Daily Archives: April 21, 2008

Postdoc to PI transition: time allocation (in the lab / out of the lab)

Dr. Jekyll and Mrs Hyde has a post up about PI time in the lab. Physioprof has weighed in with his experience and Orac shares his experience in the comments over there. Since I’m new to PIdom, I thought I’d share a bit on my experience with this issue thus far.

I’m a pharmacologist first and foremost. In on way or another all us pharmacologists are influenced by the tradition of Julius “Julie” Axelrod. When I was a PhD student my mentor gave me the excellent book on the life and research of Julie Axelrod (and his progeny) called “Apprentice to Genius” by Robert Kanigel. I remember being struck by the fact that Axelrod had his office inside the lab and continued to do bench work throughout his career. Granted, times were different then, but I have to say that I was, and continue to be, struck by this ideal. If Axelrod did it, maybe I should too?

Well, facts of life get in the way here but, if I had my choice, I would like to continue to spend time at the bench throughout my career. I enjoy bench work, always have. As a junior PI I need to be in the lab too because I need to teach people to do things. On the other hand, looking over shoulders while people do things does no good at all. Moreover, spending all my time in the lab and neglecting grant writing is perhaps the most damaging thing I can do for myself and the people that have decided to join my lab. If I don’t get grants none of us will have jobs in short order and who wants that (certainly not Mrs Juniorprof). So what has Juniorprof decided to do? Continue reading