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Catalyzing changes through the Young Investigator Meeting

Athulaprabha Murthi,


Catalyzing changes through the Young Investigator Meeting

The annual Young Investigators Meeting began in 2009, with a highly optimistic and ambitious vision of sparking a change within the world of life science in India. YIM aims to catalyze many transformations:- Faculty recruitment by pooling in the postdoctoral fellows with Directors of Institutions, re-energizing the Young Investigators by putting them with others around the country, instilling an infectious optimism to strive forward amidst obvious challenges, familiarizing the applicants with the granting agencies and thereby allowing them to understand the intricacies of applying and getting a grant funded.  Four years down the lane, it was important to assess whether YIM had managed to succeed at least in a few of the areas it aimed to. IndiaBioscience conducted a survey, to understand the impact of YIM on the postdoctoral fellows (PDF), the young investigators (YI) as well as institutional directors.

Three different surveys were designed to address the specific needs of the three communities that YIM caters to – PDFs, YIs and Institute Directors. Our survey shows some striking results for each category. PDFs who attended YIM 2009, 2010 and 2011, were asked targeted questions related to their recruitment, employment and experience at YIM. Of the 55 PDFs who responded to the survey, 98% are working in the academic sector.

About 40% of the YIM alumini are working in India and of these 50% felt that YIM was instrumental in helping them find their present position.  This is one of the major aims of YIM and therefore very gratifying for us to see the actual data clearly indicating that YIM has in fact managed to mobilize the recruiting process. An overwhelming majority of the PDFs found that attending YIM helped them understand the process of recruitment in India, enabled them to connect with the institutes as well their peers. This of course is not much of a surprise. To many of us who move abroad for higher studies or a Postdoc it is not hard to become disconnected to various aspects of science within India over a period of few years. It is undoubtedly exhilarating to be reconnected. YIM is unique in many ways as it focuses on bringing together people from different stages of their career but within the same field in a highly informal environment. This definitely has its advantages as is clear from the survey results.






This networking aspect no doubt had a great impact on them being able to find a position of choice in India. More surprising is the fact that among the >50% PDFs who are still working overseas, only 18% were offered a better position and have opted to take that up while the remaining 85% are still completing their postdoc. Therefore, many of the YIM alum would apply for positions in India in the near future, probably empowered by the knowledge they gained at YIM

Young Investigators



The survey was sent to 160 YIs who have attended YIM in years 2009-2012. Of these 73 responded. Over 90% of the young investigators thought that attending the YIM was productive. The majority, 64% felt that interacting with their peers was the most useful activity at the YIM, while the opportunity to network and understand the world of science in India came a close second. YIM breakout sessions aim to put a small group of people with key administrators and faculty to facilitate closer more intimate discussions on relevant topics, which have changed over the years. Some constants have been, grant writing, managing lab and personnel and publishing strategy. It provides an opportunity to interact, question and discuss important topics with either the administrators themselves (Grant advisors, DBT secretary in case of Grant writing) or the researcher’s who have traversed these paths before and hence can give very relevant and practical advice/suggestions.  An overwhelming majority (84%) found the breakout session to be useful. Of these, Issues of Starting a Lab in India and Mentoring & Managing Personnel seemed to be the big favorites with 64.8% and 56.3% YIs finding it useful. These are definitely sessions that should be included in the future YIMs. Though most thought that none of the breakout topics should be excluded, a bleak 28.2% felt that we should remove Publishing Strategy from the future YIM – a point to consider perhaps?















One of the primary goals of YIM is to provide a platform to foster interactions, promote collaborations and thereby scientific exchange and mobility around the nation. Much to our satisfaction, 76% of the YIs are in communication with someone they met at YIM and of these 25% have established collaboration. Over the years to come, I am sure more collaboration and joint projects would come into fruition. Most importantly, 78.9% felt connected to the world of Indian science and even those who did not feel so connected felt that they would recommend others from their institute to attend YIM.

YIM is gaining popularity among the directors with 20 of them attending the latest YIM at Lonavala earlier this year.

A survey conducted among the directors who attended YIM (2009 through 2012) shows that nearly 80% of them were able to identify potential candidates at YIM. More importantly, 80% of them indicated that these candidates have actually joined their institutions. Therefore, YIM provides a great platform for recruiting talented young investigators.



Based on these results it is obvious that YIM has managed to catalyze not just the process of recruiting faculty, but also networking, establishing collaborations as well as disseminating information about the rapidly changing world of Indian Science.

I will end it with one of the Director’s comments - “The same rigour should continue.” That will be our effort in the years to come.

Acknowledgements: The survey was conducted on Survey Monkey. I would also like to thank all the participants for taking the time to answer the survey questions.

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