Thursday, February 21, 2013

In the clouds, a silver lining

Luke Timmerman at Xconomy has a nice writeup responding to that silly PriceWaterhouseCooper report (and covering Derek Lowe's response to it as well). He covers a couple of recently unemployed scientists, including Steve Richards, a Ph.D. medicinal chemist:
After reading this report, I felt compelled to follow up with a regular Xconomy reader who I’d characterize as smart, experienced, hardworking, positive, and—last time I checked—jobless. His name is Steve Richards, and he’s a medicinal chemist by training. Back in 2010, he got more than 18 months’ notice that his job at South San Francisco-based Exelixis (NASDAQ: EXEL) was going away, and had done all the right things in terms of networking and job hunting since. He still hadn’t found a full-time gig when we last spoke in September, although he had lined up a temp job at UCSF to help keep his skills sharp. 
Steve Richards
Credit: Xconomy
When I called Richards on Friday, I was pleasantly surprised to hear some good news. He latched on with a new startup, South San Francisco-based Global Blood Therapeutics. He’s doing medicinal chemistry for drug discovery, work that’s right up his alley. “I’m working on small molecules, treatments for genetic blood disorders,” Richards says. “It’s exciting biology. It’s great to be back.” 
I was heartened to hear that a Yale-trained medicinal chemist with a decade of experience can still find a job in pharmaceuticals even though it took a herculean effort. But not surprisingly, I found that Richards was similarly baffled by the sentiments expressed in the recent PwC report. 
“As somebody who has been among the workers displaced from the industry because we were told we were unnecessary, to now hear people say ‘We can’t find enough people for this new R&D environment,’ it’s unsettling,” Richards says. “While many people will acknowledge there are a lot of people who have been disengaged from the industry, there aren’t a lot of mechanisms to re-engage these people.” 
It's really nice to hear a happy story these days, especially with all the unfortunate news. I should also note that he introduces Marie Beltran, a biochemist still looking for a position. Go over there and check it out! 

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