Medical research training — for students and postdocs alike — is heavily geared towards an academic career path. But only 40 percent of Ph.D. holders go on to become professors, according to a 2012 study from the National Institutes of Health.
“There isn’t as much funding for PIs as anyone would like, and people are getting nervous as to what students and postdocs are going to be doing if there isn’t enough funding for them in academia,” said Tracey Baas, Ph.D.
That’s where URBEST comes in. The program, which launched in October, is one of 17 NIH-funded BEST (Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training) programs throughout the country, and provides career training to graduate students and postdocs who are considering careers outside of academia.
BEST programs differ from institution to institution, but Rochester’s program places emphasis in two main areas.
First, URBEST is designed around self-determination theory. This means the curriculum is very flexible, allowing enrollees to dip their toe into the water or dive much deeper to obtain the experience they desire. (In order to obtain a URBEST certificate, students need to accumulate 120 “points” within the program, but those points can be accumulated in a variety of ways.)
Second, URBEST places heavy emphasis on connecting students to internships, which isn’t done at every BEST program.
“But we thought the internship would make it most attractive for both the students and for future potential employers,” said Baas, executive director of URBEST.
The program allows students to pick one of three pathways, each with its own associated coursework and internship options:
- Industry, manufacturing, and entrepreneurship (director: Paul Dunman, Ph.D.)
- Regulatory affairs, compliance, and review (director: Joan Adamo, Ph.D.)
- Science and technology policy (directors: Katrina Korfmacher, Ph.D.; Scott Steele, Ph.D.)
The program will be accepting applications for its next cohort from April 6-17. To apply, or for more information, visit the URBEST website.