A Research Operations, Management, and Strategy Fellowship for Life Sciences PhD Graduates

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Academic medicine


PROBLEM: With less than 25% of PhD-trained scientists in the United States securing a tenure-track faculty position following training, nonacademic careers have become common. As the academic research enterprise has increased, business-oriented careers have emerged. The Research Operations, Management, and Strategy (ROMS) Fellowship was developed to increase awareness of and prepare life sciences PhD graduates for business-focused careers.

APPROACH: The ROMS Fellowship was developed from March through December 2018 by the University of Michigan Medical School. Launched in 2019 and based on real-world experiences, the 2-year ROMS Fellowship combines immersion rotations and project work to develop an understanding of foundational infrastructure across the full spectrum of research.

OUTCOMES: From 2019 to 2022, there were 4 ROMS Fellowship recruitment cycles, with a mean of 7 applicants per cycle and 2 fellows selected each year. Of the 8 fellows recruited, 5 (62.5%) joined directly from PhD training, whereas 3 (37.5%) had 2 to 6 years of postdoctoral training. Fellows have worked with 26 departments on 44 rotation projects and 30 impact projects and self-reported significant skill development in communicating with diverse stakeholders, strategic thinking, using new tools and resources, developing and scoping a project plan, and managing and leading a project. To date, 4 fellows have completed the program and were hired immediately into full-time positions at the University of Michigan Medical School.

NEXT STEPS: Early feedback indicates that the program has been well received and effective. Previously, program refinement was directed by qualitative input from fellows and unit directors. However, for future cohorts, assessment tools will be implemented to capture qualitative and quantitative data to measure acquired skills and how program components contribute to professional development and career placement. A longitudinal follow-up will also be conducted with program alumni to track longer-term outcomes and career pathways.

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ePub ahead of print