Science in Pharma vs. Academia

Sunday, August 10th, 2008 by hinrich

Doing science in an academic institution has one major advantage: if one is successfully doing research, the results of the research represent the product of one's work (in the form of publications). These "products" in turn are used to build a scientific reputation and help when one applies for grants to pursue new scientific problems. Aside from many other attractive factors such as job security, another big plus is the relatively high level of freedom and independence.

So, why do I work for a pharmaceutical company? Well, yes, the paycheck tends to be bigger. But on the other hand, the scientific work is almost always the combined results of a large number of scientists and one's contribution tends be just a little piece in the big puzzle of coming up with a new medicine. Still, I find it highly satisfying to imagine that a scientific breakthrough here can potentially have a direct beneficial impact on the lives of many people. The feeling of having the power to contribute directly with my scientific work vs. hoping that my scientific results will get picked up by someone to turn this into something beneficial for society, is an important motivator for my research.

My blog posts in the category Tuberculosis refer to scientific developments about our promising new agent against Mycobacterium tuberculosis - the bacterium that is lethal to thousands of human beings every day. This is an example of what I have been referring to above. Even though I have been contributing only one scientific piece of the puzzle, the combined work of all scientists here at Johnson & Johnson who have been working on this project together with our academic collaborators has the potential to directly impact the lives of many patients.

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