A Primer on NIGMS Training, Workforce Development, and Diversity Efforts

This post is part of a series outlining NIGMS research priorities, funding opportunities, and the grant application process. You can read more posts in this series and sign up to receive all future posts delivered straight to your inbox.

Our previous post in this series provided an overview of NIGMS research capacity building opportunities. This post provides a primer on our Institute’s research training, workforce development, and diversity programs.

What Falls Under NIGMS’ Training, Workforce Development, and Diversity Umbrella?

NIGMS plays a large role in the research training space, supporting nearly half of all NIH‐sponsored predoctoral students in structured institutional training programs across the country. We strongly believe that a research workforce that is richly diverse in perspectives, skills, and experiences best serves the scientific enterprise.

Supporting research training and education grants that promote the development of an inclusive, diverse, and talented biomedical research workforce in a forward-thinking manner are key features of our Institute’s ethos. 

Overview of NIGMS’ Training, Workforce Development, and Diversity Programs

The Division of Training, Workforce Development, and Diversity (TWD) houses our training and education efforts at the undergraduate, graduate, postdoctoral, and faculty levels. A major goal of these efforts is to ultimately broaden the scientific pool of individuals participating in the biomedical research workforce.

At the undergraduate level, NIGMS funds the Bridges to the Baccalaureate program, which aims to prepare a diverse cohort of research-oriented students to transfer from associate to baccalaureate degree-granting institutions.

At the graduate level, NIGMS manages a number of institutional research training grants in cross-disciplinary, basic biomedical research training and medical science training. These programs develop institutional capacity to train students toward their advancement along their science career paths. Also, NIGMS supports a number of individual predoctoral fellowships, including Advancing Research Careers (ARC) (F99/K00), a predoctoral to postdoctoral transition award.

At the postdoctoral and early career levels, we have the Pathways to Independence and Maximizing Opportunities for Scientific and Academic Independent Careers K99 programs, which facilitate the transition of promising postdoctoral researchers into independent, tenure-track or equivalent research-intensive faculty positions.  

At the faculty level, we offer research grants including Research on Interventions, Science of Science Approach to Analyzing and Innovating the Biomedical Research Enterprise, Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA), and Research With Activities Related to Diversity (ReWARD). These—along with administrative supplements to promote diversity in health-related research, re-entry into biomedical and behavioral research careers, and continuity of research during critical life events—enable workforce development, retention, and continuity.

How Can I Learn More About These Efforts?

You can learn more about our efforts through a variety of ways. The TWD website includes a wealth of information and resources, such as frequently asked questions about our programs, a list of contacts by research area, and biographical sketches of TWD staff. Additionally, our website offers a dashboard that displays the training, career development, fellowship, research projects, and conference awards funded or administered by NIGMS.

TWD regularly conducts technical assistance webinars for current grantees and potential applicants. These webinars typically take place when we release a new notice of funding opportunity (NOFO).

Another approach TWD uses to engage the community is through requests for information (RFIs). For example, in April 2022, NIGMS released an RFI seeking input from trainees (e.g., undergraduates, graduate students, postdoctoral scientists), biomedical faculty, and research education program participants (e.g., postbaccalaureates) on initiatives to help us improve research training, career progression, and the educational environment. This effort was well received, and we intend to report our findings once we analyze the data.

In Summary

NIGMS plays a major role in advancing biomedical research while promoting the recruitment of talented, diverse individuals in all career stages. To learn more, visit the TWD website, reach out to the program officers listed on the program webpages or in the NOFOs, or contact us.

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