By Sisi Liu
The NIH Fellow Consulting Club, in collaboration with The Graduate Student Consulting & Beyond Club from the University of Virginia, organized the Mid-Atlantic Case Competition held on the NIH Bethesda campus on April 17, 2015. I had the opportunity to serve as the co-chair of the organizing committee. This competition invited PhD, JD, and MD students and postdoctoral fellows to create a solution to a pharmaceutical company technology transfer and growth strategy case. The event demonstrated the application of science training and scientific thinking to solving real-life business problems.
The UMT Consulting Group provided the case for this competition. The case involved the growth strategy of a global pharmaceutical company engaged in research and development, manufacturing, and marketing of its brand-name pharmaceutical products. This company has an established presence in major therapeutic areas including anticoagulant, cardiology, HIV, gynecology, antibacterial, diabetes, and oncology.
Competing teams worked on the case for six days. Teams focused on analyzing the potential of drugs under development by the company at different stages: research, clinical trials, commercial launch, and recommendations for prioritizing and optimizing the company’s drug portfolio. The teams also worked on pricing, distribution, and marketing strategies of selected drugs. Each group prepared a final report to present on the competition day.
The competition attracted more than 100 applications. The top 20 teams were invited to the NIH to present their recommendations. An NIH team with two NICHD graduate students, Afrouz Anderson (Dr. Amir H. Gandjbakhche’s lab, University of California, Davis) and Hanbo Wang (Dr. Gisela Storz’s lab, The Chinese University of Hong Kong), was one of the 20 selected teams. Other teams came from various universities, including, but not limited to, Columbia University, Cornell University, Duke University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Stony Brook University, and Rockefeller University. The competition also attracted sponsorship from top management consulting and biotechnology strategy consulting companies.
On the event day, all teams presented their recommended solutions to the case in the first round of competition. Selected finalist teams then gave a final round presentation. Consultants from top consulting companies judged both rounds. The first prize went to the team from Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. They demonstrated both excellent qualitative and quantitative analysis. In addition to the two rounds of competition, the event day included a career fair, a consulting career panel, and a networking reception. Participants enjoyed the opportunity to communicate with consultants and learn more about each consulting company and the job opportunities they offer.
The Mid-Atlantic Case Competition successfully provided an opportunity for advanced degree candidates to use their scientific knowledge, logical thinking, and analytical skills to solve a business problem. It was a wonderful demonstration of how a science degree can apply to all fields, not just academic ones. It also provided science students with insights into career choices outside of academia. To learn more about this case competition, please visit the competition website: www.midatlanticcasecompetition.com.