Postdoctoral Career Development Track

Career Development Track Faculty Appointments in Behavioral Neuroscience

(Approved July 2008)
(Amended July 2009)

This document describes a departmental policy that establishes a “Career Development Track” faculty appointment in the Department of Behavioral Neuroscience. The sole purpose of these appointments is to facilitate the transition from postdoctoral investigator to independent faculty investigator.  These appointments will only be given to the most promising postdoctoral scientists who meet specific criteria described in this policy.


In order to apply for a Career Development Track faculty appointment, individuals must meet all of the following criteria:

  • The individual must have an earned doctorate and meet all other SOM and OHSU criteria for faculty track appointments.
  • The individual must have at least 3, but no more than a total of 6 years of postdoctoral training at OHSU or elsewhere.
  • The individual must have held a research-related post-PhD level appointment (e.g., postdoctoral fellow, research associate, senior research associate) at OHSU (0.5 FTE or greater) during the 12 months immediately before the proposed starting date for a Career Development Track faculty appointment.
  • The individual must have a faculty sponsor who holds a primary or joint academic faculty appointment at the rank of Assistant Professor or higher in the Department of Behavioral Neuroscience.
  • This sponsor must agree to provide salary and space for the appointee.
  • Faculty members will be limited to sponsoring only one Career Development Track faculty appointment at a time.
  • The initial appointment to the Career Development Track will not be contingent on future receipt of a grant award, but will be contingent on the intent to seek national funding.

Appointment Process

The process for making Career Development Track faculty appointments is as follows:

The individual must submit an application to the Department Chair that contains all of the following:

  • Cover letter that includes a description of the applicant’s 5-year career development plan (4 page maximum).
  • Current CV (should include a complete list of publications and competitive grant awards).
  • Faculty Sponsor’s letter of recommendation and commitment to provide salary and space for the appointee.
  • The exact source of salary support for the first 12 months of the proposed appointment must be specified in this letter.
  • Faculty Sponsor’s most recent NIH Biosketch and “Other Support” pages.
  • At least two additional letters of recommendation from scientists familiar with the applicant’s scientific accomplishments and potential for becoming an independent investigator.
  • Relevant supporting materials (e.g., publications, research grant applications or proposals, grant reviews/summary statements).

If the applicant meets the eligibility criteria described above, the Chair will forward the application to the departmental P&T Committee.  This Committee will evaluate the application and make a recommendation (to the Chair) either to reject the application or to accept and consider the application at a regularly scheduled meeting of the department faculty. The primary criteria to be used in making this decision should be:

  • Quality and feasibility of applicant’s proposed 5-year career development plan
  • Quality of previous training and research accomplishments (including publications, competitive fellowship and grant awards)
  • Applicant’s potential for becoming an independent investigator within 5 years
  • Likelihood that the individual will be able to compete successfully as PI for a K- or R-type NIH award (or equivalent) within 5 years.
  • Faculty Sponsor’s recommendation and commitment of support.
  • Other letters of recommendation.

Candidates whose applications are accepted for consideration by the department faculty must present a formal research seminar open to the full department.

A formal vote to offer a Career Development Track faculty appointment to the applicant will be taken by the full Departmental faculty at the next departmental faculty meeting. The Department Chair will then notify the candidate of the outcome.

The Chair, Dean and Provost must formally approve the appointment in accord with school and university policies.

Career Development Track faculty appointments

Individuals approved for the Career Development Track will be appointed at the rank of Research Assistant Professor. Within the Department of Behavioral Neuroscience, this title will be used exclusively for individuals appointed on the Career Development Track.

These appointments will be “fixed term.” The duration of the individual’s OHSU annual contract may depend on the anticipated availability of funds from grants, contracts or other sources.

The salary rate for Research Assistant Professors shall be no less than that specified by NIH for postdoctoral fellows with the same level of experience. Fringe benefits will be those specified by OHSU for faculty appointees.

Research Assistant Professors must be appointed with an FTE of 0.5 or higher. Certain grant awards, if received, might require a higher FTE (e.g., 0.75). If the Faculty Sponsor and appointee are no longer able to provide at least 0.5 FTE support for the appointee, the appointment will be terminated in a manner consistent with OHSU policies.

If the original Faculty Sponsor can no longer provide sufficient salary or space, the appointee can petition the Chair for transfer to a new Faculty Sponsor if one can be identified. In such cases, the appointee must submit a new application for appointment that contains all of the materials specified earlier. Applications for continued appointment with a new Faculty Sponsor will be reviewed and approved in the same manner as new applications.

No startup funds or commitment of departmental space will be given with these appointments. Moreover, the Faculty Sponsor’s assigned departmental space will not be increased on the basis of external funding received by a Research Assistant Professor.

Research Assistant Professors are expected to spend the majority of their time and effort engaged in research and in activities that will lead to becoming an independent investigator (e.g., submitting grant proposals, conducting and publishing research). The department will not require Research Assistant Professors to engage in teaching or to provide administrative service. They may attend departmental faculty meetings as non-voting participants.

The P&T Committee will annually evaluate the research accomplishments of Research Assistant Professors. This review will be based on the appointee’s most recent CV, a narrative progress report from the appointee, recent grant reviews/summary statements, and a progress report and recommendation from the faculty Sponsor. The Committee will then make a recommendation to the Chair either to continue or to terminate the appointment at the end of the current contract. In general, failure to submit a K- or R-type NIH research grant application (or equivalent) during the last 12 months (for appointees without such grants) or research accomplishments that are judged unsatisfactory will be grounds for recommending non-renewal of the appointment. The annual review will be scheduled about 3 months before the end of the appointee’s contract. In cases where the contract will not be renewed, the appointee must be notified at least 1 month before the end of the contract.

Individuals in the Career Development Track will not be considered for promotion in the Research series (i.e., the only departmental appointments in the Research series will be at the rank of Research Assistant Professor).

Individuals shall be appointed to the Career Development Track for no more than a total of 5 years. At the end of 5 years, the individual’s appointment at the rank of Research Assistant Professor in Behavioral Neuroscience will be terminated. In general, individuals who are successful in obtaining external funding while appointed to the Career Development Track are expected to apply for faculty or scientist positions at other institutions (or other departments or research centers at OHSU). However, these individuals may apply for a faculty appointment in the Professor series in Behavioral Neuroscience when such positions are advertised. They may also be re-appointed in Behavioral Neuroscience in a research support position (e.g., Senior Research Associate).

The department Chair will provide letters describing the department’s commitment and support for Research Assistant Professors who submit NIH K- or R-type or similar other agency grant applications requiring such letters. These letters will confirm the department’s commitment to the individual's development into a productive, independent investigator as evidenced by his/her appointment to the department’s Career Development Track. Such letters will only be provided after the departmental faculty, Chair, Dean and Provost have formally approved appointment at the rank of Research Assistant Professor.

Amendments - July 14, 2009

  1. An individual with a Research Career Development Faculty appointment will not be permitted to serve as co-advisors on 2nd year research requirement papers.
  2. The Department of Behavioral Neuroscience will not sponsor Research Career Development Faculty for membership of the Graduate Council.
  3. An individual with a Research Career Development Faculty appointment will be permitted to serve as co-directors for the departmental seminar (BEHN 607: Issues in Behavioral Neuroscience).