Gladstone Institutes rank high in the scientist survey of best places for postdocs

By John Watson

The J. David Gladstone Institutes, a group of UCSF-affiliated medical research institutes, is among the top 15 institutional work environments for life sciences postdoctoral fellows, according to The Scientist’s annual “Best Places to Work for Postdocs” survey, set to be published in the February 14 issue.

The Gladstone Institutes, the only Northern California institution to be named in the results, is ranked #12 in the survey.

More than 3,500 postdoctoral fellows from 769 institutions responded to this year’s survey, according to The Scientist. They rated a valuable training experience, access to research equipment and library resources, and a good mentoring relationship as the key ingredients for a great workplace. Twelve of the 15 top-ranked institutions, including the Gladstone, have a postdoctoral office, association, or advisor to help raise awareness of postdocs’ needs and facilitate dialogue between postdocs and administrators.

“We are indeed proud to have placed so highly in this unique survey,” says Gladstone Postdoctoral Advisor and Human Resources Manager John LeViathan, MA, a member of the executive board of the National Postdoctoral Association. “Over the last several years, the Gladstone Institutes has initiated a number of innovative and progressive programs for our fellows that are emerging as models for other institutions. We place a great deal of value on our postdoctoral fellows, in the knowledge that they contribute enormously to our science, and we are committed to implementing further improvements in the postdoc experience in the years to come.”

The Gladstone Institutes, which investigates causes of such illnesses as cardiovascular disease, HIV/AIDS and Alzheimer’s disease, currently employs 72 postdoctoral fellows from around the world.

Fellows have always had rigorous, individualized training at Gladstone, but for the past several years, Gladstone has been enhancing its postdoctoral program. Many of the improvements—significant upgrades in compensation, length of training, mentoring, and career development—resulted from a top-to-bottom review of the program in 1998.

In 2003, a program was implemented to develop the unique mentoring and management needs and leadership skills needed within a scientific environment. Training workshops, led by an organizational psychologist, focused on scientific management issues through case studies, best-practices information, and strong participant interaction.

More recently, the Postdoctoral Fellow Leadership and Laboratory Management Workshop Series was established. These courses are designed to help fellows acquire the leadership and management skills they will need for a successful scientific career-skills that are not formally taught during graduate school or postdoctoral study.

In late 2004, the training environment at Gladstone was greatly enhanced by the move to new laboratories adjacent to UCSF’s Mission Bay campus. Information about the Gladstone Institutes is available at Gladstone, and details about the Gladstone Leadership and Laboratory Management program are available at Gladstone Leadership
and Laboratory Management program

The top overall results for U.S. institutions:

1. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, NC

2. Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA

3. National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Rockville, Frederick, MD 4. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Research Triangle Park, NC

5. Trudeau Institute, Saranac Lake, NY

6. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC

7. Wadsworth Center, Albany, NY

8. Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA

9. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA

10. Washington University, Saint Louis, MO

11. The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX

12. The J. David Gladstone Institutes, San Francisco, CA

13. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA

14. Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI

15. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Bethesda, MD