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Kapil Khandelwal - Alternative careers in health sciences in India

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My article in BioSpectrum Career Guide

My article in BioSpectrum Career Guide

Published in: Health & Medicine, Business

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  • 1. BioSpectrum l 2010 l biospectrumindia.com l A CyberMedia Publication26 Alternative health sciences career opportunity As the world ages and population around the world grows, new innovations in health sciences that converge health science informatics, genomics and personalized healthcare, diagnostics and telemedicine (ICT) to address large under-served populations are needed 2 000s decade has been the IT boom. However as the world ages and population around the world grows and globalises and newer innovations in health sciences that converge on health science informatics, genomics and personalised healthcare, diagnos- tics and telemedicine (ICT) to ad- dress large underserved populations, this decade in India is going to be for the health sciences, unless the indus- try leaders, education and supporting research institutions and the govern- ment do not act together to address the supply side issues on bridging the talent gap. The Big Picture India’s huge (young and student) population, disease burden and In- dian genome similarity to ~65% of world’s population that has 90-95% Indian genotype similars is a huge blessing in disguise. I did not believe this “Big Indian Health Sciences Op- portunity” until a few years ago when I was working on the Personalised Healthcare and Pharmacogenomics Market Sizing with Harvard Part- ners HealthCare Center for Genetics and Genomics (HPCGG) and then actually in an Indian drug discovery outsourcing company heading their healthcare and life sciences business. The chart below outlines India’s share in the world for health sciences talent. As per World Economic Forums’ current year’s report, India ranks 4th in terms of the number of scientists and engineers available. But it slips to 25th when ranked by quality of scien- tific research. It further slips to 35th when ranked by innovation capacity. I am sure the Indian job mar- ket situation would have been simi- lar in the 1990s when we would have tracked the statistics for Information Technology Outsourcing industry, prior to the 2000s boom. Source: WHO Statistical Infor-
  • 2. A CyberMedia Publication | biospectrumindia.com | 2010 | BioSpectrum 27 mation Systems 2008, World Eco- nomic Forum, Disease burden is from WHO 2002 DALY estimates, World Bank and Infinitrix Analysis Alternative Health Sciences Career Opportunity The new age health sciences is a multi- year multi-million dollar activity that involve thousands of people from many scientific, clinical, functional and management disciplines to focus on discovering new biological targets, creating new therapeutics (chemicals, proteins, or vaccines) or medical and delivery devices to move forward into clinical testing and finally marketing and delivering to the final consumers. In such large and complex organisa- tions there are many different career options for people with medical, den- tal, pharmacy, naturopathy & yogic sciences, nursing along with chemis- try, biology, biotech and bio medical. Health sciences innovation outsourc- ing to India is no longer limited to basic sciences and offers long-term careers in various disciplines and sub disciplines as outlined in the diagram below. Furthermore, cross-functional experience with core scientific inno- vation and management or functional are becoming an increasingly valuable in the industry. With personalised healthcare there will be increasing opportunity for people with multiple degrees: information technology with biology, statistics or mathematics with bioinformatics, pharmacology with genomics, and so on. Many supporting areas such as patent filing, business planning and strategy, project management, opera- tions management, publishing, media, communications and promotional activities, management consulting, competitive research, regulatory sup- port, and business development (set- ting up alliances with biotechnology partners) are also expected to emerge as the health sciences industry in India matures. These functions are all criti- cal to health sciences innovation are intellectually stimulating, and give a great opportunity to stay within inno- vation and contribute to India’s world competitiveness as measured by the World Economic Forum. Attributes for Success - Alternative Careers in Health Sciences While recruiting candidates for al- ternative careers in health sciences, I have experienced that freshers as well as laterals with scientific and man- agement experience do not bring an understanding of the boarder appre- ciation of health sciences across their silos. The reality is that the careers in the future are going to be heading into a complex, collaborative environment where understanding and appreciation of not only science, innovation and cross-functional attributes would be the attributes for success. Here are a few pointers. Develop strong multi- disciplinary, cross functional approach A career in health sciences spans over 30-years and the innovation and tech- nology cycles are now shortening fast- er than before.To stay competent, ap- preciation and experience of different disciplines and functions are valuable. Develop soft skills Apart from a university and academic track record, paper publications, alter- native careers require good communi- cation, team, and leadership skills. Strong understanding of the industry to network within and outside Knowledge of the dynamics of the health sciences industry, including competitive and market trends, politi- cal/economic background and regula- tory issues, helps in reaching out and making more contacts.The more con- tacts you make, the greater the chance of hitting upon a newer opportunities in health sciences organisations that provide you with a different alterna- tive. Acquire a career coach or mentor As career spans are getting shorter, it make sense to seek a career coach or mentor who understands your aspira- tions, strengths and weaknesses and helps you build and navigate your ca- reer in these new areas that are emerg- ing. Global experience Multi cultural and multinational ex- perience helps leverage in building alternative career in health sciences. Innovation perspective This attribute enables you to think out of box and build ability to facilitate a culture of continuous change and take risks. There is no way to guarantee the shape of how your career will pan out in the next 20-30 years of your working life. However statistics, ge- nomics, demographics, epidemiology all signal the promise of various ca- reer alternatives in India to mitigate some of the risks! n KaKada kApil khAnDelwAl Director, EquNev Capital Pvt Ltd

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