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Marilyn MorrisMarilyn Morris, Ph.D., is the 2013 AAPS president-elect.

What educational background produces the best scientific entrepreneurs? Generally, it is reasoned that a background in engineering, mathematics, and science is necessary and that engineers, due to their problem solving skills, make the best scientific entrepreneurs. But do you need a degree in science to be an entrepreneur, or are scientists missing the creative education found in the humanities? Steve Jobs said, “It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough. It’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our heart sing. And nowhere is that more true than in these post-PC devices.”

In the The New York Times, Vivek Wadhwa reported that when he surveyed 652 United States-born executive officers and heads of product engineering at 502 technology companies, he found that only 37% held degrees in computer technology or engineering. The rest had degrees in business, accounting, finance, health care, arts, and the humanities. In interviewing founders of Silicon Valley start-up companies, Wadhwa noted, “The most common traits I have observed are a passion to change the world and the confidence to defy the odds and succeed.” In hiring workers, he has seen no relationships between success and field of study or school of graduation, but people who are motivated, driven, and have the ability to learn from mistakes and work hard are the ones who succeed.

In a story recorded by Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis, AAPS Fellow and entrepreneur Ron Bowsher, Ph.D., discusses innovation in pharmaceutical entrepreneurship: “As part of the journey, we have to be perceptive enough to take advantage of opportunities that come our way…. If we don’t look around and be open to new opportunities, we may miss the big one.” So the best background for a pharmaceutical entrepreneur? Merge your scientific and creative strengths, work hard, and be innovative.

What is it in your educational background, or personality, that has been most crucial in your success?