Pursuing Research and Development in Pharma | 3D Cell Culture Work | Corning

At some point, scientists may consider a single question that has both short- and long-term impact: Should I work in academia or in pharmaceutical industry research and development?

Whichever path you pick should be one you feel confident and satisfied doing. Some researchers get fulfillment in commercial settings like pharma, while others prefer academic pursuits.

And still others move back and forth fluidly and with little trouble — as mergers, acquisitions, and increased industry outsourcing continue to blur the line between pharma and academia.

Pharma vs. Academia: What to Know

Though pharma R&D and academic research share a common passion for answering unknown questions, their research applications can differ wildly. And because every choice has its tradeoffs, you'll want to think about several factors when deciding whether you're a fit for industry, academia, or both.

Start off by asking yourself: What is my research style, goal, and ultimate vision? Consider, for example, what you'll get from the experience:

  • Industry: Careers in pharma R&D, such as drug discovery, give you an opportunity to take part in applied research while working with cross-disciplinary teams — but you'll also become part of a corporate structure with potential management duties, which may not be for everyone.
  • Academia: Careers in academic research, such as serving as primary investigator, give researchers the autonomy to immerse themselves in a single, solitary focus while building their published works — but you may be at the mercy of ultra-competitive grant funding.

Getting Involved in the Industry

If you think you'd like to give pharma a go, you'll want to take steps to learn more about — and ingratiate yourself within — the pharmaceutical community. Many researchers, especially those who have been in academic settings for some time, may find this difficult at first.

To give yourself a leg up before you even submit an application, get to know the major players in your preferred field — including the practical applications of their research. If you're eyeing a pharmaceutical company, for example, know its portfolio ahead of time and attend events that feature speakers or sponsors from those companies.

3D Cell Culture Work in Pharma R&D

The time has never been better to enter the world of research and development for many reasons — but one of the biggest is that the evolution of 3D cell culture work has finally found its way to applied research. Before now, the study of 3D environments had always been something of an academic curiosity, as Anthony Frutos, Ph.D., told R&D Magazine last year.

But as innovations in 3D supplies like hydrogels — including Matrigel®, PuraMatrix™ and collagens — and microplates have grown, drug companies have found the practical advantages of matrix environments for their own preclinical research — primarily in efficiency and reproducibility.

In the future, experts expect those trends to continue, which means that you could get hands-on opportunities to do those very academic explorations within a reliable R&D career.

There are more options than just pharma or academia. Life science suppliers, like Corning Life Sciences, have a great demand for eager scientists too. Check out our current opportunities.