Let me give a specific and ultimately encouraging example of the resilience a PhD can offer. The global pharmaceutical industry was growing in Canada over a two-decade period and then hit a wall about 10 years ago. Many Canadian research sites, primarily based in Quebec, closed, in spite of considerable success in drug discovery. Dozens of highly trained chemists, pharmacologists and biologists were suddenly forced to leave the area, the country or the field. It was infuriating.
Fortunately, ambitious entrepreneurs emerged and joined with the STEM PhDs to build contract research organizations (CRO), which partner with big and small biotech and pharma firms. They do the research and make the discoveries, while the firms take the risk. The talent stayed and built new businesses that are growing at phenomenal rates. Now, hundreds of PhD and MSc STEM researchers are working in profitable Canadian-owned businesses spread across the country. Out of the dust rose many made-in-Canada firms. Even better, these CROs bring money into our economy and export value-added products.
These jobs are incredibly exciting and abundant. They range from trying to hunt down the latest disease treatment to finding a way to produce a potential drug on sufficient scale for clinical testing. These enormous challenges bring everyone from biologists to chemists to engineers together in collaboration.Here's my comments and questions on Twitter, and here's Professor Lautens' response. Suffice it to say that I don't think there is a lot of statistical data to back up Professor Lautens' case, even as overall, I agree with him, things are doing better for Canadian pharma scientists. I don't think there is much more ground to be covered there, but I have two questions for the readers:
- What is your opinion on where both the Quebec life sciences industry has been, and, more broadly, where is Canadian pharma now?
- What is the best statistical data that you have to back up your case?