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Skip your postdoc?

Posted by , on 20 January 2011

A friend of mine went straight from his PhD in computational (pharmaco)chemistry to an investigator position, and I have heard an unconfirmed second-hand story of one other person recently making this transition in a life science related area. But by and large, most PI jobs require that you have done at least one postdoc, and the suggestion of people skipping this stage entirely seems like an urban myth. Historically, however, a PhD degree is itself enough for an academic position, and in several fields (most notably the humanities) this is still the case.

By requesting applicants to do one or more postdocs, the need for them is propagated further, but the NIH is now trying to break the mold by introducing a grant specifically meant to skip your postdoc. They describe it as follows:

“Although traditional post-doctoral training is likely most appropriate for the majority of new Ph.D.s and M.D.s, there is a pool of talented young scientists who have the intellect, scientific creativity, drive and maturity to flourish independently without the need for traditional post-doctoral training. Reducing the amount of time they spend in training would provide them the opportunity to start highly innovative research programs as early in their careers as possible. “

Of course, this still requires them to find an institute that will hire them without the ubiquitously desired “postdoctoral research experience”, but arriving at the door with an NIH grant under your belt should help.

The deadline for this new grant is this Friday. Are any of you applying? What do you think of this idea? Let us know via the poll below.

(poll closed and archived)

Thumbs up (2 votes)

Tags: ,
Categories: Careers, Discussion, Funding

3 thoughts on “Skip your postdoc?”

  1. Personally I think post-doctoral training is essential. My concern is that pushing people up the ladder so quickly could ultimately leave them ill prepared and at a disadvantage.

    I wonder if underlying these grants is the recognition that currently academic science does not always recruit and retain the best people – I’m not saying current PIs are not good but that there are people who would make very good PIs but who leave for a variety of reasons before they reach that point.

  2. There’s been some discussion on Twitter about this:

    @28andaphd says “I WOULD so skip the postdoc stage”
    @doc_becca responds “I would not recommend this….”
    and @kzrt says “I think a postdoc is important for most. shortening the time to independence is more essential”

  3. On a related note to the above topic I would just like to mention that that 9th Annual Meeting of National Postdoctoral Association is being held from March 25-27 2011 in Bethesda, MD. Topics such as doing postdocs / skipping postdocs will be actively discussed at the meeting! Hope to see you there.

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