Workshop 'Careers at a biotech company'

Insights into a biotech company for young academics - Utrecht, 30 October 2009

‘A career in scientific research outside academia, it is possible!’

This was probably the most important message the 40 early career researchers took home from the Genmab company visit on 30 October 2009, organized by the Postdoc Career Development Initiative. PCDI offered postdocs and final year PhD students the opportunity to spend half a day at the company, to learn about the core business, to personally meet the scientists and fire all their questions about career options.

Insights into a biotech company for young academics - Utrecht, 30 October 2009

‘A career in scientific research outside academia, it is possible!’

This was probably the most important message the 40 early career researchers took home from the Genmab company visit on 30 October 2009, organized by the Postdoc Career Development Initiative. PCDI offered postdocs and final year PhD students the opportunity to spend half a day at the company, to learn about the core business, to personally meet the scientists and fire all their questions about career options.

The concept proved to be very popular, soon the event was fully booked. Certainly it was a unique opportunity. Where else would you learn about the efficient professionalism by which biotech companies obtain their high quality results? Or did you know that a company like Genmab cares about the development of your personal talents and therefore will support you to shape your career to suit your ambitions best? And you know what: no worries about obtaining funding for the year to come!

After obtaining a PhD, most young researchers aim to pursue a career in research. Doing a postdoc at an academic institution is a solution for many, but unfortunately it is also a temporary one. The academic structure forces postdocs to move up, but this also implies a stringent selection, obliging 90% of them to continue their career elsewhere.

This may be another reason why postdocs and final year PhD students were so eager to attend this event. Prof Jan van de Winkel, founder and scientific director, reassured them that at Genmab, a career in research, including publishing in peer-reviewed journals and visiting scientific conferences, is possible. In addition, findings of the R&D department have direct relevance to patients. The fact that a Genmab product obtained FDA approval, just days before the visit, underlined the translational character of its activities. How rewarding isn't it to know that your work is directly relevant to the clinic?

Genmab is situated on Utrecht’s university campus ‘de Uithof’, a modern, somewhat discrete building. For many early career researchers the Genmab visit was their first introduction to a non-academic research environment. After a warm welcome by the director, participants were given an overview of the biotech company’s history, activities and products by Robert Knoester, vice-president global HR. Everyone was curious to see the high-tech lab, but the size of the group unfortunately did not allow a real-life visit. A video showed glimpses of the Genmab’s state-of-the-art technologies used for high through-put screening and production, nevertheless quite impressive.

For in-depth discussion, the participants then attended a workshop of their choice: Genmab R&D, Genmab Technology or Careers at Genmab, facilitated by members of the scientist team and human resources department. The personal and highly interactive setting of this part was much appreciated. And when the session finished, all burning questions had been answered. It was a very interesting afternoon!