Life Sciences Trek Takeover

Aug 23, 2018 - Kate Gallagher

Last week, San Diego Regional EDC welcomed a group of next-gen life sciences leaders to San Diego for an exclusive tour of the region’s life sciences industry. Over two days, 26 eager PhD candidates representing 15 schools across 11 states visited seven local employers including ResMed, Takeda, BD, Janssen/JLABS, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Dexcom, and Rady Children’s Institute for Genomic Medicine. Upon completion of their PhD programs, these students will enter into the real world of high-demand occupations within the life sciences industry – namely, positions in bioinformatics, computational biology, genomics, and more. No pressure, they’re only going to save and change lives on the daily. And we hope they choose to do so in San Diego.

EDC launched the San Diego Life Sciences Trek in 2017 as a way to attract talent to support the growth of the region’s burgeoning life sciences industry, mirroring the more typical MBA Trek model. Across the globe, leaders in genomics and connected health are gathering incomprehensible amounts of data with the power to unlock the human genome, make personalized healthcare a reality, and enhance the way we live on a massive scale. Individuals skilled in bioinformatics, data science, and computational biology are instrumental in deciphering such data sets across pharma, biotech, healthcare, genomics, and much more – and are thus highly sought after by companies across the country. In case you didn’t know, the battle for talent is really heating up. In other words, now is the time to pursue that PhD program you’ve been thinking about! Once you do, you’ll have tons of companies (many in San Diego) after you like fro-yo on a hot summer day.

Many trek participants attended this two-day program because they were curious about a career in industry, but with backgrounds in academia, have had limited opportunities to explore what one might look like. The Life Sciences Trek provides students a chance to get out from behind the lab bench to tour companies, speak with real professionals, and learn how their skills can be applied at life-changing companies in San Diego.

Through company tours, panel discussions, presentations, and a networking reception, students gained access to influential researchers and executives across leading life sciences employers. From drug discovery to connected devices, genetic sequencing to direct patient care, the breadth of opportunities for bioinformaticians became apparent within San Diego’s diverse life sciences ecosystem. In fact, after attending the trek, 90% of participants indicated that they plan to pursue a career in San Diego upon completion of their PhD program. Guess bright minds think alike, and want to live their best lives while changing others’.


Below are their thoughts. See more at #SDlifesciencestrek.

“It was a fantastic experience for someone who’s always been immersed in academia, but is interested in the industry.”

– PhD candidate in Bioinformatics, University of Michigan

“This was an incredible opportunity to network with the scientists that could be involved in hiring you in the future. It was an indispensable experience to see first hand the types of jobs that recent PhD graduates could be qualified for.”

– PhD candidate in Neuroscience, University of Southern California

“Seeing the positive testimonials from all the people at the companies regardless of their position about work-life culture will make me prioritize San Diego as my primary target for future job applications.”

– PhD candidate in Animal Biology with a focus on Biotechnology, UC Davis

“The trek was really eye-opening and definitely changed my perspective about potentially pursuing a career there!”

– PhD candidate in Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Southern California

“The SD trek is a great opportunity to familiarize yourself with biotech opportunities in SD and to learn about a great town with a lot of potential for aspiring scientists.”

– PhD candidate in Microbiology and Immunology, Dartmouth College


We also featured the ‘trekkies’ on  a #TakeoverTuesday, showing off all the crazy cool companies they got to visit and speak with first-hand.

Watch highlights from each visit in the video below.


The trek group represented 15 schools: Carnegie Melon, Cornell, Dartmouth, Duke, Georgia Tech, Stanford, Ohio State, UC Davis, UC San Diego, UC Santa Cruz, University of Southern California, University of Idaho, University of Illinois, University of Michigan, University of Texas.