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. 2006 Jan; 7(1): 2–3.
PMCID: PMC1369242
PMID: 16391526
Columbia Columbia Sage Columbia Columbia Camo Columbia Woodsy Science and Society
Correspondence
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I was very pleased to read your recent editorial (Gannon F (2005) Family matters. EMBO Rep 6: 999 [XFentech Suit Pocket Casual Simple Jacket Jacket Fashion 1 Coat Tunics Mens Chinese Style Multi x0rzq4F0w] [PubMed]), because I feel that the problems of scientists with families have not adequately been discussed in the scientific literature.

To be a postdoc and raise three children is certainly unusual and it is definitely not easy. Nevertheless, I have made the decision both to pursue my scientific career and at the same time to become a father of three children. In hindsight, I can state with some confidence that my family life is compatible with my scientific career.

However, I see three major disadvantages for anyone who wants to combine family life with science. The first is a lack of time: I spend a lot of time with my family while my colleagues perform experiments and write papers. To compensate for this, I had to give up most of my hobbies, sports and friends. The second disadvantage concerns mobility. I have no doubts that mobility is essential for scientists—my family has already moved three times. At the age of seven, my daughter has been to three schools in three countries and has learned three languages. Now our research group is about to move to an expensive city abroad and I feel this disadvantage again. Although we have managed so far, this time I have no choice but to leave the group and to look for a new job because my postdoctoral salary will not be enough to support my family in the new location. The third disadvantage involves my wife who gave up her career as a physician and stopped transplanting bone marrow to become a housewife. Although we had to give up the comfort of two salaries, this step was essential for me to continue my research career.

However, when applying for jobs, fellowships or grants, I do not think that I or any other father–scientists should be treated differently from our colleagues without children. Apart from the disadvantages mentioned above, I think I am as competitive as any other scientist. Scientific excellence should therefore be the main criterion for any such decision. However, there is one privilege that I consider to be important: my postdoctoral fellowship (an EMBO Long-Term Fellowship) took into account my situation and was sufficient to support my family as well. This additional support significantly improved our ability to cope and helped me to focus on my research work.


    Articles from EMBO Reports are provided here courtesy of The European Molecular Biology Organization

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