Aligning Training

As the new deputy director of the Division of Training, Workforce Development, and Diversity, my main focus is on the Institute’s training activities. It is an exciting time to join the Institute and help implement its strategic plan for biomedical and behavioral research training.

One of my first tasks after coming to NIGMS was to work with Institute staff and leadership to address a key action item in the strategic plan to “examine and adjust the allocation of NIGMS training resources across and within scientific areas and institutions.” Since NIGMS supports about half of the predoctoral institutional training program (T32) positions funded by NIH, our policies have a broad impact.

The Institute has always looked at a number of issues in addition to priority scores to identify which training programs to support and works to allocate funds on a fair, equitable and well-justified basis. Following extensive analyses and discussions of the current distribution of training resources, which began well before my arrival, we intend to be more proactive in aligning our funding decisions with our priorities. Some of the additional factors we will consider are whether programs:

  • address training in new and emerging areas of science,
  • have been highly successful in enhancing diversity,
  • have effectively leveraged slots to impact the overall institutional program,
  • are at institutions that do not currently receive NIGMS T32 support, and/or
  • explore models for training that are fundamentally different from our existing programs.

The realignment process will take place over the next several years and, in some cases, may gradually impact the size of existing training grants. We anticipate that this more goal-driven approach to funding will make the overall impact of our training programs even stronger, and in this way, further enhance the quality of biomedical research training.

I welcome your comments on this blog or directly to me at alison.hall@nih.gov.

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