The implosion of employment in the pharmaceutical industry continues, as Roche recently announced plans to close the distinguished research center that has been located in Nutley, New Jersey, for over 80 years. The facility gave the world the benzodiazapines, including Valium and Librium, which opened the way for modern pharmacological psychiatry and the tuberculosis drug Isoniazid, among numerous other important advances. It currently houses research in virology and oncology, and a thousand employees, including many scientists, are set to lose their jobs.
I’ve written before about the massive job losses that have hit my home state’s pharma workers. But over at Chemical & Engineering News, blogger David Kroll provides a revealing insight into what the Nutley research campus meant to those living nearby. A beacon of opportunity, for generations the campus made becoming a scientist an exciting and highly desirable ambition, explained Kroll, a chemist and former Jersey boy. An uncle of Kroll’s was a maintenance man for the company that was long the town’s leading employer. Kroll’s relatives “hoped I’d be like Uncle Tommy and work at Roche, but as a scientist,” he writes. Kroll did, in fact, interview for a research post at Nutley after earning his Ph.D. “I chose to go elsewhere but I credit the presence of Roche with inspiring me to a career in pharmaceutical sciences.” Kroll became a molecular cancer pharmacologist and took a professor position in a state university in North Carolina.
That’s what we at Science Careers have long observed–it’s not only an interest in science that persuades bright young people that they ought to be scientists. It’s also believing that they can have excellent, worthwhile, prestigious careers–certainly not what talented students in northern or central New Jersey are observing today. We’ll get more of our brightest young people to follow Kroll into research when they, like his younger self, see that as the path to secure, successful careers.