Former postdoc Suzanne Graham now leads business development at diagnostic company
Suzanne Graham, Ph.D., did postdoctoral research at SBP from 2004-2012, during which time she worked in two labs. With Fred Levine, M.D., Ph.D., professor and director of the Sanford Children’s Health Research Center, she studied cell cycle control in pancreatic beta cells, and with Rolf Bodmer, Ph.D., professor and director of the Development, Aging, and Regeneration Program, she explored how metabolic syndrome affects heart function. She has served as senior manager of business development at Genection, which develops and sells genetic tests, in San Diego since June 2012.
What’s your job like— what do you do every day?
I’m responsible for managing relationships with clients (generally pharmaceutical companies)—making sure we’re getting the right data to them, answering their questions, and trying to get more business.
What drew you to business development?
I’m more sociable than the average R&D scientist—I wanted to be involved in lots of conversations, interfacing with all parts of the company.
What do you enjoy most about it and why?
It’s exciting to help our clients find tools that help them meet their goals. For example, if a company is running a trial of a drug and they can tell it’s working for some patients but not others, I can help them either find a diagnostic test or work with our company to make one that helps them identify the likely responders.
Plus, since I’m working in industry, everything moves quickly. It’s really rewarding to see things through to completion.
What do you hope to accomplish in your career?
Since I’m familiar with how genomics fits into pharmaceutical development, I’d love to move to a pharma company in a strategy role to help them expand into that area.
What did you gain from your postdoc experience at Sanford Burnham?
My scientific training is instrumental in my work—it really helps me understand and define the questions our clients have, which is crucial for finding the right solution.
How did you find your first job after your postdoc? Was it challenging?
I used a job placement company because it is VERY hard for postdocs to get into industry. They helped make my resume convey my skills in a way that speaks to biotech companies, understand what kind of jobs to look for, and create a strategy to connect with potential hirers.
What advice do you have for current postdocs looking for a job?
Ph.D. scientists can fulfill a lot more roles than they might think. Almost any job related to biotech benefits from a deep understanding of science—even designing websites or doing social media for executives.