Unscripted | Episode 6

Navigating Medical Training to Biotech: Dr. Laliotis‘ Journey

In this episode of Unscripted, host Addison Uheling sits down with Dr. George Laliotis to explore the intersection of medical training and biotech careers. Dr. Laliotis shares his journey from Greece to the U.S., detailing his extensive background in RNA biology, internal medicine, and clinical trial design. They discuss the skills necessary to succeed in both the medical and biotech fields, the importance of bridging healthcare and business, and the unique opportunities available to medical professionals in the biotech industry. Tune in to learn about the challenges and rewards of transitioning from academia to biotech, and how medical professionals can make a significant impact in this rapidly evolving field.

Published on
June 13, 2024

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Unscripted interviews physicians about common struggles that doctors face today

Addisyn Uehling: Welcome to Unscripted. I’m, your host, Addisyn Uehling. In this series, we have candid one on one conversations with physicians about common struggles that doctors face in today’s world. On today’s show, we will be sitting down with Dr. George Laliotis to talk about medical training and biotech careers on today’s episode of, unscripted. Thank you so much for joining us today.

Dr. George Laliotis is a physician scientist working in biomarker discovery

Could you please start by introducing yourself and sharing a little bit about your background?

Dr. George Laliotis: Of course. Hi. Thank you for having me. It’s great to be here with you. So, my name is Dr. George Laliotis. I’m, a physician scientist. I’m originally from Greece, so I’ve been in the US for a couple of years now. I’ve been trained in gas biology, rna biology, in internal medicine, and now I’m working in biotech industry, clinical trial design, and translational medicine for biomarker discovery. And we will expand more in our discussion.

Addisyn Uehling: Awesome. Awesome. So kind of what sparked your, interest in the medical field?

Dr. George Laliotis: Yeah, so, you know, I always had an interest in science since I’ve been illegal. So I also always liked biology. You know, in my small mind, I was not able to understand what’s biology, but, you know, I was able to understand that little things coming together. And then I learned that these things are molecules either way. So when I was going through high school, I like biology. I liked interacting with people. I liked the curiosity of how things are working. So, for me, kind of medical school, it was, you know, one way road. So then when, I entered medical school, you know, this passion was actually more about research about how things are working. And because, also my family had a lot of incidences of, cancer, you know, beside the family. And so final years in med school, I decided that I would like to spend some more time understanding mechanism of, oncology and hematology. So here I am.

Addisyn Uehling: Awesome. That’s super cool.

Um, can you share a little bit about your, um, background in medicine

can you kind of share a little bit about your, background in, like, what residency did you go to? Where did you go to med school? Kind of a little bit about your schooling.

Dr. George Laliotis: Yeah, of course. So I went, in University of Crete in, in Greece. I’m originally from there, you see, in the south. medical, school back home is six years compared to four years here in the US. Then I came here, I started my PhD. Initially I was in Tufts medical center, then Ohio state, and then Johns Hopkins here in Baltimore. I did, m the prelim preliminary year of internal medicine. Then many things changed. I got married, my priorities changed and I started after this, a long five and a half years of schooling to transition into. Currently I’m wrapping up my first year of MBA here at transport institute.

Addisyn Uehling: Okay, awesome. That’s super.

Dr. George Laliotis: A lot of school basically.

Addisyn Uehling: Yeah, basically that’s kind of what that sounds like. Yeah. So what do you want to do with that? Like what do you want to do with this now MBA and all of your past experience in medical school?

Dr. George Laliotis: Yeah, so that’s a very good question. So I saw, I was very confident. Out of medical school you can achieve a lot, you can have an understanding, but certainly just medical education and medical school, like bench work, you know, PhD and all of this, they do not, you are not ready at all for, especially in the US in 2024. You know, healthcare is a business, healthcare is a product. How you can be in the front of new ideas, how to bring affordable peer to patients, have health equity, but also to create profit because, you know, this is how the system works. So I saw that I was liking a lot of skills and not skills necessarily, also skills, also frameworks and way of thinking of how to approach like problems in a scaling manner, how we can have healthcare issues and gaps in the, in the market, in the business to bridge everything, you know, for profit and also for patient outcomes. So I’m planning to utilize all this, you know, knowledge as of now, post MBA, to drink everything together.

Addisyn Uehling: Yeah, that sounds super cool.

Currently my current role is remotely. It has a lot of analytics meetings, some strategy meetings

so what exactly does your day to day look like?

Dr. George Laliotis: Okay, so maybe I will include, yeah, so I wake up in the morning, I’m trying to do some day activities like gym and stuff. Then the majority of the days I have class. and then. So currently my current role hopefully is remotely. It has a lot of analytics meetings, some strategy meetings to create plans for gain, cultural execution, to do some coding as well, you know, the stats and how, you know, the samples are being processed and more meetings, more discussion,


Dr. George Laliotis: a lot of thinking, some writing. So you see a lot of, you know, plethora of different activities and things while you are in the studio.

Addisyn Uehling: Yeah, yeah, that’s super cool.

It takes a unique skill to be a medical professional, but also in biotech

so I feel like it kind of takes a unique skill to be a medical professional, but also in the biotech industry, where do you feel like, being a medical professional, how does that set, you differently in that, in the industry?

Dr. George Laliotis: Yeah. So that’s a good question. So basically you can compare someone with a, medical background. Of course, if you are, you work in industry, you have always in your mind the profit for the business, how to make a, ah, product very appealing. But always in the end of the day you’re having back in your mind that this is going. So you always see the cost and benefit in your mind, not only just to drive cost and to increase your revenue and reduce cost, but also have in mind what the actual impact that you’re making. Plus you have other type of skills, you know, in analytics, in methodical thinking. Because when we’re doing differential diagnosis for example, is very important to have step by step thinking. So when you take these frameworks and you apply them in industry or any type of biotech, is going to help you a lot. It’s a very good, toolkit. Just go back when you face, discontinued.

Addisyn Uehling: Yeah, for sure.

How did you prepare for going into biotech industry after medical school

how do you feel like, how did you effectively brand yourself so that in this biotech industry, because it’s kind of different for a lot of medical students, instead of going right into practice, going into this biotech industry, how did you struggle with that? How did you get through that?

Dr. George Laliotis: Yeah, no, that’s another great point. So of course I was not the exception. I applied in several positions. It was my first position out of academia. So it was pretty challenging for to land on my third job. So basically I granted myself around the medical knowledge that I have, analytic skills from the, you know, the research years and everything else. But also I bring some knowledge, about how the clinic is working, what is the priority of the patient, all the dynamic between, you know, insurance and healthcare professional patients, how the cs are, working and also what the patient needs to hear or like how a common physician would like to hear from the product in order, you know, to prescribe a drug, a therapeutic, to have a new approach. So actually having this type of exposure in the past, it’s able to bring this forward to make as an appealing professional that has the skills that some of you know, already possesses, but has some other background that can help promote a product, enhance the marketing and so on and so forth.

From your experience in the biotech industry, where do you feel opportunity for medical professionals

Addisyn Uehling: From your experience in the biotech industry, where do you feel like there’s opportunity for medical professionals to come in and really change that and grow that?

Dr. George Laliotis: Yeah, so there are a lot of different types of industries, either scientific, communications and medical writing, medical affairs, clinical trial operations, analytics, you know, even self care marketing before business development, clinical development, all basically in a higher level to prioritize and also strategy, how to prioritize what type of studies and new trials and infrastructure about the needs, actually to bridge the gap between the market needs and also, what is happening in the clinic, what is the clinical need for the patients, what drugs are missing, what outcomes are affecting the patients. So, especially for those that they have like longer training into academia and some training programs, I think they’re going to be great, great candidates. You know, especially now that the biotech is switching more to, you know, data driven environments that, you know, all the new companies that they’re like spearheading, all the technologies they’re working ah, around data and they want people that they know medicine, but they also understand data. So medical school and residency, everyone is doing research in med school and doing residency. These are excellent skills for someone to brand themselves m for the future workforce.

Addisyn Uehling: Yeah, for sure. We talked to a lot of physicians who are attending and practicing now. what would you say? We talk a lot about work life balance and burnout.

How do you feel about work life balance and burnout in biotech industry

With that, how do you feel like work life balance and burnout is different in the biotech industry and what you do?

Dr. George Laliotis: Yeah, of course, also in industry is pretty challenging, but you have in industry a lot of remote opportunities. So you can work from home, have some more downtime for activities that you like for your family, a lot of things. Also, you can travel more for, you know, for conferences, so you have other, you know, funding available for these type of things.

Dr. George Laliotis: Develop medical professionals, they’re very eager to travel in big conferences and that’s very much been discussed with other professionals. You learned about the new developments in the field. So in academia, in some cases, especially during training, it’s pretty challenging because the funding is not there. So many young residents, they need to have out of pocket, which already the salary in residencies are very competitive. And also, you have a lot of exposure in different departments, so you can have personal development as well, so you can balance your life the way that you like, you can have a better salary, better condition, and also learn a lot. So it’s, for me so far, has worked very well.

Addisyn Uehling: Yeah.

Dr. George Laliotis: So, overall feel very satisfying.

Addisyn Uehling: Yeah, that’s so great. That’s so great to hear. You really want to have a job, that you come home feeling really satisfied and that you did something right. And, I feel like that definitely sounds like what you feel like and that’s really cool.

What advice would you give to medical professionals who are on the edge

Would you say kind of give some examples of the opportunities that you’ve seen and the impact that you’ve had in like the biotech industry or how, how can medical professionals do that?

Dr. George Laliotis: Yeah, so, depending on the type of industry and depending on the size as well, it says, so if you working in a startup or a medium size or a big pharma. Of course the impact is different. If you go into a big pharma, you have more career security, but you’re kind of, you know, you’re, how you’re doing one specific thing. although in, you know, smaller sizes and startups can have a lot of impact, although you know, the pace is quicker. So, bottom line, for medical professionals, that can have a lot of impact, especially in the way of thinking and how tasks can be strategized, how again, gaps in in medical knowledge can be utilized and, you know, all the professionals that bring a lot of skills, you know, throughout medical school and, you know, although in the past it was kind of stigmatized, if you haven’t gone through the canonical training and so on, now more biotech industry, they would like, physicians or you know, PhD students and graduates that they can be out there in the field. So they bring a lot of value.

Addisyn Uehling: So what advice would you give to medical professionals who are kind of on the edge? They don’t know whether they want to do biotech or whether they want to go into a practicing physician role.

Dr. George Laliotis: Yeah, so I think what I did when I was trying to decide what.