Industry is Creating Life Science Ph.D. Shortages: Professor J. Keith Guillory

Just received this note in response to our June cover story.  Dr. Guillory, Professor Emeritus at the University of Iowa's School of Pharmacy, says that industry has helped to create the shortage of Ph.D.-level life scientists in product development.  Most colleges are focusing on biological sciences in order to obtain NIH funding, and top schools like Purdue, Iowa, Maryland and Minnesota are receiving little industry funding. Would any of you have any thoughts on this subject? ..."It is interesting to hear pharmaceutical industry ceo's complain about the lack of well-trained scientists in the area of pharmaceutical product development. They should look in the mirror to see who is to blame for this situation. Most colleges of pharmacy have abandoned research and even course work in that area because faculty can obtain NIH funding only in the biological sciences. Consequently, new faculty hires continue to churn out carbon copies of themselves, biological scientists, who proceed from one post-doc to another. The few colleges that have at least modest programs in product development, Iowa, Purdue, Maryland, and Minnesota, receive very little support from the industry. Sure, they get short-term contracts from industry to solve specific problems, but they don't get the kind of long term support that Deans value. To Deans, NIH funding is the sine qua non, and NIH support is simply not available for fundamental work in the area of pharmaceutical product development. Unless that situation changes, and soon, even the few schools with good programs will see them dwindle as older faculty retire and are replaced by biological scientists. Already, industry is hiring engineers and chemists to do the formulation work people with backgrounds in pharmaceutics did in the past..." J. Keith Guillory, Professor Emeritus, The University of Iowa, College of Pharmacy