A chat with Mélanie Cron, member of the scientific management board, who has set up the Fondation pour la Recherche Médicale (FRM – Foundation for Medical Research) brand new alumni network in order to federate the 2,500 researchers who work or have worked for the foundation.
Could you introduce the Fondation pour la Recherche Médicale?
Founded in 1947 by Jean Bernard and Jean Hamburger, the Association pour le Développement de la Recherche Médicale Française (Association for the Development of French Medical Research ) became in 1962 the FRM. Altogether, they have mobilized the 132 most famous researchers to call out for private aid. The mission of the Fondation pour la Recherche Médicale is twofold: support both basic and clinical research on all diseases and inform the audience about its progress. In 2020, more than 53.2 million euros have been invested into 404 new research projects.
What have you set up an alumni network for?
We already manage a strong researchers’ base we fund on a regular basis as well as people we fund from time to time. The goal is to bolster a strong loyalty and gather around us these alumni; i.e. both people who have been funded but are no longer, and people currently being funded and writing a thesis in a research laboratory. Currently, we have at our disposal nearly 2,500 members from all specialties, very young researchers between 22 and 25, as well as more experienced researchers between 30 and 60 years old.
We needed to federate them all around one single platform so we could interact with our community ; AlumnForce perfectly met these needs thanks to a number of elements such as the directory, the Career Center, the agenda, the newscast… All of this allows us to centralize and have a very comprehensive platform for our community to be able to find all the information they may need and cannot easily find elsewhere in the same place. The platform makes them all have a reach on lots of news about their sector they cannot find anywhere else.
What are the important elements of your project?
We plan to invigorate our community around our Career Center, with a job board in order to feed it with job offers.
We want to create adapted-to-our-researchers content and target specific news feeds, about science, un-popularised as what could be found on other websites, create events, and relay events about major international conferences that seem relevant, and so on… In FRM, we also give training to our laureates and alumni, so we needed the platform to be a registration platform for them to register directly from our website. Eventually, we want to strengthen, entertain and retain our network.
We were also facing an international challenge. Whereas the majority of the laboratories funded by the FRM are located in France, research remains an extremely international matter. There are many foreigner researchers coming to do their thesis in France. As a lot of people come from Eastern Europe, the United States, Australia or Asia to work in France it seemed more sensible to have a webpage in English.
We also plan, thanks to this platform, to have a view of who took benefit of our funding to go abroad. Going abroad accounts for a launching pad in a scientific career. We think that as we have helped them to grow it may be of the highest interest to keep in touch with the people they have met.
How will your Career Center be organized?
In a first step, anyone will be able to post job offers, under the administrator’s approval. Ideally, the best for us would be that any member looking for hiring for their lab, could directly post offers on the platform and get directly in touch with any people already funded by FRM. This would be a guarantee of mutual trust, meaning they only reach trained people who are “capable”, know how to work by the book. You can already filter applications rather than posting an ad on multiple recruitment sites and receiving random resumes.
How did the platform set up go?
We got along really well with Marion and Ines, who are hyper-responsive. For every question we had, they provided us very quickly with a solution, which is great even now (in August). It has been didactic, with many questions to be asked. We also really appreciated the training. We have even been able to record them, as we are several people on the project and holidays made meeting the goals at the same time complicated.