Common Cause

Kathleen Ryan O'Connor

It would be almost unthinkable today for an IT or aerospace organization to undertake a high-stakes initiative that didn’t embed project management principles. But, surprising as it might be, project management remains an underutilized discipline in much of the life sciences field. That’s changing.

In Orange County, Calif., a hotbed of biomedical research and production, the University of California, Irvine Extension recently launched a new certificate program called “Project Management for Life Sciences.” The program focuses on the application of project management best practices in life science organizations that produce pharmaceuticals, medical devices and other biomedical products.
Given the unique metrics of the field — the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America says the cost of developing one new drug tops $800 million and it can take an average of 10 to 15 years for it to make it to the pharmacy shelf — even small gains in productivity can have enormous impact.
Marty Wartenberg, lead instructor and academic coordinator at UC Irvine Extension, recently took some time to explain the ins and out of the certificate, which will begin accepting students in the fall, and the industry itself.
Is project management really a foreign concept in the life science industry?
It’s the last field to adopt it …

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