SOURCE: The Scientist

The Scientist

February 23, 2009 11:20 ET

2009 Results Announced: Best Places to Work for Postdocs

Science Postdocs Are Staying in Their Positions Longer Than Ever -- and Often Outside of Their Home Countries; Top-Ranked Institutions Are Providing Critical Support

PHILADELPHIA, PA--(Marketwire - February 23, 2009) - The Scientist, magazine of the life sciences, announced today the winners of its 7th annual Best Places to Work for Postdocs survey. This year's award winners represent the trailblazers in bettering postdocs' professional experience. The Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, MA was ranked the top U.S. institution, receiving high marks for its funding opportunities, training and mentoring support.

The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, ME jumped from 9th place to 2nd place this year and the 3rd place J. David Gladstone Institutes, San Francisco, CA, continues as a top-performer in the survey. Among international institutions, the Max Plank Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in the Dresden, Germany took top honors followed by the University of Copenhagen in Denmark and the University Medical Center in The Netherlands. The Universities of Dundee and York in the UK took the #4 and #5 spots.

Top-ranked institutions have found creative ways to improve postdoc benefits while also fostering a thriving scientific atmosphere. The Whitehead Institute, which shot to first place this year from 14th in 2008 -- not even making the list in 2006 and 2007 -- was cited as a great place to work because of its renewed focus on its postdocs. Generous benefits, a healthy work-life balance and the opportunity to work with high-caliber scientists have created a family-friendly atmosphere where one can launch "a truly stellar career."

The Scientist's survey analysis has found that the changing dynamics of a postdoctoral position are requiring top institutions around the globe to provide even more support. Not only are postdocs staying in their positions longer, many are finding a tight job market and must look outside of academia to pursue alternative scientific careers. At the University of York in the UK, postdocs are trained in marketing, finance and management, while at 7th place Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle, WA, postdocs can apply to fellowships where they try their hand at venture capital consulting. At 6th and 9th place in the U.S., Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research and Genentech, postdocs begin work in industry, preparing themselves early for a career in a commercial enterprise. And at the University of Copenhagen, 2nd place internationally, the fluid relationship between the university and local industry draws postdocs who are searching for a varied experience.

Surprisingly, 61% of postdocs are not citizens of the country where they are working and 76% of them received their doctorates abroad. This requires institutions to also provide everything from immigration and visa support to language and communication training. The Samuel Roberts Nobel Foundation, 4th place in the U.S. and a consistently high-performer, is one of the best, providing a dedicated staffer to help each new postdoc get acclimated to life in Oklahoma.

Acknowledging improvements that institutions make is an important part of the continuing effort to enhance the postdoctoral experience. "Postdocs are the lifeblood of academic science," says The Scientist Editor & Publisher Richard Gallagher. "Our survey is one of the few global efforts to assess their needs and desires and to recognize excellence in postdoc programs."

The Top 15 U.S. Institutions:
   1.  Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Cambridge, MA
   2.  The Jackson Laboratory, Bar Harbor, ME
   3.  The J. David Gladstone Institutes, San Francisco, CA
   4.  The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Ardmore, OK
   5.  Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, NM
   6.  Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, Cambridge, MA
   7.  Institute for Systems Biology, Seattle, WA
   8.  Rocky Mountain Laboratories, NIH, Hamilton, MT
   9.  Genentech Inc., South San Francisco, CA
   10. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
   11. Oak Ridge Associated Universities, Oak Ridge, TN
   12. Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, PA
   13. Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, IL
   14. Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA
   15. Van Andel Research Institute, Grand Rapids, MI

The Top 10 International Institutions:
   1.  Max Plank Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Germany
   2.  University of Copenhagen, Denmark
   3.  University of Medical Center, Utrecht, The Netherlands
   4.  University of Dundee, UK
   5.  University of York, UK
   6.  John Innes Center, UK
   7.  Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, Switzerland
   8.  Biozentrum, University of Basel, Switzerland
   9.  University of Liege, Belgium
   10. Karolinska Institute, Sweden

Full survey results, including rankings of the top 55 global institutions and methodology can be found in this month's issue of The Scientist, available on select newsstands, through subscription and online at The online magazine also includes additional rankings, interactive charts, previous years' results and slideshows featuring some of the winners.

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