Gary McDowell is the Executive Director of Future of Research, a non-profit organization that promotes grassroots advocacy among junior scientists to advance improvements and reform of the scientific enterprise, and aims to increase transparency about academia to provide junior scientists with the information they need to navigate successful careers using science.
Originally from Northern Ireland in the United Kingdom, Gary received his B.A. and M.Sci. degrees in Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge, U.K., specializing in Chemistry. He did his master’s work in the lab of Jane Clarke on the kinetics and thermodynamics of protein folding. He also received his Ph.D. in Oncology at the University of Cambridge, in the lab of Anna Philpott looking at protein degradation and neuronal development in Xenopus. He moved to the U.S. in 2011 on a J1-visa to carry out postdoctoral training, first at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School to work with Hanno Steen on changes in protein levels across Xenopus development using mass spectrometry, and then at Tufts University working with Michael Levin on the role of cytoskeletal rearrangements in the Xenopus embryo that affect left-right organ patterning.
During the course of postdoctoral training, Gary became involved with the first FoR symposium in Boston in 2014, aiming to contribute to the growing conversation about the research enterprise by adding a perspective from junior scientists, and was lead author on the resulting paper, “Shaping the Future of Research: a perspective from junior scientists”.
Following meetings organized by junior researchers across the U.S. in 2015, in 2016 FoR became a nonprofit organization, and he began working full-time on advocating for junior researchers.
In 2016 he co-chaired a subgroup at an ASBMB-led national summit to identify action items to implement consensus recommendations identified by the biomedical research community, and as a result is currently driving efforts to better categorize postdoctoral researchers at universities. In 2017 he was appointed to the Next Generation Researchers Initiative, a committee convened by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine which will examine the policy and programmatic steps that the nation can undertake to ensure the successful launch and sustainability of careers among the next generation of researchers in the biomedical and behavioral sciences in the U.S.