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The Big Picture San Diego Blog


Life Sciences Trek

August 23, 2018

Last week, EDC welcomed a group of next-gen life sciences leaders to San Diego for an exclusive tour of the region’s life sciences industry. Over two days, 26 eager PhD candidates representing 15 schools across 11 states paid visits to seven local employers including ResMed, Takeda, BD, Janssen/JLABS, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Dexcom, and Rady Children’s Institute for Genomic Medicine. Upon completion of their PhD program, these students will enter high-demand occupations within the life sciences industry – namely, positions in bioinformatics, computational biology, genomics, and more. Our hope is that they chose to do so in our region.

EDC launched the San Diego Life Sciences Trek in 2017 as a strategy for attracting talent to support the growth of the region’s life sciences industry, mirroring the more typical MBA Trek model. Across the globe, leaders in genomics and connected health are gathering incomprehensible amounts of data with the power to unlock the human genome, make personalized care a reality, and enhance the way we live on a massive scale. Individuals skilled in bioinformatics, data science, and computational biology are instrumental in deciphering such data sets – a task with stunning implications across pharma, biotech, healthcare, genomics, and much more – and are thus highly sought after by companies and regions alike. The battle for talent is heating up.

Many trek participants attend this two-day program because they are curious about a career in industry, but with backgrounds in academia, have had limited opportunities to explore what one might look like. The Life Sciences Trek provides students a chance to get out from behind the lab bench to tour companies, talk with real professionals, and learn how their skills can be applied in life-changing companies in San Diego.

Through company tours, panel discussions, presentations, and a networking reception, students gained access to influential researchers and executives across leading life sciences employers. From drug discovery to connected devices, genetic sequencing to direct patient care, the breadth of opportunities for bioinformaticians became apparent within San Diego’s diverse life sciences ecosystem. In fact, after attending the trek, 90 percent of participants indicated that they plan to pursue a career in San Diego upon completion of their PhD program.

Below are their thoughts. See more at #SDlifesciencestrek.

“It was a fantastic experience for someone who's always been immersed in academia, but is interested in the industry.”

– PhD candidate in Bioinformatics, University of Michigan

“This was an incredible opportunity to network with the scientists that could be involved in hiring you in the future. It was an indispensable experience to see first hand the types of jobs that recent PhD graduates could be qualified for.”

– PhD candidate in Neuroscience, University of Southern California

“Seeing the positive testimonials from all the people at the companies regardless of their position about work-life culture will make me prioritize San Diego as my primary target for future job applications.”

 – PhD candidate in Animal Biology with a focus on Biotechnology, UC Davis

“The trek was really eye-opening and definitely changed my perspective about potentially pursuing a career there!”

– PhD candidate in Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Southern California

“The SD trek is a great opportunity to familiarize yourself with biotech opportunities in SD and to learn about a great town with a lot of potential for aspiring scientists.”

– PhD candidate in Microbiology and Immunology, Dartmouth College

 

The trek group represented 15 schools: Carnegie Melon, Cornell, Dartmouth, Duke, Georgia Tech, Stanford, Ohio State, UC Davis, UC San Diego, UC Santa Cruz, University of Southern California, University of Idaho, University of Illinois, University of Michigan, University of Texas. 


Trek highlights: Surprise guest Dr. Stephen Kingsmore, CEO of Rady Children’s Institute for Genomic Medicine and Guinness World Record holder for fastest genetic diagnosis through DNA sequencing.

  

You can't talk about San Diego life sciences without talking about startups. Trek participants tour JLABS followed by a panel discussion moderated by Ashley Van Zeeland, co-founder of Cypher Genomics and former CTO of Human Longevity.

 

 

May 17, 2018

 

In San Diego, leaders in genomics and connected health are making life-changing breakthroughs every day: unlocking the power of the human genome, turning personalized medicine into reality, and enhancing the way we live on a massive scale. Much of this is due to San Diego’s impeccable local workforce, skilled in bioinformatics, data science, computational biology, and other life sciences fields.  

To stay on this trajectory, San Diego companies conduct an ongoing search for the best and brightest, skilled in translating data into actionable results for healthcare and medicine. During this year’s San Diego Life Sciences Trek program in August, some of the biggest players in our life sciences industry are once again opening their doors to PhD students with the expertise and mission-driven attitude to get the job done. Through company tours, presentations, and a networking reception, students will gain access to influential researchers and executives across many of San Diego's fast-growing companies including Thermo Fisher, ResMed, Dexcom, Human Longevity, Takeda Pharmaceuticals and JLABS. The program is open to PhD candidates interested in exploring careers in bioinformatics, data science, computational biology, genomics, and more. From drug discovery to connected devices, genetic sequencing to direct patient care, it’s clear that San Diego’s vibrant life sciences ecosystem provides an abundant breadth of opportunities.

Over two sunny days in November 2017, 30 Masters and PhD candidates toured San Diego for the Life Sciences Trek in its pilot year. This group represented 10 schools from across the country, all working towards advanced degrees in bioinformatics, bioengineering, genetics, molecular biology or similar disciplines. One participant has already made the move to San Diego after accepting a bioinformatics software engineer position at Illumina, one of the participating companies last year. Other participants from the 2017 Life Sciences Trek reflected on their experience as well:

“This is a fantastic opportunity and unique experience to get an inside look into companies and a career in Life sciences and specifically Bioinformatics. It was perfect timing for me in my last year of a Ph.D. program.”

“[The Life Sciences Trek] gives you an inside look at companies in the area beyond just reading their website. I now have firsthand connections to recruiters and other biotech professionals in the area that I will maintain over the coming years.”

“San Diego is at the top of my list for post-graduation job hunting, primarily because of my experience at the EDC Life Sciences Trek.”

Registration is now open for the 2018 San Diego Life Sciences Trek -- don’t miss out on this exclusive opportunity to explore one of the top life sciences markets in the country. Join us in San Diego August 16-17 to see the life-changing work happening here for yourself. And who knows, you might just find your dream job.

To learn more or register, visit the official Eventbrite page or contact Kate Gallagher – ksg@sandiegobusiness.org.

 

 

 

November 17, 2017

In 2016, executives from San Diego life sciences giants Illumina, Human Longevity, Inc., Thermo Fisher Scientific, ResMed and Dexcom approached EDC with a pressing need for a specific type of talent: bioinformatics professionals. Known among peers by their technical title, bioinformaticians develop and apply software tools to understand biological data sets. In San Diego, leaders in genomics and connected health are gathering incomprehensible amounts of data with the power to unlock the human genome, make personalized care a reality and enhance the way we live on a massive scale. Individuals skilled in bioinformatics, data science and computational biology are instrumental in deciphering such data sets – a task with stunning implications across pharma, biotech, healthcare, genomics and much more.

Even with impressive programs at UC San Diego and SDSU, the demand for bioinformatics professionals is simply too high for local universities to fill. As such, EDC launched the Life Sciences Trek to San Diego with the help of our economic development committee, to showcase local opportunities for Masters and PhD’s from across the country. The goal of the program: attract talent who can translate data into actionable results for application in healthcare and medicine. During the trek, the group would visit seven San Diego life sciences staples, presenting a range of career opportunities.

On November 9-10, we were joined by 27 students from across the U.S., representing UC Berkeley, UC San Francisco, University of Michigan, Stanford, Arizona State, UC Riverside, University of Northern Carolina, University of Pittsburgh and Georgia Institute of Technology. Through company tours, presentations and a networking reception, students gained access to influential researchers and executives across many of San Diego's research institutions and fast growing companies including ResMed, Illumina, the Salk Institute, Rady Children’s Institute for Genomic Medicine, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Takeda Pharmaceuticals and Human Longevity, Inc. From drug discovery to connected devices, genetic sequencing to direct patient care, the breadth of opportunities for bioinformaticians became apparent within San Diego’s diverse life sciences ecosystem.

Though a pilot program for EDC, the Life Sciences Trek to San Diego was largely a success. Providing an employer perspective, ResMed Lead Talent Acquisition Partner Amy Hernandez considered the trek a “fantastic employment branding opportunity” and a “great community event that highlighted San Diego as an attractive employment marketplace to a ripe generation of future leaders.” Additionally, the students were impressed. For one student, the trek displayed “tremendous opportunities to do biomedical research that directly impacts patient lives.” For another, the trek was a “fantastic opportunity and unique experience to get an inside look into companies and a career in Life sciences and in bioinformatics specifically,” saying “it was perfect timing in my last year of my PhD program.”

Looking ahead to 2018, EDC will continue to address the occupational demand for bioinformatics and other life sciences professionals in San Diego. EDC will play host second trek in 2018, and will emphasize the need for data science professionals as a part of the U.S. Chamber’s Talent Pipeline Management program, which takes an employer-focused approach to meeting talent needs.

EDC didn’t need to write talking points, as San Diego spoke for itself. The people we met, spaces we visited and stories we heard over the two days embodied the region’s life-changing identity. Surpassing expectation, the trek has left an undeniable impression on all who participated – students and locals alike.

See more at #SDLifeSciencesTrek.