Fellows program aims to develop life sciences leaders

Postdoctoral researchers are the engines that drive a large proportion of academic life sciences research. They perform vital roles in the laboratories of senior scientists — including mentoring undergraduate and graduate students — while building the skills, expertise and insights to launch an independent research career.

To help attract early-career researchers of exceptional promise, the University of Michigan is launching a new, multidisciplinary, postdoctoral research fellowship program: the Michigan Life Sciences Fellows.

The program fully funds three years of postdoctoral training within established research groups in the Medical School, College of Pharmacy, LSA and Life Sciences Institute. The program also is jointly supported by these units.

Beyond a generous stipend, funding to support independent research creativity and travel expenses, fellows will receive directed mentoring and have access to a wide variety of U-M resources for skill-building in areas like lab management, scientific writing and oral presentations.

"Our philosophy is that U-M should be training not just the next generation of scientists, but the next generation of scientific leaders," says Roger D. Cone, Mary Sue Coleman Director of the Life Sciences Institute and vice provost and director of the U-M biosciences initiative. "The Michigan Life Sciences Fellows will receive enhanced guidance and resources to support an accelerated transition into an independent research career."

Each fellow will be paired with a "mentoring committee" that includes a primary mentor, another leading U-M scientist in their field, and a prominent scientist from outside of the university.

The program dovetails with President Mark Schlissel's announced efforts to enhance and tap into the full potential of the university's biosciences program through increased investment, strategic recruitment and interdisciplinary collaboration.

"The goal of this initiative is to make the U of M a powerhouse in the biosciences and a global leader in discovery and societal impact," Schlissel said when announcing the broader initiative in 2015.

Michigan Medicine CEO Marschall Runge, Pharmacy Dean James Dalton and LSA Dean Andrew D. Martin echoed that sentiment, stressing the importance of cross-campus partnerships like the fellowship program in shaping the future of biosciences research at the university.

Applicants must be graduate students in their final year of schooling, or graduates fewer than six months post-degree (Ph.D., M.D., Pharm.D., M.D./Ph.D., or Pharm.D./Ph.D.) at the time of application.

Applications for the 2018 cohort are due by Oct. 16. Finalists will be invited to present their thesis work, with travel costs covered by the program.

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