Molloy shares his career experiences before becoming Chancellor
Chancellor of Rutgers University—New Brunswick Christopher J. Molloy spoke to students at the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy on Wednesday. Molloy spoke about job options for pharmacy students. He has a long history of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, which began after he received a Ph.D. in toxicology from Rutgers.
Molloy said there have been various changes in the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy since his time at Rutgers.
“I went to the pharmacy school here as well, back in the 1970s, when everything was very different. Science was different, the curriculum was different and we learned a lot more physical pharmacy,” he said.
Molloy said that he never considered going to graduate school at first, but changed his mind after interactions with others in his field.
“I really got very serious about the profession. A new program in pharmacology and toxicology started at Rutgers, and I was able to get into that program,” he said.
He decided to leave the industry after Johnson & Johnson (J&J) purchased a startup he was working at, which severely dampened the experience to him, Molloy said.
“I was able to actually work in all of the therapeutic areas that the company was interested in. It was a very exciting place to work. That was a fun job, and I was able to do a lot of things and wear a lot of different hats. And then when J&J bought the company, then you’re back into that grasp of marketing people telling you what to do. And that wasn’t so much fun anymore,” he said.
Molloy also discussed the dedication required to succeed in graduate programs, as well as the gravity of that potential decision for prospective graduate students.
“If you go to graduate school, though, if you make the commitment to go to grad school and get a Ph.D., then you do have to get A’s. You have to show that you’re interested, or else it’s not worth doing. It’s a lot of work,” he said.
Molloy spoke of changes in the pharmaceutical industry, and how research has generally moved away from larger companies and toward academia.
“Companies are not doing as much basic research and discovering new ways to develop a drug. They’re letting academia and smaller companies do that. They’re swooping in later with the development arms they have,” he said.
There is a major difference between working in academia and actual industry. Jobs in academia tend to have more security, Molloy said. He also said that academia allows people to be their own bosses, though there are still drawbacks.
“The research is very specialized, and you get to pick what it is. Of course, you need to get federal funding to typically do it. There are limited career paths once you’re in academia. You can jump into industry, but it’s hard to jump back,” Molloy said.
While industry jobs may provide more career options and higher salaries, there are drawbacks in the form of higher pressure, less independence and poorer job security, he said. Molloy also emphasized the importance of keeping career options open, and not keying in on one career specifically.
“You have to keep your eyes open and be open to opportunities. You need not to burn any bridges,” he said.
After giving opening remarks, Molloy opened the floor for questions regarding potential career paths for pharmacy students.
Molloy touched on the issues that the pharmacy industry currently faces, such as high costs of research and development, which effectively stifles innovations.
“The risk aversion can negatively affect innovation.The fact that it’s risky to advance a drug that only has a 10% chance of success. That can affect innovation,” Molloy said.
He also discussed the difficulties that scientists face in terms of receiving funding.
“To get a grant funded, you’re typically going to have a hypothesis of things that you’re either going to try and prove or disprove. If you find a discovery that says the field is wrong, that might not be very popular, and it might be hard to get funded,” Molloy said.
Science can also be an enjoyable pursuit, especially when working in academia, Molloy said.
“When you do an experiment, you may know something that no one in the history of the human race knew before. It may not be something you predicted to happen, but there’s something about it that’s pretty unbelievable,” he said.