The Life Science Network recently wrote an article about our innovative programs to help young scientists build their careers.To see the original article, “UT Health San Antonio: Training Young Scientists for all Career Paths,” click here.
Below is a preview of the article:
UT Health San Antonio: Training Young Scientists for all Career Paths
University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (now called UT Health San Antonio) about their programs for grad students and postdocs. Three of their programs stood out—one teaches mentoring skills, another biomedical product development and an initiative allowing scientists to connect with the public.
The four-week Entering Mentoring program was created by Dr. Linda McManus, director of UT Health San Antonio’s Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, to help trainees become effective mentors. It was built on the work of Dr Christine Pfund from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Academics are expected to mentor younger scientists throughout their career – as grad students, postdocs and even more so when they become faculty members. However, most scientists are not trained to be mentors.
Dr McManus said, “Typically there is no formal training and most mentors learn as an apprentice. You can’t teach mentorship. It is based on experience and is a life-long process of learning from mentees. But we can introduce the concepts of mentoring and put people in a situation where they acquire real knowledge and skills.” The program gives scientists hands on skills that will be useful not only in academic careers but also should they choose to transition to an industry position.
UT Health San Antonio also offers young scientists a Biomedical Product Development Course which walks students through the challenges and hurdles of developing a scientific discovery into a product. The class is taught by different biotech entrepreneurs and industry experts to give students the chance to network and build relationships outside of academia. It covers intellectual property (IP) protection, regulatory pathways for drugs, diagnostics and medical devices, market validation, reimbursement, pitching to investors and corporate partnering. The course finishes with a field trip to a local biotech company.
Dr Andrea Giuffrida, vice president for research at UT Health San Antonio developed the Biomedical Product Development Course. He told LSN, “The idea was to educate faculty, students and all the trainees on campus on how to move ideas from the lab into the market. The take home message is that a great idea is not enough, it is a team effort. You need to know all the steps that come into play and you need help from business people.”
In 2016, one of UT Health San Antonio’s entrepreneurially-minded grad students, Travis Block, along with Milos Marinkovic, and Dr. Teresa Evans from the UT Health San Antonio co-founded the Science Fiesta, a riff on San Antonio’s famous Fiesta, but one that focused on finding fun ways to share science with the general public.
The Graduate Student Association worked with local K-12 schools with the help of the Voelker Biosciences Teacher Academy (VBTA) to create the world’s largest periodic table and held a science fair featuring a talk by author and journalist David Epstein, poster presentations from scientists and from different science-related organizations in the region. “Science Fiesta was originally created to bridge the gap between the research happening across San Antonio and the general public. We wanted our community to know about the science going on in our city,” said Dr. Evans.
The inaugural event was a big success attracting 3000 people and will now be held every year.