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Neuroscience Postdoc Program FAQs

The duration of Pfizer Neuroscience Postdoctoral Fellowship is generally for three years and may be extended based upon progress and project needs for a fourth year. Minimum term is two years and maximum is four years.

We have examples of postdocs being hired as full time employees following the conclusion of their postdoctoral fellowship. However, this is the exception rather than the rule. There is no guarantee that you will be offered a position or that there will be open positions for which you may be qualified at the end of your fellowship. Participation in the Neuroscience Fellows Program at Pfizer will provide a unique experience that positions fellows for assistant professorships or group leaders in either academia or industry.

A description and link to the application process can be found at jobs.pfizer.com. Among applicants, we will invite a select number of highly qualified candidates to interview. Interviews will occur either individually or as part of a candidate symposium at Pfizer’s Research Campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Candidates will meet with scientists and potential mentors, deliver a presentation on their research, and tour the laboratories. Candidates will be selected based on research accomplishments, creativity, potential for innovation, and alignment with research interests in the NSRU.

There are a wide range of projects available across the Neuroscience Research Unit. Current projects span areas of molecular/cellular biology, protein biochemistry and structure, in vitro and in vivo electrophysiology, imaging, neurochemistry, systems neuroscience, computational biology, animal models of disease, neurogenetics, synapse biology, and behavioral/cognitive neuroscience.

Major disease areas include Alzheimer’s disease, autism, bipolar disorder, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, and others. In addition to research in the NSRU, Neuroscience Fellows have the possibility to collaborate with many other groups within Pfizer and with partner labs in academia. A list of mentors and their interests is available on the Mentors page for details on possible mentors and their interests.

The postdoctoral fellowship program at Pfizer is a new initiative. We anticipate that the program will provide a unique combination of training for independent scientists in an academic-style setting immersed within a state-of-the-art drug discovery organization. The combination of skills and experiences obtained will position Fellows for successful careers in industry or academia.

Yes. One of the key goals and expectations of the Neuroscience Postdoctoral Fellowship Program is that Fellows will publish in top tier journals. This will enable postdocs to return to an academic career route if they choose or pursue lab head positions in industry. Participating mentors together with the Steering Committee of the Pfizer Neuroscience Postdoctoral Fellowship Program will ensure that postdoctoral projects do not involve working on compounds or techniques which are subject to patent or intellectual property issues which would prevent publication. The Neuroscience Research Unit has developed publication guidelines to streamline all approvals. In addition, each Postdoctoral Fellow will have an advisory committee which, in addition to the mentor, will help advise on project direction and a path toward publication. A list of recent publications from members of the Neuroscience Research Unit is found here.

Research in the NSRU has a broad focus of translational research, and under this umbrella postdocs will be encouraged to work with their individual mentors to design their projects. Work may focus on a specific disorder, or comprise basic research around disease-relevant mechanisms. Projects are not constrained by external funding sources, and will have freedom to go where the data lead. Collaboration both within Pfizer and externally is encouraged, and it is hoped that postdocs will be able to gain access to a wide variety of techniques and expertise during their fellowship.

The Neuroscience Postdoctoral Fellowship Program will have a very strong support network, for both scientific and professional development. Each Fellow will have an advisory committee composed of the advisor and two additional senior scientists in the department. This committee will provide scientific advice and will also provide a direct connection with the Pfizer Postdoctoral Governance Team who oversees postdocs on a company-wide scale. In addition, the NSRU provides a very supportive environment where collaborations are the norm, where the exchange of ideas and critical input occurs continuously, and where there is a rich program of seminars, data meetings, and journal discussion.

On site postdocs will also be able to take advantage of Pfizer Pfresh Pfaces (PPP) which is a Pfizer colleague resource group. PPP promotes an inclusive environment with the goal of increasing engagement, recruitment, diversity, and retention through peer networking and the exchange of professional and personal experiences between Pfizer’s newly-hired and existing colleagues. Through PPP, Pfizer will support the professional and personal development of our newly-hired postdocs. Participation in PPP will allow postdocs to have a voice within the campus and ensure they have a forum for voicing opinions and feedback, networking with others, and integrating into our site and local environment.

We have regular seminars at the Groton campus, averaging 1-2 external neuroscience seminars per week. We manage to attract the very best scientists globally to the site. Generally each speaker gives a seminar followed by a roundtable discussion and additional individual meetings. Neuroscience Postdoctoral Fellows will invite and host 1-2 speakers per year for a special Pfizer Postdoc-Invited Seminar. In addition, there are good travel links to Yale, New York and Boston to attend seminars as needed.

Yes. Across the Neuroscience Research Unit we have many collaborations with academic labs across the world. They range from more informal collaborations where we share compounds and reagents to multi-year large deals. We encourage collaborations of all types as long as they are productive, endorsed by management and the legal division, and contribute to our mission of understanding the causes of and developing medicines for the neurological and psychiatric diseases we study.

Pfizer owns the project and the reagents. However, we envision that when a postdoc makes the decision to move to an academic faculty position, we will be able to share such reagents under an appropriate agreement in a fashion similar to what we do today with collaborators following our receipt of internal approvals and the appropriate legal clearance. We note that in nearly all academic institutions, the original institution owns the reagents generated by postdocs and requires transfer agreements in much the same way.

Yes. Postdoctoral fellows who move to an academic position will be able to continue collaborating with Pfizer scientists on projects of mutual interest. There will even be opportunities for Pfizer to fund projects or people in the labs of program alumni, which may be particularly attractive in an era of reduced funding for academic research.

Apply to the postoc program:

Applications are reviewed on a regular basis and top candidates are invited to visit, present their research, and interview at Pfizer's Groton Research Campus. More extended descriptions of the interview process will be provided to the invited candidates at the time of invitation.