C8 - The Pathway to independence; A collaborative initiative to help develop future scientific leaders

Day 2 at 11:00 - Background: Taking the leap from postdoctoral researcher (postdoc) to independent team leader represents a significant challenge and a steep learning curve. Funding and team leader positions in the life sciences are scarce and competition is fierce. Once in post, the pressures are manifold; recruit the right people, publish, win further funding, balance teaching, administration and research commitments, raise your profile amongst peers, the list goes on. The nature of scientific research adds further complexity, with the common expectation that postdocs will move organisations and develop their own field of expertise away from their current institution. This leaves the risk that as a sector we are failing to prepare our future leaders for the challenges ahead. In 2012/13 the Institute of Cancer Research, the BBSRC and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute came together to develop an innovative programme aimed at helping top postdocs prepare for the challenges ahead - ‘The Pathway to Independence; Developing Future Scientific Leaders'. A key aspect of this programme was that sessions and talks were provided by scientists in the field who had been through the process and could share lessons learned for the benefit of attendees. Strand - Research staff.
Day Day 2
Session C
Start time 11.00
Strand Research staff
Code C8
Presenters Dr Amy Moore - Researcher Development Officer, Institute of Cancer Research
Ms Janet Storey - Performance and Development Business Partner, BBSRC


 Topics covered:

  • key challenges faced by postdocs moving into team leader roles and the potential ways researcher developers can help
  • designing and effectively marketing a successful development programme that is highly sought after by busy researchers and championed by high profile academics
  • logistics of organising the programme, particularly supporting academics to lead the sessions themselves
  • lessons learned from running the pilot scheme and plans for ongoing support.

Workshop outcomes:


  • gained an appreciation for the benefits and challenges of running a leadership programme in collaboration with peer organisations
  • learned what postdocs rated most useful from the programme and what could be further developed or improved
  • shared experience and practices for supporting postdocs preparing for independence at their own institutions.


Presentation, small group discussion and feedback.