Dr. Michael Sesma

About Dr. Michael Sesma

Mike, previously a scientific review administrator and program director at NIGMS, returned to the Institute after a 10-year career at the National Institute of Mental Health, where he was chief of the Research Scientist Development Program in the Office for Special Populations. He now oversees our postdoctoral training branch, which includes research training, fellowship and career development programs. More

New Requirement to Describe IDP Use in Progress Reports

If you have an NIGMS research grant, we want to raise your “IDP consciousness.” If you’re unfamiliar with this abbreviation, IDP stands for “individual development plan.”

A recent NIH Guide notice announced a revised policy on describing the use of IDPs in annual progress reports that requires you to include a section on how you use IDPs to help identify and promote the career goals of the graduate students and postdocs supported by the grant. The notice states:

NIH will not require but strongly encourages institutions to develop and use IDPs for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers supported by NIH awards, regardless of their position title. IDPs provide a structure for the identification and achievement of career goals. Therefore, NIH encourages grantees to develop institutional policies that employ an IDP for every graduate student and postdoctoral researcher supported by NIH awards. Beginning on October 1, 2014, annual progress reports are required to include a description of whether the institution uses IDPs or not and how they are employed to help manage the training and career development of those individuals.

Please note that you should not include the actual IDPs in your progress report.

NIGMS’ training strategic plan emphasized the importance of IDPs, and our IDP Web page provides useful resources for preparing and implementing them. If you have other tips for using IDPs or meeting the new progress report requirement, please feel free to share them here.

New Mechanism to Support Research Educational Activities

As part of our efforts to develop and sustain a highly skilled and diverse biomedical research workforce, we have introduced a new mechanism to complement or enhance research training activities. The Innovative Programs to Enhance Research Training (IPERT) will support creative and innovative research educational activities through courses for skills development, structured mentoring activities and outreach programs.

We expect the scope, purpose and objectives of IPERT applications to be as varied as the potential applicants. Both institutions and organizations are eligible to apply.

An IPERT program should address a documented need, problem or challenge in research training and include measurable goals and objectives. Applications should explain the balance of effort and resources dedicated to each activity and how the activities will integrate. Proposals should also align with the NIGMS Strategic Plan for Biomedical and Behavioral Research Training, which recognizes that:

  • Research training is a responsibility shared by NIH, academic institutions, faculty and trainees.
  • Research training must focus on student development, not simply the selection of talent.
  • Breadth and flexibility enable research training to keep pace with the opportunities and demands of contemporary science and provide the foundation for a variety of scientific career paths.
  • Diversity is an indispensable component of research training excellence and must be advanced across the entire research enterprise.

The IPERT program may be of particular interest to institutions and organizations with current or past support from the MARC Ancillary Training Activities program (T36), which has lapsed and will not be reissued. Conference and meeting programs previously supported by the T36 mechanism may be more appropriately supported through the NIH conference grant mechanism (R13/U13).

While a letter of intent is not required, we strongly encourage anyone who is interested in submitting an IPERT application to consult with me or other staff of the NIGMS Division of Training, Workforce Development, and Diversity to determine if this is the best mechanism to support their ideas and plans.

Wanted: Program Directors to Manage Grants in Developmental and Cellular Processes, Research/Student Research Development Programs

NIGMS is looking for two program directors (also known as “health scientist administrators/program officers”) to manage research grants and/or student research development program(s).

One position is in our Developmental and Cellular Processes Branch of the Division of Genetics and Developmental Biology. This branch supports research on the genetic and biochemical pathways that cells utilize in development and in normal physiological processes. Candidates should have expertise in the use of state-of-the-art molecular genetics and/or genomics-based approaches to address questions in these scientific areas.

The other position is in the Postdoctoral Training Branch of the Division of Training, Workforce Development, and Diversity. This branch supports research training, fellowship and career development programs for postdoctoral scientists. Candidates should have knowledge of and/or experience in understanding, planning and managing research/student research development program(s) at the postdoctoral or early stage investigator career level, including those targeted to groups that are underrepresented in biomedical and behavioral sciences. Candidates also should have expertise in innovations for teaching in STEM fields as well as research experience in other scientific areas within the NIGMS mission.

For both positions, candidates should have leadership, managerial, and strong oral and written communication skills. Familiarity with NIH extramural funding as a grant applicant, reviewer or NIH scientific administrator is a plus.

Vacancy announcements typically are open for only a very short time, and this one closes soon—Sunday, February 23. Please see the NIH HSA Web site for position requirements and application procedures. The Applying for Scientific Administration Jobs at NIGMS blog post offers additional background and tips.

Networking Theme for 2013 Training, Workforce Development, and Diversity Program Directors’ Meeting

TWD Program Directors' MeetingA goal of our Division of Training, Workforce Development, and Diversity (TWD) is to create a community of trainers and educators dedicated to developing a well-prepared, diverse biomedical research workforce.

Toward that end, the focus of this year’s TWD Program Directors’ Meeting Exit icon is on networking. The meeting, to be held on June 12-14 in Chicago, will address the value of sustained networking among the grantees, students and other communities served by these programs. The meeting will enable program directors to learn more about other TWD programs; establish connections with potential new partners, especially regional “neighbors”; and collectively address the Institute’s research training objectives.

Plenary sessions and keynote talks will cover the diversity of the U.S. research workforce, STEM training in the context of NIH-funded biomedical and behavioral research, and innovative approaches for evaluating and assessing our training programs. NIGMS and NIH leaders will give overviews of the Institute’s training strategic plan and the implementation of the report from the Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce Working Group of the Advisory Committee to the Director, NIH.

The meeting is primarily intended for program directors and associate deans (or the equivalent) at institutions with these TWD student and predoctoral training programs: Bridges to the Baccalaureate, Bridges to the Doctorate, IMSD, IRACDA, MARC T36, MARC U-STAR, RISE, PREP, NIGMS T32 predoctoral programs and IDeA INBRE.

Online registration is open now at www.TWDNIGMS.org Exit icon and closes May 10, 2013.