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Beryl Lieff Benderly

Recognizing The “Indispensable” Role of Staff Scientists

When a working group from the National Institutes of Health issued a long-awaited report in June on securing the future of the biomedical workforce, one of its most important recommendations was to establish many more positions in research labs for career staff scientists. Now HHMI Bulletin has profiled five such long-term lab members, dubbed “The Indispensables,” and the crucial work they do in some very prominent labs. Providing stability and deep expertise, these highly skilled and dedicated professionals are “critical to that lab’s success,” writes HHMI president Robert Tjian in an accompanying editorial.

“Recognizing the role of research professionals in today’s laboratory organizations is important not only to the individuals who contribute their services but also to the research enterprise as a whole,” Tjian adds. Very true. Such recognition will both inspire talented people to consider such careers and encourage institutions to give them status and remuneration commensurate with their crucial contributions. Take a look at the profiles to see just how crucial–and just how interesting and challenging–their work is. Without these frequently under-appreciated scientists, the article quite accurately states, “modern science could not get done.”