Author: Dr. Kenneth Gibbs

Headshot of Kenneth Gibbs.

Kenny directs the Postdoctoral Research Associate Training (PRAT) program and manages the Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP), T32 biostatistics grants, and Predoctoral MD/PhD or Other Dual-Doctoral Degree Fellowships for Students at Institutions Without NIH-Funded Institutional Predoctoral Dual-Degree Training Programs (F30). He also manages research grants in the area of stem cell biology.

Posts by Dr. Kenneth Gibbs

Webinar for Postdoctoral Research Associate Training (PRAT) Program Applicants

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We’re hosting a webinar for students and fellows interested in the PRAT Program for the October 2, 2020, receipt date:

Tuesday, July 14, 2:00-3:00 p.m. ET

PRAT is a competitive 3-year fellowship program that prepares trainees for leadership positions in biomedical careers. Training includes a mentored laboratory research experience and intensive career and leadership development activities. PRAT fellows conduct research in laboratories in the NIH Intramural Research Program (IRP) in basic biomedical research areas within the NIGMS mission. These areas include, but are not limited to, biological chemistry, biophysics, bioinformatics, cellular and molecular biology, computational biosciences, developmental biology, genetics, immunology, neuroscience, pharmacology, physiology, and technology development.

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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 Maximizing Opportunities for Scientific and Academic Independent Careers (MOSAIC) Programs Announced

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UPDATE: The webinar video Link to external web site and slides [PDF, 863KB] from the MOSAIC Webinar have been posted.

In March, we shared our plans to develop a new program as part of our efforts to enhance postdoctoral career transitions to promote faculty diversity in the biomedical research workforce. We’re pleased to announce that the Maximizing Opportunities for Scientific and Academic Independent Careers (MOSAIC) funding opportunity announcements have been published. MOSAIC is designed to facilitate the transition of promising postdoctoral researchers from diverse backgrounds, such as individuals from groups underrepresented in the biomedical research workforce at the faculty level, into independent faculty careers at research-intensive institutions. The program has two components:

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Webinar for Postdoctoral Research Associate Training (PRAT) Program Applicants

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UPDATE: The slides [PDF, 1.04MB] and video Link to external web site from the PRAT Program Applicant Webinar have been posted.

We recently reissued the funding opportunity announcement (FOA) for the Postdoctoral Research Associate Training (PRAT) Program and will host a webinar for interested students and fellows:

Wednesday, June 19, 2:00-3:00 p.m. ET

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Funding Opportunity: Methods to Improve Reproducibility of iPSC Derivation, Growth, and Differentiation

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NIGMS, along with 11 other NIH institutes and centers, is seeking Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) applications to develop methods that improve the reproducibility of human induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) derivation, growth, and differentiation (RFA-GM-19-001). Human iPSCs are mature cells that have been reprogrammed to an embryonic stem cell-like state and are able to differentiate into any cell type in the body. iPSCs are increasingly important research systems with a wide variety of applications, including studies of human development, tissue regeneration and repair, disease processes, and the development of new therapeutics. iPSCs and other regenerative technologies also have potential to transform clinical practice by creating living, functional tissues to repair or replace tissues or organs lost due to age, disease, damage, or congenital defects. Realizing the full potential of human iPSCs for both research and clinical practice has been limited by the significant variability in reprogramming efficiency, differentiation potential, and cell growth and stability. This funding opportunity announcement (FOA) will support SBIR projects to develop novel, reliable, and cost-effective methods to standardize and increase the utility and reproducibility of iPSCs at all stages, from their derivation to their research and clinical applications.

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Early Notice: Concept Clearance for the Maximizing Opportunities for Scientific and Academic Independent Careers (MOSAIC) Program (UE5 and K99/R00) to Promote Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce

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UPDATE: The MOSAIC Institutionally-Focused Research Education Cooperative Agreement to Promote Diversity (UE5) and Postdoctoral Career Transition Award to Promote Diversity (K99/R00) funding opportunity announcements are now available.

At the recent NIGMS Advisory Council meeting, the Division of Training, Workforce Development, and Diversity received approval to write two new funding opportunity announcements as part of our efforts to enhance postdoctoral career transitions to promote faculty diversity in the biomedical research workforce.

Concept Clearance MOSAIC Presentation.Watch the MOSAIC presentation at the January Advisory Council meeting.

The Maximizing Opportunities for Scientific and Academic Independent Careers (MOSAIC) program is designed to facilitate the transition of talented postdoctoral researchers from diverse backgrounds into independent faculty careers in research-intensive institutions. The program has two components: an institutionally-focused research education cooperative agreement (UE5) and postdoctoral career transition award (K99/R00) to enhance diversity. Continue reading “Early Notice: Concept Clearance for the Maximizing Opportunities for Scientific and Academic Independent Careers (MOSAIC) Program (UE5 and K99/R00) to Promote Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce”

Your Perspectives: Strategies for Enhancing Postdoctoral Career Transitions to Promote Faculty Diversity

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Continuing our longstanding commitment to train the next generation of biomedical scientists and support the careers of students and postdoctoral scientists from diverse backgrounds, for example groups underrepresented in biomedical research, we sought input from the community through a request for information (RFI) on strategies to enhance successful postdoctoral career transitions to promote faculty diversity, specifically in research-intensive institutions. The RFI was open May 24 to July 20, 2018, and received a total of 89 unique responses from stakeholders including postdoctoral scientists, faculty members, and professional societies.

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Give Input on Strategies to Enhance Postdoctoral Career Transitions to Promote Faculty Diversity

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NIGMS has a longstanding commitment to train the next generation of biomedical scientists and support the training of students from diverse backgrounds, including groups underrepresented in biomedical research, through fellowships, career development grants, and institutional training and student development programs. These programs, and other efforts, have contributed to a substantial increase in the talent pool of well-trained biomedical Ph.D.s from historically underrepresented racial and ethnic groups. However, increasing evidence shows that transitions of these talented scientists from postdoctoral training into independent faculty positions at research-intensive institutions is a key point at which they exit the NIH-funded research workforce. Similarly, women have earned a majority of biomedical Ph.D.s since 2008Link to external web site but approximately one-third of NIH-funded principal investigators are women.

We have undertaken a number of efforts to facilitate the career transitions of postdoctoral scientists from diverse groups into the professoriate including Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Awards and research supplements to promote diversity in health-related research and re-entry into biomedical research careers. Additionally, we administer the NIH Common Fund’s National Research Mentoring Network, a nationwide consortium of biomedical professionals and institutions collaborating to provide biomedical trainees from all backgrounds and at all levels with evidence-based mentorship and professional development programs. While these efforts have supported the development of highly-trained biomedical scientists who have the necessary knowledge and skills to pursue independent biomedical research careers, we need additional strategies to promote transitions to independent faculty positions at research-intensive institutions.

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Webinar for Postdoctoral Research Associate Training (PRAT) Program Applicants

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UPDATE: The slides [PDF, 1.2MB] and video Link to external web site from the Webinar for Postdoctoral Research Associate Training (PRAT) Program Applicants have been posted.

We’re hosting a webinar for students and fellows interested in the PRAT Program for the October 3 receipt date:

Wednesday, June 20, 1:30-2:30 p.m. ET

PRAT is a competitive three-year fellowship program that prepares trainees for leadership positions in biomedical careers. Training includes a mentored laboratory research experience and intensive career and leadership development activities. PRAT fellows conduct research in laboratories in the NIH Intramural Research Program (IRP) in basic biomedical research areas within the NIGMS mission. These areas include, but are not limited to, biological chemistry, biophysics, bioinformatics, cellular and molecular biology, computational biosciences, developmental biology, genetics, immunology, neuroscience, pharmacology, physiology, and technology development.

Applicants can be graduate students considering postdoctoral research opportunities or fellows with no more than two years of postdoctoral research experience by the time of appointment to the PRAT program (late summer 2019). All applications require connecting with an investigator in the NIH IRP in advance of writing the application.

To access the webinar, visit the WebEx meeting page (link no longer available) and enter the meeting number (access code) 625 876 209 and the password MjRSPSrH. You can also attend by phone by calling 650-479-3208. Slides will be posted on the PRAT website following the event.

NIGMS Staff and PRAT Fellows Participating in June 20 Webinar:

Kenneth Gibbs, Director, PRAT Program
Mercedes Rubio, Program Officer, PRAT Program
Amy Elliott, PRAT Fellow
Sam Golden, PRAT Fellow
Laura Corrales-Diaz Pomatto, PRAT Fellow

We look forward to talking with you about the PRAT Program.