Careers in biotechnology, part I.

What do people in biotechnology do on the job?

What can students do with a science degree once they've finished college? Some answers can be found at the "Life Sciences Central web site. Created by the Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County, this is a wonderful resource for anyone who's considering biotechnology for a potential career.

My favorite part of the site is the series of short video interviews from people in the biotech industry, describing what they do on the job and how they got there.

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Ten interviews show a variety of people who work at different companies and in different positions. Surprisingly of the ten interviews, only one of the profiles is from a woman. This is strange and a bit misleading since it's been my experience that there are probably more women working in the biotech industry than males.

My two other criticisms are that the web site lists the names of the people without giving their job title in the list. You have to watch each video in order to find out. The other problem is that the videos start as soon as you open the page and they all have sound. Turn your sound off, first, unless you're in a place where sound will be okay.

But those are minor points. So, I thought I'd help.

I drew the picture below as a guide in order to help improve on this already valuable resource. The drawing shows my view of how a biotech company might be organized if it makes products that will be used for humans - i.e. biomedical.

Click a name of a person in this map and you can see their video interview. People from biotech companies like Nanogen, NanoString, CTI; and one non-profit research institute (SBRI), describe what they do in their own words.


business developmentbusiness developmentbiotech scientistresearch techresearch associatesoftware engineerclinical research associatebiotech salestech supportmed tech

We'll look at where bioinformatics fits in the food chain in the next installments.

Read the whole series:

  • Part I. Careers in biotechnology
  • A look at the jobs in biotech company, making biomedical products.

  • Part II: Bioinformatics
  • Where does bioinformatics fit into a biotech company? Who makes bioinformatics tools? Who uses them?

  • Part III: Life in a bioinformatics software company
  • How do people work together to make bioinformatics software?

  • Part IV: The tip of the informatics iceberg
  • What about the software engineering and IT side of bioinformatics software companies?


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What do people in biotechnology do on the job?

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By Tegumai Bopsul… (not verified) on 11 Jul 2007 #permalink

...there are probably more women working in the biotech industry than males.

Sexist language: "women" are clearly human but "males" are not. Why use "males" instead of "men"?

By hip hip array (not verified) on 18 Jul 2007 #permalink

Interesting point. I suppose the word "men" would have been a better choice. It never occurred to me that it could be open to interpretation.

In case anyone finds this confusing, I'm pretty sure that most of the males working in biotech also happen to be human. :-)

This post reminds me of that saga at the Harvard University involving its former President, Mr. Summers, who was forced to resign for suggesting that women fair badly in sciences because of innate weaknesses. There are quite brilliant women involved in biotechnology. Because I am from Africa, and I regularly blog on biotechnology I will give the example of Dr. Florence Wambugu, the Executive Director, A Harvest Biotech Foundation International.