Program Title: GPS-BIOMED

Key People: Karina Cramer, Fred Ehlert, Emma Flores,  David Fruman, Frithjof Kruggel, John Lowengrub, Ulrike Luderer, Andrej Luptak, Christine E. McLaren, Oladele Ogunseitan, Christopher Vanderwal

Program Summary

UCI’s Graduate Professional Success in the Biomedical Sciences (GPS-BIOMED) aims to better prepare graduate students and postdoctoral scholars for a variety of careers within the biomedical research workforce, and empower trainees to become not only skilled scientists, but also polished professionals. In line with our mission we are providing innovative activities to meet the following goals:

Explore: Increase awareness and interest in diverse science-related careers. GPS-BIOMED is a campus-wide program spanning four schools and 20+ departments and PhD programs. Our broad approach to participation aims to foster an environment where all PhD students and postdocs in the biomedical sciences are supported during their career development. IDPs are required to facilitate skill assessment, as are LinkedIn profiles to aid networking. Furthermore, career seminars such as Life Beyond the PhD (described below) are terrific ways for trainees to explore careers.

Life Beyond the PhD – In collaboration with the Department of Chemistry, GPS-BIOMED hosts a series of career seminars featuring PhD graduates holding positions in science-related careers outside academic research. Speakers give a formal presentation and meet individually with trainees.

Train: Improve professional skills required for success in diverse fields. Traditional training programs in the biomedical sciences provide excellent scientific preparation for PhD students and postdoctoral fellows, however an evolving workforce demands these individuals be equipped with the skills necessary to succeed in diverse fields. Science Communication Skills and Extension courses (described below) are two examples of how GPS-BIOMED is broadening the scope of career training.

Science Communication Skills – Designed and taught by Sandra Tsing Loh, creator of the podcast “The Loh Down on Science”, this course is centered on performing six-minute TED-style science talks. In the last few session’s trainees are professionally videotaped and videos are posted on a GPS-BIOMED YouTube channel. This channel serves to publicize the exciting research conducted at UC Irvine as well as the goals of the BEST initiative.

Extension Courses – PhD students and postdocs receive fee waivers for valuable courses through UCI Extension School of Continuing Education including: Regulatory Requirements for Pharmaceutical Products, Medical Product Marketing, Essentials of Project Management and many more!

Experience: Provide hands-on experience through internships and externships. Gaining hands-on experience in the potential workplace will allow doctoral students and postdocs to improve their qualifications and make informed decisions. We have incorporated on-campus internships within The Office of Research Development and Applied Innovation as well off-campus opportunities within local companies including: Allergan, Edwards Lifesciences, Medtronic and Evoke Neurosciences to name a few.

Transition: Build networks that allow students and postdocs to prepare for and transition to science-related careers. Mentorship and networking are key elements for successful career transitions. With help from external advisors such the Orange County Technology Accelerator Network (OCTANe), GPS-BIOMED is hosting networking mixers where visitors from a single job sector—i.e. biotech start-ups, patent law firms, nonprofit organizations, and regulatory affairs agencies—discuss opportunities and daily job functions.

To encourage participation, PhDs and postdocs receive “professional development” credits for completing activities. Faculty buy-in is achieved in part through emphasizing value to research efforts (improved scores on training grants and fellowships; new partnerships with industry).

Beginning Strategies

Graduate Professional Success in the Biomedical Sciences (GPS-BIOMED) is dedicated to centralizing and expanding professional development programming at the University of California Irvine. Through ongoing conversations with on-campus partners, our program, website and calendar of events are now the hub for opportunities that are of value to PhD students and postdoctoral scholars in the biomedical sciences.