Job ad for Assistant Professor position makes it explicit...

Apr 18 2014 Published by under Academics, Careerism

Drexel University College of Medicine is hiring! ....sortof.

The Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy at Drexel University College of Medicine invites applications for a tenure-track Assistant or Associate Professor. We seek a SYSTEMS/BEHAVIORAL NEUROSCIENTIST whose research utilizes contemporary molecular, physiological and/or imaging techniques to address fundamental questions related to monoamine networks, cognitive function and motivated behavior, or psychostimulant drug actions. Applicants should have a Ph.D. in Neuroscience or a related field, a record of excellence in neuroscience research and publication, and preferably extramural funding (e.g., K99/R00 grant).

emphasis added. Unnecessarily.

Very interesting to see this when the drumbeat against soft-money faculty hiring and Med schools lust for indirect costs is getting louder.

h/t: @markgbaxter

27 responses so far

  • kevin. says:

    Evidence of extramural funding is now frequently listed on job posts, even in Medical School basic science departments. Usually not as explicit as K-type awards, but I wasn't sure if they meant any funding, transition awards, or real NIH funding (K99, R21, R01).

    Since I have none, I am not submitting applications there. Someone's loss.

  • Ola says:

    Better they put it there in the ad, rather than doing what everyone else does - i.e., no mention in the ad, but then the hiring committee enforces exactly this policy anyway. At least now people w/o a grant needn't waste their time applying.

  • Alex says:

    My school is, um, considerably lower on the prestige hierarchy, and we have a few people who are convinced that we should only interview people with some sort of funding. A prestigious postdoc fellowship can count.

    Did I mention that we have a teaching load of 3 courses per term? Not per year. Per term.

  • drugmonkey says:

    And someone with a K99 is going to find that attractive? How has that been going in real searches?

  • jojo says:

    Does anyone care if you got Grad/Postdoc funding but maybe not the K99? I feel like the ability to write and actually get funding in general should be considered pretty much as important as whether you currently have it.

    Or do people assume that the PI wrote your fellowships applications so they don't count as "independent"?

  • Alex says:


    I think our Bio department got one guy with either a K award or something like it. The person graduated from our school and truly believes in the teaching mission. There's always one.

    Another department got a guy with an NSF postdoc fellowship, but NSF gives teeth to Broader Impact, so some of those postdocs actually care about teaching and serving the under-served and all that.

    That said, a large number of people with prestigious awards have turned us down. We have just enough anecdotes that some people will keep shooting for those stars, but we have enough counter examples that it would be foolish to make funding a necessity for hiring.

  • dsks says:

    "And someone with a K99 is going to find that attractive? How has that been going in real searches?"

    I know one colleague with a K99 who took a faculty position at a primarily undergrad department and was told (by their PO I guess) that they would not have the R00 component activated. Not sure how common this is, but it makes sense I suppose given the research focus of the mechanism.

  • rxnm says:

    People are happy to let NIH do their committee work for them. Pick their students/postdocs with F awards, pick their faculty with Ks, decide tenure with Rs.

    USA has to stay #1 at grant writing or China or the EU might catch up.

  • Alex says:

    There are plenty of reasons why outstanding researchers might choose a teaching focus.

    But if we screen for those grants and don't up our salary offers or research support (even research with undergrads requires resources) the results will be mostly in our disfavor.

  • Dr. Noncoding Arenay says:

    Here's another one:

    "Highest priority will be given to candidates with an independent, funded research program and a strong history of scholarly activity."

  • Dr. Noncoding Arenay says:

    And here's yet another one...what the heck!

  • Curiosity says:

    The K99 is helping people land jobs, certainly, but I haven't heard much about the challenges that face the K99/R00 folks once they land their jobs. (I know, cry me a river, right?) But seriously, I think there is some slightly uncharted territory with respect to tenure and promotion timelines with these mechanisms. Where a renewed R01 is requisite for tenure/promotion at many institutions, are the R00 peeps timing their first R01s to the end of the R00? If so, is their promotion schedule virtually compressed? Must they have pubs from their R00 phase before they are perceived productive enough for a competitive R01 proposal? Are startups being cut since they have funding already? (Yes, though it's against the rules) Finally, R00 funding can disqualify the grantee from some foundation grants targeted at new investigators. So, I don't think the K99/R00 is as clean-cut an advantage as some of these discussions suggest.

  • Wowchem says:

    Obviously this is an internal hire

  • Comradde PhysioProffe says:

    "Must they have pubs from their R00 phase before they are perceived productive enough for a competitive R01 proposal?"

    I have seen this tendency with some reviewers at study section, and always push back very hard.

  • dsks says:

    "Are startups being cut since they have funding already?"

    I would be v. surprised if this were so. There's no coherent incentive for institutions to be cheap with the most competitive candidates in the applicant pool. Nose, cut, face, spite &c.

  • rxnm says:

    Why shouldn't study sections expect more? Unless this is a flat-out pedigree based "we want to help you get a job" ribbon, shouldn't it be accelerating their transition to independent productivity? Isn't that the stated purpose? Shouldn't they be shooting the frikkin lights out compared to non-K/R hires? They are supposed to have "comparable" in addition to the R00. As I've said before, if they aren't completely cruising relative to non-K99 peers, the program is a failure.

    Unless! Maybe it is just a made-up signifier of "fundability" based on your postdoc lab that has no additional expectations tied to it?

  • dsks says:

    "Shouldn't they be shooting the frikkin lights out compared to non-K/R hires?"

    Debatable. Beyond a certain basic level of support, it's not money that is the key limiting factor affecting the productivity of a newly-minted TT faculty member in their first 3 yrs. It's all the other time-sucking bullshit that comes with purchasing and troubleshooting your experimental apparatus, hiring and training grads and/or postdocs, and the long process of writing, submitting and revising manuscripts and grants. Short of maybe affording an extra pair of hands relative to a non-K counterpart, it isn't necessarily going to be the case that the K awardee is at a significant productivity advantage. It's even dubious to expect more in terms of impact, because beyond knowing that the K awardee can ask exciting questions (which is presumably what earned them the award in the first place), one cannot predict that the whims of nature are going to cooperate and offer up the exciting answers to those questions.

    The K99/R00 probably is a kind of NIH-certification of career potential, but assuming that they are awarded primarily on merit, I'm not sure that's such a bad thing. From the perspective of postdocs trying to prove themselves worthy of independence in a tough job climate, it's clearly better that such transitional awards exists than if they didn't.

  • Dr. Noncoding Arenay says:

    "From the perspective of postdocs trying to prove themselves worthy of independence in a tough job climate"

    I hope that having a fellowship/transition grant doesn't become the norm in hiring decisions. I am a postdoc at a national lab and here postdocs cannot submit fellowship applications and or K99/R00s because the indirect is absent or not high enough for the lab's requirements. I was thoroughly excited about writing my K99/R00 and had a decent application in the works when I was told that I cannot submit a K99 or pretty much any other app that does not provide RO1 type indirects. I was livid when I heard that, but nothing I could do about it.

    Due to such ridiculous policies a major potential competitive edge is snatched away from us when jobs are fewer and applicants at least have an opportunity to submit a fellowship/transition application...and a good number of them probably end up getting something or the other thereby providing them with some sort of "proof of independence" when they apply.

  • rxnm says:

    Agree with your first paragraph (which is kind of what I was getting at with my disingenuous questions), the second para is harder for me.

    1. Perception that "merit" here is largely about PD lab/inst/PI, not the applicant.
    2. NIH's ability to measure/predict "merit" or applicant's future potential as an independent investigator is...erm...debatable. At the very least, if they give K99s to the top 100 applicants, we know that the next 100 were just as good.
    3. NIH's apparent belief that a program is a "success" if they manage to find people to take money, rather than having any comparative measure of the impact of that money.
    4. Shouldn't identifying "worthiness" of independence be the job of search committees?

    My trolling on this topic is just based on the fact that K99s/R00s don't affect the number of available jobs, so don't "help" trainees as a group in any way. And because of the pedigree effect in awarding them, the net effect of the program is to provide yet another (very large) advantage to those who already have advantages.

    DM has pointed out that it has the potential to provide an advantage to applicants who might lack other advantages, but that is not what I saw as a postdoc in my field.

  • dsks says:

    "1. Perception that "merit" here is largely about PD lab/inst/PI, not the applicant."

    Well, yes, there is that issue. My position is that the idea of handing these sorts of transition awards based on applicant merit is a good one. That there appears to be no shortage of disconcerting anecdotes (of which I have my own) suggesting that they are awarded based on factors not so directly relating to the applicants merit is unfortunate.

  • ### says:

    I have a hypothesis about this phenomenon, based on my experiences. I interviewed for 3 TT jobs in 2011-2012 cycle just after being awarded a K99. I was surprised that the award didn't seem to matter much at any of the three. My conclusion is that the funding requirement will be restricted to middle- or low-tier soft-money institutions.

    The data (small n): Two of my 3 interviews were at high-tier medical research centers and I think they were wealthy enough that they didn't care so much about the candidates bringing money with them. however, they both had a (reasonable) expectation that I had applied for a fellowship at some point (e.g. F32), just to demonstrate I had grant writing experience. The third interview was at a State U. in a non-medical school department that had no tradition of hiring candidates with external funding. In each case, the offer (2) or rejection (1) seemed due only to "fit" and my interview performance.

    Meanwhile, I had been contacted informally by multiple members of my community about some jobs that DID expect one to bring some grant money to the position. They were all positions in middle-tier medical schools. My conclusion at the time was that restricting to candidates with external funding is a red flag that signals the institutions least well-suited to "weathering the storm" of NIH funding cuts. I didn't apply for any of those positions. It will be interesting to see if this kind of explicit advertising affects the candidate pool.

  • Dr. Noncoding Arenay says:

    "It will be interesting to see if this kind of explicit advertising affects the candidate pool."

    Thanks for sharing your experience. Among the funded candidates who apply, assuming that they are competitive for several positions and get multiple offers, they may decide not to attend the said Univ particularly if its low/mid-tier. In that case the committees better hope that other competitive unfunded candidates bothered to apply to the position else they would have to settle for a non-ideal candidate or maybe even face a failed search.

  • Dr Becca says:

    In each case, the offer (2) or rejection (1) seemed due only to "fit" and my interview performance.

    In my admittedly limited experience, this is the case no matter what the level of institution. Your application materials (funding, papers, research plan) get you the interview, and then they factor very little into the decision of the committee. Everyone they interview will be equally amazing on paper. The offer (or not) comes almost exclusively from whether or not they like you in person.

  • rxnm says:

    agree with becca... all bets are off after short list is made.

  • AScientist says:

    These job ads are for essentially soft-money positions at Med schools that expect you to carry 50-80% of your salary from grants. They don't want to risk someone who doesn't have a history of funding, duh. Once you pay for your own salary (at Med school professor levels $90-100k plus bennies) you essentially need two R01's to keep your research afloat. This is no surprise.

  • name says:

    I went through a hiring cycle 3 yrs ago and it was extraordinarily difficult getting a TT position at a research institution. Even despite having a K99, though I also have a spouse in science so there was the 2-body problem. I wound up with 3 offers, 2 of them I wouldn't have gotten without the K99 and for the other it definitely helped. I am now at a mid-tier med school expected to cover most of my salary from grants and I would not have gotten this position without the K99. My start up was not reduced because I had the K, and it was comparable to others at my institution. I don't think my department was too concerned about the 'fit', beyond just some basic stuff (e.g. research area generally relevant to the overall mission) but was definitely motivated to hire me because I had funding. I think the point that someone made abou

  • name says:

    (oops I pressed Enter by accident; here's continuation of my post):

    ... about the requirement of having funding prior to being hired as a 'red flag' that the institution is not ready to weather the tough economic times is valid. I have seen many of colleagues leave because of funding issues, and it is entirely up to my chair's discretion whether to provide 'bridge funding.'

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