Morgridge Institute launches new interdisciplinary fellows program

A new postdoctoral fellowship program approved this spring for the Morgridge Institute for Research aims to spark unique collaborative research opportunities with the University of Wisconsin–Madison, while preparing biomedical PhDs for a changing career landscape.

The Morgridge Fellows program will recruit candidates who will be mentored by both a Morgridge Institute principal investigator and a UW–Madison faculty member. The fellowships are intended to foster increased collaboration in the Morgridge focus areas, including regenerative biology, virology, medical engineering and computation in biology.

“The Morgridge Board of Trustees envisioned this program as a way to nucleate research efforts with UW–Madison and build critical expertise in these strategic areas,” says Brad Schwartz, CEO of the Morgridge Institute. “This will especially benefit UW–Madison scientists who are recruiting postdocs or looking to support current talent in these emerging research areas.”

Beginning in summer 2015, the program will support five two-year fellowships each year. Applications for the first year will be accepted in two phases: in early fall of 2014 for a July 2015 start date; and in early spring 2015 for a September 2015 start. Morgridge Education Liaison Debora Treu says she encourages feedback and questions early from faculty mentors about new fellowships that may fit the “sweet spot” between campus research and Morgridge themes.

In addition to increasing disciplinary knowledge, the Morgridge fellowships will emphasize strong communication skills, leadership and management skills, and exploration of tenure-track alternatives such as industry and law. Fellowships will also take advantage of Morgridge’s extensive outreach programs and provide opportunities for fellows to communicate their work to the public.

“We hope to increase the talent pool of people interested in collaborative biomedical research, and also provide some career development opportunities that go beyond academic careers,” says Treu. “We also want researchers who have a passion for public outreach and education.”

While career opportunities for biomedical PhDs remain strong, they are shifting from traditional paths. A recent National Institutes of Health report found that the number of PhDs moving into tenure-track faculty positions has declined from 34 percent in 1993 to 26 percent in 2012. Roughly one in three biomedical PhDs work in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries, but PhD programs may not be aligned with the skill-sets for these careers.

The program will sponsor an annual symposium where Morgridge Fellows present their research in conjunction with mentors. The symposium will include a poster session and invite participants from other campus biomedical training programs.

The formal request for applications will be posted this summer along with scheduled information sessions. For more information, please contact Treu at 608-316-4304,