Oncology Research and Development Postdoctoral Program

Postdoctoral Program

The Oncology Research and Development (ORD) Group sponsors a postdoctoral training program that provides a unique opportunity for promising scientists to pursue groundbreaking research in cancer biology and inform the next generation of therapeutics. Trainees pursue their research and career development in an organization dedicated to translating basic research into impactful medicines.

As a participant in Pfizer’s Worldwide Research and Development (WRD) Postdoctoral Program, the ORD’s postdoctoral training program is designed to provide a strong research foundation and is supported by state-of-the-art facilities and technologies. In addition to research collaborations throughout Pfizer, opportunities for collaborative projects can be established with external groups.

Fellowship support is offered for up to four years. We place a strong emphasis on publications, attendance at major international meetings, and career-building activities that will facilitate the postdoc's transition to a position in academia, government or industry. Our program’s core mission is to match high quality postdocs with outstanding mentors and promising research projects in a culture that strongly values career development.


Pfizer Worldwide R&D’s Annual Postdoc Symposium is a highlight of our training program, bringing together trainees from all of Pfizer’s R&D locations for scientific presentations by our trainees as well as internal and external researchers. Career-building activities are also a focal point of the symposium. Throughout the year, Pfizer postdocs participate in journal clubs, data clubs, selection of guest lecturers, and professional development seminars.

Benefits Summary

Pfizer offers a competitive industry salary and benefits package, including but not limited to medical insurance, vacation, and short-term disability.


How long is a postdoctoral fellowship at Pfizer?

Typically 3.5 to 4 years. Pfizer ORD Postdoctoral Fellows are appointed for an initial period of two years. This term may be extended up to an additional two years based on progress and project needs. In other words, Postdoctoral Fellows join Pfizer for a minimum period of two years and may stay up to a maximum period of four years.

Will I get offered a job at Pfizer at the end of my postdoctoral fellowship?

ORD Postdoctoral Fellows have been successful at securing outside positions following the conclusion of their postdoctoral fellowship. Some Postdoctoral Fellows have accepted positions within Pfizer. Postdocs are welcome to apply for open Pfizer positions at the end of their terms--however there is no guarantee that relevant positions will be posted at the appropriate time, or that a Pfizer postdoc will compete successfully for an open position.

Participation in the ORD postdoctoral training program at Pfizer provides ORD postdocs with a unique and competative experience, and positions these trainees for future roles as assistant professors or group leaders in academia, industry and government.

What is the process for interviews and hiring of Postdoctoral Fellows?

More information about the application process can be found on Pfizer’s WRD Postdoctoral Program website. Qualified candidates are invited to participate in an in-person interview following an initial phone interview. Candidates will have the opportunity to meet with our unit’s scientists and potential mentors, and tour our laboratories. They will also be asked to deliver a presentation on their research. Candidates will be offered a postdoctoral fellowship position based on their research accomplishments, creativity, and letters of reference from selected referees. Their research interests should also align with those of the ORD.

What kinds of projects do Pfizer ORD postdocs work on?

There are a wide range of projects across the ORD. Current projects span areas of molecular/cellular biology, protein biochemistry, computational biology, and animal models of disease. Our postdocs explore a broad range of research areas, including cancer cell signaling, cancer stem cells, cancer metabolism and epigenetics, anticancer drug pharmacology, and drug resistance. ORRD postdocs also have the opportunity to collaborate with other groups across the Pfizer Worldwide Research & Development organization, as well as with partner labs in academia. More information on our mentors and their interests are available on the Mentors page.

What has been the record of success for postdocs at Pfizer?

The WRD Postdoctoral Program at Pfizer is young, having been in existence only since 2009-10. Pfizer’s program provides a unique opportunity for postdocs to train in an academic-style setting embedded in a state-of-the-art drug discovery organization. The combination of skills and experiences obtained will position Fellows for successful careers in academia, industry and government.

Will I be able to publish?

Definitely! One of the key goals and expectations of the ORD Postdoctoral Program is that Fellows will publish in top tier journals. Demonstrating their success through publications in recognized journals will enable postdocs to return to a successful career in academia or pursue positions in industry. Postdoc mentors and the Pfizer Postdoctoral Program Governance Team will ensure that postdoctoral projects do not depend on internal assets that are subject to patent or intellectual property restrictions that are likely to delay or prohibit publication. The ORD has developed publication guidelines to streamline all approvals. A list of recent publications from members of the ORD can be found on the homepage under Publication Highlights.

One of the attractions of an academic setting is the freedom to focus on our areas of interest. How will postdoc projects be designed and structured at Pfizer?

Research in the ORD focuses broadly on translational research, and under this umbrella postdocs will be encouraged to partner with their mentors to define their projects. Work may focus on a specific malignancy, or on basic research around disease-relevant mechanisms. Projects are not constrained by external funding sources, and you will have freedom to go where the data lead. Collaborations both within Pfizer and externally are encouraged, and we hope that our postdocs will access and leverage a wide variety of techniques and expertise during their fellowship.

What kind of academic support structure is there for postdocs at Pfizer?

The ORD Postdoctoral Program has a very strong support network for both scientific and professional development. Each postdoc will be assigned a mentor who will provide scientific advice and serve as a direct connection to the Pfizer Postdoctoral Program Governance Team, which oversees postdocs across Pfizer’s Worldwide R&D organization. The ORD offers a supportive environment where collaborations are the norm, the exchange of ideas and critical input occurs continuously, and a rich program of seminars, data reviews, and journal discussions take place regularly.

How often do internal seminars and external speaker programs take place?

The ORD hosts weekly cross-site scientific exchange seminars broadcasted via videoconference between the unit’s Pearl River (NY) and La Jolla (CA) sites. Additionally, several times a year highly recognized scientific leaders are invited to visit and speak to our colleagues across both sites. ORD postdocs also collaborate to invite and host two speakers each year for a special Pfizer Postdoc-Invited Seminar. Finally, Pfizer’s Worldwide R&D group hosts an annual symposium titled Frontiers in Human Disease to address rapidly emerging, disease-relevant areas of biomedical science and technology that impact our approaches to therapeutic development with internationally recognized key opinion leaders. Postdocs are encouraged to attend external seminars and meetings to present their research findings and connect with external investigators.

Are there ongoing collaborations with academic labs?

Absolutely. The ORD has numerous collaborations ongoing with academic labs across the world. These collaborations range from more informal collaborations involving sharing of reagents, to far more extensive, multi-year partnerships. We encourage collaborations that serve to increase our productivity, enhance our programs and technology platforms, contribute to our mission of understanding underlying disease mechanisms and help advance the development of innovative medicines for the patients we serve. Collaborations are endorsed by Pfizer’s management and cleared through our Legal division prior to commencement.

If a postdoc develops reagents at Pfizer, publishes a paper, and moves on to a new job, does Pfizer own the project and the reagents, or can they go with the postdoc to an academic faculty position?

Pfizer owns the project and the reagents. Should a postdoc take an academic faculty position after their term ends, we envision the opportunity to share such reagents under an appropriate agreement, similar to our current collaborations. We note that in nearly all academic institutions, the original institution owns the reagents generated by postdocs and requires transfer agreements in much the same way.

Are there opportunities to continue collaborating with Pfizer if I moved onto an academic position?

Absolutely. Postdoctoral Fellows who move to an academic position will be able to continue collaborating with Pfizer scientists on projects of mutual interest. There will even be opportunities for Pfizer to fund projects or people in the labs of program alumni, which may be particularly attractive in an era of reduced funding for academic research.