BOSTON. A panel discussion on “Career Pathways: From Training to Independence” that was organized by the Hellenic Bioscientific Association (HBA-USA) took place in the General Consulate on November 3rd 2016, 6-8pm. Dr. Maria Kontaridis (Associate Professor, HMS/BIDMC), Dr. Katia Karalis (Assistant Professor, HMS/Children’s Hospital, VP Emulate), Dr. Christos Georgakis (Professor, Tufts University) and Dr. Nikos Patsopoulos (Assistant Professor, HMS/BWH) were invited as panelists. A diverse audience including Greek academics, medical doctors, researchers from the Boston area biotech industry, universities and medical hospitals and graduate students attended this event.
The welcome speech was delivered by Ms. Ifigeneia Kanara (Consul General). Dr. Ioannis Zervantonakis (Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard Medical School, MA), a board member of HBA-USA, presented the agenda of the panel discussion and provided a short overview of the programs that HBA-USA has initiated to enhance interactions between Greek and Greek-American Bioscientists in USA and in Greece. Dr. Kontaridis spoke about the importance of assembling a mentoring team, looking for career funding opportunities early and developing a peer network group and also participating at social events to interact with colleagues. Dr. Katia Karalis spoke about the quality of graduates from the hellenic universities / institutes, and provided many examples. She also referred to opportunities through postdoc in the industry, diversify the network of collaborators. This can help attract funding from industrial sources, and also develop stronger ties with the academic institution later when accepting a faculty position. Dr. Christos Georgakis further expanded on this point, and suggested that in engineering departments, the ability to work on “real-world” problems is highly important. He also highlighted the importance to develop long-term career goals and be ready to communicate with colleagues and faculty search committee during interview as well as to apply at institution that you are interested in, although there may be no opening currently, they might create the position for you. Lastly, Dr. Nikos Papsopoulos stressed the importance of taking control of your career, being pro-active, asking from your mentors what you need help with and looking for mentoring beyond advisor.
During the last part of the event several questions were asked from the audience including 1) What was the biggest challenge/difficulty you have faced, 2) Career development grants: timing , when to apply, 3) Role of visa status when applying for career grants, 4) Postdoc in industry: how does this affect chances of obtaining a faculty position, 5) Advice on developing a peer supporting and mentoring team”. After the Q/A the discussion continued around the buffet and the event finished at 9.30 pm.