Gladstone Institutes ranks #1 in The Scientist survey of best places for postdocs to work

By John Watson

The J. David Gladstone Institutes is North America’s best institutional work environment for life sciences postdoctoral fellows, according to The Scientist’s annual “Best Places to Work for Postdocs” survey, published in the March 1 issue.

The Gladstone Institutes, whose scientists investigate the causes of such illnesses as cardiovascular disease, HIV/AIDS and Alzheimer’s disease, placed first among the 35 institutions represented from North America. The only California institution ranked in the top 20, the Gladstone Institutes was followed by the U.S. Environmental Agency in North Carolina’s Research Triangle and The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle. In a separate, international ranking, the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research in Basel took top honors, followed by the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge and The University of Bergen. 

“This honor is a testament to the dedication of our postdoctoral students, who have played such an active and admirable role over the last few years in keeping our postdoctoral program at the highest international standards through their feedback and their participation in program development,” says Gladstone Institutes President Robert Mahley, MD, PhD.

“Several years ago, we began an intensive upgrade of our postdoctoral program,” adds Gladstone Institutes postdoctoral advisor and human resources manager John LeViathan, a member of the executive board of the National Postdoctoral Association. “The result has been an institutional culture of open exchange of ideas built on trust and real listening, reflecting our core values of excellence, integrity and teamwork.”

The Gladstone Institutes currently employs 85 postdoctoral fellows from around the world.

More than 2,900 postdoctoral fellows from 150 institutions in the U.S., Canada and Western Europe responded to this year’s survey, according to The Scientist. The survey covered 48 categories in which respondents judged their respective institutions. Topics included the quality of research equipment, the availability of mentoring, and the level of collaboration. The most important factor cited was the quality of training and career preparation offered by an institution. 

Fellows have always had rigorous, individualized training at the Gladstone Institutes, but for the past several years, the Institutes 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 help postdoctoral fellows develop the unique mentoring, management and leadership skills needed within the 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. Courses in this program 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 Institutes was greatly enhanced by the move to new laboratories adjacent to UCSF’s Mission Bay campus, which allows for increased collaboration and networking with leading scientists.

The J. David Gladstone Institutes, affiliated with the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), is dedicated to the health and welfare of humankind through research into the causes and prevention of some of the world’s most devastating diseases.
UCSF is a leading university that consistently defines health care worldwide by conducting advanced biomedical research, educating graduate students in the life sciences, and providing complex patient care.

Information about the Gladstone Institutes is available at, and details about the Gladstone Leadership and Laboratory Management program are available at

Top 35 rankings among North American institutions:

1.  The J. David Gladstone Institutes, San Francisco
2.  Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle
3.  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, NC
4.  Emory University, Atlanta, GA
5.  National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Research Triangle Park, NC
6.  Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia
7.  National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases, NIH, Bethesda, MD
8.  Wadsworth Center, Albany, NY
9.  Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada
10.  USDA Agricultural Research Service, Beltsville, MD
11.  Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA
12.  Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research, Ithaca, NY
13.  National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD
14.  Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, Saint Louis
15.  Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
16.  Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
17.  Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
18.  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Cincinnati, OH
19.  University of Alabama at Birmingham
20.  National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases,    Phoenix, AZ
21.  University of California, Davis
22.  Duke University, Durham, NC
23.  Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
24.  Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN
25.  University of Illinois, Urbana
26.  Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge
27.  Rockefeller University, New York
28.  Washington University, Saint Louis, MO
29.  The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston
30.  National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD
31.  University of California, San Francisco
32.  University of Iowa, Iowa City
33.  The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
34.  North Dakota State University, Fargo
35.  University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill