Graduate & Postdoc Training


Training the next generation of researchers in the biomedical sciences is the life-blood to advance our discipline. This has been an important focus permeating my academic career, both at the local and national level where I have played leadership roles in this area. I had the privilege to testify before subcommittees on Appropriations of the House (1989) and of the Senate (1991) of the US Congress about the importance of federal funding for predoctoral training to maintain the pipeline of the rising generation of scientists.

I have much past experience in mentoring graduate students, postdocs and faculty. I have trained 13 predocs through the PhD and 37 postdocs; both groups have gone on to fulfilling careers in science. I served as the Principal Investigator (PI) on Brown University’s NIH predoctoral training grant (NIH-5T32-GM07601) in molecular and cell biology from 1982-2010 (33 years) and as co-PI since then. My success in mentoring has been recognized by two awards from Brown University:

(a)  Dean’s award for the advancement of women faculty (2009),
(b) Dean’s award for excellence in graduate and/or postdoctoral mentoring (2012).

My activities in graduate training at Brown have included:
Member, Brown University Graduate Council (2/1978 - 6/1979)
Member of Brown University Research Council (7/1990-6/1994)
Member, Vice President of Research Advisory Committee (2003-2005)
Member of the Internal Advisory Panel for Brown’s NIGMS-R25 grant "Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity" for BioMed Division Ph.D.s (2007 – present)

Also, I helped to spear-head the initiative for joint graduate programs between Brown and the Marine Biological Laboratory (Woods Hole, MA).

I have also played a leadership role at the national level in best practices for graduate student and postdoctoral training:

(a) Chair of FASEB Consensus Conference on Graduate Education (1996),
(b) Founding member and Chair (1999) of the AAMC Graduate Research Education and Training (GREAT) Group.

In addition, I was a member of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) committee (2004-2005) on “Bridges to Independence” to facilitate the transition from postdoctoral to faculty member, and this led to the NIH K99 award program. Moreover, I have participated in the NAS Panel on Biomedical National Needs (1/1978-12/1980, 11/1986, 5/1993, 2/1998).

I have published several papers on predoctoral and postdoctoral training together with Dr. Howard Garrison of FASEB, with a focus on workforce needs. These include:

Gerbi SA and Garrison HH (1997) Report of the FASEB consensus conference on graduate education.  FASEB (47 page booklet).

Garrison HH and Gerbi SA (1998) Education and employment patterns of U.S. Ph.D.s in the biomedical sciences.  FASEB Journal 12: 139-148. PMID: 9472978.

Garrison HH and Gerbi SA (1998) Biomedical science Ph.D. education and employment.  The Scientist 12(7):9.

Gerbi SA, Garrison HH and Perkins JP (2001) Workforce alternatives to graduate students?  Science 292: 1489-1490. PMID: 11379627.

Garrison HH, Gerbi SA and Kincade PW (2003) In an era of scientific opportunity, are there opportunities for biomedical scientists?  FASEB Journal 17: 2169-2173. PMID: 14525935.

Garrison HH, Stith AL and Gerbi SA (2005) Foreign postdocs: the changing face of biomedical science in the U.S.  FASEB Journal 19: 1938-1942. PMID: 16319136.

Gerbi SA and Garrison HH (2007) The workforce for biomedical research – who will do the work?  Chapter 12 in “Science and the University” (eds. P.E. Stephan and R.G. Ehrenberg), CHERI = Cornell Higher Education Research Institute, University of Wisconsin Press, pp. 243-255.

Garrison HH, Justement LB and Gerbi SA (2016) Biomedical science postdocs: an end to the era of expansion.  FASEB J 30: 41-44. PMID: 26443818.