FIMM Meets Pharma - Through the doctoral student’s Looking Glass
Some PhD students consider seeking a career in academia that follows a traditional scientific career path: after the PhD a postdoctoral position(s) (possibly abroad) follows, and subsequently, if lucky, a principal investigator position managing our own group. Yet a great fraction of us don’t want to follow traditional career path after receiving PhD, and instead aim for a career in industry, scientific writing, education, or consulting or to found a company. Being inside academia, it may feel hard to connect with industry. I believe that this barrier can and should be lowered by entrepreneurial scientific collaborations and events promoting better connections and perhaps finding a mentor.
In late August a group of senior researchers and a few PhD students at FIMM launched the first FIMM Meets Pharma (FMP) event. The aim of the event was to introduce FIMM to the pharma industry, facilitate collaborations and better connect academic science with industry science. The early afternoon at the Faculty Club was reserved for a small group of FIMM investigators and pharma representatives in order to introduce FIMM, and showcase both ongoing and successfully accomplished collaboration projects, such as with Celgene and Pfizer.
The late afternoon was reserved for networking with over 160 attendees, and present more of the ongoing projects at FIMM through small group discussions and a poster session. In addition, there was reserved time for the guests to check out FIMM infrastructure and meet with the group leaders. The ambitious and forward-looking PhD students took advantage of this time to step out of the labs and talk with the pharma representatives, get to know them, and perhaps find a mentor outside of academia. Obviously, finding the right person to talk with out of ~50 pharma attendees was a challenge, and because of the short of the time and formality of the event some may have found networking hard. However, some of the PhD students took the great chance to meet to potential industry mentors and make new connections.
As a PhD student, I saw the FMP event as highly valuable, giving students the possibility to connect and network with the pharma industry in Finland, and thereby international companies. This facilitates initiating collaboration projects perhaps already at the side of the PhD studies, hear how research is done in pharma companies and what are the career possibilities outside academia in Finland.
In the opinion of this PhD student, FIMM is setting an example and showing the way forward in how science is most effectively driven and how we can and should work together to accomplish our similar goals. Connecting young researchers with pharma industry is, without a doubt, highly valuable both for FIMM and the next generation of PhD researchers. Let’s make FIMM Meets Pharma as an annual FIMM event.