Student or Learner
She envisioned something more formal, removed from the old-boy network of biomedical researchers. Scientific progress, according to Shriver, was too dangerous to be monitored by the scientists themselves...
What does "old-boy" network mean?
Old boy: "A man who is a member of a long-standing and usually influential clique especially in a professional, business, or social sphere."
Hence, the group of them who intercommunicate.