Houston's Top for Post Docs

Amin Hajitou and Fernanda Staquicini
The Scientist magazine rates M.D. Anderson Cancer Center as the number one facility for post-doctoral graduates to work in. Which begs the question, what sets one organization ahead of all the others. Houston Public Radio's Laurie Johnson spoke with two post-docs at the cancer center to find out.

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Fernanda Staquicini, a young Brazilian woman, is working in a lab at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

"When I get into the lab, let's say I come early in the morning, usually I go and check my cells to see if they are alive to see if they are happy, then I come and check my email and then I start doing my experiments. Usually I plan the experiments one day before so I know exactly what I'm going to do the next day."

Last year at this time, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center was 29th on the Scientist's list of Best Places to Work for Post Docs. A huge leap to first place this year was the result of feedback from people like Staquicini and other post docs. Her colleague, Amin Hajitou from Morocco, says training here was the opportunity to prove himself to the scientific community.

"If I look at myself five years ago, I was far from being independent. Now I have completed this post doctoral training I feel I am ready to be independent, it's a big change. And also after five years working here, I am more competitive to find a job somewhere else back to Europe or here in United States."

Both Hajitou and Staquicini are working in one of the world's premiere cancer biology labs. They cite the guidance of faculty and funding of projects as factors which make or break post doctoral training.

"You want to go and see if whatever you have developed on your bench is going to work in a patient, for example. So M.D. Anderson is perfect for that because you have real access to the patients and M.D. Anderson as an institution is very supportive. So whatever you need from M.D. Anderson, you have it. So your research is going to be translated."

And above all, the best thing about the job for these post docs is the knowledge they're working to cure cancer and help real people that they see in the hospital every day.

"To look at all these patients and sometime someone goes back and says oh my God, really I have to go back to work and there is still a lot to do."

Laurie Johnson, Houston Public Radio News.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...