The U.S. system of university-based scientific research has been a major driver of discovery and innovation for over half a century. But that system has relied on a steady supply of government funding and university research posts, both of which are on the decline. Meanwhile, big opportunities are opening up in the private sector, creating new career pathways for young researchers.
The university is taking decisive action to strengthen existing career pipelines and develop new ones for its PhDs and postdocs. In 2015, it convened a PhD and Postdoctoral Fellow Career and Professional Development Working Group that issued recommendations for change that are now being acted on. These include investing in quality career preparation programs like BCI (Biomedical Careers Initiative) and BME EDGE (Extramural Development in Graduate Education); hiring additional career services staff dedicated to doctoral and postdoctoral development; and forming a new universitywide council on PhD and postdoc careers.
The university is also taking a hard look at how its biomedical researchers are supported and trained for careers on and off campus. This past fall it launched a Committee on the Biomedical Scientific Workforce to explore issues that include expanding resources for early career investigators, developing staff scientists and promoting alternate career paths, and strengthening and staffing core facilities. The research traditions that have long made Hopkins a premier training ground for graduate students in the sciences can and will be retooled for the century ahead.