Neuroscience career and training opportunities

11/3/2017 1:37:29 PM

The annual Neuroscience 2017 conference is being held this year from Nov. 11–15 in Washington, D.C. This meeting brings together some of the greatest minds from around the world who are focused on unraveling the complexities of the brain and nervous system. The conference aims to promote collaborations, share new science developments and support the career development of scientists. Conferences (whether you are attending or not) also yield valuable information to guide development of a comprehensive but focused job-search strategy. I thought I’d lead you through a mind-mapping exercise to show my thought process in researching career and training opportunities for this week’s post.  


First off, I looked at the Society for Neuroscience, which primarily organizes the Neuroscience 2017 conference. The SfN has a number of career and training resources available on its website in the NeuroJobs Career Center section. These resources include a publicly viewable NeuroJobs board with 379 job postings currently listed. The society also sponsors many individual awards and fellowships to advance the careers of young scientists. You can filter through this info in more detail to see what’s relevant.


If you are attending the Neuroscience 2017 conference, take advantage of all the useful career resources and workshops available. There are sessions on topics that range from grant-writing skills to career transitions in industry. The conference organizers have made available a handy online meeting planner tool or mobile app to plan your itinerary in advance.


Here are some more conference features to check out:

  • The conference will feature the on-site NeuroJobs Career Center every day. Any attendee can apply for or schedule interviews with employers present. A listing of jobs already included for the career fair can be found on the NeuroJobs board, with 45 positions listed as of now. However, attendees also can post open positions on-site, so be sure to check for updated info on a regular basis. (FYI, you can read my ASBMB Today article “Quick Guide to Career Fairs” for tips on how to prep.)
  • Also schedule time at the conference to visit the Exhibit Hall. There will be more than 700 exhibitors, including professional societies, vendors, publishers, educational institutions and more. Besides scoring free conference swag, you can find out about graduate and training programs, fellowships available, industry trends, etc. (BTW, be sure to stop by booth #613 and say hello to The Journal of Biological Chemistry and ASBMB crew!)

Don’t forget to check out social media, especially the hashtag #SfN17 on Twitter, to see what people are talking about in advance of the conference, network with others when you get there or catch up on what you are missing out on if you can’t make it. With this hashtag, I found a number of faculty members who will be at the conference and who have tweeted that they are looking for postdocs and grad students to join their labs. Even if you can’t be at the conference, you can get in touch with them separately.

Here are a few of those folks that I just ran across:

  • Karla Kaun (@karlakaun) of Brown University is looking for a postdoc to work on a collaborative project studying how behavior and development change chromatin and gene regulation.
  • Tim Mosca (@drosophilosophy) of Jefferson University is recruiting for several graduate student and postdoc positions to work on research related to how synaptic organization affects behavior.
  • Benjamin Saunders (@bensaunders) of the University of Minnesota is searching for researchers to join a new lab next summer in the area of motivational circuits and addiction.
  • Eran Dayan (@eran11) of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine is seeking a postdoc to work on neuroimaging and data-science applications.

Another good source of information is the list of conference sponsors to find organizations and companies that are invested in neuroscience research and may have job openings or other training opportunities.

Here are a few of the industry sponsors that I selected at random to research a little further.

  • The global pharmaceutical company Sanofi is hiring for several positions in the area of neuroscience in the northeastern U.S. region, including a postdoctoral fellow to research the role of lysosomal dysfunctions in neurodegenerative diseases and several medical science liaisons to educate healthcare professionals on neurology-related products.
  • The global healthcare company Novartis has a number of open positions in the area of neuroscience, ranging in function from marketing/sales and product management to drug-safety assessment and bench research. The research positions mostly are located in Cambridge, Mass., and have varying education requirements from bachelor’s to Ph.D. degrees.  

Lastly, I want to review some of the many resources available through the National Institutes of Health in the neuroscience field. There are lots of good career resources, but this information is scattered across several institutes and programs, so here’s my attempt to review some of this info in one place for you.


The NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research is a collaborative framework of the NIH centers, offices and institutes that support neuroscience research. The website contains updates on research and funding programs, training and resources, etc.

Here are some relevant resources and new programs to know about.  

  • The Neuroscience Information Framework is an online portal to search for all things related to neuroscience information. I did a search for the keyword “fellowship,” which yielded 118 results. This information can be used to find more organizations that offer fellowships, awards, job boards, etc. (Note: Some of the links in the search results may be outdated, but you can go directly to the organization’s website and see what opportunities are available.)
  • Recently, NIH announced the Blueprint Diversity Specialized Predoctoral to Postdoctoral Advancement in Neuroscience (D-SPAN) Award (F99/K00). This grant will provide funding for neuroscience Ph.D. students from underrepresented groups to transition from graduate school to postdoctoral positions. A total of six years of funding may be provided, along with career-development support. Applications are due Dec. 13. While not required, an applicant may submit a letter of intent to the program manager by Nov. 13, which may be useful to get early feedback. Read the details, including a summary of a Twitter chat hosted by @NINDSDiversity, at the website.
  • The BRAIN Initiative is a collaborative public–private partnership led by the NIH and launched in 2013 to advance the understanding of the human brain. The website maintains updated information on new funding opportunities and recent awards. Staying updated on who is getting funding is a good way to identify potential labs that may have job openings. Here is an example.
  • The initiative recently announced awards for neuroethics research projects. One awardee is Gabriel Lázaro–Muñoz at the Baylor College of Medicine, who will be investigating ethical issues related to the use of adaptive deep-brain stimulation treatments. He tweeted out that his lab is now looking for a postdoc to work on this project. You can contact Lázaro–Muñoz by email ( or on Twitter (@GLMbioethics) for more information on how to apply.
  • Neuroscience@NIH represents the expansive neuroscience research program going on within the NIH across 11 institutes and more than 150 labs. The website contains a jobs and training section that includes links to current postdoctoral research openings and research training opportunities.

Ok, is your brain fried yet? (Yep, mine too.) But seriously, job searching can be super stressful, and it’s important to keep your brain healthy and happy during this process. Having a strategy and breaking down tasks into manageable chunks of time can alleviate some of this anxiety for sure. As always, feel free to reach out with any career-related questions or to share resources.


Donna Kridelbaugh is the ASBMB careers blogger. Connect with her on Twitter (@science_mentor) or at her website (

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