Examining Administrative Research Data to Track Postdoc Career Outcomes: a Talk by Dr. Nancy Calvin-Naylor

Examining Administrative Research Data to Track Postdoc Career Outcomes: a Talk by Dr. Nancy Calvin-Naylor

This is a guest post by Future of Research policy activist, Adriana Bankston, who moderated this plenary session at the 2017 NPA meeting.   Postdoctoral scholars make up a large segment of the biomedical workforce, and tracking their career trajectories is imperative for providing them with the most appropriate training. This information would also facilitate current postdocs to connect with former trainees who transitioned into various career paths, and thus develop a network of professionals to have as a resource throughout their careers.   Despite the importance of tracking postdoctoral career outcomes, data on this topic are difficult to obtain, and the best methods for data collection are still being debated in the scientific community. The speakers in one of the plenary sessions at the 2017 National Postdoctoral Association Annual Meeting entitled “Data driven approaches to tracking postdocs,” attempted to address some of these issues. One of the main speakers in this session was Dr. Nancy Calvin-Naylor, Managing Director at the Institute for Research on Innovation & Science (IRIS) at the University of Michigan.   What is the recent state of the biomedical research workforce? Dr. Nancy Calvin-Naylor’s talk entitled “Examining Administrative Research Data to Track Postdoc Career Outcomes” began with the traditional definition of the postdoc experience as an apprenticeship for an independent academic research career. However, she pointed out that fewer academic research positions exist than the number of graduate students and postdocs, and trainees are now pursuing a variety of different career paths. Although a variety of approaches have been taken to their track career outcomes to date, there are still a lot of unknowns (shown...
Join in on Tuesday May 16th: The 2nd Homo scientificus europaeus Meeting

Join in on Tuesday May 16th: The 2nd Homo scientificus europaeus Meeting

  On May 16th the 2nd Homo scientificus europaeus Meeting, “A pan-European Scientists’ Community: Promoting an Open Science in an Open World“, will be taking place in Barcelona, Spain. Its aim is to foster the creation of a pan-European community fostering greater interaction between science and society. In the morning, representatives of grassroots associations and organizers of various European “March for Science” marches will discuss national initiatives, and their convergence. The afternoon will focus on the concept of Science Open to Society and will conclude with a general debate on how to proceed for promoting an Open Science in an Open World. Executive Director Gary McDowell will be speaking remotely as part of the final session.   You can watch the event live on the YouTube feed here....
The NIH grant cap

The NIH grant cap

  The National Institutes of Health have proposed a cap on the level of funding that individual investigators can be awarded from NIH. In “New NIH Approach to Grant Funding Aimed at Optimizing Stewardship of Taxpayer Dollars“, NIH Director Francis Collins announced the move in an attempt to redress imbalances with funding, and to particularly focus on early- and mid-career investigators. Indeed, as the post states: “While we have made progress in reversing the decline in grant funding to early-career investigators through various programs and policies, the percentage of NIH awards that support this group remains flat. Unfortunately, gains for early-career investigators have been offset by a decline in the percentage of NIH awards that support mid-career investigators. The only group for which the percentage of grant funding is increasing is late-career investigators.” Further information is described in Michael Lauer’s Open Mike blog post on the subject.   What’s up with the early- and mid-career investigators? Not funding rates, and that’s the issue. As Michael Lauer recently discussed at the National Academy of Sciences, the NIH recently intervened to attempt to halt the declining funding rates of early-career investigators, and while they were successful in stabilizing the level of funding of early career investigators, as the success of the senior investigator pool continued to increase, mid-career investigators now started to see a downturn:       Why would NIH want to introduce this cap? 10% of NIH investigators receive 40% of the funding. This may not seem like a problem to those who feel the best science should be rewarded, but the problem is inherent in defining what the best science is,...
Rigor and Reproducibility One Year Later: How Has the Biomedical Community Responded? A Workshop at the 2017 AAAS Meeting

Rigor and Reproducibility One Year Later: How Has the Biomedical Community Responded? A Workshop at the 2017 AAAS Meeting

This is a guest post by Future of Research policy activist, Adriana Bankston.     The AAAS meeting is a useful platform in which to discuss many important issues plaguing science today. Fundamental to the integrity of the scientific enterprise is being able to perform rigorous experiments at the bench, and successfully reproducing research findings. To this end, the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) has implemented Rigor and Reproducibility guidelines, which represent fundamental changes to the grant application and review process. These guidelines went into effect on January 25, 2016. A session at the 2017 AAAS meeting entitled “Rigor and Reproducibility One Year Later: How Has the Biomedical Community Responded?” explored the feedback received from both the NIH and the research community following these guidelines, and discussed how to best implement them to achieve both increased rates of reproducibility and dramatic returns on research funding investments.   The session was moderated by Leonard Freedman from Global Biological Standards Institute (GBSI), a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the credibility, reproducibility, and translatability of biomedical research through best practices and standards. One of their initiatives, Reproducibility2020, aims to significantly improve the quality of preclinical biological research by the year 2020. The session featured Michael Lauer from the National Institutes of Health and William Kaelin from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute as speakers, and Judith Kimble from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, also a member of the steering committee for Rescuing Biomedical Research, as the discussant.   Michael Lauer on p-hacking and cognitive biases Michael Lauer began his talk by discussing the John Ioannidis paper from 2005 entitled “Why Most Published Research...
The Most Important Experiment: Your Career – an Interview with Dr. Joerg Schlatterer

The Most Important Experiment: Your Career – an Interview with Dr. Joerg Schlatterer

This is a guest post by Future of Research policy activist Adriana Bankston. On February 14, 2017, Dr. Joerg Schlatterer gave a talk to the Career Research Advancement Focused Training (CRAFT) seminar series at the University of Louisville entitled “The Most Important Experiment: Your Career”. Following his talk, he graciously agreed to give an interview for the non-profit organization Future of Research, in which he expressed his views on graduate education and career development for trainees.     What is your name and current position? My name is Joerg Schlatterer. I am the manager of the Graduate and Postdoctoral Scholars Office in the Education Division of the American Chemical Society.   How has your research progressed overtime? My research focused on chemistry, biochemistry, and biophysics of nucleic acids. As a chemistry student in Berlin/Germany, I synthesized initiator nucleotides for in vitro selection of RNA enzymes (ribozymes). As a Ph.D. student in Heidelberg, I generated artificial Diels-Alderase ribozymes, which supported the RNA World hypothesis. As a postdoc at the National High Magnetic Field laboratory in Florida, I learned how to solve RNA structures using solution NMR techniques. I added a third element to my research skill portfolio when I joined the Albert Einstein College of Medicine (Einstein)/New York, first as a postdoc and then as an instructor. I learned how to determine folding pathways of large RNAs using time-resolved hydroxyl radical footprinting approaches. I achieved my research goal of mastering all three pillars of RNA research:  generation of artificial ribozymes, examination of RNA structure, and determination of RNA folding pathways.   Tell us about the career development part of your...