PI Crash Course: Skills for Future or New Lab Leaders



PI Crash Course Leadership Skills for Lab Leaders - Columbia University SHARP Training Course at capacity! Join the waitlist below for the next live-stream, virtual PI Crash Course: June 25-26, 2020

The New 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. 


Subscribe for updates on registration and scholarship dates, deadlines, and announcements.

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


2020 Dates: Live-stream, online training June 25-26, 2020; 9:00am-4:30pm 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 ​

Brandon Pearson, 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 25-26, 2020 from 9am EDT - 4:30pm EDT. Please note this training is not a self-paced, pre-recorded online training. 


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

Great speakers with rich experiences, who really delivered their messages enthusiastically and thoroughly! The course exceeded my expectations. - Eduardo G., Faculty member at Columbia University, 2018

Very good content; a lot of the principles would be applicable across disciplines, not just science.  I liked the interactive activities and the opportunity to role play real-live scenarios. - Maria R., Postdoc at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, 2018

Comprehensively covered negotiation, networking, time management methods, hiring the right staff, interviewing skills, and management of a team and different projects. - Faculty member at Feinstein Institute of Medical Research​, 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

"It provides a fantastic overview of the soft people management and project management skills that a PI needs to practice and master in order to be successful." - Onyine I., UNC-Chapel Hill​

"The course helped me deal with certain blind spots in my productivity as a PI - from time management to even the broader picture of my role as a PI." - Anonymous Faculty member, 2019

"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 


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

  Early-Bird Rate (through 4/15/20 4/22/20) Regular Rate (4/16/20 4/23/20 - 6/10/20) Columbia Discount*
Student/Postdoc/Trainee    $575 $425 $775 $575 10% off
Faculty/Academic Staff/Non-Profit Organizations   $775 $575 $975 $725 10% off
For-Profit Organizations $975 $725 $1,175 $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: includes course material. 

Cancellations: For summer 2020, no administrative fees will be assessed due to the evolving COVID-19 situation. Cancellation notices must be received via email at least 14 days prior to the workshop start date in order to receive a full refund. Please email your cancellation notice to Columbia.SPH.PI@gmail.com. Due to workshop capacity and preparation, we regret that we are unable to refund registration fees for cancellations after these dates, unless a new COVID-19 restriction is implemented that impedes virtual attendance, in which case any registration cancellation <14 days prior to a training related to COVID-19 restriction beyond your control (institutional policy, shift in work responsibilities, etc.) will be fully refunded and no administrative fee will be assessed. Because of the significant resources required to develop these trainings, you will be asked to submit supporting documentation (e.g. employer email notice, local regulations, etc.) for any COVID-19 related cancellation <14 days before a given 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 New PI Crash Course is hosted by Columbia University's Department of Environmental Health Sciences in the Mailman School of Public Health.

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