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Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Tooling Up: Making the Cut in 2011

There's a lot of competition today for jobs in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries, and not all of it comes from other academic labs. An increasing fraction of your competition has an unfair advantage: In 2011, record numbers of entry-level jobs -- the jobs you're applying for -- are going to scientists who already have industry experience.

It's not your father's job market -- or your older brother's, for that matter. It is very definitely an employer's market. Companies have access to more talent than they've seen in years for every job opening they announce.

Employers can choose whomever they want in a market like this, and scientists with industry experience have big advantages. If you don't have experience, you have to do what you can to offset those advantages.

Competing in an employer's market

What a bunch of spoiled hiring managers we're going to be left with when this recession ends. The current abundance of interesting, experienced candidates has reinforced a trend we've seen for about a decade: employers searching for very specific skill sets instead of hiring bright people and bringing them up to speed. Converting a molecular biologist into a regulatory affairs specialist would require a training program; it's been years since employers offered that kind of support for new hires. A company isn't going to hire and train you when they can hire a recently laid-off scientist from now-defunct ABC Biotech with exactly the skills they need.

If you're still making decisions about your training, keep this in mind: You are hired for what you did last. That means that if you're choosing a Ph.D. program or a postdoc, you'd better do it carefully. Choose a lab where the work relates directly to your career objective. Choose a lab where the principal investigator is well connected in industry.

If you're already out in the market, the challenge is to present your experience so that it seems just as relevant as your competition's, even if she's already had a year or three in industry. It's hard to compete with people who have already worked in industry. There's less risk in hiring them because they've already passed through the crucial cultural transition and made it to the other side.

But really, their biggest advantage is that they know the job-seeking ropes. What does someone who has been let go from a downsizing company know about the job market that you don't know? Plenty. But if you pay attention, you can compensate.

The experienced industry job seeker

Your experienced competitor knows how important networking is. She has been managing the networking process since she was searching for her first job several years ago. She knows more people in industry than you do and knows how to identify and contact hiring managers in the companies she'd like to work for.

Here are some other advantages job hunters with industry experience have over most scientists who are making the jump to industry right now:

Industry candidate: In her marketing materials and interview style, she presents herself as a solution to an unstated need, providing a sharp focus on the benefits of hiring her.

Academia-to-industry transferee: Presents her work as if laying it out for a poster session, without relating her experience, acquired skills, or thought processes to the company's area of interest.

Industry candidate: He considers his year or two of industry experience proof that he's had his "ticket punched"; he's an industry insider and acts like it during interviews.

Academia-to-industry transferee: He approaches the huge gulf between academia and industry with trepidation. His uncertainty reinforces the hiring manager's sense that he wouldn't quite fit in.

Industry candidate: He knows that each person he meets with over the course of an interview will have some input in the hiring process. Before interview day, he already has asked the human resources rep to provide a full agenda with names and titles, which he is using to research his interviewers.

Academia-to-industry transferee: He ends up winging it because he's afraid to rock the boat by asking HR to provide an agenda and biosketches.

Industry candidate: Panel interviews, where a number of people conduct the interview around a conference table, don't raise her level of tension because to her it feels much like a project meeting or any other gathering on the job. She confidently shares eye contact with everyone at the table.

Academia-to-industry transferee: She is intimidated by the number of eyes staring back at her. With a deer-in-the-headlights stare, she fixes her eyes on one or two friendly faces.

Avoid this monster red flag

Clearly, these generalizations don't apply to all, but they illustrate common differences between the two types of candidates. I saved the best for last, a red flag that occurs frequently and can be very damaging. It's worth more than a casual mention.

"I'm looking for an assistant professorship as well as exploring my options in an alternative career," someone told me recently. Now there's a line that falls flat when you use it in a company interview. They worked hard to get where they are. They never thought of their company as a fallback, or as some kind of alternative. Most importantly, they're not interested in being part of your plan B.

Even if you're also still seeking an academic post, when interviewing for an industry job, that's the job you want. The industry employer's greatest fear is that you won't make a successful transition to the culture of industry. Why reinforce that fear by talking about an academic job search? Hiring managers want people who are passionate about the opportunities on their side of the academia/industry divide.

2011 and beyond

I look forward to the day, hopefully soon, when those spoiled hiring managers get their comeuppance and entry-level jobs will go back to being entry level. Not that they'll mind: When that happens, the industry will be humming along again, so everyone will be happy. Until then, you need to demonstrate savvy beyond your years of experience.

By David Jensen

Sunday, March 20, 2011


FASEB Postdoctoral Professional Development and Enrichment Award


~ March 7 - May 31, 2011 ~
All applications must be received on this website by May 31, 2011

The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) is pleased to announce the opening of applications for the 2011 FASEB Postdoctoral Professional Development and Enrichment Award. The FASEB Postdoctoral Professional Development and Enrichment Award (sponsored by the National Institute of General Medical Science, National Institutes of Health) was established to recognize outstanding achievement by an early stage life scientist from an underrepresented minority group. Individuals eligible for nomination are U.S.A. Citizens or Permanent Residents of the U.S.A. from an ethnic minority group recognized as being underrepresented in the biomedical and behavioral sciences, are members of one or more of the societies of FASEB and are at a relatively early career stage, defined as a minimum of two-to-five years of postdoctoral research training or within one-year as a new assistant professor. Applications are requested from highly promising postdoctoral scientists who have demonstrated research productivity including having published first-author papers in scientific publications, mentoring of URM undergraduate and graduate students, and service leading to improving and expanding opportunities for minorities in the scientific workforce and academia. A total of six (6) individual awards are available. Each of the six awards will include a $3000 career development award, a certificate in recognition of the award, and a $2500 travel award.

These awards are primarily intended for advanced URM postdoctorates that will be able to utilize these resources to gain knowledge, skills and training to assist them in becoming competitive for funding that will help them with publication in top tier journals and be competitive for faculty positions in prestigious research intensive settings.
Applications are encouraged from individuals from comprehensive research universities.
* Qualified ethnic minority groups that are identified as being underrepresented in the biomedical and behavioral sciences include: African Americans, Alaskan Natives, Hispanic Americans, American Indians/Native Americans and Natives of the U.S. Pacific Islands (Guam or Hawai'i.) Members of qualified underrepresented minority groups must be citizens or non-citizen nationals of the United States of America or must have been lawfully admitted to the United States of America for permanent residence and have in possession a permanent visa (green card) at the time of application submittal. Individuals on temporary or student visas are not eligible for FASEB MARC Program funding.
These awards are funded by the U.S. federal government. Postdoctoral trainees at federal facilities who receive federal support for their salary/wages are not eligible for these awards.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


NIH Regional Seminars on Program Funding and Grants Administration

egistration open for the 2011 Regional Seminar in Scottsdale, AZ; Registration for Ft. Lauderdale now open... see below!

Each year, the Office of Extramural Research (OER) sponsors two NIH Regional Seminars on Program Funding and Grants. These seminars are intended to help demystify the application and review process, clarify Federal regulations and policies, and highlight current areas of special interest or concern. The seminars serve the NIH mission of providing education and training for the next generation of biomedical and behavioral scientist. NIH policy, grants management, review and program staff provide a broad array of expertise and encourage personal interaction between themselves and seminar participants. The seminars are appropriate for grants administrators, researchers new to NIH, and graduate students.

Upcoming Seminars:




April 27-29, 2011

Scottsdale, Arizona

Arizona State University

Registration Now Open!

June 22-24, 2011

Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

Florida Atlantic University

Registration Now Open!

2012 - Exact Date TBD

Indianapolis, Indiana

Indiana University School of Medicine

Stay connected: Join the NIH Regional Seminar ListServ for updates! (Details below)

Updates are available on this Regional Seminar home page & ListServ (info below), as well as the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts.

The NIH Regional Seminars are limited in size. Please secure confirmation of registration before purchasing airline tickets, etc.

Monday, March 7, 2011


Damon Runyon Fellowship Award

Damon Runyon Fellows are eligible to apply for Dale F. Frey Awards for Breakthrough Scientists in the third year of their award.

Program Description

The Foundation encourages all theoretical and experimental research relevant to the study of cancer and the search for cancer causes, mechanisms, therapies and prevention.

Candidates must apply for the fellowship under the guidance of a Sponsor—a scientist (tenured, tenure-track or equivalent position) capable of providing mentorship to the Fellow. In addition to aiding in the planning, execution and supervision of the proposed research, the Sponsor’s role is to foster the development of the Fellow’s overall knowledge, technical and analytical skills, and capacity for scientific inquiry. The Sponsor is also expected to assist the Fellow in attaining his/her career goals.

Awards are made to institutions for the support of the Fellow under direct supervision of the Sponsor. Candidates who have already accepted a postdoctoral research fellowship award are not eligible.

The primary criteria used to evaluate applicants are:

Damon Runyon Postdoctoral Research Fellowships are granted for a three-year term with second- and third-year funding contingent upon satisfactory progress reports. Fellows in their first- and third-years of funding will attend Damon Runyon Fellows' Retreats designed to foster collaboration and interaction between scientists working in different fields relevant to cancer. Click here for more information on Damon Runyon Fellows' Retreats.

All fellowship awards are approved by the Board of Directors of the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation acting upon the recommendation of the Fellowship Award Committee (FAC).

> List of currently funded Damon Runyon Fellows



The award may not be used for institutional overhead or indirect costs.

Award Stipends

[The stipend levels below are only applicable to fellowships starting on or after January 1, 2010.]

Year of Award Level 1 Stipend Level 2 Stipend* Expenses
1st Year $50,000 $60,000 $2,000
2nd Year $50,000 $60,000 $2,000
3rd Year $50,000 $60,000 $2,000

*Physician-scientists who have completed their residencies, clinical training and are board eligible will receive Level 2 funding.

Expense Allowance

The $2,000 expense allowance is awarded to the laboratory in which the Fellow is working and can be used by the Fellow for his/her educational and scientific expenses. With a written request to the Foundation from the Fellow, the expense allowance may be used to defray the cost of health benefits. The Fellow determines how he/she would like to spend the money with approval from his/her mentor. It is not an allowance for institutional overhead, postdoctoral scholar registration fees or postdoctoral fellowship taxes. Institutions may not automatically deduct any fees from this allowance without the Fellow’s approval. If you have any questions on how the money may be spent, please contact the Foundation (212.455.0520 or

Dependent Child Allowance

[Effective for Awards beginning or renewing on and after July 1, 2007.]
The Foundation also provides a Dependent Child Allowance of $1,000 per child per year. (There is no allowance for a spouse.) Eligible Fellows must provide a copy of the birth or adoption certificate for each child.
> Dependent Child Allowance Form


Dale F. Frey Award for Breakthrough Scientists

The Damon Runyon Fellowship identifies the nation’s top postdoctoral fellows and provides funding that enables them to complete their training under the mentorship of a leading senior scientist and encourages them to follow their own bold ideas. At the end of the Fellowship, there are often a select few who have greatly exceeded the Foundation’s highest expectations. These spectacular young scientists are the most likely to make paradigm-shifting breakthroughs that transform the way we prevent, diagnose and treat cancer. To catapult their research careers—and their impact on cancer—the Foundation will make an additional investment in these exceptional individuals by selecting them as recipients of the Dale F. Frey Award for Breakthrough Scientists.

In doing so, the Foundation will:

Selection Criteria

All Dale F. Frey Awards are approved by the Board of Directors of the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation acting upon the recommendation of the Fellowship Award Committee (FAC).

This award was created in 2010 to honor Dale F. Frey, retiring Chairman of the Damon Runyon Board of Directors. This tribute is in recognition of Mr. Frey’s visionary leadership over the past sixteen years.


Damon Runyon Fellows are eligible to apply in the third year of their Fellowship. Currently, Damon Runyon Fellows selected in November 2008 and May 2009 (DRG-108-09 and DRG-2000-09 to DRG-2034-09) are eligible to apply.
Fellows who have terminated their awards early to accept an independent academic faculty position or other funding are eligible.
Fellows who have moved to a position at a for-profit organization are not eligible.

Fellows may only apply once, at the deadline date that correlates with their award selection date.

Deadline DateAward Selection DatesDRGs
July 15, 2011 November 2008 and May 2009 DRG-108-09 and DRG 2000-09 to DRG-2034-09
July 16, 2012 November 2009 and May 2010 DRG-109-10 and DRG-2035-10 to DRG-2066-10


Application Guidelines

Important Dates

Application deadline: July 15, 2011
Selection meeting: November 11, 2011

* The award will begin immediately following the term of the original Fellowship. For those whose Fellowships have already ended, the award will begin on January 1, 2012.


(Please note: completed applications and CDs or DVDs must be in our office by 4:30 pm (ET) on the deadline—NOT simply postmarked by the due date.)
Applications are due on or before July 15, 2011.

Damon Runyon Fellows selected in November 2008 and May 2009 (DRG-108-09 and DRG-2000-09 to DRG-2034-09) are eligible to apply.

Application Materials

1. Application cover sheet with all required signatures
2. A brief a) summary of research progress and accomplishments under the Damon Runyon Fellowship, b) description of research vision and its potential impact on cancer, and c) description and projected timeline (next 5-10 years) of career goals (parts a, b and c not to exceed 2 pages in total of single-spaced, 12-point type with at least 0.5 inch margins)
3. Updated curriculum vitae, including full bibliography, a list of conferences and seminars attended and presentations given over the course of the award, and other honors or awards received

Application Submission Instructions

The above application materials should be submitted to the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation for arrival at our offices on or before July 15. Along with the original application (hard copy), applicants must submit a CD or DVD of all the required materials IN PDF FORMAT.

Please number your pdf files to correspond to the required materials listing below. To ensure proper organization of the files, please name all your files as:

Fellow’s last name, file #

1. Application cover sheet
2. Two-page research description
3. Curriculum vitae

AND two reference letters using the Foundation’s form (sent directly to the Foundation by referees)


Send Complete Application and CD or DVD to:

Award Programs
Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation
One Exchange Plaza
55 Broadway, Suite 302
New York, NY 10006


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