About Me

Hi! I'm Shirley Markant, PhD. I'm a career mentor focused on supporting scientists in career transitions away from the bench.

My professional background is as a cancer research scientist and a medical writer. I'm also the founder of Sequel to a PhD LLC, where our mission is to empower scientists to pursue impactful work that also honors individual values, personal genius, and ambitions beyond the research setting.

Highlights of Past Professional Experience


​Ph.D. in Molecular Cancer Biology, Duke University, 2013
B.A. in Cell and Molecular Biology, Cornell University, 2001

  • Established my own successful freelance medical writing business, with clients at CME companies, medical communications agencies, academic institutions, and other organizations.
  • ​Associate director at a continuing medical education company, crafting portions of grants to fund clinician education on the latest advances in therapies for cancer and other diseases.
  • ​Senior scientist and post-doctoral fellow at a large pharmaceutical company, supporting the development of novel anti-cancer therapies.
  • Additional research experience at Cornell University, Duke University, Harvard Medical School, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, and a small start-up pharmaceutical company. 

My Mentoring Approach


I am not your typical career coach.

 I am someone who has been a scientist, an academic.

Who has been through the fear, the obstacles involved in making a change in career pursuits after spending MANY years on the academic/industry research career path.

I am someone who still LOVES science, loves data, loves learning and putting knowledge together, loves doing work that is going to positively impact human health and well- being.

I am also someone who decided that I wanted to learn what life could be like outside of the world of bench research. Who found the courage to leave that path after 17 years, leave what I thought was my scientist identity behind (spoiler: that loss of identity didn’t happen - I’m still that scientist, it’s still a core part of who I am and how I approach the world, even though my day-to-day work now looks very different).

I am also someone who has learned to pursue a path based on what I want (vs. expectations), and how fulfilling and impactful my work/life can be when I’m pursuing my own individual ideals, ambitions, values.

But I know that it’s REALLY tough to make this change - I’ve been through it. I know that there’s a fear of “what will my boss, colleagues, mentors think?” And “what if I’m not even qualified to do anything else?” “What if I fail?” “What am I even qualified to do?” “How can I waste all of this experience, the pain, the challenges involved in getting though my PhD (and postdoc)…”

I get it. Truly.

I also wish that I had someone to help me figure all of this out, so that I could have made the change towards my more fulfilling life sooner.

So, that’s what I now want to do - to help you step forward, possibly out of the research path, into a career/job/ pursuits that light you up, helping you to reframe your story and recognize that anything is possible.

I’m not here to help you with resume keywords that match the algorithm or how to network, etc.

I’m here to help you figure out what the next chapter is on your career story, and how to figure out what to do to move forward. I will work with you with loving accountability, keeping you on track, but recognizing that this may be a process that takes whatever time you need it to take.

I can share my tips from my own experience, and from what I have learned from becoming both a medical writer and entrepreneur, but I have complete trust that the only person who ultimately knows the right choice is you.

A Few Personal Details

  • I'm a mom to two young girls and am driven by a desire for them (and everyone) to know that they are inherently worthy of pursuing the life of their dreams. 
  • I still call myself a scientist, despite being away from bench research for a few years now. Even though I'm not doing lab experiments, I believe that logic, reasoning, and love of evidence/data analysis shapes my view of the world, and this core perspective never really goes away.
  • I believe that we are constantly learning and growing, and that it's okay to make changes based on who we are now vs. who we used to be or what's expected of us.