La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology Ranks Among Nation's Top Ten "Best Places to Work for Postdocs"
Published: Mar 29, 2012
The magazine’s 10th annual ranking was based on a global survey of more than 1,500 post-graduate researchers, known in the scientific community as postdocs. Survey participants responded to questions on workplace topics such as job satisfaction, benefits and the availability of resources for professional development. The La Jolla Institute ranked 7th in the nation in the top 10 list, which included Cambridge’s Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in the No. 1 slot and the Stowers Institute for Medical Research in Kansas City coming in at No. 10.
Mitchell Kronenberg, Ph.D., La Jolla Institute president & chief scientific officer, said the Institute is very pleased to earn a top spot and highly values its postdoctoral researchers. The La Jolla Institute is a world leader in research to prevent or cure diabetes, heart disease, cancer and other debilitating diseases based on harnessing the immense power of the immune system.
“Postdoctoral fellows are a very important component of the Institute's research success,” said Dr. Kronenberg. “We want their training experience here in La Jolla to be satisfying and productive, so that their careers can be launched to the next level.”
Former postdoc Shahram Salek-Ardakani, Ph.D., said that’s exactly what he got during his 11 years at the La Jolla Institute, along with having a “great time.”
“The environment at the La Jolla Institute is one of the best,” he said. “It is extremely friendly and extremely good for doing research. You have PIs (principal investigators) who are at the top of their field. I learned a lot in terms of cutting-edge science, management, everything I needed to become an independent PI.” Just recently, Dr. Salek-Ardakani accepted an associate professor position in the Department of Pathology at the University of Florida’s School of Medicine.
Postdoc Florence Lambolez, Ph.D., now in her 8th year with the Institute, had praise for the Institute’s scientific excellence and also for its size. At 350 employees, the Institute is smaller than some of its scientific peers. “We are recognized as among the top in the world in immunology, so the Institute definitely provides a wonderful opportunity to learn about science, but it’s still small enough to feel like family.”
She also praised the Institute’s benefits, which include a retirement plan for postdocs. “This is not something that is common everywhere,” she said.
In recent years, the La Jolla Institute has launched “best practice” measures to retain and nurture promising young scientists. It offers all postdocs a full health insurance plan and a 403b retirement plan, and its Postdoc Association (LPA) provides opportunities for professional development and for organizing social and educational events. It also provides a structure for collectively articulating their needs and priorities.
Responding to feedback from its postdocs over the years, the Institute has created programs for career development, grant writing, presentation skills, employment benefits, and day-to-day work/life issues.
“We listen carefully to their requests, and respond where ever possible,” said Dr. Kronenberg.
The following is the list of the top 10 U.S. academic institutions for “Best Places to Work for Postdocs” based on the survey by The Scientist. The Scientist is a professional magazine for life scientists that reports on trends in research and technology. Published monthly since 1986, it conducts annual surveys of research workplaces, scientific salaries, and scientific technological innovations.
The U.S. top 10:
- Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Cambridge, MA
- The J. David Gladstone Institutes, San Francisco, CA
- Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, PA
- Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge, LA
- Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, Oklahoma City, OK
- Argonne National Laboratory, IL
- La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology, CA
- Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, St. Louis, MO
- Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, Cambridge, MA
- Stowers Institute for Medical Research, Kansas City, MO
About La Jolla Institute
Founded in 1988, the La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology is a biomedical research nonprofit focused on improving human health through increased understanding of the immune system. Its scientists carry out research seeking new knowledge leading to the prevention of disease through vaccines and the treatment and cure of infectious diseases, cancer, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 (juvenile) diabetes, Crohn’s disease and asthma. La Jolla Institute’s research staff includes more than 150 Ph.D.s and M.D.s. To learn more about the Institute’s work, visit www.liai.org.