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Take a gamble on data science

Big Data is big business, and not just for the Google, Apple and Facebook's of this world. The pharma industry produces large amounts of data, and with the rapid growth of digital health technology, this is only going to increase in the future. So, for talented individuals with data skills, the life sciences could be your next calling.

Until a few years ago, the term ‘data scientist’ didn’t even exist, now it’s considered to be the sexiest job of the 21st century1, crucial in helping organisations of all sizes understand and analyse large amounts of information and giving them a commercial advantage.

Global hi-tech companies like Microsoft, IBM, Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon are already making inroads into the field of Big Data analysis. From personalised shopping recommendations to tailored content and advertising, every move we make is being recorded, analysed and used to enhance our experience of using the web and influence our preferences.

Some of these digital giants are now hoping to use their algorithms and mathematical models on the life sciences industry. While there is some debate around whether this is reliable, sustainable or indeed ethical, there is definitely a case for transferable skills when it comes to data science. You don’t have to wear a white lab coat to work in science, and the growing number of data related positions in pharma companies is certainly testament to that.

Globally, demand for data scientists is projected to exceed supply by more than 50 percent by 20182. This skills shortage means that opportunities to move on up are plentiful for data scientists and unlike some professions, their data skills are wholly transferable to an array of industries.

The tools, algorithms and concepts used in other commercial data science roles are applicable to life sciences, but it’s not always possible to predict how a body will react to a treatment in the same way as you can predict spending habits, which makes it a little more complex but ultimately more rewarding.

Data science candidates for the pharma industry come with many different backgrounds and work experiences. Believe it or not, external data scientists with the necessary skills set for a similar role in life sciences actually come from the online gambling sector, where human and risk factors come into play.

With growing demand for data across many different sectors, what does the pharma industry offer a talented data scientist? Start up and SME pharma companies may not be able to compete pound for pound with the big corps on pay and benefits but what they can offer is a wealth of exciting opportunities for data scientists to use their skills to spot the trends that may lead to a medical breakthrough, to work for a company where what they do makes a difference and to be part of an industry which helps people.

If you are interested in a career in the life sciences industry, contact Eugene McDaid for an informal chat about how your data skills could get you there.



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26th October

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