Business Development for Life Scientists

Welcome to the course page for Business Development for Life Scientists

This content is designed provide an overview of the business development process. Topics include the business development process of how to grow or expand a business by identifying gaps and ways to fill them. The goal of this workshop is to help prepare scientists who want to start their own labs, and inform scientists who want to go into industry. On this page you will find the lecture videos, case study information and other resources to help you prepare for the Business Development workshop.


This course is part of the series titled Business Concepts for Basic Scientists. You can also view the introductions to Strategy and Finance.


Business development lecture videos


This workshop is designed as a flipped classroom - participants will watch the videos before class and discuss the case discussions in class.

It is mandatory to watch the online lecture before attending the workshop. Total video time for Parts I & II is around 40 minutes.


For your convenience, we have included the lecture slides.


Business development learning objectives


This workshop is designed provide an overview of the business development process and provide examples to illustrate the concepts. By the end of the workshop, you will be able to:

  • Define business development
  • Understand how business development contributes to a business’ vision and goals
  • Describe different vehicles that business development can leverage to accomplish their objectives
  • Describe successful deal structures


Activity information


During the in-class interactive activity, the class will break into small groups and look at the company's website and determine whether your company wants to license a technology or make a deal. Companies you might discuss: Five Prime Therapeutics, Celgene, Merck, CellDex. You are not limited to these suggestions if your small group would like to discuss another company.

In class you will choose one company to discuss. Consider browsing the websites before class and seeing how much information you can gather about the company's technology and past partnerships. Press releases are another place to read about previous deals in the company.

Questions to answer:
• What does the other company bring to the table? (What gap does it fill?)
• What incentives does the company have? (What is the gap?)
• How would you build a deal? (Which vehicle?)
• How could you make it friendlier for partnering? (Executing the deal)
• Who do you go to for the deal? (Executing the deal)
• How would you measure success?

Speakers and course developers

Thi Nguyen with speakers Asha Collins and Daniel Dornbusch at the iBiology studio.

Asha S. Collins leads the US Clinical Trial Sourcing business at McKesson Corporation, one of the largest healthcare organizations in North America. In this position, she leads a team that strategically sources commercial products for research and clinical trial studies. Prior to McKesson, Asha focused on leading biopharmaceutical companies through strategic change as a management consultant at Deloitte and Quintiles. Asha received her Ph.D. in Cancer Biology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Pittsburgh.

Daniel Dornbusch has served in multiple management roles at pharmaceutical, biotechnology, diagnostics, and strategy consulting companies including Novartis, Genentech, Amerisource Bergen and Genzyme. Daniel has spent almost 20 years in the healthcare industry in various roles including business development, sales, marketing, corporate development, and commercial management. Daniel is a founder of KidsDOC, a telemedicine company, as well as Acteris, a cancer immunotherapy drug development company where he served as CEO. Daniel received his M.A. in Science Communication from Tufts University School of Medicine and Emerson College, and M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School.

Anatol Kreitzer, PhD is an Associate Investigator at the Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease and Associate Professor of Physiology and Neurology at UCSF. Dr. Kreitzer’s research focuses on the disordered physiological processes associated with Parkinson’s disease. He is an expert in the emerging field of optogenetics—the application of genetic and optical techniques to remotely control brain cells in animals. Dr. Kreitzer earned his PhD in neurobiology at Harvard University. He conducted postdoctoral research at Stanford University with Dr. Robert Malenka until 2007, when he established his laboratory at Gladstone.


Course contributors


Michael Penn, Jr., MD, PhD - Vice President, Diversity, Outreach, J. David Gladstone Institutes

Brad Grueter, PhD - Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology, Vanderbilt University


Course producer

Thi Nguyen, PhD - PI of Burroughs Wellcome Fund grant and developed this content at UCSF. She is now the associate dean for graduate career and professional development at Washington University in St. Louis.

Interested in learning more about the course or delivering this course at your university? Facilitator packets, train the trainer materials, and resources for marketing and evaluating the workshop are available. Contact Thi at [email protected].

Video production

The educational videos were produced in collaboration with iBiology. Videos found in the iBioMagazine section under "Business Concepts".


Course funding

This course was developed thanks to funding by a Career Guidance for Trainees award from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.