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Family Friendly Postdoctoral Initiative

One of the questions I hear most often by graduate students and postdoctoral fellows--usually female, but not always--is how I managed to make my career work while having three children and a husband who was a surgeon. When asked a similar question, Patricia Schroeder, the former congresswoman from Colorado, answered, "I have a brain and a uterus and I use them both."

Achieving a work-life balance can be a struggle for many young investigators, both male and female. The path to becoming an independent scientist is already a long and challenging process. Less than 20% of graduate students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics move on to faculty positions and are able to set up their own labs. Those who do will have reached an average age of 38, and many will have to wait an additional 4-7 years before receiving their first major NIH grant. For many young scientists, this period of intense research and career-building coincides with the raising of small children.

Providing support to investigators during their postdoctoral years will help us build the next generation of scientists and innovators. That's why I'm especially pleased to announce the launch of the Family Friendly Postdoctoral Initiative at Weill Cornell. Its purpose is to provide technical support to outstanding postdoctoral trainees who are primary caregivers for an infant or child. The goal will be to provide approximately ten grants of $50,000 per year for one or two years to help postdoctoral researchers. Applications will be accepted quarterly, beginning April 1, 2015.

This initiative is based on a pilot program that I started at the NIH when I was president of the American Association of Immunologists. A number of women who participated in the program, which is still ongoing, went on to become tenured professors and department chairs and to assume other leadership roles. I hope to see that trend continue with the Family Friendly Postdoctoral Initiative at Weill Cornell.

Posted March 26, 2015 9:23 AM | Permalink to this post