The Postdoc Challenge offers postdoctoral researchers at Indiana University School of Medicine, IUPUI, Purdue University, and the University of Notre Dame valuable proposal writing and reviewing experience in areas related to translational research through the use of one or more of the Indiana CTSI-designated core facilities at any of the partner universities.
The challenge gives postdoctoral researchers an opportunity to write applications and, for some, allows an individual researcher to be a principal investigator for the first time.
Taylor Raborn, PhD, participated in the 2016-2017 Postdoc Challenge while he was at Indiana University in Bloomington (IUB). His work, using the Center for Genomics and Bioinformatics core at IUB, was recently published in Genome Research, an international peer-reviewed journal that highlights research providing insights into the genome biology of all organisms. Raborn says the Postdoc Challenge helped to fund a method that became a novel transcription start site (TSS) profiling method called STRIPE-seq.
STRIPE-seq is a genomics method that identifies TSSs at massive scale from expressed mRNAs at large scale. Clusters of TSSs identify active promoters within a sample.
“We can obtain a measurement of the activity of a promoter using STRIPE-seq, and this we found correlates to the expression of its associated gene,” says Raborn. “STRIPE-seq is substantially faster and simpler relative to other methods (4-5 hours vs days), and it requires less total RNA as input (50ng vs 2-5ug), up to a 100-fold decrease.”
Raborn received a PhD in Biology from the University of Iowa in 2013, and is currently an Assistant Research Scientist in the Laboratory of Michael Lynch in the Biodesign Institute Center for Mechanisms of Evolution at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona. He says STRIPE-seq is now a core part of his research at the Biodesign Institute, and believes that it is proof that a relatively small investment can lead to a much larger payoff.
“My colleagues and I are thrilled to see the STRIPE-seq paper in print. This outcome was a product of a lot of hard work and persistence in overcoming a few unexpected obstacles,” says Raborn. “The Indiana CTSI Postdoc Challenge Award came at just the right time for me, and it gave my collaborators and I the flexibility to test different approaches to the protocol before discovering the optimal one. It’s impossible to say for sure, but the award may have made the difference between STRIPE-seq taking off the way it has and perhaps not happening at all.”
“I created the Indiana CTSI Postdoc Challenge to prepare postdocs to become better communicators and better prepared for their careers by getting first-hand experience at seeing science from both sides – the writing and reviewing perspectives,” said Tommy Sors, PhD, Assistant Director at Purdue Institute of Inflammation, Immunology and Infectious Disease, who hosts the Postdoc Challenge workshops.
Those in postdoctoral roles who would like to participate as reviewers should send their CV to Becky Fulk (firstname.lastname@example.org) and should consider attending a reviewer’s workshop, hosted by Sors. The virtual workshop will offer information regarding the NIH peer-review process and will take place on Wednesday, February 10 from 2pm – 3 p.m. Please, email Becky Fulk to obtain a link to the workshop.
Investigators looking to enter the Postdoctoral Challenge should submit their applications by February 4th, 2021. Learn more about the Postdoctoral Challenge here.