Following fast on the heals of last week’s blog posts concerning the positive impact of the stimulus package on biotechnology research and the BIO report showing good growth in the sector over the past 9 years comes a news story from GenomeWeb writer Matthew Dublin bemoaning the bleak prospects facing PostDocs looking for academic appointments.
Dublin interviewed Sheldon Schuster, the president of The Keck Graduate Institute of Applied Life Sciences in Claremont, California, who recently launched a nine-month professional master’s degree program that is specifically geared toward preparing life science postdocs for careers in industry or government. According to Schuster there are 200,000 postdocs in the United States and it is expected that only 10% of them will be able to land an academic appointment. While this is a tough pill to swallow, if we are to believe what was posted last week, it will only get worse. Last week I explained that although the NIH funded many “ready to go” projects using the stimulus package, most of this money benefited senior researchers and was not awarded to young investigators nor was it used to create appropriate training programs. So what are recent PhD grads and postdocs to do? Perhaps their salvation lies in industry. According to Dublin, due to a lack of exposure, postdocs are not familiar with the opportunities available outside of academia and need to be educated accordingly, which is exactly the need that the Keck program is looking to fill. I tend to agree with Dublin’s assessment as I have spoken to many graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who have gotten where they are simply by the process of inertia without really ever contemplating other opportunities that may be available to them outside of the University’s walls.
As per the website, the Keck program is open to: post doctoral fellows interested in pursuing upper level management positions or starting their own life science company and entrepreneurial-mined scientists.
A brief internet search reveals that there are several programs out there aimed at helping academics move out of the academic research environment and into industrial management.
Some of these include:
-The Masters of Science in Biotechnolgy Program at The University of Wisconsin-Madison
-The Professional Master’s in Biotechnology at U Penn
-The Master of Biotechnology Program at Northwestern University
-The Biotechnology Management Program at the University of Maryland University College
In addition to these formal educational programs, those of us involved in the social networking world of biotechnology should do our utmost to convey our personal stories of what we’ve done with our academic background and lend a hand to others looking for advice.
What good social networking sites (blogs, facebook, linkedin etc) do you know of that could fit the bill of helping academics recognize other opportunities available outside of the academic realm?