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Where Should You Train if You are Interested in Medical Entrepreneurship?


As biomedical and clinical entrepreneurship continues to go mainstream, where and how to train has become another factor in the minds of premeds, graduate students, residents, and fellows. Here are some things to consider.

A friend recently asked me if it made any difference whether his son went to one medical school or another considering the significant differences in in-state versus out-of-state tuition. A medical student wanted to know whether 1) her entrepreneurial interests would help or hurt her when applying to highly sought out specialty residency slots; or 2) if it made a difference where she did her residency. A PhD graduate student asked, given the limited academic tenure-track slots, whether doing a postdoc in one place versus another would increase her chances of getting an industry job.

As biomedical and clinical entrepreneurship continues to go mainstream, where and how to train has become another factor in the minds of premeds, graduate students, residents, and fellows. Here are some things to consider:

1. Innovation clusters have a life cycle, like any other industry or product.

2. Clusters vary in value depending on location and domain. Medtech clusters are different from biopharma clusters and they are different from digital health clusters and clinical innovation centers.

3. Most residents will choose to practice where they did their residencies.

4. Choosing a residency in a location with a growing and supportive ecosystem in a given area is optimal, but may not be critical given the demands of graduate level science and medical training. On the other hand, having a support system and the potential to build networks, identify mentors, and interact with role models is valuable should you decide to pursue bioentrepreneurship at some time in your career. It is more critical if you are thinking of skipping residency training altogether.

5. Networks and experiential learning is more important than formal graduate bioentrepreneurship education. Look for a program that interfaces with the local ecosystem instead of one that just offers courses, particularly those that are online.

6. Just because a given cluster is getting ink or clicks does not mean you will be able to find a job there. Some have anchor tenants and newco churn. Others don't, and may in fact be on a downward trajectory.

7. Some clusters are more user friendly and welcoming to newcomers than others. Each has its own culture and make it easy or hard for information to flow.

8. If you follow the money, I hope you like to live on either the West Coast or the Northeast.

9. There is something to be said about being a big fish in a little pond. On the other hand, if you want to star on Broadway then you will probably have to spend some time in the Big Apple or LA.

10. In most instances, geography is destiny. However, given the emergence and pervasiveness of community based innovation clusters, anyone can succeed almost anywhere.

Creating a biomedical career path has never been easy. When you throw in the entrepreneurship variable, the equation gets even more complicated. The good news is that more and more have been getting the right answers. Talent, technology, and money go where they are treated best and they know how to find those places.

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Victor J. Dzau, MD, gives expert advice
Victor J. Dzau, MD, gives expert advice