Author: Dr. Alison Gammie

Headshot of Alison Gammie.

Alison directs the NIGMS division that supports a variety of research training, career development, and diversity-building activities at the undergraduate through faculty levels.

Posts by Dr. Alison Gammie

Developing a Culture of Safety in Biomedical Research Training

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NIGMS is committed to supporting safety in the nation’s biomedical research and training environments. Last April, we shared with you resources for enhancing lab safety in biomedical research training environments. Now, in a perspective in the current issue of Molecular Biology of the Cell (MBoC), we focus on strategies for improving laboratory safety. Some of these strategies are also applicable to other forms of safety including the prevention of harassment, intimidation, and discrimination. We frame the problem of laboratory safety using a number of recent examples of tragic accidents, highlight some of the lessons that have been learned from these and other events, discuss what NIGMS is doing to address problems related to laboratory safety, and outline steps that institutions can take to improve their safety cultures.

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MOSAIC Announcements and Upcoming Webinar

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UPDATE: The video and slides [PDF] from the MOSAIC webinar are now available.

Last summer, we shared with you our new Maximizing Opportunities for Scientific and Academic Independent Careers (MOSAIC) funding opportunity announcements (FOAs). MOSAIC, which NIGMS oversees, is part of NIH’s efforts to enhance diversity within the academic biomedical research workforce. It’s designed to facilitate the transition of promising postdoctoral researchers from diverse backgrounds into independent faculty careers at research-intensive institutions. The program has two components: a research education cooperative agreement (UE5) and a postdoctoral career transition award (K99/R00).

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Retiring Peer Review Site Visits for NIGMS Training Programs

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At NIGMS, site visits have traditionally been part of the peer review process for some training program renewal applications. The visits, which generally happened every other renewal cycle for existing programs, were conducted by NIGMS staff and review panel members to gain additional information about the programs. For those of you who are program directors or peer reviewers of our undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral training programs, it may feel as if site visits went away a long time ago. This is because changes to most of our training programs required new application submissions (see our previous post), which resulted in a significant reduction in visits, followed by a complete stoppage in recent months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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What Can We Do to Combat Anti-Black Racism in the Biomedical Research Enterprise?

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The recent deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, in addition to the disproportionate burden of COVID-19 on African Americans, are wrenching reminders of the many harms that societal racism, inequality, and injustice inflict on the Black community. These injustices are rooted in centuries of oppression—including slavery and Jim Crow, redlining, school segregation, and mass incarceration—that continue to influence American life, including the biomedical research enterprise. Despite leading an NIH Institute whose mission includes building a diverse scientific workforce, at NIGMS we’ve struggled with what an adequate response to this moment would be, knowing that the systems that mediate the distinct and disparate burdens Black students, postdocs, and scientists face are complex and often aren’t easily moved with the urgency that they demand. With that in mind, below we share thoughts on what each of us who is in the majority or in a position of power can do to help break the cycles of racial disparities that are woven into the fabric of the biomedical research enterprise and that limit opportunities Link to external web site for Black scientists Link to external web site.

Institutional structures, policies, and cultures Link to external web site, including those in the biomedical research enterprise, all contribute to racial inequality and injustice. This fact was laid bare for us by the responses to the request for information (RFI) we issued in 2018 on strategies to enhance successful postdoctoral career transitions to promote faculty diversity. Respondents cited bias and discrimination—including racism—most frequently as a key barrier to postdoctoral researchers attaining independent faculty positions.

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Funding Opportunity: NIGMS Institutional Predoctoral Training Grants

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We’re pleased to announce that the NIGMS Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Predoctoral Institutional Research Training Grant (T32) for the basic biomedical sciences has been reissued (PAR-20-213). This funding opportunity announcement (FOA) continues our efforts to ensure biomedical graduate research training keeps pace with the rapidly evolving biomedical research enterprise. The goal of the T32 program is to develop a diverse pool of scientists with the technical, operational, and professional skills needed to advance their chosen fields and transition into productive careers in the biomedical research workforce.

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New Webinar Series for the NIGMS Training Community

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UPDATE: Additional webinars have been announced. View the full schedule.

We’re pleased to announce a new webinar series for students, postdocs, and faculty. Each hour-long webinar will include a 10- to 15-minute presentation by the speaker followed by a moderated question and answer session. Our hope is that these webinars will enhance our trainees’ ongoing learning experiences. 

The webinar series kicks off next Monday, May 4, and a tentative list of dates and speakers is below. As plans are finalized, additional details will be posted on our website.

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NIGMS Virtual Learning Resources for Scientists at All Career Stages

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To assist with virtual learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, we’d like to remind you of the valuable resources NIGMS supports for our trainee and educator communities. These resources apply to all levels, ranging from community college students to faculty.

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Administrative Supplements for NIGMS Training, Research Education, and Career Development Grants to Develop Curricular, Training, and Evaluation Activities

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To continue our efforts to catalyze the modernization of biomedical research training and career development, we invite eligible institutions with NIGMS training (T32, T34), certain research education (R25), or institutional career development (K12) awards to apply for administrative supplements to develop and implement curricular, training, or administrative activities to:

  • Enhance laboratory safety curriculum and a culture of safety in biomedical research training environments (NOT-GM-20-016)
  • Promote safe and inclusive biomedical research training environments (NOT-GM-20-018)
  • Enhance undergraduate biomedical research training (NOT-GM-20-019) (T34 and R25 undergraduate programs only)
  • Enhance program evaluation capacity (NOT-GM-20-020)
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Funding Opportunity: Innovative Programs to Enhance Research Training (IPERT) R25

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In March, we released an NIH Guide notice informing the community of our intent to continue the Innovative Programs to Enhance Research Training (IPERT) R25. We’re now pleased to announce that the IPERT funding opportunity announcement (FOA) (PAR-19-383) has been reissued with minor changes. The goal of IPERT is to enable the scientific community to develop and implement innovative educational activities that equip diverse cohorts of participants with the skills required for careers in the biomedical research workforce. IPERT activities must integrate the required components of the Research Education Program Plan (REPP), including the following core elements:

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Funding Opportunity: Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Awards (IRACDA) Program

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We’re pleased to announce that the Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Awards (IRACDA) (K12) funding opportunity announcement (PAR-19-366) has been reissued with some minor changes. IRACDA combines a mentored postdoctoral research experience at a research-intensive institution with an opportunity to develop critical teaching and mentoring skills at a teaching-intensive partner institution that has a diverse student population. The primary goal of the program is to develop an inclusive pool of well-trained biomedical scientists who have the necessary knowledge and skills to pursue independent academic teaching and research careers. An additional goal of IRACDA is to benefit the teaching-intensive partner institutions by:

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