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Opportunities in Industry post-PhD - In conversation with Dr. Jyothi Nair

1. In brief, tell us about your work.

As a scientist at Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, my work focuses on developing new methodologies for evaluating the efficacy, safety and immunogenicity profiles of novel generics vis-à-vis the reference listed drugs. These studies are crucial for the regulatory ANDA filing for novel generics across various countries.

2. When did you decide to join an industry?

Initially, I was perplexed regarding the choice of academia vs. industry. But after a couple of years during my PhD tenure, I began a careful consideration about the future prospects in academia and industry. The most important point is to envision whether your long-term goals are aligned with the demands of industry or academia. Since research in pharmaceutical industries is focused on bringing efficacious and affordable drugs into the market, I reasoned that the pharmaceutical industry is an appropriate channel for utilizing my research skillsets towards the betterment of several million lives across the globe.

3. Where to find industrial positions?

Most of the advertisements for industrial positions are posted on the recruitment portals, LinkedIn and the company websites. A regular and intense search will allow you to shortlist the jobs based on your area of interest and expertise. Communication with peers will also help you to understand more about the job prospects, growth opportunities and work culture in the industry.

4. What are the minimum requirements/skills required to join an industry?

One of the quintessential skill needed in any industrial research set up is to have a pragmatic approach, which is focused on the practical application of various skills learnt during PhD. These include technical skills, troubleshooting abilities, concrete planning and rational execution of experiments. Another attractive skill from an industrial point of view is having an open mindset for learning and collaborative working since most of the work requires interaction between various cross-functional teams.

5. How can one grow faster in an industrial setup?

The fundamental quality required for career progress in any industry is the proficiency for agile working with a proactive approach. The collaborative working environment also fosters an excellent opportunity to acquire new knowledge and expertise in different fields. This also paves the way for exploring new opportunities, along with developing a knack to handle new challenges associated with the change in roles.

6. Is an industrial job monotonous?

In my experience, it is never a monotonous job. Quoting my own example, every pharmaceutical industry works on a variety of different drug products, dosage forms and strengths. The studies required to establish the safety and efficacy for each of these products vary. All these diverse factors are taken into consideration while designing the studies. Thus, the principle of ‘one-size-fits-all’ never works in this scenario and hence, it gives an ample opportunity for widespread exploration of different scientific approaches.

7. On average, what is the starting salary for a PhD fresher?

It is difficult to mention a specific salary scale since it all depends on the position, the type of industry you are applying to (established firms vs early stage start-ups), job location and also, any previous industrial experience before obtaining a PhD. The pay-scale is customized for each applicant as per these factors and the HR policies of the company that you are applying to.

8. What is best – Joining industry post PhD or after a Postdoc?

Although it is more of a personal interest, in my opinion, if you are not keen on an academic career in the long run, then joining an industry immediately post PhD would be the best option. A postdoctoral experience will definitely help to enhance your academic skillsets, but in an industry, previous industrial experience has more weightage than academic (postdoc) experience.

I have completed my PhD Life Sciences from TMC-ACTREC. My area of research was focused on understanding therapy resistance mechanisms in glioblastoma –the most fatal brain tumor. Glioblastoma still remains an incurable disease because of its intrinsic therapy resistance. To address my research question, I have used both in vitro and in vivo pre-clinical orthotopic xenograft models that recapitulate therapy resistance in glioblastoma. With the help of these models, I could identify the salient characteristics of therapy resistant tumor cells and also identified the non-canonical role of a specific regulatory protein in mediating radioresistance in recurrent glioblastoma.

Dr. Jyothi Nair

Biocharacterization Scientist (GCM-Bioassay)

Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories

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