Assistant Professor Program

Scintillon Assistant Professor Entry Program (SAPEP)


Many of the brightest researchers have deep convictions that academic career is what they have been trained for and worth putting every effort into pursuing. In reality, however, the road towards an assistant professorship is often long and narrow. Typically, a university would like to see that faculty candidates already have independent research grants or strong proof that they will; at the same time, without a tenure-track Assistant Professor title, it is close to impossible for a postdoc or project scientist to apply for grants such as R01 from the NIH.


To deal with such a dilemma, the hiring institute often has to take a risk by offering a sizable startup package so that the new faculty member can conduct research long enough to obtain grant funding. To mitigate this risk, the recruitment committee and department chairs tend to select candidates based on a set of traditional “fundable” attributes, briefly: 1) with first-authored papers in Cell, Nature, or Science; 2) from a exceptionally respected lab (preferably Nobel Prize winners, academy members, or HHMI investigators) with genuinely strong advocacy by the PI; 3) being a good communicator who talks like a successful academic. If, unfortunately, substantial grants are not obtained within a fast few years, the assistant professor will lose the job and the institute will lose the bet.


To provide a better solution, particularly for those who do not yet possess all of the attributes above, but are truly dedicated to basic research and development, with unusual talents and patients, we will give the candidates a chance through SAPEP.


After passing a flexible and personal screening process Scintillon Institute will provide the selected candidates with a title of Assistant Professor, fully authorized to write independent research grants such as R01 and R21. More importantly, our highly experienced and distinguished faculty will do hand-on coaching in grant writing and application packaging; wherever appropriate, collaborative grants or center grants may also be developed jointly. 


Scintillon Institute is a private institute that was built by researchers with big vision in applying basic research to solving real world problems, with an emphasis on technology advancement. We have a one-of-a-kind culture of nurturing the young and growing together. Successful participants are expected to quickly get career-securing grants, by which time the Institute will help establish the new lab with institutional financial support and guidance. As the assistant professors develop, with strong collaborations with senior faculty and industry, and have close views of how running a lab is like, the Institute will promote them through the ranks internally and to the outside associations and foundations to build their own reputations. In case that the new faculty, after spending about two thirds of their first major grant at Scintillon, decide that it is time to try a different academic environment, such as in a university or a public or government institution, Scintillon will not hinder it; instead, the senior administration will assist it, helping the promising careers that start here to continue to be fruitful.

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