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NIH’s Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD) recently created the ACD Working Group on Re-envisioning NIH-Supported Postdoctoral Training to gather and assess information about postdoctoral (postdoc) research training and career progression within the biomedical research enterprise.
If you are a postdoc, early-stage investigator, or someone who interacts and works with postdocs, share your thoughts on the roles and responsibilities of academic postdocs, including challenges in recruitment, retention, and quality of life of postdoctoral trainees, through the Request for Information (RFI): Re-envisioning U.S. Postdoctoral Research Training and Career Progression Within the Biomedical Research Enterprise. Also, consider attending one of the working group’s scheduled listening sessions.
The working group’s concerns surrounding postdocs involve a perceived decline in the number of postdocs and available tenure-track faculty positions.
The working group’s goal is to evaluate and assess the following:
- Evidence to support the perceived decline and shortage in Ph.D.’s seeking U.S. postdoctoral training positions, and document trends in Ph.D.’s choosing nonacademic post-graduate employment.
- Factors influencing the scope and persistence of the issue, including COVID-19, the economy and inflation, trends in academic job markets, time to publish, immigration policy, and the growing biotechnology and biopharmaceutical industries.
- Mechanisms, effects, and relevance of other approaches to postdoctoral training (e.g., in other countries, other systems).
- Ways to increase support and retention of postdoctoral trainees on key issues related to quality-of-life and work-balance concerns.
To engage internal and external stakeholders, the working group requests input from trainees (e.g., graduate students, postdocs), as well as early-stage investigators, biomedical faculty, training directors, postdoctoral and graduate student office leaders, biotech/biopharma industry scientists, and research education program advocates.
NIH is eager to receive suggestions from the research community on how it might address the current challenges affecting postdocs. Specifically, NIH wants to know more about the following:
- Perspectives on the roles and responsibilities of the academic postdoc (e.g., what the postdoctoral position means to you and how you view it).
- Fundamental issues and challenges inhibiting recruitment, retention, and overall quality of life of postdoctoral trainees in academic research.
- Existing NIH policies, programs, or resources that could be modified, expanded, or improved to enhance postdoctoral training.
- Proven or promising external resources or approaches that could inform NIH’s efforts to enhance the postdoctoral training system.
Deadline and Contact Information
All responses must be submitted electronically on the RFI website by April 14, 2023, at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time. Responses to this RFI are voluntary and may be submitted anonymously. Do not include any personally identifiable information that you do not wish to make public.
For complete details about how to provide feedback, refer to the RFI linked above.
Listening Sessions Too
NIH will host a series of listening sessions to learn from the extramural research community’s experience and perspectives on current infrastructure as well as gather input on potential promising solutions to the fundamental challenges faced by postdoctoral trainees.
Listening sessions will take place throughout March 2023, and each session will focus on a specific theme:
- March 8 at 12:30 p.m. Eastern Time: Role, duration, structure, and value of the academic postdoc, including the effects on underrepresented populations.
- March 10 at 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time: International trainee concerns.
- March 17 at 12:30 p.m. Eastern Time: Compensation and benefits, including childcare and dependent care.
- March 20 at 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time: Job security, career prospects, and quality of life.
Register for the hour-long listening sessions at ACD Postdoc Listening Sessions.
Insights from the RFI and listening sessions will help NIH explore ways to address some of the fundamental challenges faced by the postdoctoral trainee community.
Direct all inquiries to NIH’s Office of the Director at ACDPostdocInquiries4RFI@nih.gov.