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.
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 2008 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.
UPDATE: Enrollment for the course is open until October 15.
The path to a successful career as a biomedical scientist is rarely direct: There can be stops along the way, and each person has different motivations, opportunities, and challenges. The path also depends, in part, on the institution, program, or department where the student is training, and finding the right scientist, mentor, or coach to help guide that journey isn’t the same for everyone. A new online training program supported through an Innovative Programs to Enhance Research Training (IPERT) grant to iBiology can help participants navigate this process.
“Planning Your Scientific Journey ,” provides training for undergraduate and graduate students on successfully navigating the path to a research career. The interactive lessons may be useful for postdocs and early career scientists, too. Topics include:
- Developing a good scientific question
- Establishing a plan of action
- Asking for advice and developing collaborations
The free 6-week course will take place October 2 to November 13. The course can accommodate nearly 20,000 participants. New course content will be released on a weekly basis to allow students time to focus on each week’s lessons. The course is expected to be offered again in either the spring or fall of 2018. Ultimately, iBiology plans to make this course available in a self-paced format—further enhancing students’ ability to benefit from the course offering, and to revisit the course content at any time.
iBiology is just one of the awardees in our IPERT program. IPERT R25 grants support creative and innovative research educational activities that are designed to complement and/or enhance the training of a workforce to meet the nation’s biomedical research needs. Each IPERT grant must also address the NIGMS goal of creating a highly skilled and diverse biomedical workforce, and integrate three required elements: short courses/workshops for skill development, mentoring, and outreach. To learn more, visit the IPERT webpage. The next receipt date for applications is January 23, 2018.
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.
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.
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.
A 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 (link no longer available) 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 (no longer available) and closes May 10, 2013.