Economic Implications of Scientific Training in the Biomedical Research Workforce

Sunday, February 19, 2017: 3:00 PM-4:30 PM
Room 312 (Hynes Convention Center)
Can viewing the biomedical research workforce and its system of scientific training through an economic lens help us better understand the challenges it faces? Are the low wages paid to this highly educated workforce during postdoctoral training causing talent to move to other, more compensated positions in the private sector, or to abandon science and technology altogether? If so, is this a problem for the field? Even more importantly, can policy changes shift the trajectory of the biomedical workforce to sustain U.S. leadership in the research and development arena? This topic is particularly timely considering recent revisions made to the Fair Labor Standards Act that affect the overtime pay threshold. The reaction of the scientific community, including that of the National Institutes of Health, highlights the importance of the larger issue of trainee compensation. Improvements to the rather bleak economic outlook for these trainees will require policy changes and innovative incentives that reflect the value these skilled experts provide to the enterprise. These incentives will determine the future quality and quantity of the biomedical research workforce. This session explores the adoption and implementation of policies, such as the new overtime rule, and other strategies that can improve this arguably flawed system.
Barbara Natalizio, AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow, National Science Foundation
Andrew Miklos, National Institutes of Health
Barbara Natalizio, AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow, National Science Foundation
Michael Lauer, National Institutes of Health
Paula Stephan, Georgia State University
The Economics of the Postdoctoral Position