Opening New Channels for Industry-Academic Relations

Derek Lindstrom and Nathan Hillson

An effective approach to building relationships between culturally distinct organizations is through immersive experience. This strategic plan proposes to create an opportunity to place academic scientists into an industry-based postdoctoral position without jeopardizing their ability to compete effectively for tenure-track academic positions. In essence, we are offering a return ticket to academics interested in gaining industrial experience. The mechanism that we present is a modification of the NIH K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award (the K99). This is an extremely effective award mechanism that promotes the transition from an academic postdoctoral position into a tenure-track faculty position by providing funding for both career stages. By broadening the K99 model to allow awardees to select an industrial position as part of their career path, we can leverage the advantages that make current K99 awardees highly competitive when they search for tenure-track positions. We believe that synthetic biologists would be particularly drawn to activating this award option and in doing so will catalyze a broader collaboration between industrial and academic biology.