Neuro Central Expert Panel member Gabriel Vargas (Amgen, San Francisco, CA, USA) offers his advice to young scientists. Gabriel has previously held posts at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF; CA, USA) and Roche (CA, USA and Switzerland), and is now Executive Medical Director and Neuroscience Therapeutic Area Head, Early Development at Amgen in San Francisco. His research at UCSF centered around membrane trafficking of GPCRs, in particular dopamine receptors, as well as clinical work with the schizophrenia patient population and the creation of a prodromal schizophrenia research clinic. At Roche, Gabriel was Head of the biomarker group, working on biomarkers for a variety of psychiatric disorders.
Since joining Amgen, Gabriel has been working on the early development of neuroscience compounds, mainly focused on migraine, neurodegenerative and pain disorders. His group is also interested in mobile health approaches to drug development and clinical models.I trained with a vision to be a triple threat (clinical work, research and teaching) and saw a tenure track position as the culmination of my training. However, I eventually came to the conclusion that based on my interests, an industry position made more sense. These decisions are of course immensely specific to your circumstances and interests.
In my case, since my training was as a physician scientist, I wanted to do translational research, and while it can certainly be done in academia and there are many examples of people doing beautiful work in this realm, for my specific interests I felt industry was a better choice.
However, whether you are looking to be in academia or industry, there are similar skill sets that are important.