Recently, our postdoctoral training has focused on non-clinician PhD scientists who seek advanced training in oral pathobiology. We will continue to emphasize basic and translational laboratory investigations, primarily but not exclusively for PhD-trained scientists, in an integrative framework that emphasizes mentoring, scientific advancement, academic career development, grantsmanship, productivity and independent research pathways.
Each T-COHR postdoctoral trainee has an individual development plan (IDP) where trainees develop a plan for research independence during their T-COHR postdoctoral training. Some of these activities include participation in journal clubs, monthly COHR early career investigator meetings, seminar series, clinical and basic science courses.
In addition, T-COHR offers integrative activities in the Trainee Career Toolkit that includes the following components:
1. Grantsmanship Workshop Series
The Office of Research Development (ORD) offers Research Project Grant (PPG) Retreats. All members of the MUSC community, including predoctoral and postdoctoral trainees, are welcome to attend the RPG retreats, either as observers or presenters. Researchers at all career stages present draft proposals for competitive extramural research grants and receive peer-review commentary from a review panel and the audience. This is a unique opportunity for trainees to observe discussions of grant preparation, development of specific aims and the critique of grants. We aggressively encourage our postdoctoral trainees to submit their first post-award funding application while they are still supported by the training grant.
2. Post-Award Career Planning
For most postdoctoral trainees in this program, the next step will be their first faculty position. The Office of Postdoctoral Affairs has implemented a Career Transitions workshop series, constructed around the BWF/HHMI text "Making the Right Moves: A Practical Guide to Scientific Management for Postdocs and New Faculty." Topics include: skills needed to transition from postdoctoral scholar to an independent investigator in an academic or corporate environment; finding and negotiating a new position; defining and communicating your expectations to others; mentoring and being mentored; managing time; setting up productive collaborations; navigating university and corporate administration; hiring the right lab personnel; and handling intellectual property issues. Speakers include both MUSC and outside experts.
3. Teaching Skills and Internships
The College of Graduate Studies offers a Teaching Techniques course (CGS 725) taught by Ruth Patterson, EdD, who has received numerous MUSC teaching and mentoring awards. The course provides an introduction to teaching and classroom instruction. It is conducted over 9 weeks in 2-hour sessions (total 18 hours) that include lectures, small groups, assigned readings and class presentations. The course is open to predoctoral students and postdoctoral fellows.
4. MUSC Research Days
Trainees have multiple opportunities to improve their oral presentation skills. Every year in November, MUSC organizes a Student Research Day (now a 40-year tradition) to provide a friendly, constructive environment for students, postdoctoral fellows and residents to practice and polish their presentation skills, orally and by poster. All classes are suspended and clinics are closed for the day. At closing ceremonies, cash prizes are given for the best presentations in various categories. Participants receive written critiques from the judges (typically 4), who provide constructive criticism on both the trainee’s presentation skills and the research results.