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Insight & Intelligence™: Nov 21, 2014

Filling the Biotech Job Pipeline

Positions go begging in big data, translational medicine, and payer reimbursement.

Filling the Biotech Job Pipeline

Data overload in basic and clinical research as well as in business strategy assessments has opened a wide variety of job opportunities for those who are trained in bioinformatics and statistics. [Rawpixel/Fotolia]

    Amid a stream of largely bleak forecasts that biopharmas will continue to shed jobs in coming years, GEN offered some glimmers of hope a few months back, in the form of 10 research and clinical biotech occupations projected to add jobs through 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition.

    This week, GEN looks further at promising biopharma jobs by offering a list of 10 occupations for which numerous positions remain unfilled, based on visits to the career sections of websites for 10 biopharma companies between Nov. 7-12. The 10 companies visited were: Amgen, AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lilly, Novartis, Pfizer, Roche, and Sanofi.

    The 10 occupations include positions in R&D, as well as manufacturing, and administrative jobs. The positions reflect the growing importance of data, translational medicine, and payer reimbursement as key factors in biopharma, in addition to traditional science and business know-how.

    Accountants

    Even in biopharma, business success depends on making the numbers, which is why companies maintain as many positions as they do for people whose job it is to add up those figures and make sure they don’t point to trouble within the operation. Evidence-based medicine is helping drive demand for number-crunchers. One recent Novartis accountant opening emerged within its Genoptix Medical Laboratory subsidiary, focused on “developing and commercializing evidence-driven diagnostic tests to improve physicians' ability to optimize patient outcomes.”

    Bioinformaticians

    France’s Institute Pasteur defines bioinformatics as deriving knowledge from computer analysis of biological data. As data continues to drive biopharma research, so too companies increasingly seek to gather, then analyze that data through bioniformaticians. In addition to “writing scripts for multi-dimensional data analyses” and “visualizing large and complex data sets,” they “analyze next generation sequencing and/or metabolomic data sets” (Johnson & Johnson). They also formulate statistical objectives, experimental designs and statistical analyses for complex preclinical/discovery research projects (Sanofi). Depending how senior the position, they require masters’ or doctoral degrees, but in any case also require related research experience.

    Environmental Health & Safety manager

    Even in the age of outsourcing, biopharmas retain sizeable manufacturing operations that require compliance with environmental, health, and safety laws. Ensuring such compliance is the job of the EH&S manager. Responsibilities include “managing key industrial safety programs and partnering with clients to advance safety culture and manage EH&S risks.” (Amgen). EH&S managers are expected to “maintain compliance with site-wide chemical safety programs” and “coordinate the development and accessibility of safety data sheets” (Roche). While many of the jobs require only a BS, it needs to be in a scientific field, augmented by work experience (number of years varies company to company). The higher the academic degree, the less work experience candidates need.

    Marketing

    Before sales reps can sell the product in the trenches, marketing directors come up with the battle plans. They are “responsible for the development and implementation of brand strategy, marketing plans and alliance management” (Bristol-Myers Squibb), which requires them to “review and assess realistic & achievable objectives, strategies & tactics for the responsible product” (Pfizer), though they need the “ability to develop new product concepts derived from consumer insights” as well as “rich experience in qualitative and quantitative research” (GlaxoSmithKline). MBAs are preferred, as is industry experience, though a bachelor’s degree in marketing, business or science is sought at minimum.

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