The competitive world of industry fosters an appetite to ... - Elie Dolgin

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The competitive world of industry fosters an appetite to ... - Elie Dolgin

courtesy of Sigma-Aldrich

The competitive world of industry fosters an appetite

to get ahead. In our sixth annual survey, we uncover

the recipe for a successful workplace. By Elie Dolgin

he cafeteria at Infinity Pharmaceuticals is not your average greasyspoon

canteen, says Alex Constan, senior director of toxicology. At

Infinity’s lunchroom, employees gather in a vibrantly colored jazz cafe,

complete with vintage high-rise tables and larger-than-life murals of

jazz greats, ranging from John Coltrane to Billie Holliday. Constan says

his company uses the space to inspire its scientists to work together in

Ω

June 2008 The Scientist 49


the collaborative, improvisational way of

the best jazz musicians. “How jazz bands

play music together is kind of like how our

teams work together when developing a

compound,” he says. The employees appear

to be inspired: The company was highest

ranked for its research environment

and placed fifth overall in

The Scientist’s 2008 Best Places

to Work in Industry survey.

Our sixth annual survey,

which garnered an overwhelming

response – almost 2,000 scientists

took part – highlights the value

of going the extra distance for

employees. Whether it’s cookie Wednesdays

at Vertex Pharmaceuticals or Friday “fermentation

seminars” at Amgen, scientists

appreciate feeling valued. At 15th-ranking

Amylin Pharmaceuticals, the company

serves bagels flavored with Asiago cheese

every Friday. “It’s the extra little step that

says ‘we really appreciate you,’” says Kari

Kalvelage, an Amylin research associate.

“People have to

know more than just

their job. They have

to understand how

the company works.”

—Vernon Smith, Tec Laboratories

Centered on Science

A scientist at the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation working

on the legume genomics project.

For the fifth consecutive year, personal

satisfaction ranked as the most important

ingredient of the workplace. For

many scientists, satisfaction comes from

having the time and resources to pursue

their scientific visions. Hanne Bak, a staff

engineer at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals,

which placed 18th in this year’s survey,

says she is encouraged to spend about

20% of her time on her “pet projects”

– personal experiments without defined

deadlines or timelines. Currently, she’s

working with an assay she believes could

ultimately prove useful. “I’m treated with

a great deal of respect and given a lot of

Ω

COURTESY OF PIONEER HI-BRED

50 The Scientist June 2008


Top 30 Companies

Rank in

2008

Rank in

2007

Institution

Type

No. of

Employees

Strengths

Weaknesses

1 1

2 4

3 18

4 –

5 7

6 –

7 –

8 8

9 26

10 3

11 –

12 –

13 27

14 16

15 9

16 10

17 20

18 –

19 –

20 21

21 –

22 6

23 –

24 –

25 2

26 –

27 17

28 23

29 –

30 14

Tec Laboratories

Albany, OR

Inspire Pharmaceuticals

Durham, NC

Asterand

Detroit, MI

Millennium Pharmaceuticals

Cambridge, MA

Infinity Pharmaceuticals

Cambridge, MA

Wyatt Technology

Santa Barbara, CA

Tengion

East Norriton, PA

Otsuka Maryland Medicinal Laboratories

Rockville, MD

Lexicon Pharmaceuticals

The Woodlands, TX

TransForm Pharmaceuticals

Lexington, MA

Vertex Pharmaceuticals

Cambridge, MA

Genomic Health

Redwood City, CA

Pioneer Hi-Bred

Johnston, IA

Exelixis

San Francisco, CA

Amylin Pharmaceuticals

San Diego, CA

Targacept

Winston-Salem, NC

AstraZeneca

London, UK

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals

Tarrytown, NY

Genzyme

Cambridge, MA

Pfizer

New York, NY

Schering-Plough (SP)

Kenilworth, NJ

Amgen

Thousand Oaks, CA

Organon

Roseland, NJ

DynPort Vaccine

Frederick, MD

Novartis

Basel, Switzerland

Sigma-Aldrich

St. Louis, MO

Wyeth

Madison, NJ

GlaxoSmithKline

London, UK

Thermo Fisher Scientific

Waltham, MA

Merck

Whitehouse Station, NJ

Skin Products 100 or fewer Management Job Satisfaction

Pharmaceutical 100–500 Communications Job Satisfaction

Tissue Based Services 100 or fewer Integrity

Policies and

Practices

Research

Environment

Remuneration

and Benefits

Management

Communications

Integrity

Training and

Development

Pharmaceutical 500–1,000 Management Integrity Communications Job Satisfaction

Pharmaceutical 100–500

Devices and

Instrumentation

Research

Environment

100 or fewer Job Satisfaction

Training and

Development

Policies and

Practices

Biotechnology 100 or fewer Management Communications

Research 100 or fewer Integrity

Pharmaceutical 500–1,000 Job Satisfaction

Pharmaceutical

100 or fewer

Pharmaceutical 500–1,000

Remuneration

and Benefits

Remuneration

and Benefits

Training and

Development

Research

Environment

Communications

Training and

Development

Diagnostic technology 100–500 Management Integrity

Agricultural

Biotechnology

5,000+

Biotechnology 500–1,000

Pharmaceutical 1,000–5,000

Remuneration

and Benefits

Research

Environment

Remuneration

and Benefits

Training and

Development

Integrity

Training and

Development

Pharmaceutical 100 or fewer Communications Management

Pharmaceutical 50,000+ Integrity Communications

Pharmaceutical 500–1,000 Management

Biotechnology 10,000 Integrity

Pharmaceutical 75,000+

Remuneration

and Benefits

Pharmaceutical 50,000+ Management

Biotechnology 15,000+

Biotechnology

Pharmaceutical Product

Development Services

50,000

(with SP)

Pharmaceutical 75,000+

Research products

manufacturer

Remuneration

and Benefits

Remuneration

and Benefits

Research

Environment

Policies and

Practices

Training and

Development

Research

Environment

Research

Environment

Management

100–500 Integrity Communications

5,000+

Pharmaceutical 50,000

Pharmaceutical 100,000+

Research Equipment and

Products Manufacturer

25,000+

Pharmaceutical 50,000+

Remuneration

and Benefits

Policies and

Practices

Remuneration

and Benefits

Policies and

Practices

Research

Environment

Remuneration

and Benefits

Training and

Development

Integrity

Job Satisfaction

Remuneration

and Benefits

Training and

Development

Policies and

Practices

Remuneration

and Benefits

Training and

Development

Remuneration

and Benefits

Management

Remuneration

and Benefits

Integrity

Integrity

Remuneration

and Benefits

Management

Remuneration

and Benefits

Job Satisfaction

Remuneration

and Benefits

Policies and

Practices

Remuneration

and Benefits

Job Satisfaction

Management

Remuneration

and Benefits

Training and

Development

Policies and

Practices

Remuneration

and Benefits

Job Satisfaction

Training and

Development

Policies and

Practices

Management

Remuneration

and Benefits

Job Satisfaction

Management

Remuneration

and Benefits

Policies and

Practices

Research

Environment

Communications

Training and

Development

Policies and

Practices

Policies and

Practices

Job Satisfaction

Policies and

Practices

Research

Environment

Training and

Development

Training and

Development

Policies and

Practices

Research

Environment

Integrity

Training and

Development

Job Satisfaction

Integrity

Policies and

Practices

Policies and

Practices

Remuneration

and Benefits

Training and

Development

Job Satisfaction

Policies and

Practices

Communications


flexibility and autonomy,” she says. “It

allows me to go a bit deeper and look into

something just because it’s interesting.”

For Linda Gritz, the principal medical

writer at 11th-ranked Vertex Pharmaceuticals,

high ethical standards, the

third most important factor,

really drew her to Vertex. She

also compliments the company

for emphasizing science in all

aspects of the business, including

communications. “If it’s not

scientifically sound, it doesn’t

count,” she says. After working

as a bench researcher for years,

Gritz decided to become a medical writer

because she wanted to move farther

down the pipeline, and see one of the

products she worked on reach the shelf.

When she started applying for writing

jobs, most companies turned her away

because they wanted trained journalists

or public-relations officers, not scientists.

At Vertex, however, more than half of the

clinical, regulatory, and medical writers

are scientists with PhDs; Gritz says this is

crucial for communicating the company’s

research accurately.

Many scientists appreciate the intimate

nature of small companies, as

reflected in the 10 highest ranking companies

this year, all of which have fewer

than 1,000 employees (see chart p. 53).

This sentiment is especially true of the

family-run Tec Laboratories, which

again placed at the top of our survey for

the fourth consecutive year. Vice president

of operations Vernon Smith, whose

father started the company 30 years

ago in his garage, says that a rigorous,

team-based hiring process ensures that

everyone fits into the company’s unique

business culture. “When we hire, we’re

looking not just at someone’s knowledge

base, but at [his or her] soft skills

as well,” he says.

Everyone knows and trusts one

another, Smith says, and anyone can walk

down the hall between Tec’s two research

laboratories to ask a colleague’s advice,

all of which helps the scientific process.

As an added benefit, all of the company’s

30 employees are given a share of the

profits, and all major business decisions

Ω

New opportunities at Organon

Organon ranked seventh among large companies in this year’s Best

Places to Work in Industry survey – its first year on our charts. Despite being acquired last fall

by fifth-ranking Schering-Plough, employees say Organon has so far retained its identity and

commitment to high-quality research. Most are optimistic about the change.

With the acquisition, Organon brings nearly 3,000 new research and development employees

to Schering-Plough’s team of some 4,400. In addition, Organon’s line of more than two dozen

products will be a strong complement to Schering-Plough’s $12 billion in revenue, according to

Anja Garritsen, head of target discovery in Organon’s office in Oss, the Netherlands.

Some employees think of the acquisition as simply another collaboration that adds to Organon’s

long history of partnerships. One of the company’s strongest initiatives has been to create

collaborations with academic teams in both Europe and the United States. In fact, Organon

established a US office in the Boston area three years ago to tap into the strong academic and

biotech research community in the city. Already, the Boston office has started a collaboration

with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, says Shawn Foti, senior research associate,

whose early-discovery group works on human monoclonal antibodies.

While some of our survey respondents expressed concern over how the acquisition by

Schering-Plough will affect jobs and the work climate, it’s too early to say how things may

change, says Garritsen. On the whole “I think the feeling here is extremely positive, because

Schering-Plough has a similar work culture to ourselves and is very research oriented,” says

Mark Craighead, a project leader at the Newhouse, Scotland, location. “I think it’s a good fit.”

Organon’s culture wins praise in part because of its focus on employee benefits such as

family-oriented events and flexible hours to balance work and home life. At the Newhouse

location, the Christmas parties for employees’ children are very popular; for two hours on

a Sunday near the holiday, Santa visits and hands out gifts to each child. “My son really

looks forward to that party,” says Gul Erdemli, electrophysiology team leader at Newhouse.

—Andrea Gawrylewski

Organon headquarters in Oss, the Netherlands

reproduced with permission of nv Organon / all rights reserved

52 The Scientist June 2008


Top Large Companies (more than 5,000 employees)

Institution

Total

No. R&D

Employees

New R&D

Employees

2007

Net Income

(billion)

Significant Developments in the Past Year

1 Pioneer Hi-Bred 2,000 291 $3.3 1 Completed FDA submissions for its Optimum GAT trait, which confers herbicide tolerance,

in corn

2 AstraZeneca 13,000 * $29.5 Acquired MedImmune; 24 new molecules entered Phase 1 trials, 10 projects in Phase 3 trials

3 Genzyme 1,600 325 $3.8 Acquired Bioenvision; successful Phase 2 trial of Alemtuzamab

4 Pfizer 14,300 1,200 $8.1 Maraviroc approved by the FDA

5 Schering-Plough 4,435 * $15.2 2 Acquired Organon BioSciences

6 Amgen 7,000 * $3.2 Submitted application for Nplate; 11 Phase 2 programs ongoing

7 Organon 2.965 * $15.2 2 Acquired by Schering-Plough

8 Novartis 11,177 * $6.5 15 regulatory approvals in the US and Europe

9 Sigma-Aldrich 400 40 $.311 Acquired Molecular Medicine BioServices and Epichem Group Ltd.

10 Wyeth 6,500 * $4.6 Achieved FDA approvals for Lybrel, Torisel, Xyntha and Pristiq

Top Small Companies (1,000 employees or less)

Institution

Total

No. R&D

Employees

New R&D

Employees

2007

Net Income

(million)

Significant Developments in the Past Year

1 Tec Laboratories 11 1 * Launched Staphaseptic, a topical antibiotic gel

2 Inspire Pharmaceuticals 65 3 none

3 Asterand 42 7 $15.1

Launched AzaSite; three product candidates in Phase 3 testing: denufosol, Prolacria, and

epinastine nasal spray

Awarded contract to assess the condition and value of the Department of Defense Armed

Forces Institute of Pathology tissue repository

4 Millennium Pharmaceuticals * * $14.9 Filed a supplementary NDA and received priority review for Velcade

5 Infinity Pharmaceuticals 95 22 none Advanced Retaspimycin into multiple clinical trials

6 Wyatt Technology 20 5 *

Held its 18th annual International Light Scattering Colloquium with a record number of

attendees

7 Tengion 70 30 none Started two Phase II trials on the Neo-Bladder Augment

8

Otsuka Maryland Medicinal

Laboratories

9 Lexicon Pharmaceuticals 353 15 none

43 1 $1.4 Changed legal status from an LLC to a corporation.

Launched an initiative to advance 10 drug candidates into human clinical trials by the end of

2010

10 TransForm Pharmaceuticals 84 11 * Expanded collaborations with other Johnson & Johnson operating companies

1

Gross income

2

Schering-Plough and Organon BioSciences net income combined

* Company declined to provide information

Whether it’s cookie Wednesdays at Vertex

Pharmaceuticals or Friday “fermentation

seminars” at Amgen, scientists appreciate

feeling valued.


are made at monthly “bagel meetings”

(which don’t actually include bagels).

“People have to know more than just

their job,” says Smith. “They have to

understand how the company works.”

A researcher at Lexicon Pharmaceuticals

Benefits of Being Big

The agricultural giant, Pioneer

Hi-Bred, came out atop this year’s

list of large companies. What

sets it apart, says senior research

director Geoff Graham, is its

focus on team-driven, interdisciplinary

problem solving. When

Graham joined the company in 2000 as

a plant biologist, he was teamed up with

a physicist. Together, they worked on

improving a corn variety. “We came up

with a much better solution than if I’d

just been dealing with a bunch of plant

breeders,” he says. (Picking a couple of

ears of fresh, sweet corn after work is an

“extra perk” of the job, he adds.)

According to our survey’s respondents,

large companies are also on the vanguard

of socially-progressive policies that help

family life. At Amgen, which ranked sixth

among companies with more than 5,000

employees, “gender equality is very much

a reality,” says Gabriele Dorn Klett, a

product manager at Amgen Switzerland.

As a young, married woman, she describes

herself as in the “danger zone” for some

employers, yet she was recently promoted.

Employees at Amgen can work part-time

after having children; for example, regulatory

and corporate affairs manager, Karin

Steinmann, works four days a week. “I

think it’s a win-win situation for both” the

company and me, says Steinmann. Klett

adds, “I just know, in this company I do

not have to take the choice – career or

family; if I want, I can have both.”

Coping with Cutbacks

Suzanne Coberly, a pathology director at

Amgen, where more than 300 employees

took part in our survey, says she likes

working for a larger company because

it lets her stay diverse. Currently, she

has three oncology and four metabolic

projects, with one or two neurology

Ω

Lone-star pharma

Thirty miles north of Houston, texas – and a world away from the biopharmaceutical

industry’s hubs in California and New Jersey – sits The Woodlands, a sylvan

community and home to the headquarters of Lexicon Pharmaceuticals.

The company was founded in 1995 as Lexicon Genetics, and until last year focused

almost exclusively on creating knockout models by the thousands for drug target discovery.

This past year, Lexicon shifted gears, moving into the commercial development of drugs.

With the organizational change came a new name, Lexicon Pharmaceuticals, soon followed

by layoffs of 120 people out of a workforce of about 700 people. Despite the change, Lexicon

employees gave their company good marks, winning ninth place in this year’s Best Places to

Work in Industry overall list, up from 26th place the previous year.

“We all agree that we have a common goal,” says Lexicon’s associate director of oncology,

Rick Finch. “We’re very excited about sharing our discoveries as soon as possible to

get others excited about them.”

When rumors about the impending layoffs circulated, Lexicon employees braced for

the bad news. “I dusted off my resume and made sure everything was up to date,” admits

Robert Read, a veterinary pathologist at Lexicon who managed to avoid a pink slip. “It was

not the happiest time around here, but everybody still believed in what we were doing,”

remembers Wade Walke, a company spokesperson.

While the company changed focus, it managed to retain some aspects that made it

successful. “Having such an extensive library of phenotypic information at Lexicon, I’m able

to do research in my field that I wouldn’t be able to do anywhere else,” says Andy Whitlock,

an ophthalmologist at the company.

With its staff slimmed, Lexicon sought a fresh infusion of funds to bankroll its transition

into clinical trials and drug development. Help came in the form of $250 million from the

investment firm Invus, which also arranged a further investment of $345 million over the

next several years.

Having weathered the changes of 2007, Lexicon is now moving forward with four drug

candidates: One oral treatment for cognitive disorders is in Phase II trials, while three other

drugs – for irritable bowel syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, and carcinoid syndrome – are in

Phase I trials. The breadth of the research conducted at Lexicon, and the sharing of ample

information between researchers, keeps employees engaged and interested, says Finch.

Read agrees. “I think the world of this company,” he says. “It’s just a really exciting

and dynamic place to work.” —Bob Grant

LEFT: Courtesy of Lexicon Pharmaceuticals RIGHT: courtesy of Schering-Plough

54 The Scientist June 2008


“I just know, in this company I do not

have to take the choice – career or family;

if I want, I can have both.”

—Gabriele Dorn Klett, Amgen Switzerland

Survey Methodology

The Scientist posted a Web-based questionnaire and invited readers of The Scientist and registrants on

our Web site who identified themselves as non-tenured life scientists working in academia or other noncommercial

research organizations to respond. We received 3,086 usable responses. We asked respondents

to assess their working conditions and environments by indicating their level of agreement with 44

criteria in 11 different areas. They also indicated which factors were important to them. We ranked 82 US

institutions and 17 non-US with 5 or more responses.

To calculate an institution’s overall ranking, we first weighted each factor based on the average

importance score. Because several factors that ranked as important in the United States are valued less

elsewhere and vice versa, we used different factor weightings to rank the two groups of institutions. The

overall rankings are based on the average score per institution from all respondents on all factors weighted

according to their regional importance. Detailed information on the survey methodology is available on

The Scientist Web site at www.the-scientist.com. Our sample of scientists was self-selected, and we have

made no attempt to standardize the results or to conduct detailed statistical analysis.

The survey was developed and responses were analyzed by AMG Science Publishing (www.

amgpublishing.com)

projects waiting for her attention. With

so much going on, she’s more likely to

get the satisfaction of seeing one make it

to clinical trials, she notes. The past year,

however, has seen some trying times at

Amgen. Following sales setbacks, Amgen

announced that it would cut 2,200 jobs.

The workplace was tense, says Coberly,

but the company did a good job of

helping employees through the process

by keeping them informed. “They worked

really hard to talk to people and address

their concerns,” she says.

Amgen wasn’t the only company to

hit hard times. When Millennium Pharmaceuticals

shifted its focus from a consultancy

company to pharmaceuticals, a

number of jobs were also lost. “Those were

tough times, but we were never abandoned

by the leadership,” says Anne Burkhardt,

a scientific fellow and oncology researcher

at Millennium, which was ranked fourth

overall. According to chief scientific officer

Joe Bolen, the company explained business

decisions to the employees who were

laid off, and it provided good severance

packages. “There was an understanding

that the employees who had to be restructured

were the ones that helped build the

company,” he says. (Read more about Millennium’s

Joe Bolen in our March issue.)

At the end of the day, communication

is the key, says Matt Cowlen. At secondranked

Inspire Pharmaceuticals, where

Cowlen is director of toxicology, most

project decisions are made by consensus

among all members of the project

team. “Not everyone always agrees, but

things are very transparent,” he says. He’s

seen some difficulties in his eight years

at Inspire, but he appreciates that his

opinions are always listened to and recognized.

“It was my dream job the day I

got here, and it still is.” n

Have a comment? E-mail us at mail@the-scientist.com

Visit www.the-scientist.com

for more information on this

year’s respondents, rankings from

previous years, and a slideshow of

some of this year’s winners.

June 2008 The Scientist 55

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