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Product Management in Life Sciences

February 14, 2023

In the digital age, product management is the organizing principle for bringing quality, user-focused products to market. In no industry is a well-defined and executed product development framework more critical than in life sciences.  

Product manager jobs in life sciences oblige a unique multidisciplinary skill set and knowledge base. This expertise reflects the unique human impact, regulatory complexity, and quality assurance standards inherent in the field.  

Let’s explore the landscape of life sciences, product management, and how professionals can prepare for a career that helps ensure population health and well-being in a rapidly changing environment.  

Life Sciences: Trends and Opportunities for Product Managers

It’s difficult to discuss life sciences product management without considering the elephant in the room: COVID-19. The development of mRNA technology used in the SARS-CoV-2 vaccines represents a “revolution” in life science product development. 

COVID showed us that in the urgency of the moment, teams of dedicated and talented professionals can rise to the occasion, changing the face of healthcare. Product managers helped lead the way from the laboratory to shots in arms and lives saved. 

But COVID and vaccine development are not the only trends dominating the life sciences and healthcare sectors.  

While hardly exhaustive, the following trends highlight opportunities for product manager jobs in life sciences. 

Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS)  

NGS “refers to the process of determining the sequence of nucleotides in DNA,” writes Matt Crown on LinkedIn. In short, NGS describes various techniques for determining DNA or RNA sequences.  

Next-generation sequencing technology vastly improves sequencing efficiency and speed at a lower cost than previous methods. The process allows the study and analysis of a range of biological systems at a resolution previously not possible.  

Applications include non-invasive cancer biopsies, biomarkers for cancer protection, and genome mapping for predicting and analyzing chronic and infectious diseases.  

According to Crown, the NGS market reached a global valuation of $13.82 billion in 2021. Forecasters expect the market to grow to $40.25 billion by 2027. In this environment, product managers play a critical role in exploring effective new applications for the technology. 

MedTech and Healthcare Consumerism

Medical devices are getting smaller, smarter, and more connected. A confluence of technological, material, and manufacturing innovation is fundamentally changing healthcare.  

For example, minimally invasive devices, implants, and robotics reduce patient trauma, speed recovery, and reduce costs. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and the Internet of Things drive innovation in wearable devices and implants resulting in better health outcomes. Self-monitoring and mass customization help patients engage proactively in their health.  

In fact, the rise of healthcare consumerism may, in many instances, make the term “patient” anachronistic. A patient implies a passive relationship to healthcare. Acting instead as “healthcare consumers,” people are now “demanding an experience equivalent to what they’re used to from other products in their lives,” writes Nehal Pandya.  

We are accustomed to responsive and seamless e-commerce, SaaS, streaming platforms, and digital payments. Why should health and well-being be any different?  

“Any consumer-facing product (a mobile app, a web-based patient portal, a tech-enabled service) needs to meet high expectations,” says Pandya. All this points to “opportunities for building innovative products with ‘healthcare consumerism’ as a key product philosophy.” 

These two brief examples don’t scratch the surface of the rapid evolution and burgeoning opportunities in life sciences.  

Product Manager Jobs in Life Sciences

Product managers are like orchestra conductors. They don’t necessarily play a specific instrument, but they bring out the best in the musicians under their leadership. They know how each individual player contributes to the whole. Perhaps most importantly, they know the score.  

A skilled product manager is an empathetic leader, user-focused strategic thinker, and multidisciplinary expert. She knows the score. Talented product managers are in demand, especially in healthcare and life sciences.  

According to McKinsey, market forces in life sciences have “raised the profile and importance of technology in the industry. Accordingly, there is a new sense of urgency in hiring and retaining the talent required by these changes.” Data from Comparably shows the median annual salary for a life sciences product manager is $126,897.  

Product manager jobs in life sciences are an opportunity to work in a rewarding, lucrative, and thriving profession. Even more, they are an opportunity to influence the health and well-being for millions of people.       

Earn a Master’s in Product Management, Life Sciences Concentration

The online Master of Science in Product Management degree program provides professionals with the advanced skills and knowledge to lead product management teams.  

The 33-credit curriculum covers core skills and principles of product innovation, design, scheduling, marketing, data science, accounting, and engineering management.  

The industry-aligned life sciences concentration further prepares students to lead product development projects in biotechnology, life sciences, and healthcare. 

The concentration explores directly regulated life sciences products and services, including pharmaceuticals, biotech, and medical devices. It also includes less regulated supporting products, technologies, and tools to create these innovations.

Modules in the life sciences concentration include: 

  • Innovation in Life Sciences 
  • Regulatory, Reimbursement and IP Considerations in Life Sciences 
  • Life Sciences Capstone 

In addition to the MS degree program, Merrimack offers a Foundations Graduate Certificate in Life Sciences. The 100% online certificate program offers a focused, fast-paced, and comprehensive grounding in the foundational skills to launch a career in life sciences product management.  

This is an exciting time to specialize in life sciences product management. If you’re ready to help people live healthier lives, Merrimack College is ready for you.