Tips for the promotion of Investigator Track faculty

Community, networking & reputation building

  • Create a scientific niche, increase your focus over time, develop a reputation and record of excellence in your basic, translational or clinical research, and expand your sphere of impact through your research over time.
  • Arrange for and cultivate invitations to speak at strategic venues outside Washington University School of Medicine (WUSM), at regional, national and international forums; give lectures, grand rounds, abstracts, etc., to establish or broaden your regional, national and international reputation.
  • Volunteer to serve on national/regional professional committees and increase your leadership role with time. These opportunities can be provided by your mentor and should be included in your narrative. As you assume responsibility, you will progress to positions of leadership. Chair sections of national meetings and volunteer for education committees or other subcommittees. Being elected to a professional society earns considerable prestige.
  • Become a journal or grant reviewer, perhaps initially on an ad hoc basis. Your mentor can introduce you or you can introduce yourself in your field. Over time, you may be asked to serve on an Editorial Board. Remember who asked you to serve for a future letter of recommendation.
  • Develop a list of internal collaborators at WUSM and another list for those outside your institution who will ultimately write the strongest, informed letters of recommendation. When it’s time to be promoted, cultivate networks and contacts in your field who know your work. Consider insightful senior researchers, “competitors” in your field who have become familiar with your work, as potential references. Offer more names than needed.
  • Good citizenship counts, (i.e., IRB, Animal Committee, etc.). Serve on a few, responsibly. Demonstrate leadership.


  • Have good mentor(s) – but develop independence with time, becoming a co-equal and peer. You can also use career advisory committees to support and advise your career development.
  • Be a good mentor, train others to do well in science and academics. This is more critical as you proceed.
  • Delegate appropriately; keep a record of those you have truly mentored/trained. List postdocs, medical and graduate students, residents and clinical fellows whom you have mentored. Keep a trainee table for training grants and your CV.


  • Grant funding – Show increasing levels of independence obtaining your own funding, space/lab.
  • Assistant Professors – Show K-08, K-23, foundation grants, career awards, or commitment for own funding.
  • Associate Professors – Show R01, P01, foundation grants, strong funding in field, renewed grants, multiple R01s or R01 equivalents.


  • Target strongest peer-review research journals such as Science, Cell Nature, JAMA, NEJM, or leading journals in your discipline, i.e., Epidemiology, Hepatology, Blood and JACC. Impact is the measure. You need fewer papers if they are in the highest quality journals. Negotiate your authorship position early.
  • Write review articles only for major journals. How well and often you are cited speaks to your impact; increasingly, big hits on web-based publication are considered.


  • Education is broadly defined; find opportunities to teach medical students, graduate students, residents, postdocs and fellows in a laboratory or clinical setting. Maintain a positive presence in your work group by assisting new scientists and technicians. Delegate well so that you can progress.

Documenting your accomplishments

  • Documentation is important – Compile a detailed record of your professional endeavors, including papers presented, committee assignments, awards, roles, responsibilities, etc.
  • Update your CV after every talk, paper, or other achievement. Review your CV with other faculty in the investigator track. Emphasize objective actions and results in your CV.
  • Keep you department chair and division director aware of your progress.
  • Participate in annual evaluations with your division director/section chief. Ask for feedback.
  • Utilize your advisory committee and senior faculty as well to review your grants and papers.

Adapted from ’07, OFD – Department of Pediatrics, Tips – Promotion of the Investigator Track Faculty Member 2013_10_24