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Breaking into an industry research job may seem like breaking through the blood-brain barrier: You can't find out about every job on the company's web site, and when the job is listed in the classified ads, the firm gets flooded with applicants.

It can be tough even if you already work in industry. For a time, it seemed to Dalai Yan, a microbiologist and antibiotic researcher with Cumbre, a small biotech in Dallas, that fate would keep him from doing the research he cared about. Before joining Cumbre, he was a senior scientist at Eli Lilly and Co. in Indianapolis. During a recent round of layoffs at Lilly, he was asked to switch from a research position to a nonresearch department such as development. But he didn't give up on his quest for a position that allowed him to do science.

Yan looked internally and in the Indianapolis...

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