Headshot of Dr. Shiva Singh

About Dr. Shiva Singh

Shiva, a microbiologist with a lot of experience in scientific administration, oversees predoctoral T32 training programs, predoctoral F30 and F31 fellowships, as well as a broad array of undergraduate student development programs.

NIGMS Participation in Additional NIH Individual Predoctoral Fellowship Programs

We are now supporting two additional Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award individual predoctoral fellowships in basic biomedical sciences relevant to our mission: the F30 fellowship for M.D.-Ph.D. or other dual-doctoral degree students and the F31 fellowship for Ph.D.-degree students. We will continue our support of the F31 fellowship to promote diversity in health-related research.

NIGMS predoctoral fellowships, which generally provide up to 3 years of support, promote fundamental, interdisciplinary and innovative research training and career development leading to independent scientists who are well prepared to address the nation’s biomedical research needs.

An applicant for an NIGMS predoctoral fellowship should:

  • Be an advanced Ph.D. or M.D.-Ph.D. student.
  • Demonstrate high academic performance in the biomedical sciences and independence in his or her research.
  • Have identified a research sponsor and a dissertation project that includes a novel approach to the problem and has strong training potential.
  • Demonstrate a commitment to a career as an independent scientist.

We expect the funding for F30 and F31 fellowships to be highly competitive, and we anticipate funding only a very limited number of these applications in any year.

We will give priority to outstanding applicants with sponsors who are currently supported by NIGMS research grants. In addition, we strongly encourage F30 applications from students in combined M.D.-Ph.D. (or other dual-doctoral degree, such as D.O.-Ph.D., D.D.S.-Ph.D. and D.V.M.-Ph.D.) programs at institutions that are not currently supported by our Medical Scientist Training Program.

For more details on F30 and F31 awards, see the NIGMS NRSA Individual Predoctoral Fellowships Web page or contact Peggy Schnoor.

NIGMS Training, Workforce Development, and Diversity Division Director Clif Poodry Retires

Clifton Poodry, Ph.D.Clifton “Clif” Poodry, Ph.D., director of the NIGMS Division of Training, Workforce Development, and Diversity, retired earlier this month. Although he’s left federal service, Clif is continuing to pursue his long-held interest in improving science education as a senior fellow at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Throughout his nearly 20 years at NIGMS, Clif championed—and in many cases, led—activities to build the biomedical research workforce of the future. This included initiatives for training and mentoring students from groups that are underrepresented in biomedical and behavioral research and advising on NIH-wide programs, such as the newly announced Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity program.

Clif has long been committed to using scientific approaches to understand interventions that promote interest in and pursuit of research careers. He consistently encouraged staff and colleagues to read the scientific literature on training and workforce diversity in order to develop a better understanding of biomedical workforce issues and challenges so that we could create and/or modify programs accordingly.

Clif’s long and distinguished career includes time as a biology professor, department chair, associate vice-chancellor for student affairs, and NIGMS grantee at the University of California, Santa Cruz. In the early 1980s, he served a 2-year stint at the National Science Foundation, where he helped create a program that later became a model for the NIH diversity supplement program.

Clif is a great and natural mentor who has touched the lives of numerous students and colleagues across the country, as well as those of us here at NIGMS and NIH. Many of those he mentored have gone on to positions in academia, government and the private sector.

Clif has had a huge impact in many areas, including the education and training of students from underrepresented groups, and we look forward to building on his legacy.

Wanted: Program Director, Undergraduate and Predoctoral Training Branch

We’re looking for a program director (also known as “program officer” or “health scientist administrator”) to join the Undergraduate and Predoctoral Training Branch of the Division of Training, Workforce Development, and Diversity. This person will administer the Initiative for Maximizing Student Development program in addition to a portfolio of research and training grants. We’re particularly interested in candidates who have a broad spectrum of scientific knowledge and professional experience in the training of research scientists as well as in programs aimed at increasing the diversity of the scientific workforce.

Please see the vacancy announcement for position requirements and detailed application procedures. This recruitment is part of a global recruitment for program officer positions throughout NIH, and the vacancy announcement closes on January 25, 2012.

Program Prepares Postdocs for Research and Teaching Careers

IRACDA Participating Institutions MapWe’re once again soliciting applications from research-intensive institutions for the NIGMS Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Award program.

Now in its 12th year, the IRACDA program supports traditional postdocs at research-intensive universities who also teach at nearby institutions with substantial enrollments of minority students. The program offers an opportunity to conduct top-notch research while developing teaching and other academic skills, such as problem-solving, communication, time management and grant-writing. Eighteen institutions currently participate in the program.

Because the IRACDA program combines a traditional mentored research experience with instruction, it prepares scientists for careers in both research and teaching. It also benefits the students at the institutions where the teaching takes place. So far, the data indicate that IRACDA postdocs do as well as or better than their peers in publishing and in getting jobs in academia and industry.

In fostering a diverse scientific workforce, IRACDA is a model program. Underrepresented groups currently make up about 28.5% of the national population, yet just 9.1% of college-educated Americans in science and engineering occupations. Nationally, about 7.5% of postdocs are from underrepresented groups. The IRACDA program, although not targeted to minorities, has about 40% of its postdocs from underrepresented groups. The program also strengthens the overall teaching and research opportunities at institutions with substantial minority enrollments. In these ways, IRACDA further promotes the development of the next generation of a diverse pool of scientists who are available to address the Nation’s biomedical, behavioral and clinical research needs.

IRACDA also addresses the growing recognition that future faculty should not only be able to conduct research, but also be effective teachers in the classrooms. Most faculty positions require some amount of teaching, and so it’s only natural that postdocs are trained in modern pedagogy before they start teaching as part of their faculty duties. To this end, major research universities are beginning to offer teaching certificate programs for their doctoral students.

If you’d like to know more about IRACDA or find out how you can participate, please contact me.

Helping to Reverse America’s “Brain Drain”

America's Brain DrainA story titled “America’s Brain Drain Exit icon” that aired this past weekend on the CBS Sunday Morning show featured an interview with long-time NIGMS grantee Frank Bayliss of San Francisco State University (SFSU). It described how he is trying to nurture smart American students who are interested in pursuing science careers, in part through programs funded by the NIGMS Division of Minority Opportunity in Research (MORE). In recognition of his contributions in this arena, Frank received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring in 2009.

The segment also featured a MORE-supported student, Damon Robles, who participated in our Bridges to the Baccalaureate program at the City College of San Francisco. He later transferred to SFSU, where he became a Minority Access to Research Careers undergraduate student. Now, he is in a Ph.D. program in physical chemistry at the University of California, Davis.

Our MORE programs represent some of the ways we seek to foster a diverse scientific workforce and prepare students for careers in science-related fields. If you’re interested in finding out how you can support a MORE student in your lab for a summer or longer, contact me at singhs@nigms.nih.gov or 301-594-3900.

Apply Now for Microbial Community Dynamics Grants

NIGMS has just re-announced the Dynamics of Host-Associated Microbial Communities (R01) funding opportunity. Microbes make up the vast majority of our bodies’ cells, and this program supports projects that aim to dissect these complex communities and their roles within a host.

We are particularly interested in applications that propose:

  • Genetic, physiological and ecological research on mixed microbial communities, their internal dynamics and how they relate to those of the host; and
  • Studies on other experimental models that could make breakthrough contributions to understanding the formation and dynamics of host-microbe symbiotic systems.

We encourage interdisciplinary approaches, including bioinformatics/computational/modeling and/or experimental manipulations to investigate host-associated microbial community ecology.

You may apply for up to $250,000 (direct costs) per year (plus up to $100,000 for exceptional equipment in the first year). Most awards will be for 4 years. Letters of intent are due on December 14, 2010, and applications are due on January 14, 2011.

For more details about the program, see the funding opportunity announcement or contact me at 301-594-3900 or singhs@nigms.nih.gov.

Modeling Scientific Workforce Dynamics

In keeping with the Institute’s long-standing interest in training and its strong commitment to fostering a diverse scientific workforce, we have just re-announced our Modeling the Scientific Workforce (U01) program.

This program provides support for developing computational models of the scientific workforce in the United States. It takes a systems-based approach to understanding the underlying dynamics that produce successful scientists, examining strategies for increasing the diversity of the scientific workforce, identifying research questions and guiding data collection and analysis. The models will help inform our program development, management and evaluation.

We are particularly interested in models of the academic scientific workforce, but applicants should also consider industry and the government. We strongly encourage collaboration among scientists who are experts in simulation modeling, large-scale educational data sets, national policy and program development and other appropriate areas.

Letters of intent are due on October 4, 2010, and applications are due on November 4, 2010.

For additional information about the program, see the funding opportunity announcement or contact me at 301-594-3900 or singhs@nigms.nih.gov.

Research on Interventions that Promote Biomedical and Behavioral Careers

NIGMS has re-announced the Research on Interventions (R01) program that supports research on efforts to increase student interest, motivation and preparedness for careers in biomedical and behavioral research. Proposed research should test assumptions and hypotheses regarding social and behavioral factors that might inform and guide interventions.

We are particularly interested in interventions that are specifically designed to increase the number of students from underrepresented groups entering careers in biomedical and behavioral sciences. However, you need not restrict proposed research to students from these groups. In fact, comparative research that analyzes the experience of all groups can help us understand how interventions should be tailored to make more underrepresented students successful in biomedical and behavioral careers.

We strongly encourage collaboration among biomedical, behavioral and social science researchers.

Currently funded projects are quite varied. Examples include research on interventions at the institutional level and on student characteristics, such as self-efficacy and leadership.

Letters of intent are due September 15, 2010, and applications are due October 15, 2010. For additional information about the program, see the funding opportunity announcement or contact me at 301-594-3900 or singhs@nigms.nih.gov.

Exciting NIGMS Job Opportunity for Exceptional Scientist

Minority Opportunities in Research (MORE) LogoWe’re looking for a program director (“health scientist administrator”) to oversee innovative programs designed to increase the number of biomedical and behavioral scientists from underrepresented groups. In addition to handling research and student development grants within our Division of Minority Opportunities in Research (MORE) Special Initiatives Branch, the program director will also manage research grants in one of the following areas:

  • Cell biology, biophysics and structural genomics;
  • Computational/statistical genetics and prokaryotic genetics;
  • Bio-organic/medicinal chemistry, biochemistry with a focus in bioenergetics, redox biochemistry and mechanistic enzymology; or
  • Basic and clinical research in trauma, wound healing or pharmacology.

Please see the vacancy announcement for position requirements and detailed application procedures. The listing closes April 28, 2010.

UPDATE: This vacancy listing has been extended to May 18, 2010.

Apply Now for Microbe-Host Interactions Grants

Back in May, I described a concept clearance for a new grant program focused on microbe-host interactions. A number of readers commented on the post, and I was delighted to see the early interest in this new program, as well as other related programs at NIH.

The RFA has now been published in the NIH Guide.

We’re soliciting applications for projects that will reveal the basic principles and mechanisms that govern host-associated microbial community structure and function through studies in the following areas: model systems, community physiology, community genetic interactions, community dynamics, and technology development. Please note that research projects designed solely to carry out metagenomic sequencing or surveys of microbial diversity are outside the scope of this program.

We plan to make 5-6 R01 awards totaling $2.5 million in fiscal year 2010. Letters of intent are due December 15, 2009, and applications are due by January 15, 2010.