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Beryl Lieff Benderly

NIH Panel to Examine What’s Ahead for the Biomed Labor Force

Inside Higher Ed reports that the National Institutes of Health yesterday announced a new panel to study the “future of the biomedical research workforce.”  The group appears to be looking at some of the right questions, such as the size of the workforce and the types of positions that would allow people to advance their careers as they advance science.  As Inside Higher Ed notes, however, it is “dominated by academic researchers and administrators,” who may, consciously or unconcsiously, have vested interests in the current pyramid system of training.  It includes one expert in careers and technology, but none of the researchers who have long studied the arrangements that have created the current career crisis for young scientists.  

To see what a difference the composition of a panel can make, check out two reports on science workforce originally published in the same year (2005), the highly publicized Rising Above the Gathering Storm, which popularized the idea of a scientist shortage, and the much more realistic and lesser known Bridges to Independence, which objectively examined the causes of the glut.
Anyway, here’s hoping that this new panel digs deep and thinks hard.

One comment on “NIH Panel to Examine What’s Ahead for the Biomed Labor Force”

  1. Dr. Gene Nelson says:

    Please refer to my pair of comments following Jocelyn Kaiser’s Science Insider article that references Beryl’s article at
    The Cliff’s Notes version: This issue has been studied to death, again and again. For example. see the 1969 National Research Council study “The Invisible University” by “Richard Bertram Curtis” via Google Books (use Google to locate it with a search on both phrases in parentheses. Postdoc gluts were already a problem in 1969. The massive supply side interventions in 1976 and 1990 via immigration policy changes further exacerbated the gluts. “Studying” has been a way to delay taking action. I hope this time a different outcome results.

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