Spain's Ramón y Cajal Program

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Science  04 Apr 2003:
Vol. 300, Issue 5616, pp. 52-53
DOI: 10.1126/science.300.5616.52

As Ramón y Cajal (RyC) scientists, we would like to bring up some issues regarding Xavier Bosch's interview with the Spanish science minister Josep Piqué (“Spain's science minister sees future in telecom,” X. Bosch, News Focus, 31 Jan., p. 653). The RyC program, which funds scientists at many Spanish research centers, represents a solid step forward for Spanish research, but its implementation has raised concerns. Although RyC positions are referred to as “tenure track” in Bosch's article, this is not reflected in the RyC contracts. The contracts state that the institutions have no obligation to offer a permanent position (or even an extension of the contract) at the end of the 5-year period. A clear process is needed to identify the requisites for employment within the research institutions upon completion of the contract. Another concern was that successful FY 2003 applicants experienced a 5-month delay before incorporation into the program. Additional complaints center on the lack of material support and space within the institutions. We hope that Piqué and the Spanish government will address these concerns to improve this novel program.

The average RyC recipient is 37 years old, with years of research experience, and has competed with her/his peers on an international basis to obtain the contract. We think that the inclusion of many foreign scientists in the program and the competition will undoubtedly have a positive effect on Spanish science. We are not “new” postdocs, as stated in the article. We are, rather, mature scientists, deserving of decent jobs, as implied by the stated RyC goal of attracting scientists back to Spain. In spite of the concerns we raise here, we value the program and are working hard to improve it (1).

113 additional RyC scientists

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