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Life Sciences 101: The Challenges Of Research & Development

Today's life sciences industry is different from what it was from even five years ago. Numerous innovations are being made around the world every day. Regardless of the developments in technology, science, culture, or the arts, there are a number of things to anticipate outside of the spectrum.

The life sciences are one of the sectors that are constantly changing. The advancement and security of animal and human life have always been a priority of the life sciences sector.

As we dive deeper into this article, we will look at what life science is, examples of life science, its importance, challenges of its research and development, and life science trends.

What Is Life Science?

Life science, as the name might imply, is the study of life in all of its forms, both present, and past. This can include single-celled organisms, cells, plants, animals, viruses, and bacteria. The term "life sciences" refers to a group of specialties that study the biology of these organisms' lives.

As you might expect, there are many different forms of life you can study, including an estimated 8.7 million species of animals, about 400,000 species of plants, insects, and countless varieties of bacteria and viruses. Many researchers in the field of life sciences focus on a single group or organism, and some specialties, like zoology, have even more subspecialties.

The life sciences have more than thirty different subfields, but we'll focus on a few of the more significant ones here.

Examples of Life Sciences


Ecology explores how organisms and their surroundings interact. This can cover subjects like relationships within species, parasitic and beneficial relationships, and the food chain. Additionally, the study of ecology looks at biodiversity, the size, and the distribution of organism populations.

In essence, ecology seeks to gain a broad understanding of how ecosystems function. These systems are intricate, dynamic webs of life that are always changing and preserving a fine balance without which the system would break down. This ecosystem could be the size of a smaller pond or the size of an entire rainforest.


Pharmaceutical firms create and market drugs that treat, prevent, or hopefully cure illnesses and conditions. Generic or novel medications may be produced by pharmaceutical companies.

The global pharmaceutical market generated an estimated $1.42 trillion in revenue in 2021.1 Top pharmaceutical firms like AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Roche, Merck, Johnson & Johnson, and Novartis contributed significantly to the industry's expansion through the introduction of ground-breaking new products.



The most noticeable aspect of the life sciences is biotechnology. Simply put, biotechnology is a toolbox that allows us to use what we know about the natural sciences to develop solutions to many of the problems facing our planet today. We use biotechnology to produce medicines and vaccines to fight disease, as well as to grow food to feed our families. Even biotechnology is being used to find alternatives to fossil fuels for a cleaner, healthier environment.

We frequently consider biotechnology to be a brand-new field to research. But its long history dates back to 8000 B.C. when domesticating livestock and crops allowed for the advancement of civilization. Some timelines place the origins of biotechnology with Sumerian beer brewing.

The discovery of cells in the 17th century, followed by the discoveries of proteins and genes, had a significant influence on the development of biotechnology and life as we know it today.

Genetics, microbiology, animal cell culture, molecular biology, embryology, and cell biology are examples of pure biological sciences that serve as the foundation for biotechnology.

The life sciences industry sectors for development in agricultural biotechnology, biomanufacturing, human health, precision medicine, and medical devices and diagnostics are closely linked to biotechnology discoveries.

For instance, biomedical researchers can distinguish between sick and healthy cells using their knowledge of genes, cells, and proteins. Researchers can more easily create new medical diagnostics, devices, and therapies to treat diseases and chronic conditions once they understand how diseased cells are altered.

marine biology

Marine Biology

With one significant difference, marine biology can include many of the disciplines we've already mentioned. Marine biology studies all forms of ocean life, including whales, fish, plankton, and algae. It investigates various ocean ecosystems, food webs, botany, and other topics.

The majority of prevailing theories suggest that life on earth began in our oceans, which is one of the reasons marine biology is so important. There are some dinosaur-era species that are still swimming today. Studying these species can help us understand more about the laws that govern all life on earth because some species found at the bottom of the ocean appear to defy the laws that normally govern life.


Epidemiology is a look at the life cycles of diseases. Although it may seem strange to consider a disease like the flu as alive, it is made of tiny living organisms. Epidemiology examines how they develop, reproduce, interact with humans, and pass away.

The basis of public health is epidemiology, which examines patterns of disease outbreaks in order to develop treatments, cures, and vaccines. The more we understand how these organisms function, the more we can do to guard against them infecting us with the disease. Epidemiology and physiology are extremely connected, as one might anticipate.


Genetics is a discipline that dates all the way back to Gregor Mendel and his pea plants, despite the fact that the study of DNA and the genome is relatively recent. It examines the transmission of traits and how they change with the environment. We've only recently begun to comprehend the precise mechanism underlying that genetic inheritance.

Genetics has grown to include traits that we only suspect may be genetically linked since the discovery of DNA. Geneticists are researching whether and how traits like addiction, cancer, talent, and other similar things may be passed down. We might even witness genetic changes in the future that could fend off cancer.


Single-celled organisms or small cell colonies are some of the tiniest living things studied in microbiology. This can include the microscopic organisms that live on, in, and around us, such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Because it has been so difficult to get a clear picture of the subjects, microbiology has historically been one of the most difficult fields to define.

For instance, the study of viruses has both been included in and excluded from the discipline of microbiology. Viruses are one of those things that like to jump rope with the idea of what life is and how to define it specifically. Not to mention the 99 percent of microorganisms that are impossible to observe using conventional techniques.

What Is The Importance Of Life Science?

You'll gain a firm foundation in factual knowledge and novel perspectives on the world from studying the life sciences. The life sciences have an impact on every aspect of our existence, from health care and the environment to debates over regenerative medicine and genetic testing. The following includes the importance of life sciences.

An Understanding Of Life

The study of life sciences aids in our understanding of the disease, aging, and the life cycle. Even though this is important in and of itself, biological sciences have even more potential. They act as a foundation for new industries and the transition to a greener future, generating more jobs, services, and advantages for society, particularly in the health sector.

Reveals Every Area

Life science has investigated the oceans, the land, the air, the plains, the arctic, the woods, and the hills. You might be able to appreciate the world we live in and how crucial it is to protect it if you understand how life functions in our universe.

Interdisciplinary Advantage

The field of life sciences is interdisciplinary because researchers from various fields contribute to it. By combining the most recent research in academic disciplines like medicine and biology with new, improved analytical tools from other fields of science and mathematics, researchers in the life sciences create novel understanding.

In contrast to these, fields of social science and the humanities are used to study life sciences from a social perspective. Collaboration across fields can result in creative and unique solutions to problems that a single method or one field of study alone cannot solve.

Value Of Creation

The creation of value will be aided by the increased understanding brought about by investments in biological sciences, allowing attention to be directed elsewhere besides oil and gas.

The term "bioeconomics" is used to describe this novel method of wealth production. The four essential industries of agriculture, marine, health, and green industry, as well as other fields of expertise that cross specialties, will continuously support one another in a given area. To help fish grow, a human medical study will be conducted, and medical research will advance thanks to a better understanding of biology.

Challenges Of Research And Development In Life Sciences

The Covid-19 pandemic heightened awareness of the life sciences industry's research and development (R&D) capabilities.

Suddenly, everyone on earth had a stake in developing a novel treatment, which led to a better understanding of the body of work as a whole. A group of laypeople was discussing supply chains and clinical trials. Everyone is an authority.

Funding has increased as a result of this scrutiny. Another public health emergency has increased investment in a market that is already worth more than $2 trillion globally.

Below are some of the challenges of research and development in life sciences.

Changes In Government Regulations

Regulatory bodies conduct extensive inspections of life sciences companies. Patients must be safeguarded from physical harm, illness, injury, and attempts by criminals to access their health information.

As a result, regulations are strict and dynamic. Laws can differ significantly geographically as well. Just a few months after UK life sciences companies had to adjust to leaving the EU's R&D regulatory framework, for instance, the UK government announced a consultation looking into the regulations for clinical trials. To remain compliant, organizational flexibility and constant diligence are needed.

Key Exposures For Life Science & R&D Companies

Life science businesses are particularly vulnerable to a variety of risks. Health, intellectual property, and data protection are important factors to take into account, as we have mentioned throughout this article. In order to create a comprehensive set of insurance policies that cover all aspects of their business, it is crucial for organizations, especially start-ups, to seek advice.

First-To-Market Pressure

The pace of R&D has also come under more pressure as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Prior to 2019, Deloitte discovered that a new product's average life cycle, which takes into account research, regulatory body approval, patient recruitment, and clinical trials, was 6.9 years.2

During the pandemic, this varied slightly, creeping over seven years in 2020 before falling below that number in 2021. However, the vaccine's rapid production has increased the pressure on deadlines.

Speed has, of course, always been crucial. In the life sciences, R&D is the main source of income. Being the first to introduce a new drug treatment to the market frequently results in success and financial gain.

Additionally, it fosters fierce market competition. As businesses compete with one another, intellectual property disputes involving patented technologies and treatments are quite common.

Uncertainty Of Clinical Trials

The concept of experimentation is at the core of R&D in the life sciences. Major medical advancements would never have been made if a trial-and-error process hadn't been used. Although it is a necessary step, there are some risks involved.

A new product is first exposed to human use or consumption in clinical testing. It can result in physical harm or injury if handled improperly. Such incidents may generate negative publicity and subject the company to expensive legal action.

Life Sciences Trends

Below are a few examples of trends to consider.

What is the latest trend in research and development in life sciences?

A wide range of opportunities presented by applied artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to transform the pharmaceutical and medical device industries. To make predictions and carry out learned actions, artificial intelligence uses machine intelligence that has been taught. It is frequently used in a variety of fields, including pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, and healthcare.

For instance, pharmaceutical companies use AI technologies to accelerate drug research and development, create more affordable medicines and therapies, and cut costs while streamlining the drug discovery process.

Pharmaceutical companies can also benefit from AI's increased productivity, improved efficiency, and quick production of life-saving medications. The research and development of drugs and diagnostics can benefit from the implementation of AI technologies by biotech companies, such as those that can identify biomarkers.

Additionally, diagnostic tools use AI algorithms for image classification to aid doctors in the diagnosis of diseases like cancer. Phenotype screening and microbiome analysis are two additional uses of AI in the biotech industry.

Final Thoughts

The vast scientific field of life science seeks to provide answers to some of our most fundamental questions. It investigates everything, including the bacteria that control your digestive system and the blue whale breaching the ocean's surface in search of air. It examines how we live, where we live, and suggestions for a better way of life.

In addition to developing effective treatments and applications to combat COVID-19, the life sciences sector will continue to be at the forefront of research, investments, and the invention of new technologies every day.

This idea was reinforced by the pandemic because the industry has been working tirelessly and at an unprecedented rate to develop new treatments and quicken the delivery of already approved ones.

For additional information and insights, head over to the 20/15 Visioneers’ Industry Perspectives. There we discuss pertinent developments across industries. Schedule a free 30 minute consultation today to discuss best practices and help you map out the depth of your issues.


  1. Mikulic, M. (n.d.). Topic: Global Pharmaceutical Industry. Statista. Retrieved from

2. Life Sciences: The Challenges of Research & Development. Lockton. (n.d.). Retrieved from

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