Creativity in the R&D?
A general question. If I were to look for a position in the R&D that allows and required creativity and new ideas, what in your opinion and experience that could be? As I understand the drug discovery and development processes are pretty rigid. Pathways and mechanisms as well as identification of new targets are studied in the academia. Lead discovery and assay validation is just a routine screening. Although I guess the candidate selection and elimination is kind of creative but basically it is a sum of empirical actions with one decision point at the end. Preclinical studies are strictly pre-planned and organized and even more so the clinical ones. Maybe things like response biomarkers? But, as I understand, usually these are done in academical/clinical setting.
Where and what for should I look?
I think your questions is loaded with false assumptions and conclusions with a knowledge gap on drug discovery and drug development process.
Nothing is pre-specified and whereas there is a process - it is not rigid process. Yes there are recommendations and guidances for study conduct but they are recommendations and any discussion with a health authority and the greater drug develoopment community at large (industry and acadmeia) on some on recommendations/guidance will Show you real fast there is alot of room for flexiblity and creativity and it is a must. Drug development is not a cook-book process - there are steps but but even if you look at a long stair case, there can be turns, landings, and even the heights of the individual steps can vary.
I recommend you go back and do some in depth understanding of the process and chase with Informational interviews/Desktop research. For eaxample Response biomarkers, industry is playing a key role here and working very collaboartively with academia and government initiatives here.
I think if you hold the view you have you are just closing doors for some great opportunites where creativity is embraced and is a must.
You are probably right as I indeed do not know much about the drug development process, that’s the very reason why I am asking this question here. I guess I may have phrased it incorrectly. I am seeking for creativity in forms of individual impact on the process and making some sort of a personal difference.
I come from academia, and therefore trying to find an area in biotech where I could essentially do the same: generate ideas, solve problems and answer (and some times maybe even ask) questions, but in a more practical and applied way. And hard routine work in between. Right now I’m working in an academical setting but actually executing a preclinical study for a biotech company. Testing drug in a mouse model, analyzing response rates and establishing response biomarkers, like that. So far it was the most boring thing I’ve ever done, exactly for that reason that everything is predefined, preset and prescheduled and I am merely going through the motions. Inject mice with defined number of samples, inject drug with a defined schedule and dose, analyze a defined set of parameters in the treated mice. At the end we will run some defined screening assay on a defined set of samples to identify biomarkers of response; picking those is going to be another single decision point. But that’s it, I cannot influence in any way any part of the process, although it is probably a good thing as everything is working well. There is no point where I could apply my knowledge and experience. No any room for my input or improvement, no questions to answer, no even problems to solve, just a redundant routine. Now, I don’t mind routine as long as it is a part of something interesting, but I just don’t see any parts here that I would consider interesting.
A friend of mine works in discovery, he is screening drug candidates on cell lines. Even more routine as at least mouse is a more complex organism and requires more skills and techniques etc.
Now, there is a part of that project that is the reason why I am still at that job. The company is interested in some aspects of the mechanism of drug action and it is actually a basic research and is quite interesting. I was even able to find something quite exciting, in an area they were not looking. Now this is exactly what I am looking for to do, finding, asking, answering, generating new ideas and getting interesting results based on them. But see, this is a small side project that was not on my job description initially and I was lucky to even have it, the reason being that it is a small company and they outsource as many things as they can, to academia. If it wasn’t for this I would just continue to screen mice.
As I am looking for a job now I am trying to understand what positions I should look for and even what keywords to use during the search. It would’ve helped a lot if I knew which areas or departments or stages of a biotech process would have what I am looking for.
I Think that the main difference between industrial and academic research in most cases is that in industry the goal is relatively fixed. The research needs to result in a drug against a specific indication, a diagnostic for a specific disease or something else that is usually fixed since Before the Project started. In contrast academia often have the freedom of being able to publish any result that is interesting and repeatable even if it isnt the result that the Project aimed at when it started.
Creativity and new ideas in determining how you are going to reach your goal and to resolve problems that arise during development is not only allowed but required.
Of course if you are working with discovery research in industry your work is very similar to what is done within academia.
Hi Alex G,
Adding to PG, also consider that most of the time spent in R&D is in the operational execution of defined Project and tactics - as your Research experience probably revealed you probably spend a fraction of your time on the "creative" side and most of your time on the repeative/within Project Problem solving.
Even in academia you can't always live in the creative stratisphere al the time - maybe that's reserved for well tenured professors with big labs fill with staff doing all the operatoins work. Same on the industry side - we are creative when defining how and what we do - be then...we gotta do it right?
There are few, if any, Jobs that allow you to live in the stratisphere even when I sit in Marketing - we do spend time on the strategy, and making sure its right to the best of our knowledge, but spend too much time there and well, nothing gets done and certainly in today world in pharma we dont' have too much room for those who are only interested in strategic thinking and not operational execution. So consider the Balance that Balance not only in industry but also in academia. You don't ahead by spending you whole day throwin wet noodles against a wall.
Finally consider those who have get more opportunity to express "creativity" or lets say define the plan are a bit higher in the Food chain, consider we all pay our dues starting with the tactical grunt work and building up to developing and owning strategy/ or Project direction.
Try looking at early target identification in start up biotechs you may find most creativity there as that can resemble academia or remain within academia if its academic freedom you want - keeping in mind you can't live in the ivory Tower...even in the ivory Tower for too Long.
Whereas you maybe interested in the more early phases of drug development, there is a really great Review article in this month's New England Journal of Medcine regarding the complexity of conducting studies at the clinical Level from a pharma perspective.
The Changing Face of Clinical Trials: The Large Pharmaceutical Company Perspective
M. Rosenblatt | N Engl J Med 2017;376:52-60
Alot of Problem solving and some creativity here, albiet at a different Level.