Nucleate Launches First Entrepreneurial Scientist Playbook on Partnering With Pharma

5 min readJan 23, 2024

Nucleate, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering tomorrow’s biotech leaders by educating today’s academic trainees, is delighted to announce the release of their inaugural Entrepreneurial Scientist Playbook, “Partnering With Pharma.” This effort, driven by Nucleate’s Research Initiative, received generous support from Schmidt Futures along with two additional playbooks still in production. As with all Nucleate initiatives, this playbook is free and publicly available.

Nucleate is thrilled to offer open-access resources to the community through its Research Initiative, a global effort that provides context and understanding to the complex landscape of biotech education. In line with Schmidt Futures’ mission to support exceptional people working to solve hard problems in science and society, Nucleate aims to support the next generation of life science talent from academic labs worldwide to tackle the world’s pressing biomedical and ecological challenges.

“Nucleate’s Entrepreneurial Scientist Playbooks address the critical knowledge gaps faced by PhD students and postdoctoral fellows when transitioning from academic research projects to thriving companies,” said Sammi Sison, Nucleate Co-President and Founding EVP of the Research Initiative. “I am so excited to be launching our first playbook, “Partnering with Pharma”, as this is an area that has very few resources available publicly for life science founders to reference. I couldn’t be more proud to offer this resource open-source for the community to benefit.”

The “Partnering With Pharma” playbook explores the process of creating partnerships between pharmaceutical companies and startups from the first meeting to past the term sheet. To gather information for the playbook, a team of three fellows — Lauren Stanwicks, Soumil Mhaskar, and Carolyn McGrail — conducted interviews with business development professionals from both large-cap bio-pharma companies and startups. They also collected data from publicly available resources and worked closely in collaboration with the partnerships teams at Roche and Genentech. The team was dedicated to empirically understanding the intricacies of the pharma partnership process.

The academic trainee Playbook Fellows who researched and wrote the Partnerships with Pharma playbook.

“Over the last five years, a significant portion of the top 20 pharmaceutical companies’ revenue has been derived from externally sourced assets through partnerships. Our objective was to demystify these partnership processes for budding entrepreneurs and innovators,” said Lauren Stanwicks, the Partnerships Playbook Lead Author and UCSD PhD student. “We hope this playbook will prove to be a valuable guide for those interested in forging partnerships with pharmaceutical companies. We are deeply grateful for the opportunity presented by Schmidt Futures to work with the playbooks team and our content partner Roche and Genentech for their aid in developing this open-access resource.”

Complementing this playbook, Nucleate just finished its inaugural Business Development 101 course also in partnership with Genentech, further expanding the resources available to academic trainees venturing beyond academia.

“We applaud Nucleate’s commitment to empowering the next generation of life science leaders through their ‘Partnering With Pharma’ playbook and BD101 Course. As industry partners, Roche and Genentech are proud to collaborate on this initiative, sharing insights and expertise to demystify the intricate process of partnerships between pharmaceutical companies and startups. This playbook is a valuable resource, reflecting our collective dedication to fostering innovation and collaboration in the dynamic landscape of biotech.” Marissa Pettit Jones, Director of Business Development at Roche and Genentech and Co-Founder of Nucleate

The full Partnering With Pharma Playbook can be accessed on Nucleate’s website here.

Read more about Nucleate’s Entrepreneurial Scientist Playbooks here.

Questions about Nucleate’s Playbooks can be directed to

About Nucleate

Nucleate is a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering the next generation of biotech leaders, with chapters spanning 23 regions and participation from over 120 academic institutions. Nucleate identifies future biotech entrepreneurs, removes barriers, and helps founders concentrate on building transformational technologies.

Nucleate’s programs are made possible thanks to our generous sponsors: (platinum) Alnylam, Genentech, Pillar, BlueYard, Eli Lilly, Millipore Sigma; (gold) Alexandria LaunchLabs; (silver) Schrodinger, Biocom California, Chromatic, Qiagen; and philanthropic support from Schmidt Futures and Lyda Hill Philanthropies. Visit for our regional sponsors and more information.

About Schmidt Futures

Schmidt Futures is a philanthropic initiative founded by Eric and Wendy Schmidt that bets early on exceptional people making the world better. They knit talent into networks, bet on the most promising ideas through diverse forms of competition and support, and equip people to scale through partners and modern tools. To realize this vision, Schmidt Futures uses a broad set of tools — including gifts, grants, other capital structures, and startup activity — for charitable, educational, and commercial efforts with a public purpose.

About Roche and Genentech Partnering

Roche is one of the world’s largest biotech companies, as well as a leading provider of in-vitro diagnostics and a global supplier of transformative innovative solutions across major disease areas. Genentech is a leading biotechnology company that discovers, develops, manufactures and commercializes medicines to treat patients with serious or life-threatening medical conditions. In 2009, Genentech became a member of the Roche group and the headquarters for Roche pharmaceutical operations in the United States. In 2018, Roche Partnering and Genentech Partnering merged into one global team that provides comprehensive business development and alliance management support for Roche and Genentech. At Roche and Genentech, the unique company structure and culture allow them to build deep and long-lasting connections with their partners to translate pioneering science into breakthroughs for patients. They believe partnering with other companies creates a resilient and agile ecosystem, allowing innovation to thrive.