Meet Dae-Gon Ha, Equity Research Associate at Leerink Partners, LLC


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Describe your job and what you do on a day-to-day basis.

As research analysts, my job is to stay up-to-date on news flow that relates to companies that is in our “coverage universe” and either 1) convey such information and what it means for the stock to our clients (ie. mutual funds, hedge funds, and other institutional clients), or 2) update our financial model to project a “fair value” of that company (ie. stock price). Usually these two tasks are performed simultaneously as clients will often ask: “so, what does this mean for the stock? Do I buy or sell here?” As the public markets have become more global with implications as distant as China’s economy to something closer, such as a direct competitor reporting very negative clinical trial data, our perspectives and opinions need to broadly encompass multiple factors when addressing this “seemingly” simple question. Since we fall under the financial services category, our clients’ satisfaction ultimately drives our firms’ revenue.

How did you get your first job out of academia?

I reached out to LinkedIn contacts (MBAs, PhDs, and MDs) currently in finance and/or consulting for advice on the transition from academia into the corporate world. I also sought advice from friends currently in finance to better comprehend the job and its responsibilities. Lastly, when my research was complete and I understood the nature of the job, I submitted resumes on online portals (usually unsuccessful, but worth pursuing anyway) and directly contacted Managing Directors (MDs) for an informational interview. In two instances, an informational interview led to a job interview and where I’m at today.

Tell us about your academic background.

My PhD work focused on bacterial group behavior inside a human host, but particularly in the cystic fibrosis lung. Both cell-to-cell messenger molecules (called quorum sensing) and intra-cellular messenger molecules (second messenger molecules such as cyclic diguanylate/c-di-GMP) dictate numerous cellular behaviors and functions. I was able to identify how different external stimuli activate distinct proteins involved in the synthesis and detection of these molecules to generate a specific phenotype.

During my post-doc, I sought to identify novel compounds that could work synergistically with conventional antibiotics (eg. Ampicillin) to boost the bactericidal (bacteria-killing) effect on Gram-negative bacteria. The work involved high-throughput screening (150K+ compounds) and microscopy in an attempt to unravel the molecular mechanism behind the potency. Ideal candidates would “revive” old antibiotics that are no longer adopted in treatments due to prevalent antibiotic resistance seen among pathogens today.

What is one piece of advice you would give to someone looking for a job now?

Start early. There’s never “too early”. Whether you’re a first year grad student or a first year post-doc, identify your career trajectory, start building your network and do your research on that particular career. Writing your cover letter(s), resume/CV, and LinkedIn profile a week before your application deadline is nearly impossible with an inevitable sacrifice on the quality of one (or more) of these documents. Don’t. Start early.

Learn more about Dae-Gon here

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