Yash is a Business and Clinical Development Associate at a biotech startup, LSK Biopharma.
What is your job description and what are your responsibilities?
I am a Business and Clinical Development Associate at the biotech startup, LSK Biopharma. LSK Biopharma buys the rights to certain drugs from a university, takes it through clinical trials, and then sells it to a large pharmaceutical companies (i.e Merck, Pfizer, Roche,etc.).
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I have two major roles; I am involved with picking the right drug to acquire from universities based on the science and market potential. When the drug is ready to sell to a large pharma company (usually 4-7 years later), I determine how much the drug is worth.
What career path led you to such an offbeat, unconventional and unusual role?
I’d like to start by saying that there are very few roles in this space.This is because most of these startups fail because their first drug was not successful. Successful companies are typically acquired shortly after and this role typically dissipates. I consider myself lucky to have found this job.
My career pathway was that I studied Biomedical Engineering as an undergraduate and in Graduate school studied Biotechnology and Entrepreneurship. I did one year of consulting and then landed my current job. However this is not the most efficient pathway to this role. The fastest pathway would be to study Biology/Pharmacology and Business as a dual undergraduate major and move into a consulting role.
Describe your day-to-day schedule.
I typically spend the first part of the day catching up on developments in the biotech space. The remaining portion of my day is decided by which project I am focusing on 1) heavily science focused or 2) heavily business focused. If it’s the first one, I would spend the day scouring the internet for research articles in the space and develop a report for us to build a strategy. If it’s the latter, I would review market reports and build or update my existing valuation model for a drug by using excel.
What programs/tools do you often use?
This role doesn’t require any advanced program or coding knowledge, but it does require an expertise in Microsoft Excel to build valuation models.
Which aspects of your job do you enjoy the most?
I enjoy the valuation aspect – coming to a single number after all of your analysis is so satisfying. It is also a startup – it is a high risk/high reward company, especially in this industry. Most companies fail in this space, but that’s what drives me. It keeps me on my toes knowing that I have to give it my best to help keep the company alive.
A nice perk of this job is traveling. I get to meet with a large pharmaceutical companies, and travel to the country that they are based in. I’ve been to Italy, Germany, and Switzerland. I will potentially be going to Japan and Korea later this year.
Which aspects of your job do you find most challenging?
The analysis. This is one of those industries that has a lot of complications to understand. You have to be able to understand the government regulations, the insurance/payer aspect, the science, and the market for the next 10 years. The closer you are to projecting the correct future, the better value you will get on the drug.
How did you develop the necessary skill-set (e.g. courses, training, activities) to be a Business and Clinical Development Associate?
People don’t have time to bring you up-to-speed, you have to be able to read all the books and articles you can find. You have to be subscribed to news sources in the space to have access to the best and most accurate information. Everything is on you to learn on your own time.
Is there any additional advice you would give students who are interested in working in the biopharma space?
If you are highly interested in this position, I’d recommend you start working in consulting first. The likelihood of finding a job opening in this space is rare. However, keep searching for this role, you can develop problem solving and soft skills from consulting while you are looking for available positions in the industry.