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This article was originally published in the journal Nature
Stress, long hours and low morale threaten to scar the activities and careers of US life-sciences researchers, argue Warren Holleman and Ellen R. Gritz
Studies suggest that burnout among medical doctors has reached epidemic proportions around the world, accompanied by alarmingly high levels of clinical depression, suicidal thoughts, job dissatisfaction and unhappiness with work–life balance1. The data are so compelling that some health organizations and physician groups are exploring ways to tackle these problems2Almost nothing is known, however, about stress, burnout and morale among biomedical scientists. To take a closer look, we interviewed the chairs of the science departments at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, between July 2011 and February 2012. We asked them to assess changes in faculty morale, to identify major sources of stress and to discuss their feelings of optimism or pessimism about the future. We found that many faculty members are struggling in the face of funding pressures, bureaucracy, administrative burdens and faculty–administration conflict.