We recently analyzed the career outcomes of scholars who participated in the NIGMS IRACDA program. A goal of this program is to provide a diverse pool of postdoctoral scholars with research and professional skills needed to be successful in academic careers. The program combines a mentored postdoctoral research experience with an opportunity to develop additional academic and teaching skills, including a teaching practicum at a partner institution that enrolls a substantial number of students from underrepresented groups. Since its inception in 1999, 25 research-intensive institutions have received IRACDA awards, which have supported more than 600 scholars.
Our assessment focused on the 450 alumni who completed their training through November 2014. Important findings include:
- IRACDA scholars are diverse: 63% are female, and 53% identify as a race/ethnicity other than white, non-Hispanic.
- Approximately 73% of IRACDA alumni are in academic faculty positions at a range of institutions (see Figure 1).
- Among the scholars in faculty positions, 35% are at research-intensive institutions, 25% are at primarily undergraduate institutions and the remaining percent are at associate- and master’s degree-granting institutions. In addition, 25% of the IRACDA alumni in academic positions are faculty at a designated minority-serving institution.
NIGMS Director Jon Lorsch addresses attendees at the symposium, which is available on videocast
On April 11, more than 150 people from across the country (plus many via videocast) participated in the NIGMS Symposium on Catalyzing the Modernization of Graduate Education. The goals of the meeting were to convene stakeholders to continue the momentum for positive change within the biomedical graduate education community and to showcase innovative experiments and approaches in Ph.D. training.
The morning session featured presentations highlighting the training expectations of graduate students, institutional approaches to reshaping graduate education programs and attributes employers look for when hiring early career scientists. These talks converged on the theme of ensuring that graduate education equips Ph.D. students with the scientific and professional skills they need to be successful in their careers.
After a presentation focusing on assessing the effectiveness of educational innovations, the speakers in the afternoon session described a variety of experiments in graduate education that are currently under way in various settings. The nine innovations featured in this session were augmented by an additional 32 posters presented during the lunch period.
NIGMS is actively involved in efforts to catalyze the modernization of graduate education. As part of our work on this issue, we will host a symposium at NIH on Monday, April 11, where we will convene stakeholders from the biomedical graduate education community to continue the momentum for positive change and showcase innovative approaches in Ph.D. training. You can register to attend in person or watch the meeting live or later.
The agenda for the morning session includes an overview of the current landscape from the perspective of various stakeholders (students, institutions and employers) followed by a discussion on implementing change and assessing the effectiveness of educational innovations. The afternoon session will highlight experiments in various areas of graduate education such as curriculum redesign, quantitative skills enhancement, rigor and reproducibility, diversity and inclusion, and career and professional development. We will hear about why and how these experiments were implemented, their outcomes to date and aspects that could be exported to other institutions.
We hope you can join us for what promises to be a broad and stimulating discussion.
PRAT Symposium Speakers
Steven Paul, Weill Cornell
Jacqueline Crawley, UCSD
Richard Weinshilboum, Mayo Clinic
Katherine Roche, NIH
James Stevens, Eli Lilly
Jennifer Elisseeff, Johns Hopkins
Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz, NIH
Elizabeth Grice, U Penn
Robert Ruffolo, Jr., Wyeth (retired)
Henry Bourne, USCF
In the years since the first cohort of postdoctoral fellows entered the NIGMS Pharmacology Research Associate (PRAT) program in 1965, the program’s alumni have become leaders in pharmacology, neuroscience, cell biology and related fields across multiple career sectors, including academia, government and industry. On November 6, we’ll mark the accomplishments of the more than 400 PRAT alumni in a full-day scientific symposium on the NIH campus in Bethesda, MD.
The symposium will feature presentations by 10 alumni spanning the duration of the program and is free and open to the public, although we encourage you to register to attend. If you can’t be there in person, you can watch the event live or later. If you have comments, anecdotes, historical data or photos from the PRAT program, please let us know by writing a note in the comments box on the meeting registration site or by sending me an e-mail message.
The NIGMS Postdoctoral Research Associate (PRAT) program is now accepting applications for its 50th class of fellows, and I encourage you to pass along this fellowship opportunity to graduate students and early postdoctoral scholars who may be interested in applying. The application deadline is March 17, 2015.
NIGMS PRAT fellows conduct research in scientific areas within the Institute’s mission while in an NIH intramural research program (IRP) laboratory. Before applying to the program, applicants must identify a potential preceptor in the NIH IRP and develop a research proposal.
Applicants must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States who have or will have a doctoral degree (e.g., Ph.D. or M.D.) and no more than 5 years of postdoctoral research experience by the time the 2015 program begins in the fall. Individuals currently in Ph.D. or other doctoral degree-granting programs may apply as long as they anticipate completing the degree requirements before starting the fellowship program.
NIGMS PRAT fellows receive 3 years of stipend support at levels determined by the NIH IRP guidelines and commensurate with experience. Additional benefits include health insurance, a travel allowance and professional development training activities, including a monthly seminar series designed specifically for the fellows. The professional development opportunities provide a rich forum for the exchange of ideas among this diverse group and are often cited by current fellows and alumni as one of the most valuable aspects of the program.
For more information about the NIGMS PRAT program, including details about applying and identifying potential preceptors, please e-mail me.
SAVE THE DATE – The NIGMS PRAT program will host a 50th anniversary scientific symposium highlighting the accomplishments of its alumni, many of whom have achieved senior leadership positions in academia, government and industry. This event will take place on November 6, 2015, on the NIH campus in Bethesda, MD.
Registration is now open for the 2014 Postdoctoral Preparation Institute: Career Transitions, a workshop we’re funding for postdoctoral fellows who will soon be seeking positions in a variety of career sectors. The workshop, which is being run by FASEB, will take place near NIH on June 5-6. It follows two successful prior NIGMS postdoc workshops in 2010 and 2012.
The meeting will cover a range of topics related to making a successful transition to the next career stage, including career planning; communication, leadership and other interpersonal skills; grant-writing; applying for positions; and navigating the interview and negotiation processes. Participants will also have an opportunity to learn about a number of scientific career options.
Among the featured speakers are NIGMS director Jon Lorsch and NIH’s first chief officer for scientific workforce diversity, Hannah Valantine.
If you know of postdocs who would benefit from this career development event, please encourage them to visit the registration page (link no longer available) for details about eligibility, travel support and application materials. Applications are due by April 18.
While the event is open to all eligible postdocs, we especially encourage applications from members of groups that are underrepresented in the biomedical or behavioral sciences. If space is available, the FASEB meeting organizers will also consider applications from new assistant professors who are within 1 year of the completion of their postdoctoral training and 5th-year Ph.D. students who are near degree conferral.