With so many options, from setting up one’s own company to internships and additional degrees, graduate and postdoctoral students have the opportunity to customize their career path in translational research.
Tremendous strides have been made in eradicating infectious disease scourges such as smallpox and polio that once killed and crippled millions; still, about 15 million deaths—or about one third of all deaths annually—result from infectious diseases worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. Of those, nearly half involve children under the age of 5 years, predominantly in poorer countries. The ongoing hefty death toll, the pharmaceutical industry’s increasing interest in the research and development of vaccines, and plentiful funding from multiple sources all combine to provide a range of opportunities for postdocs and graduate students in vaccine research. The field is high growth and, perhaps more important, the fruits of this work promise to have a real impact on the health of the world’s population.
"The tipping point is when scientists' commitments to industry-funded research compromise their ability to do what their university appointments require: promote the public good through training students and pursuing research on important issues."
"We're interested both in papers that identify a new feature of a disease or a new mechanism by which disease is regulated and studies that investigate the mechanism behind a response to an experimental drug or vaccine that's already in use." --Heather Van Epps
To many on the outside, life as a tenured faculty member conjures up images of dreamy afternoons spent theorizing at one's desk, interspersed with occasional trips to the lab to hold up test tubes to the light. Of course, anyone who's been to grad school for more than a week knows there's more to scientific endeavor than that. In fact, a faculty member's requisite skill set is quite extensive.
"Substantially more scientists and engineers graduate from U.S. universities than can find attractive career openings in the U.S. workforce, [and] the postdoc population, which has grown very rapidly in U.S. universities and is recruited increasingly from abroad, looks more like a pool of low-cost research lab workers with limited career prospects than a high-quality training program for soon-to-be academic researchers." --Michael Teitelbaum