Biotechs cater to the most creative scientists

After Robert Sebra completed his PhD in biochemical engineering a few years ago, he landed a job at Pacific Biosciences, an upstart genetic sequencing company that is out to revolutionize the way drugs are developed and used. And company officials didn't blink an eye when Sebra continued to dress according to his own "weird fashion sense."

It turns out that the life sciences' embrace of the new and different entails a considerable willingness to employ scientists who think outside the box in all sorts of ways, according to an in-depth feature from Chemical & Engineering News. With Big Pharma shedding R&D jobs at a record rate, more and more scientists are looking to new biotech companies for employment. And if you have a big appetite for long hours, an ability to wear a few different hats on any given day and enjoy feeling needed by your boss, biotech may be a new home they'll never want to leave.

"People here accept you for who you are while still focusing on your scientific contributions, which makes me feel great about coming to work," says Sebra. The feature covers a number of prospective employers, including Portola ("We are not driving a slow car here; we're in a NASCAR race.") and miRagen, where chili cook-offs and Friday afternoon volleyball are used to balance long days and feverish schedules.

One other note about biotech jobs: It helps to have a big appetite for personal risk. The rewards can be high, but the punishment for failure in this industry requires intestinal fortitude.

- here's the article from Chemical & Engineering News