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NIH offers help to Ph.D.’s (news from the journal Science)

December 19, 2012

Creating happiness in science labs     Research doesn’t have to be an unhappy, messy environment, but it is. That’s why an article in this week’s issue of Science magazine caught my attention. It mentions developing changes at the NIH that will trickle down to academic researchers. Hopefully for the better. Read it for yourself: NIH Offers to Help Universities Improve Training, Boost Diversity

If you’re not an AAAS member, here are some highlights from the full article:

“But almost everyone agrees that the current training system takes too long and isn’t designed to prepare young biomedical scientists for nonacademic jobs.” So true. 7 years for a PhD!? And it’s stressful, unhappy work. Why would anyone want to stay in that environment?

“The agency will also raise its starting postdoc annual stipend from $39,000 to $42,000 as soon as [2013].” Good. They’re almost making an entry level salary compared to other industries.

“NIH also intends to require that every graduate student and postdoc supported by the NIH work with his or her adviser on an Individual Development Plan that examines career options.” Not sure how this will be enforced, especially since some P.I.’s are terrible advisers.

“NIH agrees that universities need to do a better job of training their students…NIH will fund up to 50 grants over the next 2 years for institutions to develop “innovative approaches” that could include, for example, exposure to industry or science policy positions.” Keep an eye on We are just starting up but are developing a plan to create “Scientist Internships” to give scientists experience with a non-academic, science-related job.

What are your thoughts? Comment below…

Related Information:

Scientists Are The Heaviest Coffee Drinkers

3 Skills Every Scientist Should Add To Their Resume

NIH Research Funding Trends

3 Comments leave one →
  1. December 19, 2012 4:21 AM

    I agree that 7 years for a PhD is too long, I disagree about this being “unhappy, stressful work”. I have experienced my PhD period as a great learning process and fun throughout. You just have to be careful when you decide where to do your PhD.

    Would be good though to somehow also prepare PhD students for jobs outside academia.

    • December 19, 2012 11:41 AM

      You might be fortunate to be doing your PhD across the Atlantic. From the sound of it, the system is more pleasant over there.

      • December 19, 2012 2:52 PM

        Could make a difference I guess, labs might be a bit less competitive here. I also did a 2-year research master after my bachelor’s, I guess this has provided a better basis for the subsequent PhD work than only the BSc…

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