Feds win with D.C. Centrality
When it comes to government research, it's all about location, respondents say. Headquartered in the Washington, DC area, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), US Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service (USDA ARS), and National Cancer Institute (NCI) ranked Nos. 7, 10, and 13 respectively in this year's survey.
Proximity to the US capital is "a tremendous asset," offering postdocs opportunities in government, private foundations, voluntary health agencies, and even biotech companies, says Louis Simchowitz, director of NIDDK's Office of Fellow Recruitment and Career Development.
The NIH campus itself offers unique resources. Bethesda-based postdocs have access to NIH classes taught by top scientists, says NIDDK postdoc Amanda Skoumbourdis. Interaction with other NIH institutes-through poster sessions and meetings-fosters interdisciplinary research. And, postdocs can see the direct applications of their research, according to NIDDK postdoc Eric Liu. "The patients are literally right across the hall from my laboratory."
Only 15 miles away in Beltsville, MD, postdocs on the USDA ARS campus often collaborate with their Bethesda colleagues on intersecting topics like human nutrition and bioterrorism, says USDA Beltsville director Phyllis Johnson. Postdoc Justin Barone cites the USDA's proximity to Washington, DC and the NIH as the "number one factor" for 20-somethings coming out of graduate school. Though the program affords postdocs "quite a bit of autonomy," he says the "politics and hierarchy" in a government bureaucracy "can be stifling for someone young and energetic."