ECR Career Development Network

ECR Career Development Network

**Call Closed**


VALIDATE recognises the challenges faced by post-doctoral and early PI researchers trying to progress their careers. As part of VALIDATE’s aim to encourage and support career progression amongst members, especially Early Career Researchers (ECRs), and to help address inequality in scientific career progression, we are creating a two-year long ECR Career Development Network programme for female members.


This programme aims to bring together 10-20 scientists into an engaged sub-group of VALIDATE, and provide:

  • An engaged, connected network of Early Career Researchers, all wanting to develop their careers
  • Extra support to accelerate your research career including:
    • Opportunities to network and form new collaborations with each other
    • Peer-support via accountability groups and programme events
    • Monthly talks and workshops on topics helpful to your career progression (e.g. leadership, career planning, communicating your science, as well as talks by senior scientist role models about their careers)
    • Individual career coaching by a qualified coach
    • Group mentoring by a senior scientist

In addition, there may be the opportunity to attend the 2022 Global Forum on TB Vaccines (with your registration and travel funded by VALIDATE). Further details about the programme can be found below. The programme will be flexible, and will be adapted to fit the support and training that its members want and need.


Applicants must:

  1. Be an Associate or Investigator member of VALIDATE, and/or a post-doctoral scientist nominated by a CTVD member (please note that Associate members will be prioritized)
  2. Be working on research directly related to TB vaccine development (any aspect of research that will accelerate development of an efficacious TB vaccine is eligible, including biological, physical and social sciences, and humanities)
  3. Identify as female


Successful applicants joining the programme will be expected to commit fully to engaging with all programme activities, and to engaging with other members of the ECR Career Development Network. We estimate the programme will take a commitment of 1-3 hours per month, for 24 months. Any members who do not fully participate will be released from the programme.


This call closed on 12 December 2021.


Do send any queries about your application or about the programme to VALIDATE Network Manager, Sam Vermaak, at Additionally, Sam will run a Q&A session where you can ask for further information about the programme at the following times (email Sam if you would like to attend, so she can forward you the meeting link):

  • Wednesday 24 November, 1000 GMT
  • Friday 26 November, 1400 GMT

Further Information About the Programme

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The ECR Career Development Network members will have numerous opportunities to get to know each other, work together and support each other, and potentially form new collaborations beneficial to your research, via the Programme's events, accountability and mentoring groups, and via the MS Teams Hub where a private channel for this Network's members' communication will be set up so you can easily keep in contact with each other.

Network members will be placed into small accountability groups (of 3-4 people), who we suggest meet virtually once a month, to support each other. An accountability group is a gathering of people who share their goals and support each other in reaching them, meeting regularly to share their goals, to report on their progress from the prior period, to share knowledge and expertise, and to offer support to other members. These groups are particularly useful for setting yourself deadlines (such as writing and submitting papers or grants, or getting a particular section of lab work completed and data analysed) that you commit to publicly to your group. Research has shown that when we set goals and declare them to others, we are more likely to achieve those goals.

In addition, your accountability group will get you networking closely with three other VALIDATE ECRs in the TB research field, building your relevant contacts and possibly leading to future collaboration opportunities.

You will also get other opportunities for peer-support within the network at the programme's events, and via the Teams Hub (private channel for this programme's members).


Find out more about accountability groups (this post is about groups for entrepreneurs, but the concepts and benefits are transferable to a group of researchers).

The programme will run monthly talks and workshops on topics helpful to your career progression, held virtually so that members can easily attend wherever they are based in the world. The monthly sessions (likely one hour per month) will include workshops/seminars on topics such as leadership, career planning, and communicating your science, as well as talks by female senior scientists discussing their careers - how they got to where they are, the challenges they've faced and how they've overcome these, work-life balance, tips they wish they'd known earlier etc. It is recognised that relevant role models are important for women in STEMM, and there is much you can learn from those who are ahead of you on the career path.

Coaching is a facilitated conversation around a goal, issue or challenge you are facing and want to tackle, where the coach helps you work out how to succeed, improve your motivation and enthusiasm - and helps you get out of your own way!

Examples of coaching goals could be: working out what you want from your career and how to get it, career progression planning, goal setting and achievement, improving your self-confidence, a better work/life balance, overcoming a fear of giving presentations, dealing better with difficult conversations, taking on a new personal or work challenge, confronting a fear of failure, overcoming imposter syndrome, working towards your dreams and goals... or anything else you want to deal with more successfully.

Coaching has been shown to be a beneficial career support tool, and is a positive and uplifting way to break through obstacles and get to where you want to be.

ECR Career Development Network members will have the opportunity to have one-to-one coaching sessions with a qualified coach.


Find out more about coaching here and here.

ECR Career Development Network members will be assigned to a mentor circle, where one mentor will meet with 3-4 Network members, enabling you to learn from both your mentor and the peers in your mentor circle (who will be different to your accountability group, so that you get to know further people).

A mentor is a more senior and experienced person in your career field who agrees to guide and support you in your career progression, using their experience and knowledge from their own career. The path to becoming a PI is challenging - and not always obvious! A mentor can help you:

  • Explore and plan the best route and your goals
  • Strengthen your CV to be more likely to win grant applications and new positions
  • Overcome obstacles
  • Network
  • Learn from your mentor's experience

A mentor provides an independent perspective, and challenges, supports and guides you to be the best you can be.

You will meet virtually (as a group) 4-6 times per year with your mentor, and meet with your mentor circle peers in between these meetings as well, to support each other.


Our mentoring circle system will be modelled on the Oxford University MSD system, which you can read about here.

Watch a great video from The Academy of Medical Sciences about the benefits of a mentor to your career here.

If there is sufficient interest (and depending on COVID and other challenges), VALIDATE may be able to support the ECR Career Development Network members in attending the Global Forum on TB Vaccines, in Toulouse, France, 22-24 February 2022, along with an additional kick-off workshop on the 21 February for our Network members to introduce our programme, get you meeting each other, and to start off on some seminars around career development.


Find out more about the Forum here.

Call Timeline

Call opens: 19 November 2021

Call closes: 12 December 2021

Management Team review meeting: 15 December 2021

Network runs: February 2022 - January 2024