Levitt, DG. 2010. Careers of an elite cohort of U.S. basic life science postdoctoral fellows and the influence of their mentor's citation record. BMC MEDICAL EDUCATION 10: art. no.-80
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Levitt, DG. 2010. Careers of an elite cohort of U.S. basic life science
postdoctoral fellows and the influence of their mentor's citation record. BMC
MEDICAL EDUCATION 10: art. no.-80.
Author Full Name(s): Levitt, David G.
Document Type: Article
KeyWords Plus: BIOMEDICAL-RESEARCH; INDEX
Abstract: Background: There is general agreement that the number of U. S.
science PhDs being trained far exceeds the number of future academic
positions. One suggested approach to this problem is to significantly reduce the
number of PhD positions. A counter argument is that students are aware of the
limited academic positions but have chosen a PhD track because it opens
other, non-academic, opportunities. The latter view requires that students
have objective information about what careers options will be available for
Methods: The scientific careers of the 1992-94 cohort of NIH National Institute
of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) Kirchstein-NRSA F32 postdoctoral fellows
(PD) was determined by following their publications (PubMed), grants (NIH and
NSF), and faculty and industry positions through 2009. These basic life science
PDs receive support through individual grant applications and represent the
most successful class of NIH PDs as judged by academic careers and grants.
The sex dependence of the career and grant success and the influence of the
PD mentor's citation record were also determined
Results: Of the 439 1992-94 NIGMS F32 fellows, the careers of 417 could be
determined. Although females had significantly higher rates of dropping out of
science (22% females, 9% males) there was no significant difference in the
fraction of females that ended up as associate or full professors at research
universities (22.8% females, 29.1% for males). More males then females ended
up in industry (34% males, 22% females). Although there was no significant
correlation between male grant success and their mentor's publication record (h
index, citations, publications), there was a significant correlation for females.
Females whose mentor's h index was in the top quartile were nearly 3 times as
likely to receive a major grant as those whose mentors were in the bottom
quartile (38.7% versus 13.3%).
Conclusions: Sixteen years after starting their PD, only 9% of males had
dropped out of science. More females (28%) have dropped out of science,
primarily because fewer went into industry positions. The mentor's publication
record does not affect the future grant success of males but it has a dramatic
effect on female grant success.
Addresses: Univ Minnesota, Dept Integrat Biol & Physiol, Minneapolis, MN 55455
Reprint Address: Levitt, DG, Univ Minnesota, Dept Integrat Biol & Physiol, 6-125
Jackson Hall,321 Church St SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455 USA.
E-mail Address: levit001 at umn.edu
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