The postdoc pipeline

The School of Medicine's Office of Postdoctoral Education (OPE) consistently achieves high national rankings in postdoc satisfaction, and part of that success is due to its diversity and mentoring programs, says pediatrics professor and Director of Postdoctoral Education Lou Ann Brown. With almost half of postdoctoral fellows in the School of Medicine being international, OPE provides mentoring and program support particular to the needs of international students, and its Minority Postdoctoral Council focuses on supporting successful careers for minority postdocs by encouraging networking and identifying mentors who promote diversity. With support through T32 Institutional Training grants from the National Institutes of Health, Emory offers postdocs the opportunity to develop a research proposal and conduct research with a mentor in specific research areas, or in some cases with both a senior and junior faculty mentor. "We have more diversity among our junior faculty and more experience among our senior faculty," says Brown, "so this approach makes for a good partnership." Training grants also help Emory reach out to candidates from diverse backgrounds to interest them in research careers and to provide role models that, Brown says, make them think, "I can do that." For example, the Fellowships in Research and Science Teaching (FIRST) program, directed by Douglas Eaton, brings students from diverse undergraduate programs to do research with Emory faculty, learn teaching strategies for scientific disciplines, and then have an opportunity to use those teaching skills at Morehouse, Clark-Atlanta, and Spelman. Another Emory program places high school students in laboratory settings during the summer to start early on building the pipeline. "We are starting a two-way conversation," says Brown.