Biopharma targets bioinformatics aces in R&D overhaul

As drug giants upend their established ways of doing drug research, companies have changing needs within their workforces. And bioinformatics expertise rose to among the top skills in demand among biopharma companies in pursuit of new therapies, PwC reported.

The PwC report comes as pharma companies face a talent gap, with their needs for certain workers growing faster than the availability of people with such skills. About half of executives surveyed said recruiting top talent had become more difficult and less than a third were confident in their ability to tap top talent, according to the report.

What are biopharma companies looking for? The answers stem from a greater emphasis in R&D organizations to tie up with external collaborators such as CROs and academic experts to improve their capacity to bring new drugs market. And companies also face increasing scrutiny from payers on pricing, requiring them to slice and dice clinical data in new ways to show that their drugs are worth the hefty price tags.

According to PwC's report, biopharma executives want to hire R&D workers with the following expertise: The ability to develop and manage partnerships with outside groups; an understanding of "regulatory science" to navigate changing rules and regulations; and bioinformatics and health economics expertise to aid efforts to gather real-world data on patients and present strong cases to support the use of new therapies.

Still, the PwC study found that 80% of companies are still using traditional bonus structures and lack some of the more aggressive incentives to lure top talent to their ranks.

"The scientific community produces the golden eggs of medical scientific discovery," stated Michael Mentesana, U.S. pharmaceuticals and life sciences R&D advisory services leader at PwC, "and as biopharmaceutical companies aggressively overhaul their R&D engines, they also must create an environment where the source of innovation can thrive."

- here's the release