Over last week India has had quite a few reasons to celebrate. ISRO launched the country’s heaviest rocket GSLV Mk3, and won its independence from European space agencies for launching its satellites weighing more than 2 tonnes. At the same time, CSG India’s efforts by IISc-ians got formal recognition by Indian Express, a nationwide newspaper in India. From career transition talks on campus to now communicating science to layman, the IISc team is bound to go places!
While India’s largest scientific and research body, CSIR, which runs 37 laboratories nationwide declared financial emergency, CCMB, a CSIR centre in Hyderabad, India has developed a novel drug delivery system to treat fungal keratitis in eye. The emphasis is on every CSIR lab to have marketable technology, while CSIR-Tech whose focus was on commercializing technology from CSIR labs shut down officially earlier this year hugely due to lack of funding and legal support from CSIR. That would put the onus on the individual lab to market its technology to earn revenue. If this model fails, we risk seeing 37 defunct labs all over the country. On a parallel note, Prof. Sujoy Guha’s team at IIT-Kharagpur, India has developed novel male birth control measures but is having a hard time to find companies to launch the technology. Is it only a fear of accepting a new methodology or breaking the age old popular mindset around male’s passive role in contraception or the money of big pharma companies in existing contraceptive market? Prof. Guha’s technique are shown to be as effective as the current measures available, cheaper and more eco-friendly. The developing countries will certainly benefit a lot where a huge part of its contraceptive needs stay unmet. How do pharma companies and policy makers see such issues?
— Hindustan Times (@htTweets) June 7, 2017
Pharma companies, however, do see hope in big investments on artificial intelligence. Preliminary studies show immense scope for AI in healthcare driving big collaborations in the cancer care. One name that has been appearing often is IBM Watson. While it has just joined hands with Novartis to gain better insights into development of breast cancer therapies, its 4 year collaboration with MD Anderson Cancer Center could not be sustained after a toll of at least $62 mn. In India, Bharat Biotech started with phase I human trials for its chikungunya vaccine.
National Science Foundation, federal science agency in the USA, declared stopping PhD grants in environmental science and organismal biology. Adding to the controversies, USA’s top patent and trademark official, Michelle Lee, known for her efforts to invalidate low quality patents, suddenly announced her resignation – adding one more vacancy to be filled under Trump’s administration. The reasons behind the resignation aren’t yet confirmed by her, but speculations hint towards rift with the Commerce Department.
— Brian Fung (@b_fung) June 8, 2017
Moving on from national interests to international implications of political views of the home countries of researchers. Agreed it is not possible and/or worth building huge research facilities with overlapping functions all over the world, especially if the number of researchers using them is rather small. But in having common facilities worldwide, do we risk access for researchers whose home countries have not invested in building the facility? Over years, the field of astronomy has built numerous such common facilities of telescopes, and have been one of the better but yet not perfect examples to show to prioritize science over political agendas. This is probably a difference one sees when science is done for curiosity versus having political and economic gains.
With that let’s see what opportunities opened up in academia over the last week –
- Sartorius and Science prize for outstanding basic or translational research with implications in regenerative medicine or cell therapy
- Faculty positions at IIT, Mandi and IISER, Tirupati, India
- Multiple postdoctoral researcher positions at University of Pittsburgh
- Postdoctoral researcher, Tumor Immunology, MSKCC, NYC, USA
- PhD, Glaciology, Bremerhaven, Germany
If you are preparing to apply for jobs outside academia, understand your potential and interests without falling for the long-held notions around careers. Here are stories from 5 postdoctoral researchers who found their calling beyond academia during their postdoc stint – if you identify with any of them, you have a role model to follow! Find here a networking event for life science professionals in MA, USA and an online free seminar that you might consider attending on gaining the necessary skills for a successful transition for some of the positions we saw over the last week.
- Those who are motivated to work in translational research might consider doing their PhD at Dr. Reddy’s Institute of Life Sciences, Hyderabad, India.
- As BioMed X brings academia and industry together, check the interesting positions for group leader and postdoctoral researchers in RNA splicing in cancer and Engineering of CHO cell lines, sponsored by Merck.
- Scientist, Platform Development, Rubius Therapeutics, MA, USA
- Genomics application specialist at Clevergene, Bangalore
- Those in India with Master’s degree and haven’t joined the grad school might want to consider – Facility assistant, Electron Microscopy Facility, C-CAMP, Bangalore, and Technology assistant, Biologics Characterization Facility, C-CAMP, Bangalore
- Bench scientist, Neoantigen Identification, Genocea Biosciences, Greater Boston area, USA
- Commissioner’s Fellowship Program, FDA, USA
- For those inclined towards working in social development, here are some great entry level and internship opportunities at World Bank Group.
And what if you wanted to work in academia and market your work? As a researcher should you head the startup with your technical skills or sell your technology to external licensees? Check what numbers have to speak. While it might seem discouraging for an academician to head a startup according to statistics at the moment, it might be simply mitigated by appropriate training and exposure to the academicians. A praiseworthy initiative is euVENTION that aims to support researchers in establishing startups focusing on chronic diseases in middle aged populations. Basel Life is setting up a platform to bring cutting edge science and technology in labs in front of potential investors and customers. Backed by reputed universities, this is a potent way to guide and support commercialization of technologies developed in universities. And those who think their research can impact policies, see if and how the World Health Summit at Berlin, Germany might help you.
For those who want to prime themselves with the startup culture and the ideas that are making rounds in the market already, there are some great resources for Indian and global scenes. Those into it might want to know the effective and more importantly many of the free tools to get your startup working. We know what it means to bootstrap! And when it comes to forming your team, choose your members wisely – reports show that peer reviews and testimonies say a greater deal more than GRE/ GPA scores, alma maters, publication lists of an applicant’s abilities. See how you would like to maximize your sales – numbers say that you will benefit the most by having direct interaction with your buyers. But most importantly, remember it is about doing a good research in business too, which is your forte!
With that I come to my summer promise where I give you ideas to reignite your hobbies if they haven’t found a vent since some time. For all the crochet enthusiasts among us, look at these amazing pieces of Anne Mondro’s works. While we are talking of looking at anatomy with abstraction, Judith Brodsky’s work adds a different dimension to the art of science communication. Let your imagination flow, it is not about the prettiness of the art, as she says, but rather a deeper message that it sends across. And story tellers, get inspired by grad student Sara ElShafie as she makes her science stories more engaging with Pixar! CSG is currently brimming with ideas of all kinds, and is waiting to hear more of yours soon!
About the author:
Somdatta Karak works with Club SciWri as a project coordinator and Corporate Liaison. She is a doctorate in Neuroscience from Georg August University, Göttingen, Germany and has been a Teach for India fellow (2014-16). She loves putting her analytical skills to build newer and more sustainable solutions, enjoys traveling and communicating and takes every opportunity to expand her horizon.
You can reach her here.