Graduates in biomedicine from Linköping University have always found it easy to obtain employment in the academic world, industry or the healthcare system. At the same time, student evaluations have shown that they find it difficult to identify the wide range of future careers open to them.
“This meeting is one way of drawing attention to various career opportunities, and possibly also providing the students with a dream scenario and an objective to aim for”, says Anna Fahlgren, programme coordinator for the new international bachelor programme in Experimental and Industrial Biomedicine.
The programme for the meeting included speakers from both the academic world and industry, several of them alumni of the biomedical programmes.
“We have invited alumni in particular to talk about their workplaces. When you’re a student, it’s easy to see things solely from an academic perspective, since you carry out various research projects during your education. But there’s a huge demand from industry”, says Katarina Kågedal, programme coordinator for the master’s programme in Experimental and Medical Biosciences.
“Many students are under the impression that large pharmaceuticals companies are the only employers around, even though a large part of pharmaceuticals development takes place in small companies. It is here that graduates in biomedicine are needed”, says Anna Fahlgren.
Working in clinical trials
Professor Fredrik Elinder declares the first LiU Life Science Meeting open. Photo credit: Johan Jäger.One possible field of employment for biomedicine graduates that was discussed during the meeting involved different ways of working within clinical trials. Anders Millerhovf from the company CTC and himself a LiU graduate in medical biology represented a type of enterprise known as a CRO, an abbreviation for “contract research organisation”. These carry out all or parts of a clinical trial on commission from pharmaceutical companies, often small ones.
“It’s common to use CROs in Sweden, where there are many small pharmaceutical and biotech companies that formed as spin-offs from universities”, he explained.
These may have different specialisations, such as a certain phase during the development of a drug or drug production. What they have in common, Anders Millerhovf points out, is that they need experts in biomedicine during all phases of the clinical trials, and this ensures that graduates can find employment in CROs. The fraction of clinical trials carried out by CROs is increasing, and as the market for pharmaceuticals grows, so does the need for a skilled workforce.
From the left: Katarina Norrby (GlaxoSmithKline), Hanna Rickberg (Läkemedelsakademin), Anders Millerhovf (CTC Clinical Trial Consultants), Kristofer Katkits (Bayer HealthCare) and Sara Lavasani (Moberg Pharma). Poto credit: Johan Jäger.
Alumni operations under development
Anna Fahlgren and Katarina Kågedal, programme coordinators of the bachelor and master programmes in biomedicine. Photo credit: Susanna Lönnqvist.Anna Fahlgren and Katarina Kågedal emphasise that the Life Science Meeting was the first of its kind, and it is planned that it will be an annual event. Contact with alumni is also to be developed to increase opportunities for networking.
“We want to continue to arrange a Life Science Meeting during the autumn term to which we invite alumni. Then, based on contacts made during the meeting we will be able to offer study visits during the spring term for bachelor or master’s students”, says Anna Fahlgren.
Translation: George Farrants