Transitioning from Academia to Chief Scientific Officer in the Biotech Industry

24/01/2022 - 5 minutes

Academics with a drive to turn their research into commercial products often end up in the position of Chief Scientific Officer at a biotech company. Kees Melief shares his own personal experience transitioning from academia to industry.

After his retirement as an academic researcher at Leiden University, Cornelis ‘Kees’ Melief founded and became the Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) of ISA Pharmaceuticals in 2004. This Dutch biotech company develops therapeutic vaccines for cancer and infectious diseases, including Covid-19. 

Melief, who has received several awards for his discoveries and lifetime contribution to cancer immunology, got into immunology almost by chance, through a student project. After building a career in academia, he decided to delve into the startup world and confronted the transition of becoming a CSO.

What were the main differences you noticed between academia and a CSO position?

The Chief Scientific Officer basically is still very much close to academic work because the CSO has to weigh different concepts against each other;

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