Career Paths in the Biotech and Pharma Sector: A Panel Discussion with Yale PhDs in Managerial Roles

Our February event, as part of the STEM PhD Pathways Program, spotlighted career paths in biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies through a managerial lens. Three Yale PhD scientists in various managerial roles and who chose different career paths after receiving their PhD in STEM shared their different experiences and unique insights into the field of biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. You can read our panelists’ short bios below and view the recorded panel discussion here.

During this session, our panelists touched on the following topics:  

  • Career growth and journey to their current position  
  • The pitfalls to be aware of – and try to avoid – when pursuing this career path  
  • What skills or opportunities to seek when planning for a career outside the academy 

Panelists Bios:

Jeff Chen (PhD ’20, Immunobiology) 

Dr. Jeff Chen

Director at BridgeBio

Jeff is currently Director, BD & Operations at BridgeBio Pharma where he leads preclinical drug discovery programs in genetic diseases. In this role, he works with both external contract research organizations (CROs) and internal scientists to achieve various research objectives and advance early-stage programs towards the clinic. Before joining BridgeBio, he was a life sciences strategy consultant at ClearView Healthcare Partners where he advised biotech and pharma clients on engagements throughout all stages of drug development. Jeff graduated from Yale with a Ph.D. in immunobiology and from MIT with a B.S. in molecular biology.   

Elenoe Crew Smith (PhD’12, Cell Biology) 

Director at Vertex Pharmaceuticals

Dr. Elenoe Crew Smith

Crew was born on the island of St. Thomas in the United States Virgin Islands. She earned her bachelor’s degree in molecular biology from Princeton University and her doctorate in Cell Biology from Yale University in the laboratory of Diane Krause. During her studies she developed an interest in biomedical research, particularly in genetic diseases that affect people of the African diaspora. In 2012 she moved to Boston where she began work on Sickle Cell Disease at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital in the lab of Dr. Stuart Orkin. Her work contributed to the first CRISPR based gene editing therapy for the disease. Crew was one of the inaugural 2017 STAT Wunderkinds recognized for blazing new trails in research and was recognized by the Healthcare Business women’s Association in 2021. In 2022 she was named to Business Insiders 30 Leaders Under 40 list for individuals changing the healthcare industry in 2022, the Boston Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 List, and Fortune’s 40 Under 40 list. At Vertex Pharmaceuticals, she is a director leading the biology for the sickle cell disease small molecule program, manages a team of very talented scientists, and continues to mentor trainees across the organization. Crew currently lives just outside of Boston with her husband and three children.

Dr. Keerthi Shetty

Keerthi Shetty (PhD’15, MBA, Immunobiology)

Associate Director at Intellia Therapeutics, Inc.

Keerthi Shetty, PhD, MBA, is an Associate Director of Program Management at Intellia Therapeutics, a biotech company developing therapeutics using a CRISPR gene editing system. She previously served as Senior Manager, Strategic Initiatives of the Center for Personal Cancer Vaccines as well as the Business Manager for the Translational Immunogenomics Laboratory at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Prior to her roles at Dana-Farber, she was a Hellman Fellow for Science and Technology Policy at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, her first job after obtaining her Ph.D. at Yale. While a grad student at Yale, she was the co-president of the Yale Science Diplomats, and as an alum she served as a GSAA Board Member and co-chair of the Where Do I Go From Yale? career symposium for 3 years. Keerthi received her bachelor’s degree in Molecular Biology from Princeton University, and her doctorate in Immunobiology from Yale University in the laboratory of Dr. David Schatz.

By Haofan Li
Haofan Li McDougal Career Fellow