Spring 2021 - "The Business of Biotechnology:" Live Discussion Sessions

March 10, 17, and 24, 3-5 PM ET

'The Business of Biotechnology' course materials are perpetually available on Thinkific and freely accessible to all who apply. Periodically, we supplement our virtual materials with breakout and discussion sessions on Zoom. Anyone who participates in our live discussions is expected to read Peter Kolchinsky's book, 'The Great American Drug Deal,' ahead of time. To register for our Spring 2021 live discussion sessions, please submit an application through Google Forms via the link provided below.

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Discussions Sessions:


  • LOCATION: Online (Thinkific & Zoom)
  • COST: Free
  • LECTURER: Peter Kolchinsky, Ph.D, Managing Partner, RA Capital
  • TEACHING ASSISTANTS: Jessica Sagers, Ph.D., Shan Shan Wang, Ph.D., Tom Culman
  • Eligibility: Though this course and its content are geared toward participants with a background in science and/or biotechnology, anyone who wants to learn how biomedical innovation is funded and can be affordable to patients is eligible to apply. The course is free of charge to all admitted.
  • PREP/READING TIME: Participants will be required to read The Great American Drug Deal by Peter Kolchinsky and review all materials on Thinkific.
  • Application Deadline: March 4, 11:59 PM ET


  • LIVE SESSION 1: Introduction to the Biotech Social Contract - March 10, 3:00-5:00 PM ET
  • It's critical for innovators to understand the role of insurance in determining access. If America adopts price controls, would investors still fund drug development?
  • LIVE SESSION 2: Game Theory in Biotech - March 17, 3:00-5:00 PM ET
  • Companies operate in a competitive arena and need to skate to where the puck is going to be. What makes a company attractive to acquirers?
  • LIVE SESSION 3: What Makes a Company Great? Reverse-Engineering Success and Failure in Biotech - March 24, 3:00-5:00 PM ET
  • Some companies that fail looked destined to succeed at the outset. And yet, some successes started with a lot of gaps. Innovators need to know which gaps investors will tolerate being filled in down the road.
  • OPTIONAL STUDENT PITCH TOURNAMENT: Business of Biotech Pitch-Off - March 24, 3:00-6:00 PM ET (Limited Space)
  • Participants will come prepared to deliver a <5 min pitch for an investment opportunity they have researched to pitch to one another in small groups. They will vote on which pitch will move on to the next round until a champion is decided. May the best pitch win!

Who is this for and why should you participate?

So much of what’s important to success in the biotechnology sector is not as it seems – we have watched many people (including ourselves) learn difficult lessons through trial and error. This seems inefficient and possibly unnecessary. We believe that by exposing people with the potential to be this industry’s future leaders to advanced concepts they might otherwise only learn later in their careers, they will better navigate the biotechnology industry and more quickly achieve their potential.

Our goal is to focus on concepts that are not yet taught in other biotechnology courses. For example:

  • Drug pricing influences R&D yet is widely misunderstood
  • Biotech business models that seem more stable can actually make a company more risky for both employees and investors than business models that may appear less stable
  • Entrepreneurs often struggle to reconcile the straightforward economic promises of the business plans they are pitching with the obscure behavioral economics that govern how investors often make decisions.

We can probably all remember a single course, a single lecture, or even a single book that fundamentally changed our thinking and repeatedly guides our decisions. That’s the kind of course we have designed: a short, intense upgrade for people planning on a career in or related to biotechnology, whether in companies, as investors, as lawyers, academic founders, or government.

Application Requirements

We run "The Business of Biotechnology" course in a "flipped classroom" style, where you are responsible for reading and working through all course materials on your own and then joining the larger group for three live discussion and breakout sessions. If you cannot make the live sessions, we also offer our online materials to those who wish to learn independently on their own time.

Participation in the live discussion sessions requires committing to read Peter Kolchinsky's The Great American Drug Deal and submitting a completed application via Google forms. To submit an application through Google forms, you must log in to a Google account. Users do not necessarily need Gmail addresses; any Google account will do (i.e. institution users of Google Apps for Education should be able to access the form without issues).

Apply now