After three years as a successful professional recruiter, an Australian biotechnology company hired me as a science and business consultant to help guide its antibacterial drug-discovery program. The new job led to an almost four-year stint as an independent management consultant advising private and publicly traded biotechnology companies on business, scientific and financial matters. Also around this time, I decided to indulge my own entrepreneurial fantasies: In 2001, I founded a bioscience education and training company called BioInsights Inc. Two years later, Abraham Abuchowski and I founded Prolong Pharmaceuticals— a drug-delivery company with two drugs in early stage clinical development. Unfortunately, the rigorous demands of running BioInsights and starting Prolong ultimately led to the demise of my consulting practice, and, by 2004 I was forced to consider another career move.
Luckily, a few years earlier, I had started writing for several biotechnology industry trade publications. Although I wasn’t getting paid to write, the job enabled me to hone and polish my writing skills. In late 2004, a medical communications expert whom I knew suggested that I take a stab at medical writing. At the time, I didn’t know much about medical writing, but I quickly learned that it pays well and that medical writers are always in demand. I took her advice and landed my first medical writing job in 2005. Since then, I have worked at a variety of medical communications agencies and pharmaceutical companies preparing manuscripts, posters, slide presentations and other documents. Currently, I am a freelance science and medical writer, a blogger at biojobblog.com and a social media enthusiast who, along with Vincent Racaniello, started an online social network site for bio-scientists called BioCrowd (www.biocrowd.com).
Unlike many scientists, my career path has taken several unexpected twists and turns. I never intended it to be as eclectic or convoluted as it has been. Nevertheless, I believe that my unusual career trajectory has made me a better-rounded scientist than I would have been if I had been able to pursue my intended academic career. In retrospect, I attribute my career successes to solid problem-solving skills, an unrelenting desire to continue to learn and an unwavering ability to take risks.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I learned that there is no right or wrong career path in the life sciences— only the path that you choose for yourself!