Team Building

Lab management: Lessons over 35 years

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Science  23 Oct 2015:
Vol. 350, Issue 6259, pp. 395-396
DOI: 10.1126/science.350.6259.395-f

A principal investigator is assembling her lab team. Whom should she hire? With this question in mind, Conti and Liu collected annual reports from the MIT Department of Biology that identified every principal investigator, postdoc, student, and lab technician who worked there from 1966 to 2000. They found that postdoc hiring drove a doubling in average lab size and in the number of publications per lab. The number of a lab's “breakthrough” papers in Science, Nature, or Cell was also influenced by postdoc numbers but was limited to those who had secured external fellowships. The numbers of graduate students and technicians, neither of which influenced overall publication rates, affected breakthrough work. Although the amount of NIH funding influenced productivity, this effect was eliminated after controlling for lab size and composition.

Res. Policy 44, 1633 (2015).

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