New Investigators: starting up and keeping going
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New Investigators: starting up and keeping going

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Talk at Nov 2013 New Principal Investigators meeting discussing startup negotiating, what to ask for, what others ask for, why the first 5 years of an independent position is so important and how......

Talk at Nov 2013 New Principal Investigators meeting discussing startup negotiating, what to ask for, what others ask for, why the first 5 years of an independent position is so important and how to tease seed funding. Canadian context but applicable to many scenarios.

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  • 1. Start Me Up (a state of mind) **Motherhood alert: much of what I will say may be obvious to a mildly alert 10 year old
  • 2. 1. Start-up packages & lab essentials 2. How to support your lab (& yourself) 3. Maximizing opportunities & setting expectations
  • 3. Why is your Start Up phase important? h-index h-index The exception h-index over time year h-index year h-index After first 5 pubs, trajectory relatively consistent year h-index year year h-index h-index First 5 years of independence often most productive h-index year year year
  • 4. Prof. Salaries 10 8 6 4 2 0 Monthly $1,000s, adjusted for purchasing power parity pre-tax Public Universities • The good news…. “Academics in Canada, where the entry level salaries averaged $5,733, and full professors were paid an average of $9,485, had more cause for celebration than in the United States, where newly hired faculty members averaged $4,950 and full professors $7,358 http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/02/world/europe/02iht-educlede02.html
  • 5. Twitter Poll on Start Up $ $K @jwoodgett
  • 6. Twitter Poll on Start Up $ Wet lab 3DSIM Dry Lab $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $
  • 7. Start Up Packages • Value varies considerably - bigger not necc. better • Sets expectation on new PI • If too low, slows success & fosters resentment • If too high, performance expectation also v. high • Often small print clauses/clawback • Little relationship to date/economy • These are Assist. Profs. Secondary moves usually involve bigger start-ups but also grants often also moved.
  • 8. Negotiation Tips Split into infrastucture/operating/people Infrastructure: • Be reasonable - build a list of equipment and ask what is accessible/can be shared. Understand the environment you are entering, inc. policies • Be prepared to write grants to support equipment (CFI, etc) - but secure guarantee • Don’t over engineer what you likely won’t use & remember the small stuff & service contracts • Lab size & layout - possibilities for expansion?
  • 9. Operating • Depends on type of lab but rules of thumb: • Wet lab: ~$15K per person/year • If mouse lab, add $2-3K • Dry lab: ~$5K per person/year • Include software seats
  • 10. Personnel • 3-4 people: e.g. postdoc, technician, student • Negotiate for 2-3 years but be prepared to cede one to each grant • Can be in form of student stipends/fellowships • Technician is critical hire (3 months probation) • May not be eligible to recruit PhD student initially, dependent on rules of department (may be able to “co-supervise”)
  • 11. • A start up budget is like an ancient grant budget (when salaries, equipment, consumables, were all eligible expenses) • Consider your start up as grant zero • Build it by thinking about what you need to do in advance of & to enable your first grant • You get one shot. It looks bad to go back & ask for changes. Moving money between the elements is OK but ask permission • A start up budget buys time but it’s value immediately drops (like driving a new car off a lot) • Clawback (on awarded grant) is OK. It will be remembered & helps next recruit
  • 12. • Departments want/need you to succeed. Build your budget from bottom up. Don’t start with a target number. You’ll lose credibility without justification/priorities • Your departmental assessment at ~5 years (often with intermediate checks) depends on many factors but don’t: • grow too fast OR try to protect start-up for a rainy day • Share and collaborate within and without dept. • Be a good citizen (dept duties) but realize these don’t substitute for your scientific productivity.
  • 13. Supporting Your Lab • Grants, grants, grants • These show independence, recognition by peers, competitiveness, etc. NO SUBSTITUTIONS • Very difficult to obtain 2nd grant from agency before renewing first • Don’t submit prematurely, have your grants read by peers, read your peers grants, get on panels/review other grants • Plan, plan, plan (deadlines, preliminary data, awareness of opps, etc). • Look for small, targeted grants as well as the bigger ones (RFPs, etc). • Encourage your trainees to write for studentships and fellowships. • Publish……. • 5 years goes by in an instant
  • 14. Grants • Be aware of pending changes in grant programs • • • especially CIHR (Project & Foundation) but all grants frequently change their eligibility & requirements (LOI, ROI, etc.) Keep CV up to date, build ResearcherID & ORCID files (esp. if have common surname)
  • 15. Seed Funding • Most departments/institutes have some discretionary reserves. These can be accessed with good ideas but there are ground-rules: • Don’t consider this reliable funding. It’s one-off & opportunistic • It’s also used to bridge grants, deal with unanticipated events • Best pitches involve careful financial plan, advancing of funds (that have likelihood of repayment) & involve other colleagues. Be visionary but realistic. Share risk (by putting own resources into it) • Minimally, garner support of your colleagues. Deans, chairs, etc. rely on others for advice. Differentiate seed funds from bridging funds • Don’t renege on outcomes if wish another kick at the seed can
  • 16. Summary • Your recruitment is a partly mitigated risk. You are part of the equation. Your success is mutually beneficial to you & your recruiters. • Mistakes are expensive & wasteful for you, your trainees & funding agencies. • There is no perfect plan. You were recruited because you exhibit promise & potential. The department is partly on the hook for you to realize that potential but, ultimately, your fate is in your hands. • Don’t compare yourself to others to set the bar. There are many elements considered & others may have other advantages. • Build your reputation & your publications. These are your currency. • Start-up phase thinking should last for your entire scientific career.