Equity Research Analyst


Equity Research Analysts apply their medical, scientific, and analytical expertise to recommend investments in healthcare and biotechnology companies. The health care sector accounts for 18% of the United States GDP, so healthcare, biotech, and pharma expertise is advantageous to investment banks and equity research firms.

Interested in Equity Analysis? Check out our overview of this career at the link on the right for more information on this career and the skills you will need to succeed.

Jeff Chen, PhD
Biotechnology Equity Research Associate, Cowen and Company.
PhD, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Cellular and Molecular Medicine Program, 2014

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Dr. Jeff Chen is a Biotechnology Equity Research Associate at Cowen and Company. He graduated from the Cellular and Molecular Medicine Program in 2014.

How did you become interested in a career in Equity Research?
After college, I did some research in a lab at Rockefeller University. My PI was very interested in monetizing research, and from that I realized that there is a whole other aspect to science, apart from bench work. I carried that interest in biotech companies through to my graduate work, and opened a brokerage account in my spare time during my PhD to practice researching and investing. These experiences showed me that I really enjoy the overlap between research and the financial side of science. In the last year of my PhD, I applied to both consulting and equity research positions, but quickly realized that I wanted to move straight into equity research.
Why Equity Research and not another career that combines business and research?
I like the news flow – there’s so much going on all the time that there’s never a boring moment. I also like that you can make money directly off of the knowledge that you gain in your scientific training. You can take the scientific and financial data from a biotech company and formulate a thesis – very much like science – about how much the company is worth. In relatively short amount of time, especially compared to bench work, you get to see the results, and if you’re right, you can make a lot of money!
What prior knowledge do you need to be successful in Equity Research?
You have to start off with your basic science knowledge. The knowledge of clinical research I got from the CMM program helped too. I use this knowledge to speak with key opinion leaders in the field in their own language, so to speak.

Most of my financial knowledge is self-taught. I didn’t take any business classes, just the hypothesis-testing investing I started in graduate school. There is some on-the-job training – different banks will be pretty diverse in what they’re willing to train you on.
What does an average day at work look like?
My job varies a great deal, day-to-day, but there’s always a lot of thinking, reading, writing and talking. I cover about 18 stocks right now in all types of therapeutic markets, so I have to follow any news or events having to do with those companies. I meet with management from these companies frequently to learn their expectations and upcoming plans and goals. I also have to keep on top of the primary literature in the fields I cover.

I meet with new companies as they are fundraising or preparing for an IPO. I also meet with our clients, like mutual funds or hedge funds to answer their questions about companies I cover or biotech developments in general. That can be quite time-consuming and involve making quick decisions with lots of money on the line. You have to be very careful what you say and also be right about what you know!
What should PhD students and postdocs be doing to prepare for a career in Equity Research?
The number one thing we look for when hiring is excellent science, which, rightly or wrongly, comes down to an impressive publication record.

You should also prepare yourself for the transition by following a couple of companies. You don’t have to necessarily invest. Use your background – whatever you’re already working on, I’m sure there are a couple of companies in that field. Evaluate their pre-clinical data, and make some predictions about their financial future. Is their product likely to succeed, or not?

I also recommend becoming comfortable looking at financials. That’s not something that we require for hires at our company, but it’s always a bonus. If you have time, business classes never hurt, but we are much more interested in your scientific background.
Any last advice?
Don’t get discouraged. This is a difficult job to get right out of the PhD and there aren’t that many job openings, but it is possible, especially with a degree from Hopkins.