Biotech Q&A with Linda Narhi now open

Questions about working in industry? Put them to a scientist with 25 years’ experience, online on the AIMS platform.

Image: By Laurence Bianchini | COO at MyScienceWork

Dr. Linda Narhi, a Scientific Executive Director at Amgen who spoke to members of AIMS on June 24, now invites you to pick her brain about working as a scientist in pharmaceutical and biotech companies. You can ask a question below the post, or join the discussion by replying to one of your colleagues’ comments. Now’s your chance to get that info or advice you’ve been wondering about, but didn't know who to ask!

Dr. Linda Narhi, a Scientific Executive Director at Amgen who spoke to members of AIMS on June 24, now invites you to pick her brain about working as a scientist in pharmaceutical and biotech companies. You can ask a question in the comments section below, or join the discussion by replying to one of your colleagues’ comments.

Dr. Narhi is happy to share with you the experience she has gained over 25 years working in biotech, including her current work in Process Development at Amgen. “PD contains both small and large molecule development efforts,” she explains, “and is responsible for the analytics and production of therapeutics, from the selection of the final candidate through clinical manufacturing, and beyond.”

So, don’t hesitate – now’s your chance to get that info or advice you’ve been wondering about but didn't know who to ask!


John Ratnaswamy 9 years ago

One of my children (in high school) wants to work in biotech. Do you have any particular advice for someone his age?

Linda 9 years ago

Take a lot of classes in different areas of science and try and see which questions you get the most excited about answering, and be very open-minded. In college a strong broader background in the basic science disiplines is usually a better foundation than a moe specifc one(Chem versus Biochem, etc). Also internships if you can find and get one are a great way to see what you like and don't like about the different disciplines!

AIMS-Stanford postdocs 9 years ago

Question 1: What position would you expect as a postdoc applying at AMGEN?

Linda 9 years ago

A person with a PhD and a few years postdoc expereince would most likley be hired as a Scientist. The next level is Sr Scientist, which typically requres several years relevant experience. If you have the postdoc experience, and show that you can fit in and be productive in a biotech environment your promotion to that level can be faster than without th

AIMS-Stanford postdocs 9 years ago

What are the three things that you have done and that really help you through your career?

linda 9 years ago

This is a hard question! I think most important was following my heart/gut and sticking with Protien structure/function when the trendy thing was to do Molecular Biology--so from that I learned not to try and do what you think will get you a job, but do what you love, and the passion you bring will help everything else fall in place.
The second thing is a cliche , but nonetheless true, always treat others with respect and as you want to be treated. Because in the end that will be how you are treated!
And for the third, being engaged in the internal and external scientific community. The ideas you are exposed to help stimulate your own curiosity and understanding, and it also contributes to your credibility as a scientist.
I'm not sure if this is what you were asking for? I would also say having a vision of what problems you're trying to solve, what the future state is that you want to get to, and what gaps need to be filled, and then trying to fill them and get to the future one step at a time with the collaboration of others is how I've pursued my career--I don't think I've ever done something primarily because it was good for me career wise only....

Lisa 9 years ago

I find t quite hard to find a job around the area even though I believe I have a pretty good skill set. Any suggestions on how to move into the industry from academia?

Linda 9 years ago

EVeryone in the industry started from academia at some point, so the transition itself is normal. The more flexible you are in terms of location for jobs, and job title, the easier it will be to find a job as well. If you have lots of academic expereince but none in industry be willing to take a position that matches the lower end of your qualifications to demonstarte that you can have impact in the new setting; once you show you can make the transition you'll move up quickly but that willingness to be flexible can differentiate you from others. WE also appreciate openess in the interview. And its a matter of timing as wel, are there opening that match your interest and skill set....

Ben 9 years ago

Your presentation showed that Process Development (PD) is a broader enterprise than I had imagined, with many opportunities to do science in relation to protein expression, stability, formulation, and purification. How often, if at all, does PD delve into the mechanism of action of the protein? For example, if PD identifies some mutations that improve the protein stability, will PD also test the mechanism of action of the modified protein, or does it go back to the group that discovered/worked out the mechanism of action?

LInda 9 years ago

HI Ben, Most of our work is done as part of a team in collaboration with other groups;this would include a member from the early discovery group that was involved in the MoA work. The bioassays for activity of the drug after the final candidate is chosen are done in PD, and as a protein is mutated the activity is always analyzed in addition to stability. If the activity was effected then usualy the team would discuss if work should be done to understand why this happened (sometimes ust looking at the molecular modelng you cansee why the binding was effected, etc), and if so who on the team is best suited to do the research. this is part of hte continuos learaning!

rakesh 9 years ago

Can you distinguish few characteristics of a scientist in academia Versus the industry that make her/him great in their respective fields? In other words, do you think some scientists, personality-wise, tend to excel in industry and not in academia (vice versa). What main characteristics make it so?

Linda 9 years ago

What a great question! I think in industry you have to be willing to collaborate more, and also share the "big picture" of what the company is trying to do. And be OK with not being the world's expert in one area. I think my friends who excell in academia are a bit moe singel-minded, and really want to pursue a question as deeply as possible, while I want to know the answer in as much detail as I need to in order to understand how to apply it. Successful scientists in idustry, whetehr they end up in manamgent or stay more on the science path, still have to like interacting and working with others, and be willing to share the data, etc. There's also the managment option which takes someone who has a good grasp of hte underlying science, but sees the big picture in terms of business processes and resource modeling etc, I don't think that postition really exists in academia--Professors have to be both the PI and the manager, and that's really tough!
But I know of many people who have moved between being a Prof., an industry scietnific leader, and even worked in the regulatory agenies, so I think there are more similarities than differences between the jobs and also the people who can do them.
I would be very interested in what answer you get to this question from Prof's at Stanford!