Professionalizing the Postdoc through FIMMPOD

The postdoctoral research period is one rich in scientific growth and discovery. However, it can also bring uncertainties in job opportunities and security, career progression, funding, mentoring, training and support for researchers embarking on independent careers. With these concerns at the forefront, the postdoctoral research experience has been under intense discussion for the last 10-15 years, worldwide. As research funding has decreased, it has become more difficult for postdoctoral researchers to move into independent research careers in academia. In addition, the preferences for high-level careers of various types has widened immensely.

To address these concerns, as well as the growth in multidisciplinary, collaborative translational research at FIMM and the goal to keep our researchers competitive for their best career options, we developed FIMMPOD, a professional development program for postdocs, senior researchers and coordinators within the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM). 

FIMMPOD aims to enhance research experiences and career opportunities by organizing and providing activities for the postdoctoral and senior researcher community at FIMM, supporting both the postdoctoral and senior researchers as well as the group leaders.  A unique effort in postdoctoral development and training in Finland, FIMMPOD has five core aims:

  • Organize and formalize the postdoc and senior researcher community at FIMM
  • Provide opportunities for career development, training and guidance
  • Increase and enhance scientific and career mentoring
  • Build the community, awareness and networking opportunities
  • Ease the path of postdoctoral researcher recruitment

Based on feedback from group leaders, FIMMPOD has a targeted recruitment strategy. Recruitment of postdoctoral and senior researchers to FIMM occurs annually through the FIMMPOD Call for Expressions of Interest in April and the FIMMPOD Annual Call in October or on an individual basis by group leaders.

I have been very pleased with these calls, since they make the recruitment effort much easier for a PI, and also improve significantly the visibility of the call, compared to having my own call open.

- Tero Aittokallio, FIMM-EMBL Group Leader, Professor

Postdoctoral researchers are also selected through the EMBL EI3POD program, in which FIMM group leaders can partner with EMBL group leaders.  One of the benefits of joint recruitment of postdocs and senior researchers is that it is easy to ensure an efficient and smooth introduction to FIMM and the University of Helsinki and to get help in the practical relocation arrangements.  Newly recruited postdoctoral and senior researchers are then enrolled in the FIMMPOD program upon joining FIMM.

FIMMPOD kicked off in 2014 and has since received exceptionally positive feedback from the FIMM postdoctoral and senior researcher and coordinator community, group leaders, administration, and Scientific Advisory Board.  As the key concepts of the program, the objectives above provide the framework for new activities.  When met, these objectives result in

  1. the improvement of the quantity and quality of training available,
  2. unique opportunities to sharpen skills and define career paths,
  3. the facilitation of networking in a variety of sectors,
  4. mentoring in research and careers,
  5. a supportive community of colleagues and empowerment through a unifying voice and camaraderie, and
  6. visibility of the institute, and research areas.

Gretchen Repasky and Milla Kibble

The 2015 FIMMPOD Annual Call for Postdoctoral Researchers at the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM) at the University of Helsinki is now open.  In this call, FIMM is seeking applications for four postdoctoral researcher positions in the areas of computational biology, personalized medicine, and cancer chemical systems medicine.   Detailed call announcements can be found on the FIMM Open Positions webpage.  Deadline for applications is October 31, 2015.

Information about the FIMMPOD Professional Development Program for Postdocs and Senior Researchers can be found on the FIMMPOD webpages.