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SpeakBio Seminar: Four Life-Scientists tell their Journey from Academia to Industry

On Thursday June 18th, BCLA hosted SpeakBio seminar, its first event in collaboration with Scismic, a job-matching platform for scientists. The event featured four mentors, who were all trained as scientists and now hold diverse positions in biotech industry. This virtual event began with introductions to BCLA and Scismic, by BCLA Vice-President, Hammond Sun and Scismic Vice-President of Business Development, Helen Vong, respectively. Each of the mentors shared their career journeys and advice for young scientists during the hour-long seminar.

Each of our four mentors have had very unique career paths. Dr. Tariq Warsi is currently the Vice President of Research & Development at Capricor Therapeutics. After completing his PhD in 2009 during the Great Recession, he accepted a postdoc position. He landed his first industry position at Aurora Algea, and then went on to Stanford, Amgen, and Capricor Therapeutics where he works now.

Dr. Aiva Ievins is a Senior Portfolio Manager at Millipore Sigma. She studied neuroscience as a PhD student, but soon realized that her interests were primarily on the business side of science. After completing her degree, she worked for Merck KGaA as an inhouse consultant which afforded her the opportunities to work and travel internationally, prior to joining Millipore Sigma.

Similar to Dr. Ievins, Dr. Connie Tat also became interested in the business aspects of science while in graduate school. She focused on oncology and immunology as a PhD student, which prompted her to attend the Keck Graduate School where she took courses in finance and attended networking events. After working in finance and consulting, she realized she wanted to be closer to drug development and is currently a Senior Medical Scientist for the oncology pipeline at Amgen.

Dr. Mickey Pentecost co-founded Diadem Therapeutics, a start-up focused on engineered exosomes to treat inflammatory diseases. Dr. Pentecost still considers himself an active scientist, developing the technology for his company while fundraising and being a CEO. After a short experience at a start-up after his postdoc, Dr. Pentecost was drawn to entrepreneurship and participated in IndiBio accelerator to launch Diadem Therapeutics.

The mentors pointed out that some of the key themes were timing, acquiring a diverse skill set, and taking risks. The mentors also echoed that in hindsight, all of their career paths seem linear, but often it is not the case. Additionally, even though family circumstances or global economic trends will impact the available opportunities, it is still critical to find your passion.

Thank you to all of the mentors, attendees and Sciscmic for partnering for this great event! We look forward to future SpeakBio Seminars with Scismic!

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