History of Postdocs

1974: The United States Congress enacted the National Research Service Act Program to ensure that trained scientists would be available in appropriate numbers and research areas to conduct the nation’s biomedical and behavioral research agenda. Under this congressional Act, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) awards postdoctoral fellowships to individuals in a full-time science research capacity.

1995: American Association for the Advancement of Science developed Science's Next Wave, a weekly web magazine published by the research journal Science for "Early Career Scientists." Later developed the Postdoc Network, sponsored by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, connecting postdocs and administrators from different institutions.

1995: A group of concerned postdocs at UCSF formed the Postdoctoral Scholars Association (PSA) - a grassroots organization seeking improvements in the training and work climate of postdocs. The UCSF Graduate Dean supported this initiative and offered funding as needed.

1996: The PSA conducted a survey of UCSF postdocs. The survey results were published on the web and submitted to the UCSF Graduate Division Dean. The survey addressed many postdoc challenges including inadequate mentoring, low salaries, and fear of unemployment as the market for scientists was not strong at that time.

1997: In response to postdoc requests since the early 1990s, the UCSF Career Center was opened to help postdocs attain faculty positions. Because of lack of staffing the Career Center closed from December 1999 through May 2001. It was re-opened in May 2001 with a staff of three and a new website for complete online services. Not only was the PSA instrumental in the founding of the Career Center office but also it continues to contribute funding to the Career Center.

January 1997: The University of California Council of Graduate Deans (COGD) formed a “UC Workgroup for Postdoctoral Affairs” to address the needs and concerns of the UC postdoc community throughout the UC system.

March 31, 1998: Association of American Universities (AAU), Committee on Postdoctoral Education "Report and Recommendations." The committee created a series of recommendations to increase the "fairness and consistency in the management of postdoc programs," including a definition of a "postdoctoral scholar."

February 26, 1998: National Science Board report published: The Federal Role in Science and Engineering Graduate and Postdoctoral Education.

Fall 1998: Council of Graduate Deans, University of California, publishes "Report on Postdoctoral Education at UC." Report made recommendations for the administration of postdoc programs, benefits and appointments.

December 2, 1998: National Science Foundation, Division of Science Resources Studies, "Has the Use of Postdocs Changed?" A study about shift in the professional role of a postdoctoral appointment.

1999-2000: PSA conducted a small survey on postdoc average earnings and whether earnings meet cost of living needs. The survey findings were incorporated into set of recommendations submitted to the Dean of Graduate Studies and the Graduate Council (a committee of the UCSF Academic Senate). The recommendations were then passed onto the Academic Senate and distributed to UCSF faculty.

2000: Committee on Science Engineering and Public Policy (COSEPUP) published its findings from a nation-wide survey of postdocs.

November 2000: "The Ongoing Challenges of the UCSF Postdoc Association" article published in Science's Next Wave.

February 2001: The Graduate Division hired an assistant dean for postdoctoral affairs to develop and administer the UCSF Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, now called the Postdoc Office.

March 2001: "NIH Statement in Response to the NAS Report: Addressing the Nation's Changing Needs for Biomedical and Behavioral Scientists."

April 2, 2001: Memo: “University of California, San Francisco Proposed Policy Modifications for the Appointment and Mentoring of Postdoctoral Scholars," recommended to the Academic Senate from the Dean of the Graduate Division. This report was prepared over the course of two years by the Graduate Council with contributions from the Postdoctoral Scholars' Association at UCSF.

April 3, 2001: FASEB Policy Statement on Postdoctoral Training published.

October 2001: Inaugural "Postdoc Orientation and Information Reception" hosted by the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs and the Postdoctoral Scholars' Association. (Postdoc orientations are now held quarterly and conducted by the Postdoc Office.)

January 2002: National Research Service Award (NRSA) Stipend Increase and Other Budgetary Changes Effective for Fiscal Year 2002 published.

January 2002: UCSF and San Francisco State University co-sponsor the "Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow Program" funded by a grant from the US Department of Education, Fund for the Improvement of Post Secondary Education (FIPSE) Program.

February 2002: The UCSF Postdoctoral Scholars Association co-sponsored the first annual community relations reception "Celebrating UCSF… A Night at the SFMOMA," held at the SF Museum of Modern Art.

September 1, 2002: FASEB publishes an "Individual Development Plan" for postdocs as well as a "Postdoc Research and Career Progress: Annual Review Form," providing good examples for institutions throughout the US.

March 2003: NRSA Fiscal Year 2003 stipend level announced.

March 14-15, 2003: First annual meeting of the National Postdoctoral Association held at UC Berkeley.

July 2003: Launching of the first UCSF Office of Postdoctoral Affairs website (at the current URL) to empower postdocs, faculty and administrators through access to information while addressing the unique issues of the postdoc community.

July 1, 2003: University of California "Academic Personnel Manual 390 - Postdoctoral Scholars" (APM 390) issued.

August 14, 2003: The National Science Board report: The Science and Engineering Workforce Realizing America's Potential

April 15, 2004: Second Convocation of the Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (COSEPUP). Then UCSF Associate Dean Patricia Calarco attended this event.

April 16-17, 2004: Second Annual Meeting of the National Postdoctoral Association was held in Washington, DC.

January 1, 2005: All University of California campuses (with the exception of UCSF) began implementation of the UC Postdoctoral Scholars Benefit Plan (UC-PSBP). This comprehensive program offers Medical, Dental, Vision, Life and AD&D Insurance, Short-Term Disability Insurance and Voluntary Long-Term Disability Insurance. More information about the plan can be found on the Garnett-Powers and Associates website.

February 4, 2005: National Research Service Award (NRSA) Stipend Increase and Other Budgetary Changes Effective for Fiscal Year 2005

March 2005: Release of an NSF Report on Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering: Fall 2002

March 2005: Release of Postdoctoral Appointments: Policies and Practices an NSF Report on a workshop.

March 11-12, 2005: Third Annual Meeting of the National Postdoctoral Association was held in San Diego.

March 18, 2005: Release of report Bridges to Independence: Fostering the Independence of New Investigators in Biomedical Research published by the National Academies Press.

April 6, 2005: Release of nationwide postdoc survey conducted by Sigma Xi, Doctors Without Orders.

October 8, 2006: The Compact Between Postdoctoral Appointees and Their Mentors is endorsed by the AAMC Group on Graduate, Research, Education, and Training and its Postdoctorate Committee.

March 10, 2008: Policy on Comprehensive Benefits for Postdoctoral Scholars signed by (then) Graduate Dean Patricia Calarco, and enacted at UCSF.

February, 2009: UC Postdocs become only the second postdoc population in the nation to unionize.