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More Post-doc questions...

SL Forsburg susan_forsburg at qm.salk.edu
Wed Jul 3 09:50:53 EST 1996

Rae Nishi wrote:
> (about R29 success)
> How did they succeed??  1) They had a promise from their institution
> (usually in the form of a letter from the Chair of their department)
> that this person is guaranteed space of their own should the grant be
> funded.  2) Their position as listed on their "Bibliographic Sketch"
> was "Research Assistant Professor" not "postdoctoral fellow"; 3) The
> project was clearly independent of the former postdoc mentor-- that is,
> the application utilized skills of the PI that the postdoc mentor did
> not have and the goals of the project were quite distinct from the post
> mentor's grant goals and not mere "add-ons" to their project(s).

Thanks for the clarification, Rae!

That sounds much more independent than some, and I agree
if all those criteria were indeed met, it would fly.  But for most
senior postdocs and therefore some R29s, not all those criteria 
will be met, especially (1). 

I think that this thread points up the need for a 
true transitional grant.  Not one that is designed for people 
who have achieved a position already, but for exactly 
the purpose that the R29 has been discussed here:  
as a transition TO that independent position (which the R29 isnt...).  A grant
awarded to a senior postdoc that will travel with them to their
first independent position:  a senior fellowship awarding maybe 40K in
[partil?] salary support and supplies for 3 years, that 
will smooth over the job hunt and
the beginning job and provide them with a small cushion to get
started.   I can't offhand think of such a grant.  Most
senior fellowships require a "change of direction", so most
senior postdocs can't apply for them to stay in the same lab.  It would have
to require that the postdoc can take with them some part of what
they are working on, but if they are senior postdocs, they should
be developing independent projects anyway.

Like so many things, if we had enough money we could fix a lot.
Butn the zero sum game that is currently science, my proposed program
would probably mean taking  money away from existing fellowship 
programs or grants.  Is it worth it?  Someone is going to get
hurt....and in the way of the world, it won't be the big labs
with 500K in direct costs every year, it will be the small labs
hanging onto one grant and the junior postdocs who take the hit.


Susan L Forsburg PhD
MBVL, The Salk Institute
susan_forsburg at qm.salk.edu

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