A Biomedical Culture Shift

A Biomedical Culture Shift

Making sure our researchers can achieve their goals

Dwindling federal research funding, limited academic career opportunities, and a dearth of information about rewarding careers outside of academia—all are stressors for young biomedical researchers.

To help, a faculty-led team at Johns Hopkins released a 40-page report examining the landscape of the biomedical research enterprise at the university, offering 24 related recommendations for how Hopkins can strengthen its support for its biomedical workforce.

Their recommendations, broadly, include:

  • Promoting an academic culture that enables and supports professional growth and career development for faculty, staff, and trainees while embracing work-life balance;
  • Providing comprehensive data and scaled resources for the aspirations of JHU’s biomedical research community;
  • Creating platforms of support for biomedical faculty to advance the joy of shared discovery, with a particular focus on the needs of early career investigators; and
  • Improving coordination of cores and other shared research resources.

An implementation team is now turning these recommendations into action, with an early focus on trainee and junior faculty supports.

The university also has been working to provide new tools to benefit young researchers across all disciplines. Nancy Kass, the university’s first vice provost for graduate and professional education, has been spearheading an effort to improve faculty mentoring guidelines for doctoral and postdoctoral trainees. New guidelines will be released by spring 2019. And starting in fall 2019, annual professional development conversations will be required for all PhD students and postdocs throughout JHU.

To provide input for key university initiatives, in fall 2018 the university convened a PhD Student Advisory Committee, a group of 15 students from the seven schools with PhD programs—Arts and Sciences, Education, Engineering, Medicine, Nursing, Public Health, and SAIS—to find out what they think the university is doing well and what they think could be done to improve their experience here. The committee acts as a sounding board for Vice Provost Kass.

Photo: Luke Osborn, a graduate student in biomedical engineering who is working on an e-dermis to bring a human touch to modern prosthetics.