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N.C. Biotechnology Center Launches Industrial Fellowship Program
Date:7/1/2008

Companies invited to submit applications for positions

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C., July 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The North Carolina Biotechnology Center has unveiled a unique fellowship program to help postdoctoral scientists from the state's research universities transition into industry R&D careers.

The NCBC Industrial Fellowship Program will retain home-grown research talent by providing work experience in North Carolina's life-science companies. It is designed to fill a gap for scientists in need of industry experience as well as for companies in need of scientific expertise.

"We know of nowhere else in the world where there is a defined pathway for life scientists seeking to transition from academia to industry," said Rob Lindberg, Ph.D., R.A.C., director of the Biotechnology Center's Business Acceleration and Technology Out-licensing Network (BATON) program.

Many called, few chosen

North Carolina's universities conferred 280 Ph.D. degrees in the life sciences in 2006. Graduates aiming for academic research careers must then complete one or more postdoctoral fellowships to compete for junior faculty positions.

North Carolina universities presently employ roughly 3,000 postdoctoral fellows. Yet only 25 to 50 percent of them will ultimately be hired for tenure-track, academic faculty positions - rarely at the university that provided the postdoctoral training.

"Not surprisingly, many freshly minted Ph.D. scientists and postdoctoral fellows are considering futures in industry," said Lindberg.

"But unlike degree programs in fields such as engineering, law or business, graduate and post-graduate scientific training programs do not typically provide exposure to the world outside of academia as a formal component of the training."

Bottleneck on the bench

There's a bottleneck, said the Biotechnology Center's Shobha Parthasarathi, Ph.D., the technology development director and fellowship program director. As a former postdoctoral fellow at Millennium Pharmaceuticals in Massachusetts, she understands the problem first-hand.

Mid-level scientific positions typically require both postdoctoral training and commercial experience, she said, yet few companies provide transitional opportunities. Moreover, there is little consensus as to what constitutes an entry-level corporate position for a Ph.D. scientist with no industry experience. Many small- and mid-size companies can only afford to hire researchers as either technicians or as senior scientists. Ph.D. scientists coming out of academia are often dismissed as being overqualified for technical jobs but not qualified enough for senior positions.

Program details

To facilitate the connection between scientist and company, the Biotechnology Center will provide two years of salary and benefits for five NCBC Industrial Fellowship recipients per year. Eligible sponsors are North Carolina biotechnology companies that are engaged in discovery or contract research. The company must provide a senior scientist to mentor the fellow.

Fellows are Ph.D. scientists who are hired by the sponsor company as full-time employees. Additionally, NCBC fellows will have access to programs in business, intellectual property, regulatory affairs and other areas to complement their training.

Five sponsoring companies will be chosen by the Biotechnology Center for the first year of the program. The Biotechnology Center will collect scientists' applications and forward them to the chosen companies for final selection.

Call for sponsoring companies

The Biotechnology Center is currently accepting applications from sponsoring companies. Details and applications for companies and fellowship candidates are available at http://www.ncbiotech.org/fellowship.

The deadline for company applications is July 15, 2008.

The Biotechnology Center is a private, non-profit corporation supported by the N.C. General Assembly. Its mission is to provide long-term economic and societal benefits to North Carolina by supporting biotechnology research, business and education statewide.

Contact: Chris Brodie, vice president, corporate communications, chris_brodie@ncbiotech.org or Rob Lindberg, rob_lindberg@ncbiotech.org, at 919-541-9366. Visit the Biotechnology Center's Web site at http://www.ncbiotech.org.


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SOURCE North Carolina Biotechnology Center
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