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Fuhrmann discusses career development for PhDs in May issue of The Scientist

UMass Chan at forefront of reforming biomedical sciences career training

  C. Robert Matthews, PhD, and Cynthia Fuhrmann, PhD, are cited in national news coverage of efforts to reform biomedical sciences career training.

C. Robert Matthews, PhD, and Cynthia Fuhrmann, PhD, are cited in national news coverage of efforts to reform biomedical sciences career training.

Career development is a critical component of a biomedical research education and must be included in a program of study, according to an interview with Cynthia Fuhrmann, PhD, in the May issue of The Scientist.

“We’re investing as a nation so much into biomedical research, which is really critical,” said Dr. Fuhrmann, assistant professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology  and assistant dean of professional and career development for the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. “But when trainees are not provided adequate career development opportunities, we are creating an inefficient system for trainees and we’re not taking advantage of [that] investment.”

UMMS is one of 17 universities with a National Institutes of Health–funded Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training (BEST) grant, devoted to improving career development training for graduate students and postdocs. With the BEST funding awarded in 2013, Fuhrmann has established a mandatory career preparation curriculum for all GSBS students. The curriculum features myIDP, an interactive online career-planning tool for biomedical trainee that she developed with colleagues nationwide. myIDP was recognized by the American Association of Medical Colleges with its Building Bridges and Spanning Boundaries Award for Innovative Institutional Partnerships in Research and Research-Focused Training. The BEST curriculum is one of many resources available from the graduate school’s Center for Biomedical Career Development.

Most recently, Fuhrmann delivered a talk on career and professional development that highlighted the BEST curriculum at the National Institutes of General Medical Sciences’ Symposium Catalyzing the Modernization of Graduate Education. On May 2 the center hosted National Institutes of Health Office of Intramural Training and Education Director Sharon Milgram, PhD, who delivered the presentation “Developing Communication and Leadership Skills to Benefit your Training and Career.”

Efforts to reform biomedical sciences career preparation were also noted in a recent article in Nature Biotechnology News that quoted Fuhrmann and C. Robert Matthews, PhD, chair and professor of biochemistry at UMMS. In February Fuhrmann and Dr. Matthews each co-led working groups convened by the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology for its Summit on a Sustainable Biomedical Research Enterprise.

Related links on UMassMedNow:
Matthews and Fuhrmann working to reform biomedical research training, career paths
NIH grant integrates career planning with scientific training
UMMS tech tool helps scientists navigate career path