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According to the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF), a postdoc is an individual who has received a doctoral degree (or equivalent) and is engaged in a temporary and defined period of mentored advanced research training to enhance the professional skills and research independence needed to pursue his or her chosen career path. In addition, according to the National Postdoc Association (NPA), Postdoctoral appointees can pursue basic, clinical or translational projects so long as their primary effort is devoted toward their own scholarship. Postdocs are essential to the scholarly mission of the mentor and host institution, and thus are expected to have the freedom to publish the results of their scholarship.

Characteristics of a postdoctoral appointment: 

It is expected that postdocs at MCW, with the assistance of their supervisor, will:

  • Transition to career independence through the development of professional skills that enable the postdoc to actively pursue a career of his/her own choosing.
  • Be supervised by at least one senior scholar who actively promotes the postdoc’s professional development.
  • Establish an individual development plan (IDP) that incorporates equally the postdoc’s career and training goals and the mentor’s research goals.
  • Pursue basic, clinical, or translational projects so long as effort is focused primarily on research.
  • Publish results of the postdoc’s research and scholarship during their appointment.
  • The postdoctoral appointment is temporary by nature, the aggregate amount of time spent as a postdoc is recommended to not exceed five years (not including family medical leave or maternity/paternity leave).
  • As postdocs are important members of the host institution’s community, appropriate levels of compensation, health care, and other benefits commensurate with their essential status should be afforded, independent of the postdoc’s source of funding.

Primary Functions 

  • Plan, design and execute complex research studies, procedures and protocols.
  • Participate in discovery projects.
  • Coordinate research study activities; lead and manage projects.
  • Oversee organization, synthesis and analysis of data and findings.
  • Prepare scientific reports, outcome findings and scientific manuscripts.
  • Participate in meetings with principle investigator and research staff in which you will evaluate/interpret the validity of data, develop methodologies, and design and evaluate lab procedures.
  • Maintain supplies, may require negotiation with vendors, and track purchase orders.
  • May oversee the work of laboratory personnel including training and development as well as daily work direction, delegation and establishing priorities.

Knowledge – Skills – Abilities 

Required knowledge: biology, chemistry, mathematics, statistics, documentation, records management, data utilization, complex problem solving, critical thinking, resource management, and writing skills

Skills and abilities: Necessary research skills include standard molecular and cellular biology techniques. Qualified candidates should have outstanding critical thinking and problem-solving skills, excellent written and oral skills, as well as the ability to collaborate with others in a team-oriented environment. Experience in epigenetics and/or mouse models, especially cancer-related, would be an asset.