Thoughts on how to become a PI at an academic institution


eLife published a webinar report on how to get an independent position. On Twitter, Dr. Becca noted that one piece of advice was to apply early before you had any papers from your post-doc position.

To which the following was noted by DM

I have sat on multiple faculty recruitment committees, and I personally have interviewed for what I surmise is probably an above average number of positions. The advice I give for my trainees if they are absolutely serious about becoming a PI at a major institution (particularly medical schools) is this:

  1. Do your post-doctoral training, if possible, with someone at the top of their field. Think HHMI, National Academy, etc.
  2. We all complain about chasing Cell, Science, and Nature papers, but this is what gets you interviews. I am serious. I absolutely don’t agree with this requirement, but I can GUARANTEE there is someone on the search committee who expects this.
  3. Point number 2 is inextricably linked to point  number 1.

I am very aware that there are hundreds of people who did not have CNS or famous people on their CV and still got a position. Also, these points are usually only important for getting an interview. The qualities required for a successful interview are completely different. Anyhow, DM is right, the rules are different depending on who/where you worked. Furthermore, it also greatly influences your trajectory downstream of getting that first position.

Postscript from the Twits:


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