiming that the Broad Institute should not have been granted the patent since Doudna’s and Charpentier’s CRISPR research outlined in 2012 paved the way for Zhang’s research in eukaryotic system. The Broad Institute argued that the research was not obvious and the patent claims from both the institutes were different. The federal Patent Trial and Appeal Board ruled out UC Berkeley’s claims and sided with the Broad Institute. With this decision, UC Berkeley plans to move forward with their patent application, which if approved, will provide them right on the use of CRISPR on all cells. This would also mean that if the technology will be employed commercially, the companies would have to get licenses from both the Broad and the Berkeley group.

MedNess: The patent decision in the favor of the Broad institute increased the stocks of Editas Medicine by 30%. Editas Medicine licenses Broad’s patents for human genetic disorders. (Fierce Biotech, STAT News, The LA Times, NPR, Wired)

Are pharmaceutical industries in favor of Trump’s FDA pick? The story so far….

Donald Trump is pushing deregulation of FDA in order to accelerate the drug approval process. His ideology: drug costs are higher, drug approval process through FDA takes forever, drug companies are involved in “unfair foreign trade”, drugs should be manufactured in the USA and finally, drug companies should add the innovation factor for the better cure of the diseases. This recipe will work in favor of patients to bring the overall drug costs down and patients can have quicker access to the newer agents. Not to forget, drug manufacturing in the USA brings back jobs and the “fair trade” promotes revenue generation. This all sounds good, except, the pharmaceutical industries have opposing views. The most common complaint of every patient and every healthcare researcher is the never-ending drug approval process by the FDA. So suddenly, when we might be able to overcome this hurdle, why is everyone (read the researchers, pharmaceutical companies and informed patients) so anxious? The truth is bitter sweet. Even though we rant over the FDA, we still knew, the FDA has best interests at heart and such a tight screen is probably important for the safety of the patients. In addition, a 2011, study found that the FDA usually approves cancer drugs before Europe does. Moreover, the researchers at Yale found the FDA’s drug review is at least a month faster than Europe’s or Canada’s.

The pharmaceutical industries on the other hand are concerned about the high drug costs. In addition to the limited patient safety, deregulation in the FDA might not provide enough time for pharmaceutical companies to justify high costs of the drugs to patients and to insurance companies. The pharmaceutical companies will not be able to account for high costs of the drugs owing the limited safety and efficacy analysis that ultimately affects both the patients and the companies. President Trump said last month he has a “fantastic person” lined up for the role of the FDA commissioner. A survey conducted by Mizuho Securities of drug company executives indicated that 72 percent agreed Scot Gottlieb should be Trump’s pick to head the FDA. Until then, we all wait! (Reuters, The New York Times, Forbes)



The week that it was – 13th – 19th Feb, 2017

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What an exciting week, with the CRISPR battle leaning towards Broad for the time being, and ISRO launching 104 satellites in one go! CSG couldn’t have been a silent watching space in the meanwhile. Let’s have a look into what our members have been up to in the last week.

What does it mean for UC’s appeal for the patent or for the rest of the users of CRISPR technology?

As we keep on adding more and more man-made objects in the space, do we also chance that they backfire? Or do we have solutions to mitigate them already?

USA sees further cuts in academic tenure track positions. Private investments get state funding boost on the other hand.

Princeton and other universities join hands to challenge Trump administration’s executive order to ban immigration from seven Muslim majority countries.

Jobs aren’t secure anymore. Don’t wait till you lose a job before you start looking for a new one.

As India tries to develop attractive programs to retain and regain its scientifically trained population, are the efforts still sufficiently good?

Is industry-academia collaboration the sustainable model to follow? Can it also ensure a safe and stimulating environment for fundamental research?

Take advantage of the growing pool of skills and experience that come with the increasing number of CSG members, as they come together to advise and help you design your resume appropriately for your job applications. Take a look at few of the opportunities open around.

CSG wishes you all a fruitful week ahead.




The week that it was 4th Feb – 11th Feb

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Although we are in the shortest calendar month, CSGians continue to make every moment count with their active participation and enriching discussions in the forum. I’ve cherry-picked some of the discussion and highlights from the past week in this post.

America’s ‘Trump’ card predicts a crackdown

USA biotech industries dread a crackdown with a travel ban for seven muslim countries and changes to the scope of H1B visa. It was sigh of relief when the court , recently rejected the travel ban, emphasising the place of judicial authority in constitutional democracy. Along the same lines, CSGian Soumya Roy Chowdhury summarised taxes and returns for the benefit of J1 visa holders.

When Disease disrupts a Degree

CSGians applaud the courage of graduates who fought medical emergencies such as cancer while surviving a PhD, in a compilation of true stories by Jyoti Madhusoodanan. Although a supervisor’s support is of utmost importance in these situations, many issues such as financial insecurity and PhD-related anxieties have haunted these survivors as they shuttled between the lab and active treatments.

We’ll beat Cancer together

While the notorious Salmonella (food-poisoning bacteria) shrinks tumours in mice , T-cell therapy with chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) is developing as promising new alternative in cancer immunotheraphy.

Love thy neighbours…

Nerdist published the ‘Chart of Solar Explorations‘ depicting graphically the very many journeys we’ve undertaken as a planet to get to know our ‘neighbours’ in the universe. On the other hand, Sathguru Management Consultants plan to initiate the Innovation in Food and Agriculture Fund (IFAF) to feed the multitudes on our planet.

The Science Filmfare 2017

The AAAS 2017 Science Showcase is in town for those interested in screening of science films and conversations with award-winning film-makers and scientists.



Resume Roadmap

CSG this week shared enormous posts listing do’s and don’ts for freshers to help them apply for their dream job. Some of the interesting ones were a list of no-no’s for industrial resumes, advice on tackling experience expectation, networking tips to face a room full of strangers and a prep recipe before you head-start the job-hunt.

Preparing your way ahead : Sign-posts and more

CSG members engaged in a detailed discussion of how to deal with a difficult but big-wig bosses in academia while CSGian Smita Salian Mehta encourages people who have successfully made their career transition to pull up their socks and keep paving their way ahead.

Funding Opportunities 

Funding agencies open applications for research in Europe, UK(Newton International Fellowship), India (SERB) and more (Marie Curie). Please contact Venkateswarlu Kanamarlapudi (UK) and Nikhil Gupta  (SERB) for advise if you wish to apply. Women leaders in science are invited to join hands with international network of talented women and graduate students to apply for AACR travel grant.

Together we stand….

In response to new expectations and changes put forth by Trump’s administration, hashtags such as #actuallivingscientist and #dresslikeawoman continue to trend on Twitter. Come and join the new social media vibe to promote our scientific community. CSGians are also requested to participate in a poll to gauge the relevance of CSG in your scientific career.

Have a great week ahead

Nisha Peter

The week that it was 22nd Jan to 28th Jan 2017

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As India celebrated its 68th Republic day this week and every country in the world honoured our Tricolour, the enthusiasm in the CSG endeavour was no less. This week saw an upsurge of ideas as fellow CSGians initiated and participated actively in discussions on various new themes.

Genetic modifications all the way!!

While CSGians debated the safety of GM crops and their abundance in near future, Indian scientists validate the efficiency to GM mosquitoes to outcompete their disease-causing Aedes aegypti peers. Moreover, genetically engineered immune cells (T-cells) were shown to eliminate tumors in infants.

Taking Science to the Senate

California has become a personal favourite among scientists as fly biologist; Michael Eisen makes his political plans public. Dr. Eisen hopes to win the US senate in 2018 so the views and perspectives of the scientific community are better represented where it matters.

Metallic hydrogen is here!!

Material scientists celebrate, as metallic hydrogen becomes a reality!! This metal, predicted to revolutionise anything from local transportation to rocket science is still undergoing confirmatory tests.

Lights, camera …action!!

Dr.Anshu Malhotra’s research at the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation (Emory University) made a debut, in response to idea of promoting research using short video presentations. Fellow CSGians are welcome to showcase their work or any topic of scientific interest through a 1-2 min talk for the benefit of our ever-growing CSG community.

Figuring out where you belong

Natalie Lundsteen asserts why career assessment is essential in this era of multiple career choices and introduces various assessment tools available to young PhDs and post-docs. Needless to say, harmful thought patterns should be kept away during this self-analysing process.

On the scientific front, YouGenomics aims to generate reference genotype panel representing the Indian population / sub-populations, using whole genome sequencing of USA residents of India origin.

Calling out all Sci-entrepreneurs

For PhD’s and post-docs with an insight in science and an aptitude in business, BIRAC (DBT’s interface agency) calls out applications for the Biotechnology Ignition Grant (BIG) Scheme, 2017. A fellow CSGian, Viswa Nadham, has kindly volunteered to offer advise and guidance for those interested.

A small roadmap towards jobs and more

The forum has had some valuable inputs for those contemplating switching jobs and tips on picking your next employer. Moreover, the newbies in the job-hunt arena can benefit from resume writing strategies and what to do on the day of your interview. On the other hand, we have a smart chart to help you plan you new-work-year so you have a productive 2017.

The CSG global village

This week has seen a lot of activity of CSG in response to various polls. Please respond to our polls to help us form a localised community in your vicinity. CSG Europe is slowly taking shape while communities in US, Singapore and Europe (soon) plan annual meets to improve the networking policy of CSG. A CSG world map has also been created to gauge how widespread our community is.

Club SciWri to flaunt CSGian Research

Club SciWri invites fellow CSGians to showcase any interesting piece of work you are reading in the field of immunotherapy, immunooncology, oncology, neuroscience, microbiome etc. We wish to contribute to the weekly development of scientific awareness and to appreciate the various innovations we have coming our way. Please write to us at

Taking lessons from the learned ones

A kind reminder to those interested on transitioning from academia to apply for the Mentor-Mentee program 2017 by CSG by Jan 31st, 2017. Make the most of this opportunity to tap into the knowledge and experience of our kind mentors to make your dream job a reality.

Have a great week ahead.

Nisha Peter

ClubSciWri turns one!

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Reminiscing the year uno that ClubSciWri has lived through, it is amazing to see how many different voices it has had. Born out of the need to represent the not so widely spoken issues of graduate school system it has not only been an effective platform reaching thousands of PhD students worldwide, it has been a hub of creativity as well.

It is now a crucible that grooms many a writer among us letting us express ourselves in varied literary forms-essays, cartoons, paintings and discussions. And the range of topics that we have seen in the past one year has been spanning over the struggles of Indian PhD students, both in India and abroad. We have seen discussions on how mental health is often ignored in academic setups under the veil of academic rigor. We have had many write-ups talking about career planning and effective ways to deal with dilemmas around it, for those yet struggling to find the right match in the real world out there.

As we wholeheartedly appreciate and thank our writers for their valuable contributions, here is a compilation of some of the more popular articles of the past year.

We, from team Club SciWri are always eagerly waiting to share your insights to inspire, motivate and support the graduate school community. Let this space grow even wider!

The week that it was- 8th Jan to 14th Jan, 2017

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The weekend started with the CSG members voting for the kind of topics they would like to hear more about from us at Club SciWri. I believe the list of topics will grow as per the requirements of the group. But for this week we will focus on what and where are the different job opportunities that exist for PhD holders outside academia and how to apply for these jobs.

Choose what is to your taste as there are multiple options open for scientific writers at La Jolla, for science writers at PhiladelphiaGreater Boston and Massachusetts and a workshop on science communications at Harvard and Rockefeller Universities.

The science/scientific writing enthusiasts, learn how to make effective scientific illustrations to convey your messages clearly to a wide audience.

Early career scientist position at Takeda Pharmaceuticals, primarily for toxicologists.

P&G offers an unique setting to know its research and development settings and experience its innovation centre in Europe via its R&D European PhD Seminar. Gear up soon, for the deadlines are fast approaching for Belgium and Germany.

Choose the right locations to help you find the right opportunities in the USA.

If you are feeling you need to explore beyond academia and yet haven’t sorted how and where it should be, here is a guide to sort you.

Know yourself, explore your strengths and learn how to apply your skills in a non academic setting.

Keep yourself in shoes of the prospective employer and judge your application.

Attention, young PIs: Learn to strategize to ensure growth of your team members as you grow into a successful team leader.

Let CSG grow its wings to cover the brethren of PhD and postdocs. Let it reach newer cities, find newer members. For now, there is a possibility for the CSG members to meet altogether at Cambridge, Boston on 19th Jan.

A reminder to apply for the mentor mentee program by CSG by Jan 31st, 2017. Make most of our kind mentors to apply for your next dream job. After all, we at CSG are here to create, share and grow.


The week that it was – 1st to 7th Jan, 2017

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Welcome back post-holidays, guys. The last week CSG brought us discussions on science and spirituality in light of the 104th Indian Science Congress to understanding the recent trends in research and paths to tread beyond academia.

Let’s take a sneak peek into what have kept our members occupied the last week.

As the dilemma begins for the final year PhD students, check EMBO director, Maria Leptin’s suggestions to the students at IISER, Pune.

Instead of investing in newer medicines pharma companies are delving into repurposing existing drugs in the market.

As the latest trend in life sciences leans towards microbiome research, New Yorkers, do not miss an opportunity to listen Rob Knight at Mt. Sinai on the 9th Jan, 2017 at 10 am. Needless to say, time is apt to keep up with the industries invested in microbiome research.

A compilation of top job blogs of 2016, includes help for drafting cover letters, resumes and CVs to LinkedIn profiles.

Know about presenting your transferable skills on a resume for a job whose requirements do not directly align with your experience.

Read an interview with former Infosys CEO, Kris Gopalakrishnan and know his views on Indian start-up scenario and his support for growth of research based start-ups in India.

Is the Indian Science Congress (again!) missing the point of scientific research? Or is it plain politics? Or simply a part of Indian culture? The scientific community is surely seeing many stalwarts shunning the Indian Science Congress.

As we realize increasingly the need for science communication, more innovative ways to engage layman with science also are evolving, like the initiative Shoot for Science and to connect scientists with the journalists via Help a Reporter.

See you all soon!! And until then have a productive week ahead.

The week that it was -Dec 24 2016-Dec 31 2016

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As we start with the new year, ClubSciWri brings an added dimension. Under the scope of ‘The week that it was’ in ClubSciWri, each Sunday I will bring you a summary with the links to the most interesting/liked/discussed posts made on the CSG forum by the members each week. This is to make it easy to keep a track of the ever-increasing number of posts being made on the forum, on a variety of topics. As a compiler it makes it easy for me to track the articles if they are with #sciwri.

Below are the topics that have kept our members busy over the last one week, despite the holidays.

Participate in the poll so that CSG builds up a stronger demographic statistics of its members.

Explore the different career options that exist in life sciences.

Find an exhaustive list of Indian companies that can be your next career destination as a consultant

Know what it takes to be in project management in the biotech sector. For those who enjoyed it will find an opening at Conte lab, University of California, San Francisco.

Find a comprehensive list of what to and not to do’s while planning to apply for career development awards.

Slack, an alternative to emails. is increasingly being used for group communications even in the scientific circles.

Be inspired by unconventional career paths of Gadi Geiger.

You cannot ignore the management tips to help you grow into a successful leader.

Know how to build an impressive LinkedIn profile. Make sure you use the right keywords to help the potential employers find you.

Wish you all a fruitful week and a successful year ahead. And looking forward to your posts on SciWri!

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In this post I share the story of my struggle. I suffered from depression and was able to deal with it. I found help in my friends and family. You just have to seek help, you will find it galore. # Doobarapoocho



Ipsa is a Ph.D. student at IISc. She wants to gather and spread interestingness. She prefers painting and drawing over writing.

If someone else like to share their story (even if anonymously), please message to

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