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Why It’s Time to Retire the Term “Life Sciences”

merriam-webster_dictionaryI originally thought about titling this piece “Life Sciences, Biosciences, BioPharma, Biotech, and Healthcare: What’s the Difference?” but that was simply too unwieldy. Many people use these terms interchangeably without thinking about what they specifically refer to, and which types of jobs and activities they encompass. Are they all the same thing? I don’t think so, and using the wrong term often leaves many of us swimming in a sea of confusion. Let me illustrate my concerns by sharing some definitions taken from the Free Dictionary Online:

Life Science: “Any of several branches of science, such as biology, medicine, anthropology, or ecology, that deal with living organisms and their organization, life processes, and relationships to each other and their environment. Also called bioscience.”

BioPharma: Surprisingly, this widely used term is not found in this dictionary or the Merriam-Webster online dictionary. I use it frequently to mean biotechnology and/or pharmaceuticals, but where I don’t want to assign something to either subcategory. Biopharmaceutical did make it into the dictionary, defined as “(Biochemistry) of or relating to drugs produced using biotechnology”, but this is not tantamount to biopharma.

Bioscience: Another name for life science.

Click here to read more from this March 4, 2014 Xconomy article by Stewart Lyman.

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