The rapidly changing world of modern biomedical research is raising important new issues for traditional PhD training programs and is creating concern among young PhD scientists about their futures. Specifically, the United States is producing substantially more biomedical PhDs than can be accommodated in professional positions that truly require the PhD as a credential. The "surplus" PhD population is being relegated to poorly paid, unstable, and increasingly unsatisfying jobs. In addition, many current graduate and postdoctoral training programs may not be adequately preparing young scientists for the more complex, more quantitative biological science of the future. Finally, many current graduate training programs are not attracting a sufficient portion of the most talented young people in the nation. To ameliorate these problems in the training and early career paths of basic biomedical scientists, the authors make specific recommendations, such as urging (1) that graduate trainees should be supported exclusively by competitive individual fellowships, training grants, or institutional funds and not by RO1s or similar research awards; (2) that graduate and postdoctoral stipends be increased so that they provide a reasonable living wage; and (3) that research-intensive academic institutions create a career path for biomedical PhDs other than that designed for the traditional tenure-track, grant-funded principal investigator and faculty member. They conclude that it is in the interest of faculty and institutions to make these and other drastic changes because the current system is both inherently unfair and self-destructive.
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