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Alumni Profiles

Zhu Shen, MBA '98: Bridging the Divide

zhushen Zhu Shen interviewed for a Business Week article, "Chinese Scientists Build Big Pharma Back Home"

As an expert in navigating China's business environment, Zhu Shen, CEO of consulting firm BioForesight, helps U.S. firms establish partnerships and secure investor funding in that country's growing life sciences/biotechnology industry.

"The business opportunities in China are phenomenal compared to just four years ago," she says. Recent advances in the Chinese biotech industry are due in large part to the growing number of "sea turtles," Chinese nationals who return home after studying and/or working abroad, bringing their expertise to China's growing markets.

Opportunities for investors and others doing business in China include licensing new drugs, Zhu says, noting that improved research has led to innovations sought by biotech companies worldwide. Outsourcing services in chemistry, drug design, and biology to China, such as testing chemicals and conducting trials in research labs, also offer significant opportunities for U.S. firms. And China is a good place for manufacturing biological drugs such as vaccines and antibodies, she adds.

A former life sciences researcher, Zhu's work in profiling biotech companies in China led her to write a comprehensive analysis of China's pharmaceutical and life sciences industry, "Unleash the Dragon," first published in Pharmaceutical Executive magazine in 2004. Her updated sequel, on financing and investment opportunities in Chinese life sciences, was published in September 2008. Zhu has shared her expertise through features in numerous professional journals, and she is a respected media source, quoted regularly in the national press.

Zhu, who serves on the board of directors of the Sino-American Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Professionals Association (SABPA), received their Achievement Award in 2007 and 2008, and the Asian Heritage Award in Science, Technology, and Research in 2006.

Zhu was born and raised in China, where her mother wrote a book on advanced farming practices that changed the landscape of agriculture in China, and her father, a chemist, was an executive at Sinopec, one of the country's largest state-owned companies.

"I earned an MBA in an effort to pursue a business career after having success with cross-cultural training and consulting," says Zhu, who holds a PhD in biochemistry from the University of Colorado. "Many companies don't understand the significant cultural differences between the U.S. and China; I can help them negotiate more effectively."

As an active mentor to Johnson School MBA students, Zhu advises students and enables them to attend conferences and network with industry leaders. "I feel very strongly that it's an important responsibility to remain involved with the school," she says. "Each incoming class has questions about how to advance in a career."

- Jay Wrolstad