M.D. Anderson tops 2007 list
After hopping around the top 15 for the past several years, and even dropping to number 29 last year, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston has worked itself to the top of this year's Best Places to Work for postdocs. It's the right combination of respect from the faculty, top-notch facilities, and good working benefits that keep postdocs happy. "I'm not treated as the most senior graduate student who's just doing grunt work," says postdoc Tracy Costello, a statistician working with geneticists and epidemiologists. "I'm treated more like junior faculty, someone who has a brain in their head and is headed to independent research."
In 2004, M.D. Anderson added the education of postdocs to their mission statement, a move that demonstrates how important they've become to the center as a whole. Last year, postdocs also pressed for and received half-price parking rates in the expensive lots on campus. They also now receive three weeks of vacation right from the start. In 2005, postdocs and the administration joined forces to create a $1,000 award to recognize good mentorship of postdocs.
Varsha Gandhi, who received the award last year, says that postdocs, even those working in basic science, get training in all aspects of translational cancer work, from bench research to clinical trials. "These are our future researchers," Gandhi says.
Collaborative training is another dimension of what makes M.D. Anderson so appealing to postdocs. Since 2005 when some of the institution's research was moved out of the hospital and into several buildings on "South Campus," many postdocs find it easier to work outside their discipline and get special training. "If there's something you need to do or something you need to learn, there's someone here who knows how to do it, and lab space to teach you how to do it," says Costello.