Julia Levy

Microbiology and Immunology

Co-discovered photodynamic anti-cancer and ophthalmology drugs, co-founder of the company QLT Inc.

"The most important thing: Never shut off your options. You never know what the next year is going to bring. If you leave your options open, then when something happens you know, ‘That’s where I want to go.’ And you do it! Never box yourself in."

So You Want to Be an Immunologist

The whole area of clinical biology and biotechnology is expanding rapidly and will become a significant part of our future. Not long ago, if you were a biologist you had only one real option: teaching. Now there are countless career opportunities: clinical research, regulatory work for government and industry, marketing, manufacturing and quality control in biotechnology, chemical, pharmaceutical, food, health care, resource, environmental, forestry, agriculture and consulting companies. There are more courses being taught, as well, in universities and colleges. A strong scientific base with a university degree is now a prerequisite even for the marketing jobs at biotechnology companies and in other high-tech industries. Salaries start at about $30,000 a year and can go up into six figures. However, Levy says, “I’ve never found money to be a compelling reason to do anything.”

Typical training required for a degree in biotechnology is a four-year bachelor’s degree, followed by three to five years of post-graduate work leading to a master’s or doctorate. Jobs are available with any of these levels of university education. “Above all, you need to have a love of science and a curiosity for the subject,” says Levy.

There’s no such thing as a typical day for Julia Levy. Some days are spent in meetings with other companies, others reading scientific literature, still others meeting her qlt colleagues to work out business strategies. Levy likes everything about her job except the travelling and talking to investors.

Career ideas:

  • Microbiologists and cell and molecular biologists research such areas as bacteria, fungi, viruses, tissues, cells, pharmaceuticals, and plant/animal toxins.
  • People in this group work in:
  • Biotechnology, chemical, pharmaceutical, food, health care, resource, environmental, and consulting companies, Government
  • Educational institutions, universities/research institutes, Forestry/agricultural sectors.
  • Learn more at Job Futures Canada.

Other scientists who may be of interest:

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