A National Institutes of Health (NIH) working group proposed significant changes to improve the conditions for postdoctoral researchers in academia, addressing a growing trend of life scientists moving to industry jobs. Key recommendations include:
- Raising minimum postdoc salaries to $70,000 from next year.
- A more than 20% increase.
- Linking wages to annual inflation.
Additionally, the group suggested limiting postdoc tenure to a maximum of five years in most cases.
The recommendations aim to support international postdocs, emphasize professional development, and create new funding opportunities for young scientists, particularly those from underrepresented backgrounds. The group’s co-chair, Shelley Berger, acknowledged that these changes might lead to fewer postdoc positions but would ultimately strengthen the academic biomedical research system.
NIH Director Monica Bertagnolli’s advisory committee accepted these recommendations, but implementation and potential impacts remain uncertain. The proposals reflect concerns about postdoc salaries, benefits, and career development amid reports of young scientists increasingly choosing industry over academia.
Data shows a decline in postdoc numbers and a shift in career preferences among life science Ph.D. graduates. The group’s suggestions include equal benefits for NIH-supported postdocs, such as retirement plans and health insurance, and address the rarity of faculty positions for Ph.D. graduates.
These recommendations, if implemented, could mark significant changes in academic research environments, affecting postdoctoral training, compensation, and career trajectories in life sciences.
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[Source: STAT, December 15th, 2023]