We had a plan. Kaity was going to take over the blog in August, and post about life as a high school senior. Another Project 365 thing, only from the perspective of our oldest. Our intent was to have a 3 week hiatus. So…yeah. That worked out. Teenagers.
Things have been crazy busy around here, and there’s a lot of news. Most of the immediate family knows most of it by now, but Nana pointed out this week that there are other people who might like to know what is going on here in Lawrence. Susan, this post is for you.
So, where to start. Let’s back up to August 2009. I started a postdoc position at the medical center in Kansas City two months after finishing my doctorate, and 6 weeks after Charlie was born. One of the requirements of my fellowship was that I earn an additional master’s degree, either a Masters in Public Health or a Master of Science in Clinical Research. Because the second degree had a biostatistics track, that was the one I chose, since I thought it would be more applicable to my long term career goals. For the last 2.5 years, I have been taking additional classes in biostatistics and epidemiology, and had my last final exam in Advanced Epidemiological Methods (Poisson regression and Survival Analysis) yesterday. I defended my thesis last week, and with exception of a few revisions, the requirements for my degree are done, or will be by Friday.
Another requirement of my postdoc was that I learn how to write grants, and apply for independent funding for my research. My postdoc position had been funded by a training grant which ended this summer, which was not renewed in the most recent funding cycle. I had applied for several small internal research grants and mentored training grants during my fellowship, the most recent one in July. Of 33 original applicants, my application was one of 10 selected for committee review. Great! I knew people who didn’t make the first cut, so I was optimistic that my pilot project would be funded and this new grant would cover my salary for a couple of years while providing some additional training in bioinformatics.
Of the 10 proposals selected for review, six were funded. Mine was not one of them. I heard later that some of the criticisms of my proposal were that it was not in my primary mentor’s area (true) and that I had no publications in the area in which I was proposing to work (also true). And neither something I could fix in my current position. It was a translational proposal, meaning that it pulled together basic and clinical sciences, with me being the basic science person and my mentor being the clinical science person. Turns out most of the funded proposals went to clinicians or junior faculty who were working on extensions of their mentor’s projects.
The upshot of all this was that my funding was running out soon, and the chances of my department being able to cover me for another year were not good. So I started looking for a new job, something that would be a better fit for me professionally, and maybe also allow me to qualify for the loan repayment program through NIH.
At the end of August, I flew to Chapel Hill for an interview with a team of epidemiologists who work on cardiovascular disease genetics. Using genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of large data sets (~20,000 subjects, long-term cohort studies where participants are followed for years), they try to tease out genetic risk factors for heart disease and obesity. In October, I accepted a postdoc position at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health to work with data from the Add Health project, a long-term cohort study of adolescent health started in 1994. We will be leaving Lawrence and setting up house in North Carolina in January (I’m writing part of this post from the airport, waiting on the flight to Raleigh to scope out potential housing).
This is a tremendous opportunity for me, to learn how to analyze big genomic data sets, something that no one at my current institution does, or even has the potential to do in the next several years.
Brandon has started looking for a new job, and has been contacted by several recruiters and had a few interviews. His current employer has agreed to keep him on as a remote employee for a while, to give him time to find a job in NC, and also give his team mate time to enjoy her brand new baby, who was born December 6. She’s on maternity leave until March. Brandon’s replacement will start soon, giving him a chance to get familiar with the Linux systems before we leave.
So that’s what’s new with us. Considering the length of this post, I’ll save the kid updates for next time.