The GSBS Office of Career Development hosted its latest Career Exploration Series Friday, September 10, 2021 along with the student organization Enventure. During the event, we had the opportunity to hear from alumna Dr. Supriya Sinha, Assistant Director, Commercialization Relations at UT Southwestern.
Enventure is a student-led non-profit organization established with the purpose of educating and providing students with opportunities of advanced science careers in the biotechnology industry. Enventure provides students with growing opportunities through a set of different programs, seminars and hands-on opportunities that ensure they get a hands-on experience to acquire skills that are necessary for specific careers.
The talk focused on how Supriya transitioned from her PhD to her current position, with students asking questions about different topics that were of interest to them.
Supriya started her talk explaining how her role at the Office for Technology Development focuses on developing and commercializing biomedical products generated at the Institution. Through commercialization, the impact of a researcher’s work is greatly enhanced, providing a direct benefit to patients. Supriya works as a catalyst of these developments by educating and engaging faculty members into a business mentality. They provide support and partnerships to ensure a success transition to a business model.
Supriya then went on to explain how transitioning from a PhD into different career opportunities is not as difficult as some would expect. Most of the skills acquired during a PhD program are transferrable to different things, like written & oral communication, time management, project management & teamwork. The skill of looking and analyzing scientific datasets in research can be applied to consulting and also for identifying good investments opportunities at a Venture Capital firm.
Students began asking questions, mainly about how to transition from a PhD program into a career like that. Supriya advised everyone to start networking as much and early as possible towards the career of interest. She mentioned that employers look at the effort made by students to transition into a certain career while still in school. Internships, Supriya said, are a great opportunity to acquire experience and network around the career of interest. Students should look around to see what opportunities are available, trying to find a part time internship that does not interfere with their studies and allows them a good transition opportunity after PhD. Finding a mentor is another great opportunity to allow students to properly transition, someone with the experience to guide them into a smooth and successful transition into the desired career.
Some students were wondering about Supriya’s specific career of interest and how her daily routine was like. Supriya mentioned she acts mainly as a bridge, finding potential partnerships for researchers that will enable them to successfully commercialize their product. She mentioned her main role was to communicate and educate researchers and academics in the business aspect of product development and intellectual property. She mentioned it is satisfying for her acting as that bridge that allowed these two fields to communicate appropriately because it provided her an opportunity to help improve the impact of the work being performed by scientists. From her experiences, she recommended students wanting to do a transition from PhD into private sector to be open minded and willing to learn new things.
One question was specifically related to how venture capital is like in science and what is required to succeed. Supriya answered by stating that the science by itself, no matter how good and beautiful, is not enough. There a lot of components that go into venture capital to ensure success. The intellectual property (patents) must be good and addressing patient needs. The business development model being employed for the product or technology is also key for a successful commercialization. The whole team, both science and business, are important in ensuring a successful commercialization of products and/or technologies. It is imperative then that these teams learn how to effectively communicate with one another, to ensure they are all moving in the same direction.
In general, Supriya’s talk was a clear, informative one where students were able to listen from her experiences. Students seemed engaged and asked questions throughout the seminar while Supriya answered them and often went beyond the questions to provide more insight.
About The Author
Joel A. Agosto-Peña is a PhD Student in the Integrated Biomedical Sciences (IBMS) Program. See his student profile >>