Category Archives: Jobs

FASEB Report: Sustaining Discovery in Biological and Medical Sciences

The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) has released a new report, Sustaining Discovery in Biological and Medical Sciences: A Framework for Discussion, detailing FASEB’s most recent analysis of the problems/issues facing the biomedical research enterprise.

From the executive summary: “FASEB….is concerned about the future of biological and medical research. Inconsistent investment policies, growing demands for research funding, and outdated policies are jeopardizing current and future progress in this important area of research. This is a serious problem for the nation, and requires immediate attention and action.”

Options for mitigating the multitude of problems discussed in the FASEB report include: 1: Maximize research funding; 2: Optimize funding mechanisms; and 3: Improve workforce utilization and training.

ScienceInsider writes, “Although it echoes previous reports, FASEB’s analysis breaks new ground for the society because it provides “a comprehensive view of the problem and recognizes that an increase in funding is not the way out of this dilemma,” says Howard Garrison, director of FASEB’s Office of Public Affairs. He said FASEB’s board now hopes to collect feedback from its membership.”

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September Science Policy Events from the Union of Concerned Scientists

From the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Science Network Workshop Series:

101: Science & Policy Change: Using your expertise to influence the policy making process

Wednesday, September 10, 2014, 3:00 p.m. EDT

Presenters: Kate Cell, Senior Outreach Coordinator, UCS Climate and Energy Program; Dr. Dave Cooke, Vehicles Analyst, UCS Clean Vehicles Program; Dr. Daniel Pomeroy, AGU Congressional Science Fellow, Office of Senator Edward Markey

In today’s partisan political climate and noisy media landscape, science doesn’t always get an equal seat at the table in the policy making process. But for experts who want to make a difference on the issues they care about, there are opportunities to be a voice of influence and reason at all levels of policy making. This webinar is a guide for scientists and other experts who are interested in learning how they can use their expertise to make an impact on the policy process at the local, state, or national level. We will cover an approach to the theory of social change as it relates to the policy process, what it takes to create policy opportunities and how to identify them, strategies for working with coalitions, and advice on how to be a resource for decision makers. You’ll have the opportunity to ask questions to experts who have been involved in every step of the process, from organizing to coalition-building to advising a legislator.

 

ECS: So You Want to Work in Science Policy: What the experts wish they knew when they were students

Thursday, September 25, 2014, 3:00 p.m. EDT

Presenters: Christopher Boniface, UCS National Advisory Board member and molecular biologist; Emily Boniface, UCS National Advisory Board member and cell and molecular biologist; Andrew Rosenberg, Director, the Center for Science and Democracy at UCS

Whether you’re a grad student, post-doc, or early career scientist, if you’re interested in a career at the nexus of science and policy, it may be hard to know where to look for guidance. Join us for a Google+ Hangout with three scientists who have been in your shoes. Our experts will share tips on how to make the most of the resources that are available to you, and personal stories about what they wish they knew when they were finishing their degrees. During this interactive Hangout you’ll have plenty of time to ask your questions about building your network, finding a mentor, and where to look for resources and guidance as you take the next step in your career.

 

 

Action Alert! Flat Funding for NIH is a Budget Cut – Urge Your Representative to Support NIH by Signing the McKinley-Davis-Carson-King Letter for Medical Research

From Research!America:

“Given that the budget allocated to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which funds the non-commercial, basic medical research required to develop new medical treatments and cures, is actually lower this year than it was in 2012, it has never been more important to fight for NIH funding. To help ensure that this unique federal agency receives the resources needed to support research at universities, hospitals and other research institutions across the country, Representatives Peter King (R-NY), Susan Davis (D-CA), Andre Carson (D-IN), and David McKinley (R-WV) are circulating a sign-on letter in support of critically needed funding for NIH.”

In addition to the NIH budget being lower this year than in 2012, as a recent NatureEditorial points out, due to inflation and continued flat funding, the NIH’s budget has decreased by 10% in the last 10 years! Inflation for biomedical research is high, which means flat funding is actually a funding cut when inflation is taken into account. For example, while President Obama requested a 0.7% increase in his FY2015 budget for the NIH, inflation is projected to rise by 2.2% in 2014, translating into  an actual 1.5% cut for NIH spending. Likewise, by FY2019 the Department of Health and Human Services is projecting biomedical inflation to be at 3.3%, which would mean Congress would have to approve at least a 3.3% budget increase just for the NIH’s purchasing power to remain flat!

While these numbers are quite disheartening, a bipartisan group of Congress members are now recognizing what flat funding for NIH actually means. The McKinley-Davis-Carson-King Letter for Medical Research currently being circulated reads, “As Members of Congress who value the critical role played by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in better health outcomes, job creation, education, and economic growth, we respectfully request that the NIH receives at least $32 billion for Fiscal Year (FY) 2015. We feel this amount is the minimum level of funding needed to reflect the rising costs associated with biomedical research. At a time of unprecedented scientific opportunity, it is critical that the United States make forward-thinking investments that promote medical breakthroughs as well as our international leadership in biomedical research.”

The McKinley-Davis-Carson-King Letter for Medical Research’s $32 billion ask for FY2015 would be an additional 5.5% budget increase over Obama’s request. Please consider contacting your US House of Representative to urge them to sign on to the letter.

Crossposted from SciencePolitics.

Devastating: NIH Releases Guidance on Extramural Activities Following the Government Shutdown

Update: Due to overwhelming negative (and quite angry) feedback received by the NIH from researchers across the country, the NIH released a “Revised Guidance on Resumption of NIH Extramural Activities Following the Recent Lapse in Appropriations” on Oct. 22, 2013. “Responding to input from applicants and reviewers, NIH has reevaluated the plans for rescheduling initial peer review meetings that were cancelled due to the government shutdown. NIH will now reschedule most of the 200+ missed peer review meetings so that most applications are able to be considered at January 2014 Council meetings.” This is wonderful news, and also a great example of how change can occur if enough people make their voices heard! From Dr. Sally Rockey’s blog: “My colleagues and I have heard from many of you since Friday, expressing significant concerns regarding delaying the review of applications to the May council round due to the Government shutdown. Applicants faced with a four month delay in a funding decision described serious consequences to their research programs. Additionally, many reviewers contacted us saying they are ready and willing to do anything to get these reviews done. In light of this feedback, our review staff have risen to the challenge, and will be working with reviewers to go the extra mile in exceptionally creative ways to reschedule as many of the 200+ missed October review meetings as possible.” Dr. Rockey is the NIH’s Deputy Director for Extramural Research.

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Recap of the book club discussion on Marketing for Scientists

Last Thursday five of us (Abbie, Phil, Sara, Aomawa, and I) met at Schultzy’s to talk about Marc Kuchner’s book Marketing for Scientists: How to Shine in Tough Times. The main feature of the book was what scientists can learn from looking at science from a marketing standpoint. I can see many scientists cringe at reading the word ‘marketing’ used in context of science. And all of us who were at the book club agreed. To varying degrees we all felt uncomfortable with the idea of marketing ourselves, our research, or science in general. To clarify what he meant by ‘marketing’ Kuchner defined it early on as, “the craft of seeing things from other people’s perspectives, understanding their wants and needs, and finding ways to meet them.” It doesn’t sound so bad if you put it that way, and we all agreed that framing our scientific endeavors in terms of this definition marketing can help us communicate our science effectively and help us build fruitful and long lasting scientific relationships.

The author Marc Kuchner is an astrophysicist who works as a staff scientist at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. What makes Kuchner unique is that he’s also a country music songwriter. Many of his anecdotes naturally relate to his early experiences visiting Nashville and trying to get his songs picked up by musicians and connecting them with the experiences of an early or mid-career scientist trying to establish a career in science. These stories, intermingled with advice on how to improve our website, grant writing, conference, etc,  made the book very readable, and many of us at the book club found it a nice break from the dense writing of scientific articles.

After discussing the book for a couple hours, jumping from one part to another, we realized that because the book covered a wide range of topics, we all got something different out of the book. To give a taste of what we talked about, we discussed about following up with fellow colleagues after meeting them at a conference, writing grants for science funding, creating our own Signature Research Idea (SRI), making our own logos (maybe), revamping our websites, and much more. The book approached all these different parts of scientific life by framing either ourselves, our tools and questions, our proposals, or our websites as our products, which we provide to our consumers, the people we wish to interact with, and asking the question, “What’s in it for the consumer?” We already do this when we try to give interesting talks or write clear results in our papers that we hope can be of help for other colleagues. The book just asks us to take it further, perhaps a bit beyond our comfort zone.

The book could have used a bit more proofreading (a number of typos), and there were a couple advices that seemed to go beyond what the five of us would be willing to do, such as one on giving talks and anticipating negative preconceptions that the audience may have of us at the beginning of our talk and acting or saying things to break those stereotypes. We thought it was disingenuous to do so, especially if we weren’t being ourselves when combating the stereotypes. But overall, I think we all thought that the book was helpful and useful. Given it’s title, I was a bit reluctant to pick up the book and read it, but now that I’ve read it through, I’d recommend it to anyone who wants a way of looking at what we do as scientists.

Do you have any book suggestions for the next book club?

Kate Stoll, previous FOSEP leader and current AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow to speak at UW September 21st

The Forum on Science Ethics and Policy (FOSEP) invites you to a discussion led by Kate Stoll, Ph.D., a previous FOSEP leader and current AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow!

Who: Kate Stoll, AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow at the National Science Foundation in the Division of Graduate Education.
What: Dr. Stoll will give a short presentation about the AAAS Fellowship, how to be competitive for the fellowship, and insights into graduate education from a national policy perspective. A discussion/question and answer session will follow immediately after.
Where: University of Washington, location Bagley Hall 106
When: Friday, September 21st, 3pm
Please RSVP to leaders@fosep.org. We hope to see you all there!

myIDP: An Online Career Development and Planning Tool for Early Career Scientists

“For scientists, finishing a Ph.D. or postdoc and automatically moving on to a research-faculty position is no longer the norm,” states a coauthored article from Science Careers. With decreases in biomedical research funding and cuts to institutions of higher education, obtaining a tenure track position and successfully being awarded your first RO1 is near impossible before the age of 40! Heck, finding and maintaing a postdoctoral fellowship position has become increasingly difficult also. While many graduate students realize at an early stage that a tenure track position is not for them, few know where or how to obtain the job skills necessary to transition into an alternative science career.

The Advisory Committee to the National Institutes of Health Director (ACD) Biomedical Workforce Task Force released a summary report in June of 2012 that analyzed the current US biomedical research work force and provided “recommendations for actions that NIH should take to support a future sustainable biomedical research infrastructure.” Among the group’s main recommendations was to, “prepare biomedical PhD students and postdoctoral researchers to participate in a broad based and evolving economy.” The report states, “…graduate training continues to be aimed almost exclusively at preparing people for academic research positions. Therefore, the working group believes that graduate programs must accommodate a greater range of anticipated careers for students.” When discussing postdoctoral fellows, “the working group believes that the postdoctoral experience be considered an extension of the training period primarily intended for those Ph.D. graduates who intent to pursue research-intensive careers.”

Basically we need additional career options and training for graduate students so they don’t end up 5 years into a postdoc with no desire to apply to tenure track positions but also with none of the skills required to transition to an alternative science career. While there are many valuable skills to be learned through a postdoctoral fellowship, if you are interested in say intellectual property, science policy (me!), or K-12 science education your time may be better spent away from the lab bench. I have been continuously frustrated by the lack of ‘alternative career’ training and resources available to students (even at a large and successful research institution like University of Washington). That is why I was very excited to learn about myINP!

myINP, a personalized Individual Development Plan, is a collaboration between the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), Science Careers, the University of San Francisco, and the Medical College of Wisconsin. FASEB’s press release reads, “myIDP, the first and only online tool to help scientists prepare their own individual development plan. Created with support from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, myIDP helps graduate students and postdocs in the sciences develop a step-by-step plan for reaching their career goals.”

Depicted below are the basic tools offered by myINP:

From the Science Careers article, “Anonymous unpublished polls conducted by FASEB in 2009 reveal that postdocs and mentors find IDPs beneficial. The majority of postdocs who developed an IDP reported that it helped them assess their skills and abilities and identify the skills they would need to advance their careers.”

While this website alone can not sufficiently provide the additional training required for many scientists seeking employment outside of academia or biotech, it definitely seems to be a step in the right direction. At the very least this website can be a “first stop” for early career scientists interested in alternative careers. I’ve spent hours searching the internet for information regarding careers in science policy and was always frustrated that there was no centralized resource for this type of information. Now there is.