Name: Goli Samimi
Current position: Group Leader, Ovarian Cancer Group, Garvan Institute of Medical Research
Location: Sydney, Australia
Time in current position: ~1 year
Postdoc: Tumor microenvironment effects in ovarian cancer with Michael J. Birrer, NCI
My job: I am the group leader of the Ovarian Cancer Group at a medical research institute called the Garvan Institute. I have a joint appointment at the University of New South Wales. So I have grad students from the university and postdocs working in my group. It’s different not being on the bench—my typical day is writing. Lots of writing and lots of meetings. I’m either writing papers, protocols, grants, fellowships or grant reviews. Lots of emails. Typical for what you’d expect for a junior investigator. The hardest part is that I tend to organize my schedule for the week and it’s always thrown off, so I have to get used to not necessarily completing everything I had set out for the week. A necessary skill for sure in this kind of position is time management! Also writing and presentation skills.
My story: I joined the Cancer Prevention Fellowship Program at NCI after completing my Ph.D. at the University of California, San Diego. This is a fantastic program that provides the opportunity for postdoc fellows to spend year one of their training obtaining an M.P.H. I received mine from Harvard School of Public Health in 2006 and then began my research at NCI. I always planned to stay in academia, as I find that the environment stimulates both the investigators and the trainees. I expected to work at a cancer center affiliated with a hospital and a university. When the time came to search for jobs, I only applied for academic positions, and mainly at R1 universities. When I got a bit nervous about my lack of prospects, I also applied to smaller teaching universities. But after visiting one, I realized it wasn’t exactly the type of research environment I was interested in.
Network, network, network: I made sure that everyone I knew was aware that I was looking for a job. Basically, when I found a job I really wanted, I checked with my contacts to see if any of them knew anyone in the department. Interestingly, the two big positions I was offered in the States were not advertised positions but instead came about from my networking at AACR, which is a big annual meeting for cancer researchers.
Read more about the ups and downs of life Down Under.