The AAMC on April 5 submitted a letter to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in response to a request for information (RFI) on reenvisioning U.S. postdoctoral research training and career progression within the biomedical research enterprise. The RFI will be used to inform an NIH Advisory Committee to the Director working group tasked with developing recommendations to address the recent decline in postdocs and to support a sustainable and diverse workforce.
In its comments, the AAMC provided perspective on the roles and responsibilities of the academic postdoc — an individual who has received a doctoral degree (or equivalent) and is engaged in a temporary and defined period of mentored, advanced training. Recognizing that a portion of postdocs have not yet decided on their career trajectory and will enter a wide range of careers, the AAMC noted its encouragement of individuals to pursue postdoctoral positions as an intentional choice to further an academic or industrial research career, rather than as a default next step in the training pathway.
To enhance the postdoc training ecosystem, the association also suggested that the NIH continue to promote a safe and more respectful research environment as well as encourage strong mentorship. Other notable recommendations to the NIH included developing mechanisms to ensure the academic research career is made more attractive and inclusive, ensuring that National Research Service Award-funded postdocs have the same access to benefits as employee-classified postdocs, and raising the award stipend scale.
Collectively, the comments proposed by the AAMC are aimed to bolster the experience of postdoctoral researchers, a crucial component of the U.S. biomedical research enterprise, and to ensure that academic research careers remain attractive.