I read your recent President’s Message titled “Branching careers in biochemistry” in ASBMB Today with great interest. The issue around professional and career development of biomedical trainees is one that is gaining more attention, and I enjoyed reading about the role the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology has taken. Sparked by your article, I thought you may be interested in hearing about additional opportunities for trainees occurring in the biomedical environment.
Here in Alberta, Canada, Alberta Innovates-Health Solutions, the provincial funding body for health research and innovation, also recognizes the importance of career and professional development for biomedical trainees along with the role mentorship plays in this process. AIHS strongly supports the training of highly skilled academic health researchers and also recognizes the need to provide opportunities to those considering nonacademic careers. As such, our newly designed Graduate Studentships now have a PLUS option associated with them, where the funded trainee can access up to one additional year of funding to gain valuable experience and additional skills beyond those acquired through their direct graduate research training. This may include internships in policy, government, industry or not-for-profit environments. It is designed to allow trainees to tailor the PLUS experience to their career goals. Also associated with all our Training and Early Career Development Opportunities is the requirement of a multifaceted mentorship advisory committee. This committee may be similar to or different from the trainee’s supervisory committee and includes his or her primary research supervisor; a co-mentor to provide an alternate perspective from another discipline, research focus, sector or institution; and a career mentor to focus on the trainee’s career development.
As an ASBMB member and scientist who has taken a nonacademic career path, I am pleased to see ASBMB recognizes that scientists contribute in a variety of meaningful ways beyond the walls of academe. We should support and reward biomedical trainees whether their career paths are academic or otherwise.