View Full Version : Job Prospects in Life Sciences

06-23-2009, 10:52 PM
Hi i know i am very much slower then others.. but does anyone know where can i find the job prospect for Life Sciences ??? i cant find them T_T

any experience sharing will be great.

Is there any course that allows me to have a non office-confined or non sit-in-lab-wholeday-do-experiment jobs?

Really interested in nature and science, but does the fate of all science students rest in laboratories of companies?

06-24-2009, 10:14 AM
The Life Science Conundrum
After the hype, grads now realise that there’s no place for them in the industry
Today, 9 Oct 2006
Loh Chee Kong

IN 2002, when Singapore universities had barely begun producing their own life sciences graduates, Mr Philip Yeo, chairman of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star), famously rattled those unndergraduates when he said that they would only be qualified to wash test tubes.

But four years on, armed with their Bachelor’s degree, some of these graduates are learning the truth of his words the hard way. Many from the first cohort have ended up in junior research positions or manufacturing and sales jobs in the industry - positions that do not require a life sciences degree. Others find themselves completely out of the field.

Said Edmund Lim, 27, who graduated two years ago, and now works as a property agent: “One of my classmates is working illegally in Australia, peddling psychotropic drugs to clubbers. Many of my classmates have gone into teaching. Others are in pharmaceutical or equipment sales.”

Another life sciences graduate, who declined to be named, found a job recently at a tuition centre, after failing to land research-related positions for over a year despite numerous job applications.

Already an established base for pharmaceutical manufacturing, Singapore has been trying, in the past five ears, to move beyond manufacturing to more high-end research that is “value-added”.

According to the industry’s annual reviews compiled by A*Star and the Economic Development Board’s Biomedical Sciences Group (EDB BMSG), an average of a thousand new jobs were created annually for the past five years. Last year, there were 10,200 manufacturing jobs in the industry, almost doubling the 5,700 jobs created in the then-fledgling sector in 2001. By 2015, EDB targets the number of such jobs to hit 15,000.

But the booming figures mask a Catch-22 situation: The current shortage of PhD holders in the biomedical sciences cluster is hampering Singapore’s bid to attract multinational companies to move their high-end research projects here. Without a PhD, most of Singapore’s life sciences graduates are only qualified to work as research assistants.

And both graduates and diploma holders vie for these positions that could pay less than $2,000 a month. In the industry’s manufacturing sector, life sciences graduates compete against their peers from other general sciences and engineering disciplines. They face even stiffer competition in the sales sector, where paper qualifications take on less significance.

A*Star’s Biomedical Research Council oversees and coordinates public sector biomedical research and development activities. On the surplus of life sciences graduates, its executive director Dr Beh Swan Gin told Today: “It is not a situation that can be easily communicated, as there are many factors involved. Simply put, a PhD is essential for progress as a researcher. And there are still not enough Singaporeans pursuing PhD studies.”

Adding that the local universities should not pander to the students’ demand for the subject, Dr Beh said: “The job market of today and tomorrow, is the market the universities should focus on. The manufacturing and commercial jobs have always been there, albeit there are more of these now. NUS (National University of Singapore) and NTU (Nanyang Technological University) should get better data on the demand for life science graduates at the Bachelor’s degree level.”

In 2001, NUS’ Science Faculty rolled out an integrated life sciences curriculum and NTU started its School of Biological Sciences (SBS) a year later. Meanwhile, the polytechnics also introduced more life sciences courses. Thousands of students jumped on the bandwagon, with demand outstripping the supply of places in these courses.

Professor Tan Eng Chye, NUS’ Dean of Science - who believes that it could take another five years for the industry to establish itself - acknowledged that his school’s intake of life sciences undergraduates was “a bit too high”.

“When we started offering a major in life sciences in 2001, 550 students took up the programme. For the subsequent intakes, the number stabilised at about 450. But we would be more comfortable with about a hundred less,” said Prof Tan, who added that many students were “unrealistic” about their job prospects.

Said Prof Tan: “A lot of students were probably all hyped up to look for R&D jobs. And when they can’t get such jobs, they could be disappointed. If they want to do research, they should further their studies.”

Nonetheless, some headhunters, like Kelly Services’ Lita Nithiyanandan, predict that it is “only a matter of time” before these “highly valued” graduates find willing employers. Said Ms Nithiyanandan: “As most of these multinational life sciences companies have recently set up or moved their R&D centres to Singapore, they require senior and experienced research professionals at this stage to streamline operations and get compounds approved fast for clinical trials. Once these centres are more established they will definitely need fresh graduates for researching new compounds.”

She added: “Overall, Singapore’s biomedical scene is evolving as a mature hub for Asia Pacific. This would create opportunities across the board for skill sets through the value chain from fresh graduates to mid-level research and analysts to high-end PhD professionals.”

06-25-2009, 06:25 PM
OMG this is so helpful. Thanks man . btw where did u get this article

Nikephoros Phokas
07-14-2009, 04:05 PM
Well, I am still not sure about the carrer prospects for the Classical Biology branch in Life science. Could you help me ? Thanks.

12-10-2009, 12:14 PM
Thanks for our valuable information.

10-14-2010, 03:24 PM
Straits Times Oct 9, 2010
Biomed Sector
EARLY LOSERS: Dreams that fizzled out in unforgiving industry

WHEN a starry-eyed Stephanie Tan enrolled in a local university to do a biomedical science degree seven years ago, she had dreams of a career in a cutting-edge industry that seemed at the heart of life itself.

Those dreams did not last long outside of the rarefied air of university.

Her bachelor's degree landed her a series of jobs selling medical equipment, but after they 'bored her to tears', the 26-year-old quit to sell insurance.

Ten years into the biomedical science drive, disillusionment has set in among graduates like Ms Tan. They are also feeling the sting of the words of Mr Philip Yeo, then chairman of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research. He said famously in 2002 that a basic science degree qualified someone to wash test tubes, a remark that caused much debate then.

Blunt, certainly, but painfully true eight years on, with experts now openly admitting that to get anywhere in the field, a PhD is a must.

Both the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) offer biomedical courses at undergraduate level and beyond, and produce a total of about 600 graduates each year.

But records show that only about one in five goes on to do a higher degree or undertake research work. Others end up in fields like education, health and finance.

NUS' provost and deputy president (academic affairs), Professor Tan Eng Chye, said a recent survey of life science graduates found that most had managed to get jobs.

'This is the same with most graduates from other non-professional degrees. We have many examples of our biology graduates who build on their science training to be successful in other areas of work.'

The acting chair at NTU's school of biological sciences, Professor Alex Law, added: 'Even if you have basic training in the sciences, it will serve you well in life.

'Understanding science is not just an academic pursuit, but helps a person understand everyday encounters, ranging from household appliances to the debate on stem cells.'

But the Government's strong push for biomedical sciences and the lavish funding it has attracted have meant that other fields have lost out in the talent stakes.

Professor Peter Ng, head of the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, told The Straits Times: 'I believe there was a time when some people felt that only biomedical sciences were important and the rest of biology was obsolete, redundant or irrelevant.

'The baby almost got tossed out with the bath water. No one denies that biomedical sciences are important but we must put things in perspective.'

Some scientists were as starry-eyed as Ms Tan about biomedical sciences' bright prospects. They came up with promising inventions and tried to turn them into enterprises, but several learnt the hard way that good ideas do not necessarily translate into money-spinners.

Researcher Lee Chee Wee, for example, had dreams of new cancer drugs when a decade ago, he discovered a way of altering drug molecules. But funding dried up long before he could take his discoveries to market, and he ended up paying for expenses out of his own pocket, almost becoming bankrupt in the process.

Even more experienced players had some hard knocks in an industry famous for its failures. United States-based biotech firm ViaCell, for example, exited Singapore in 2007 after funding from the Economic Development Board was pulled due to targets not being met.

NUS deputy president (research and technology) Barry Halliwell explained that in the early days after being set up, companies are extremely vulnerable. 'Spin-offs need a lot of nurturing. We could improve in making more money available to them,' he said.

Dr Ting Choon Meng, a general practitioner who has built up a successful medical device company - HealthStats International - based on his own cutting-edge technology, agreed.

Inventors and businessmen are two different creatures, he said. 'What we lack are not good researchers and inventors. What we are really in need of is that special group of people who can take inventions and build a viable and scalable business model around it.

'Right now, we expect the inventor to also be the person to run the company, develop business strategies and have great plans to penetrate markets.'

Not only was he hampered by a lack of experience, but also local investors had no faith in him, he added. 'There's still this perception that local is not as good, and that must change.'