Bridging Academia and Industry

Article by Kyla Trkulja

Graphic design by Aabeeshan Selvabaskaran

Thanks to the combined efforts of the IMS P2P Mentorship Program, and the IMS Student Association, IMS Connects took place on May 2nd, 2022 at the U of T Medical Sciences Building. This career panel and networking event featured professional guests from all facets of medical sciences. 

The first panel focused on academic careers, featuring four U of T assistant professors: Dr. Gabriella Chan, Dr. Dmitry Rozenberg, Dr. Golmaz Karoubi, and Dr. Helen Miliotis. Dr. Chan is a lawyer that runs her firm specializing in biomedical patents and intellectual property. In contrast, Dr. Rozenberg is a clinician-scientist focusing on respiratory and skeletal muscle dysfunction, while Dr. Karoubi is a scientist at Toronto General Hospital using stem cells for regenerative medicine. Dr. Miliotis is highly involved in teaching and the Graduate Professional Development (GPD) program for student success. 

With Dr. Nana Lee as the moderator, the panel shared their respective professional journeys and answered questions regarding their academic careers, simultaneously navigating parenthood, and how they made their strengths and passions into their dream jobs. Their talks emphasized the importance of not getting discouraged by minor setbacks, making your opportunities, and taking risks – which was encouraging to hear as someone who thought the academic career journey was a linear path. 

Photo Credit: Kyla Trkulja & Kyla Lee

We then took a break for refreshments and networking among the students and panellists. I talked more to Dr. Miliotis about her background and how she ended up where she was; I was very intrigued that she did not do a postdoc and instead got her Leadership in Higher Education certificate at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE). This further showed me how open career options are and how you can create your niche and do what you love with a bit of creativity. 

The second session focused on careers in industry, featuring Dr. Bruce Seet, Dr. Molly Shoichet, and Dr. Sam Esfandiari. Dr. Seet is the Director of Medical Affairs at Sanofi Pasteur, Dr. Shoichet is an entrepreneur and Tier 1 Canadian Research Chair, and Dr. Esfandiari is a Medical Science Liaison at Boehringer Ingelheim. With Dr. Pamela Plant as the moderator, they discussed how they shifted into industry fields, found careers suiting their strengths, and advising us graduate students who did not know how to find a career they loved. My key takeaway from this panel was the importance of networking, both virtual and face-to-face. One can do this by adding people on LinkedIn to find out about job opportunities you will not see on a job board, asking questions during events so you are memorable, and not being afraid to ask people questions. You will learn so much about what is out there and get a foot in the door for your career. 

I left the event with seven new LinkedIn connections and abundant information regarding my viable career options. The event made me feel more empowered to create my future and taught me how there is no linear path to success – it truly is what you make it, and there is enough room for anyone who wants to get there.