Managing the Lab

Top Books for Biotech Founders

2021 broke records for biotech companies and funding. Funding increased by 60% from 2020 to 2021, Biotech founders are emerging left and right, and those with the right tools, roadmap, and support will come out successful.

When seeking inspiration to take your biotech startup to the next level of growth, is reading more your style? Or audiobooks? Founders naturally assume leadership roles so keeping up with the latest in research and educating yourself on best practices for growing your biotech operation will help you scale in an efficient and forward-thinking way.

As we saw in 2021, when vaccine researchers had to quickly adapt mRNA vaccines and speed up research — innovations in the industry have opened the door for new research in countless directions. With opportunities to make a global impact, biotech founders are being given new funding and the ability to start companies that could develop the next mainstream vaccine or medical treatment.

Leaders in the Biotech Space

What makes for an effective biotech leader? An understanding of the science is important, but equally as important are qualities like sales and marketing knowledge, vision, and people management and hiring expertise.

Here are some of the most successful biotech founders and what made them the visionaries in the space that they’ve become.

1. Stéphane Bancel, CEO, Moderna Therapeutics
Bancel attributes his success as a leader in the biotech industry to his interest in history, his liberal arts education, and his experience in sales and marketing that contributed to his achievements on “the business side” of his career.

2. Ryan Watts, CEO, Denali Therapeutics
Watts’ personal history with neurodegenerative diseases inspired his vision for the company, which was then backed by investors. The company attributes his success to his choice for his team who developed an innovative biotech platform.

3. Angela Hwang, President, Biopharmaceutics Group, Pfizer
Hwang led the vaccine rollout for Pfizer, and combined direct-to-consumer education along with the rollout to improve compliance and understanding among vaccine recipients. With her background in sales, marketing, and management, she has grown as a critical business leader within Pfizer over the past two decades.

Books for Biotech Founders

Biotech leaders are committed to helping the next generation of scientists to be successful and push the limits of science and technology through research. Biotech founders can learn the lessons that their predecessors had to experience the hard way and be strategic, efficient, and sustainable from the start.

Read on for recommendations of books for biotech founders and lab managers to help inspire, educate, motivate, and entertain.

Inspirational Books for Biotech Founders


1. Genentech: The Beginnings of Biotech by Sally Smith Hughes
This book tells the story of Genentech starting in the 1980s and, through personal stories, interviews, and detailed accounts from the founding, walks through the company’s business growth as a biotech leader, laying the foundation for the biotech industry as we know it.

2. Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
An award-winning book and memoir about the life of a paleobiologist that will inspire biotech founders to pursue their passions.

Books on Entrepreneurship for Biotech Founders

3. Biotechnology Entrepreneurship: Starting, Managing, and Leading Biotech Companies by Craig Shimasaki
This book teaches readers how to translate a scientific idea into a business with lessons learned and leadership advice from day-to-day concerns to larger, big picture strategy.

4. The Pharmagellan Guide to Biotech Forecasting & Valuation by Frank S. David
A helpful tool for understanding the valuation and projections of scientific startups, this book is essential to any biotechs going through the funding process.

5. The Billion-Dollar Molecule by Barry Werth
A journalist’s look at the world of pharmaceutical development, this book is a page-turner and is perfect for a vacation or trip. Werth explores Vertex’s development of a new immunosuppressant drug and the overall “business of science.”

Vacation Reads for Biotech Founders


6. Autonomous: A Novel by Annalee Newitz
This exciting read features drug hacking, patent scientists, and an unlikely partnership in 2144. It’s a look into a futuristic world where the protagonist relies on biotechnology and a page turner for scientists or biotech founders.

7. The Martian by Andy Weir
Also a popular film starring Matt Damon, The Martian details the life of a botanist living on Mars. It’s an easy, entertaining, and inspirational read.


Inspiration can strike at any moment, and the most successful companies take scientific promise and add business strategy. For the most revolutionary developments in medicine and biotechnology to happen, founders need to be skilled in communicating in business language.

Read more on conducting market research to think strategically about your biotech startup’s growth here.

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