The Call of Commerce: Former Academics Cite Advantages in Industry

The excitement of turning theory into therapeutics...The opportunity to focus on research, without the distractions of committee work...The prospect of advancing one's career without navigating the tenure process...The chance to collaborate, rather than carve an individual niche...The potential for greater remuneration--if the science proves marketable... A host of reasons prompts scientists to ponder switching from academia to industry--whether as start-up employee, biotech entrepreneur, or B

Paul Smaglik
May 24, 1998
The excitement of turning theory into therapeutics...The opportunity to focus on research, without the distractions of committee work...The prospect of advancing one's career without navigating the tenure process...The chance to collaborate, rather than carve an individual niche...The potential for greater remuneration--if the science proves marketable...

A host of reasons prompts scientists to ponder switching from academia to industry--whether as start-up employee, biotech entrepreneur, or Big Pharma scientific director. These reasons tend to be unique to each person's situation. But two underlying forces may be at the roots of these personal choices, which both surveys and stories indicate more scientists are making.

Rolf F. Lehming, director of the integrated studies program at the National Science Foundation's division of science resources studies, thinks a "push and pull" phenomenon has driven the trend. The "push," posits Lehming, comes from academic hiring-- or lack thereof. Academic hiring has slowed considerably since a boom beginning...

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