Symposium outlines career options for postdoctoral fellows

UNC Lineberger invited postdoctoral fellows to hear from three scientists who have chosen different science career paths after earning their doctoral degree.

Symposium outlines career options for postdoctoral fellows click to enlarge Channing Der, PhD, welcomed the postdoctoral fellows to the symposium.
Symposium outlines career options for postdoctoral fellows click to enlarge Kevin Healy, PhD, of Roivant Sciences, Inc., provided insights about the field of regulatory affairs.

UNC Lineberger hosted the inaugural Integrated Training in Cancer Model Systems (ITCMS) Director’s Career Symposium on May 15. The afternoon featured talks about different science career paths. Lesley Griner, PhD, at Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, spoke about the pharmaceutical industry; Ana Batista, PhD, with Cell Press’ Trends In Cancer, discussed science writing; and Kevin Healy, PhD, of Roivant Sciences, Inc., provided insights about the field of regulatory affairs.

The well attended event drew some 90 people, including Andrew Spracklen, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow who works in the lab of Mark Peifer, PhD.

“Fortunately for today’s postdocs there is an ever increasing number of possible career paths,” said Spracklen, who started his fellowship at UNC Lineberger in August 2014 after completing his graduate studies at the University of Iowa. “Unfortunately, a lot of postdocs may not be aware of many of these career paths or may have misconceptions.

“I was drawn to the symposium by the opportunity to get a more realistic idea of what these career paths look like, especially since one of these (regulatory affairs) was something that I knew nothing about,” Spracklen explained. “These kinds of opportunities are incredibly valuable for postdoctoral trainees as they give us the necessary information to make informed career decisions as we pursue our individual passions.”

The ITCMS program, in its 41st year, was established to provide postdoctoral fellows an interdisciplinary training experience, including basic and translational research opportunities with renowned investigators, and an extensive scope of workshops and training modules with an emphasis on cancer model systems. The program is directed by Joseph Pagano, MD, founding director of UNC Lineberger and the Lineberger Professor of Cancer Research, and Channing Der, PhD, the Sarah Graham Kenan Distinguished Professor of Pharmacology, is the associate director.

“Providing our trainees with a well-rounded education and training experience includes helping them understand what their careers options are once they finish their fellowship,” said Pagano. “While many fellows will pursue careers in academia, others will be drawn to industry, the government or the private sector. We believe the career symposium will prove to be a great benefit to our fellows as they map out their next steps.”