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research assistant professor

PostPosted: Mon Jan 23, 2006 6:21 pm
by Emil Chuck
What a great set of questions from Jerry... it's really hard to answer that because it really depends on the area (in my opinion) where the person has research. One would think that having an RAP position would make someone a good candidate for industry to leading a line of research, but it might also tip off to someone that the candidate might be too wedded to a specific project to be used to an industry setting.

I also bring up an interesting question: how successful are assistant profs in getting industry jobs when those assistant professors are not given a reappointment, promotion, or tenure?

research assistant professor

PostPosted: Mon Jan 23, 2006 7:36 pm
by Adam
Hi Jerry,

I personally don't see much benefit in doing RAP, your ability to conduct independent research may not be the crucial thing (they actually prefer team work). The most important thing, in my opinion, is your ability to switch to a totally different culture and adapt to industrial environment; here the age/experience factor is against you.

The other trouble is there are very few pure R&D positions; these positions were taken many years ago. Those people have already substantial industry experience and don’t want to change their jobs unless they have to. Currently, most new jobs are in product development, clinical trials, etc. This is a totally different type of work and frankly we (PhDs) are not prepared/trained for this. Unless you work in some related area (drug development, toxicology), no RAP would really help you. They want industry-ready people, if possible with industrial experience (kind of catch 22 problem, I know).

Just my opinion & good luck

research assistant professor

PostPosted: Mon Jan 23, 2006 9:54 pm
by Jerry
Great and interesting comments. Just to clarify that for industry I would stress the ability to lead scientific teams on research programs that I was successful in funding via my own NIH grants. Of course, the programs being a good fit for industry, etc.

Kelly, from an academic viewpoint, could you comment if you see a distinction between these 2 type of RAPs (see my posts above), the crappy extended postdoc pipeliner RAP or the less crappy you have your own funding and a higher salary RAP, both RAPs being soft money positions. I think RAPs may mean different things at different institutions too. I know you're busy with the mice and all.

research assistant professor

PostPosted: Mon Jan 23, 2006 10:32 pm
by Kelly
I don't think a research assistant professor without your own money is a good thing. What people read between the lines on that one is that you were given the position so that you could compete for your own funding and you haven't been successful.

I want to write a bit about K awards. The grant doctor wrote on this point about 2 years ago and gave the advice to go for an R01 even if it is small rather than a K. I think the grant doctor was right on pint with this. K awards have their place. A K01 can be a great thing to have if you really need additional training in some particular aspect. But to a hiring committee for an academic position, a K01 award doesn't do much for you; it's viewed as sort of a super NRSA. This is unfortunate because K01 awards are just as competitive at some institutes as Rs. But they are viewed as dependency whilst you are trying to make a case for your independence; Rs make that case, even R03s better than a K does. The other thing is that a K has a modified indirect base: 8% no matter what your institution's rate is. Less money for them. They would much rather have your salary coming from an R. The last thing with K01 is portability; they are mentored. All in all, I don't think that successfully competing for a K01 helps you establish a track record of funding, because it is not independent funding and that's not really the intent of a K award; it's for additional training. I don't know about this for industry but to me a K01 suggests one really wanted a academic career. K22s are different because they are transitional (so minimize the portablility issues) they still carry the 8% indirect and they do signal an academic career.

If you want an academic career, get yourself into a position to start submitting Rs. You need to know how well you can compete. I think almost any grant signals to industry that you are/were academcially oriented.

I would think but I don't know that focusing on building a big tool box, networking, are better investments for a career in industry that grants.

research assistant professor

PostPosted: Mon Jan 23, 2006 10:48 pm
by Kelly
For those in grant writing mode (Feb 1 right around the bend):

one of the big points with grant writing is to match your needs with mechanism and match your grant with institute. Grants aren't just money; they are designed to meet goals at NIH. Now folks have studied issues and decided on specialized grant mechanisms to meet particular needs. These choices are generally data driven; no coin flipping here. They have identifed needs and planned ways to meet them. Just because you want more money than an R03 offers doesn't turn your grant a priori into an R21.

I'm pitching in on grant writing with a couple of friends and both of them have grants going in for R21s that are totally inappropriate for the mechanism. It is a weary chat to have with someone who thinks their grant is ready to go out the door, they haven't talked to a program officer, they are going in on a specialized mechanism and the response is, I need more money and that's why it's an R21 and not an R03. You will not be successful in your application if you are unresponsive to the PA. Your chances are better if you pare down the aims and go with a smaller grant that better suits the mechanism.

You really need to talk to your program officer before going in on a specialized mechanism. Ks included. At the end of the PA, there is a contact person for participating institutes. call them. I swear the NIH program officers with whom I have interacted are incredible. You are really cutting yourself off at the knees without utilizing these folks as a resource. I would never submit a new grant without first talking to a program officer.

research assistant professor

PostPosted: Mon Jan 23, 2006 11:00 pm
by Jerry

What's an R03?
Provide the specific NIH link if you wish.
Sorry, getting off-topic.

research assistant professor

PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2006 8:21 am
by James1
R03 are small grants of 50K, for pilot projects I believe. Jerry, if you want an industry job, try to get one. Find industry people, apply to ads, network, ask mentors for help. Industry is looking for entirely different skills other than grant writing, including the desire to work in teams with the best people available to get things done. Generally, if you are not an established PI, you cannot do such projects in academia as a new PI. This is why I soured on academia, the inability to work on big projects with skilled teams of people who are the top of their fields.
If you need to take on a RAP to stay employed, do it. Just don't make any promises to your supervisor and keep looking for positions continuously. Make your goals clear. Go to society meetings too. Adam is right, there are many positions requiring drug dev and tox skills. Try to develop these to get a foot in like me.

research assistant professor

PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2006 4:24 pm
by Kelly
Let's not turn this into a grants thing but briefly an R03 is for a small project; they are generally 100K for either 1 or 2 years, some institutes allow 3 but you don't get more money.

Institutes use these for different things: some for small self contained projects, other require you have a K award, some use it to collect preliminary data for a larger grant. So the first thing you should do if you are thinking about an R03 is read the PA, see which institutes use it for your purpose and of those which ones are interested in your questions and then call the program officer that is listed for that institute on the PA.

research assistant professor

PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2006 10:15 am
by Jerry

1. James, how many total years were you a postdoc/RAP before landing this job?

2. Could someone describe 'drug development and toxicology' in terms of what this entails (eg. scienctific approaches, techniques, skills, problems, etc)?

research assistant professor

PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2006 11:58 am
by James1
2 postdoc, 1.5yr as RAP

I can only speak of toxicology.
The field is vast and applicable to many other disciplines. I suggest reading some review papers on toxicology and industry.

You might find that you possess some skills that may be important in accessing whether a chemical/drug is toxic.

However, you need a solid background in statistics, experimental design, biochem/chem, and possibly cell/mol. biology.