PI Crash Course: Skills for Future or New Lab Leaders


PI Crash Course Leadership Skills for Lab Leaders - Columbia University SHARP Training Course is at capacity! Join the waitlist for the next live-stream PI Crash Course: June 10-11, 2021.

The Principal Investigator (PI) Crash Course is a two-day intensive boot camp of seminars, discussions, and hands-on activity sessions to provide exposure to fundamental leadership and management skills and tools needed for success in your lab. 


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2021 Dates: Live-stream, online training June 10-11, 2021; 10am - ~6pm EDT 

This two-day intensive crash course integrates the principle skills that future and new PIs did not develop during their post-doctoral training, but will be necessary to survive as a new Lab leader and manager. Whether you are a doctoral student, postdoc, new PI, or looking to start your own lab, as a lab leader you will immediately be confronted on daily basis by a variety of situations that you must be prepared to handle. This crash course will provide you the tools you need to start your lab on the right foot.

Led by a team of experienced leaders and scientists in the field of environmental sciences, epigenetics, genomics, epidemiology, immunology, neuroscience and bioinformatics, this workshop will integrate lectures with hands-on sessions to put eight key “survival skills” into practice: Negotiating, Staffing, Leading, Mentoring, Managing People, Managing time, Managing projects, and Networking. Emphasis will be given to leadership styles, leadership vision, self-awareness, successful delegation, responsibility, problem solving, adaptability, communication techniques, goal setting, and strategizing. The Crash Course will conclude with a panel discussion with successful PIs at different stages of their careers, ranging from Assistant Professors to Department Chairs.

By the end of the workshop, participants will be familiar with the following topics:

  • Negotiation skills for a new position/promotion/collaboration/publication

  • Staffing skills for job posts/candidate screening/interviews/hiring

  • Leadership and mentoring skills in the Lab

  • People management: day-to-day/conflict resolution/misconduct/promotions/layoffs

  • Time management: balancing research, teaching, service/when & how to say No

  • Project management: planning/tracking progress/meeting deadlines/introduction to management software

  • Network creation and maintenance: mentors/collaborators/supporters

  • Real-life lab leader success stories and best tips from early-stage and experienced investigators  

Senior post-doctoral students and associate research scientists about to start their independent position search are particularly welcome to attend, and we strongly encourage new and recent PIs to participate as it is never too late to get an overview of the survival skills that you will need throughout your career.


There are no prerequisites to attend the New PI Crash Course.


Andrea Baccarelli, MD, MPH, PhD, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University ​

Jeanine Genkinger, PhD, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University ​

Tuuli Lappalainen, PhD, New York Genome Center

Ana Navas-Acien, MD, MPH, PhD, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University ​

Diane Re, PhD, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University ​

Matthew Perzanowski, PhD, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University ​

Robert Wright, MD, MPH, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Panelists separate from this list of instructors.


Training scholarships are available for the PI Crash Course. 


COVID-19 Update: The PI Crash Course will no longer take place in person due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Boot Camp will instead be a live-stream, remote training that takes place over live, online video on June 10-11, 2021 from 10am EDT - ~6pm EDT. Please note this training is not a self-paced, pre-recorded online training. 


"This course is a wonderful opportunity to develop personal and professional skills for the advancement of a successful academic career as a junior faculty member. In addition, it is a fantastic way to meet and network with other young investigators within your peer group." - Faculty member at Cold String Harbor Laboratory, 2020 virtual training

"Very valuable and useful resources for all postdocs who are transitioning into faculty positions and new PIs. I strongly recommend to all postdocs who are embarking into research independence! As researchers, we need more training like this!" - Postdoc at Cornell University, 2020 virtual training

"I am a tenured Associate Professor. I wish I had the course when I started. There are so many valuable experiences and advice that I wish I had known earlier to make me a more effective PI." - Faculty member at the University of Kentucky, 2020 virtual training

"This course gave me a brief synopsis of almost everything I need to know and be thinking about before setting up my own lab in the future. So helpful, and everyone should be required to take a course like this before becoming a PI!" - Postdoc at University of California, Irvine, 2020 virtual training

"The PI Crash Course provided incredibly valuable information in working with collaborators, managing a lab, and assessing and knowing your own leadership style. The format and detail in the sessions was unlike any other training I had received previously and will be foundational to my efforts to start a new lab." - Faculty member at the University of Puerto Rico Medical Center, 2020 virtual training

"As an individual who is in the midst of transitioning from postdoctoral fellowship to an assistant professor position, this PI Crash Course has more than covered the basics on how to successfully do so, and covers all of the advice of things to do and potential pitfalls to avoid in order to launch my lab (and career) successfully!" - Postdoc at the University of Minnesota, 2020 virtual training

"This was the most important and informative boot camp I have taken to prepare for my faculty position.  It covered all the main topics I was hoping for, the faculty were exceptional, the course director was fabulous and the breakout group sessions and handouts were super helpful and fun!  I think every future or new PI should take this course!" - Postdoc at the NIH, 2020 virtual training

"Taking the Crash Course as a doctorate student, the course helped me not only in planning ahead for my future career but also how to better manage and supervise my undergraduate mentees." - Student at Purdue University, 2020 virtual training

"While I have heard some of these topics before it was great to have a dedicated time to focus on developing my skills as a PI. I plan to implement several things I learned into my lab immediately." - Faculty member at the University of Mississippi, 2020 virtual training

"The mix of lectures/break out sessions/discussion panel in the PI Crash Course was excellent. Overall, I learned lots of great tools that I am looking forward to applying once I start my own lab next year." - Postdoc at the University of Washington, 2020 virtual training

"The PI Crash Course provided succinct and sage advice on some of the greatest challenges faced by early career scientists. I appreciated that the messaging was useful both for senior postdocs and new PIs." - Faculty member at UNC Chapel Hill, 2020 virtual training

"This useful course covered both the hard and soft skills necessary to get a jump start on the early academic career phase. I enjoyed how the virtual format still encouraged participation and networking opportunities." - Postdoc at UNC Chapel Hill, 2020 virtual training

"The sessions were useful, interactive ways to gain information and skills that are critical to preparing to be a PI, but often learned "on the job." This course made me more prepared to take on theses aspects." Heather D., Weill Cornell, 2019

"The PI Crash Course provided a focused thought experiment for how I want to run my lab and how I will approach the etiquette situations we are not formally prepared for during our training." - Anonymous Postdoc, 2019

"The course was very useful and gave me many tips on how to manage this tricky period of my career. It also helped to feel alright about struggling sometimes and find solutions to avoid/improve some situations." - Faculty member at Thomas Jefferson University, 2019

"I'm a Senior post-doc considering junior PI positions and was a bit worried by the huge operation opening a lab represents. The course confirmed it is huge indeed, but empowered me to fee the confidence I could do it, giving me really practical tools and/or know where to look for help." - Marie L., Columbia University, 2019 

The PI Crash Course gave me insight into things I wasn't aware I didn't know. It gave me tools to address those deficiencies and resources to continue to strengthen these skills. - Faculty member at Albany College of Pharmacy, 2018

Very valuable resource for all postdocs who are transitioning into faculty positions.  I strongly recommend to all postdocs who have particular interest to start their own lab, or in developing their careers as professors. - Suresh A., postdoc at Weil Cornell Medicine, 2018

Very informative; a good focus on the mindset change required going from lab participant to lab leader. A new perspective of softer skills not covered in other academic courses. - Lucas H., Postdoc at Harvard University, 2018

This course was like a "mini retreat meets business school for academics" and came at the perfect time, as I just started my new faculty position.  We need more workshops like this that are less science and more business leadership. - Anonymous Faculty member, 2018


COVID-19 Update: With the training being offered virtually, we are passing along any and all costs saved to attendees.

  Early-Bird Rate (through 4/15/21) Regular Rate (4/16/21 - 6/2/21) Columbia Discount*
Student/Postdoc/Trainee    $475 $575 10% off
Faculty/Academic Staff/Non-Profit Organizations   $575 $675 10% off
For-Profit Organizations $675 $875 NA

*Columbia Discount: This discount is valid for any active student, postdoc, staff, or faculty at Columbia University. To access the Columbia discount, email Columbia.SPH.PI@gmail.com for instructions and specify if you are paying by credit card, or internal transfer within Columbia.

Invoice Payment and Group Registrations: If you would prefer to pay by invoice/check, or would like to pay for a group of registrants, please email Columbia.SPH.PI@gmail.com with details.

Registration Fee: This fee includes course material, which will be made available to all participants both during and after the conclusion of the training. 

Cancellations: Cancellation notices must be received via email at least 30 days prior to the training start date in order to receive a full refund, minus a $75 administrative fee. Cancellation notices received via email 14-29 days prior to the training will receive a 75% refund, minus a $75 administrative fee. Please email your cancellation notice to Columbia.SPH.PI@gmail.comDue to workshop capacity and preparation, we regret that we are unable to refund registration fees for cancellations <14days prior to the training. 

If you are unable to attend the training, we encourage you to send a substitute within the same registration category. Please inform us of the substitute via email at least one week prior to the training to include them on attendee communications, updated registration forms, and materials. Should the substitute fall within a different registration category your credit card will be credited/charged respectively. Please email substitute inquiries to Columbia.SPH.PI@gmail.com. In the event Columbia must cancel the event, your registration fee will be fully refunded. 




Want updates on new Crash Course details or registration deadlines? Subscribe here.

Questions? Email the New PI Crash Course team here.

The PI Crash Course is hosted by Columbia University's SHARP Program at the Mailman School of Public Health.

Jump to:  Overview  |  Prerequisites  |  Instructors   |  Scholarships  |  Location   |  Testimonials  |  Registration Fees  |  Additional Information