With biomedical scientists having a difficult time getting tenure-track positions at U.S. universities, UW-Madison is joining with nine other institutions to share data on career prospects for their life scientists.

The Coalition for Next Generation Life Sciences has been formed in response to the limited availability of such positions, as well as a lack of marketplace information on training, career preparation and career options.

Chancellor Rebecca Blank said the coalition’s intent is to give students a “clear understanding of where their training is likely to take them.”

“This initiative will give prospective and current researchers a look into the job choices of recent graduates, so they can plan for their own careers,” Blank said.

The coalition is composed of UW-Madison, The Johns Hopkins University, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, University of Pennsylvania, University of California-San Francisco, University of Maryland-Baltimore County, Cornell University, Duke University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

UW-Madison Graduate School Dean William Karpus will lead the project here.

Blank co-authored an article in the upcoming issue of the journal Science.

The institutions will start posting new standardized data in February and add more categories over 18 months.

The data-sharing information will include enrollment in doctoral programs in the life sciences, time to graduation and student demographics.

Additional data on career outcomes will include time spent in post-doctoral research positions and jobs taken by an institution’s former graduate students and post-doctoral researchers.

The authors of the article said only about 10 percent of U.S. biomedical scientists get tenure-track faculty positions at U.S. institutions within five years of earning a doctorate.

One goal is to show bio scientists there are careers in the life sciences other than at universities, such as in industry, government, entrepreneurship and science communication.

“The majority of trainees will eventually choose to pursue those careers, but only after having made irreversible investments in what is often more than a decade of training for academic jobs that do not exist,” the authors wrote. “At least some of the training may be unnecessary for their eventual career choices.”

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Bill Novak is a general assignment reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.