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An update on trends and career paths within the industry

Author:  Gabrielle Bauer

If you had to pick a single word to describe the life sciences industry, “change” would be a safe bet. A continuous stream of medical advances keeps the industry on its toes at all times. If you’ve cast your lot with the life sciences, you can expect an exciting, occasionally bumpy, and never boring ride.

Overview

Life sciences is an umbrella term used to describe all branches of science devoted to R&D in human, animal, and plant life. This broad designation makes room for companies specializing in pharmaceuticals, biomedicine, biophysics, neuroscience, cell biology, biotechnology, nutraceuticals, and cosmeceuticals, among others.

Individuals working in the industry may settle into careers as research scientists, lab technicians, clinical research associates, research assistants, medical science liaisons, industrial pharmacists, and bioinformaticians, to name just some possibilities. Stepping further from the core of the industry but still under its generous umbrella, some people may find their niche as medical writers, medical illustrators, health policy analysts.

Pandemic-proof industry

The Covid-19 pandemic may have stopped the world, but it didn’t stop the life sciences industry. On the contrary, the industry had a rare opportunity to surpass itself. To cope with the crisis, organizations that normally competed against each other partnered to accelerate research and distribution of vaccines. While the development of a new drug takes 8.2 years, on average, the novel COVID-19 vaccines made it to prime time in less than a year.

These efforts allowed the industry to stay strong and vibrant. In the early weeks of the pandemic, while many other markets were dropping like stones, biopharma companies quickly regained their transitory loss of valuation.1 In March 2020, multinational biotech giant Regeneron Pharmaceuticals saw its shares increase by 10% while the company worked on Covid-19 treatments. Just over a year later, the overall biotech market (measured by revenue) is ringing in at $135 billion, representing a 4% year-to-year increase.

The pandemic also upturned health providers’ working environments and styles, creating additional needs for digitally transferable imaging technologies and software platforms that facilitate remote care delivery. A lot of players got in on the action: in 2020, corporate funding for digital health reached a record $21.6 billion globally, up by 103% from the previous year.2 Pharma and biotech companies have a unique opportunity to capitalize on this momentum.

What comes next

If expert predictions are any indication, the industry won’t be slowing any time soon. The rising life expectancy and aging population in the US have increased the incidence of age-related illnesses and the demand for medical care.3 In addition to better and more cost-effective treatments, the industry has an opportunity to develop curative and preventive interventions.

Some of the growth will come from analytics, a newer branch of life sciences that uses sophisticated techniques to analyze data and devise strategies to meet population needs. Valued at $7.7 billion in 2020, the global life sciences analytics market size is expected to grow at a compound rate of 7.8% between 2021 and 2028.

Even after the pandemic subsides, health systems will continue investing in care models that allow for virtual visits and home testing technologies.2 And the proliferation of companies specializing in third-party services, such as contract research organizations and patient support program (PSP) providers, will make it easier than ever for smaller pharma and biotech companies to outsource key processes involved in a drug launch.

Top trends to watch for

● Personalized medicine: customization of treatment based on genetic/genomic information
● Immune focus: treatments that target specific immune pathways or give new life to a failing immune system will multiply
● Data integration: Smart technology will help integrate data from different sources (e.g. MRI scans, laboratory tests), helping doctors choose the right treatments
● Digitalized assessment: online assessment, diagnosis and treatment will become increasingly common and will help equalize access for patients
● Collaborative innovation: Biotech companies will increasingly join forces with other scientific organizations to push the R&D envelope
● Value-based pricing: Pricing will become increasingly tied to the real-world effectiveness of a drug or other health product

Life sciences underpin the human experience. As long as humans need healthcare, the life sciences industry will remain strong and withstand threats that collapse other sectors. You’ve come to the right place. Sci.bio will be pleased to help you go further.

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