The Marie Curie Fellowship Association, set up by the European Union to promote its fellowship scheme for postdoctoral scientists, is starting to play a key political role as a voice for young European scientists.
Although the association is open only to scientists who have received EU mobility and training grants, 8,000 are expected in the Framework 5 programme and the association is seeking 3,000 alumni.
Nearly 2,000 people have joined the organisation, which received its first funds from the European Commission only two years ago. Postdocs are drawn by the opportunity to link with researchers in other fields, to network and to be part of what is touted as Europe's biggest young researchers' association.
The association offers include practical assistance to fellows, a journal, shared job information and science-based workshops.
In the Netherlands, concerns at the Netherlands Cancer Institute over recruitment, careers and training led staff and postdocs to meet late last year to thrash out the key issues in the 80-strong postdoc community.
Issues raised included recruitment difficulties and worries about the future of the postdoc population. In response, the institute director created a new junior faculty position that would give postdocs more independence and better career prospects.
Now junior faculty can apply for project grants with a senior staff member, supervise graduate students, receive a salary boost of E5,000 (Pounds 3,125) and carry projects with them when they relocate to another laboratory.
The institute also
created a dean of postgraduate affairs who will represent postdocs at policy-making levels.