Administrative Supplements for NIGMS Predoctoral T32 Grants to Develop Curricular and Training Activities

To continue our efforts to catalyze the modernization of biomedical graduate education, we invite eligible NIGMS-funded T32 predoctoral training programs to submit administrative supplement requests (NOT-GM-19-015) to develop new curricular and training activities that enhance the program’s ability to: 1) provide graduate trainees with a strong foundation in research design and methods in areas related to conducting rigorous and transparent research to enhance reproducibility; 2) prepare students for diverse careers in the biomedical research workforce; 3) develop the knowledge and skills of trainees to enhance laboratory safety; and 4) develop the technical, operational, and professional skills of predoctoral biomedical researchers.

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New Graduate Training Programs Announced

In May, we shared with you our plans to reorganize the undergraduate and graduate programs in the Division of Training, Workforce Development, and Diversity. Toward that end, we are pleased to announce two new graduate funding opportunities aimed at developing and implementing effective, evidence-based approaches to biomedical training and mentoring. The goal of these funding announcements is to enhance diversity in the biomedical research workforce and to encourage applications from training programs that: Continue reading

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

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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Updated Focus of NIGMS-Supported Predoctoral Training in Computational Biology, Bioinformatics, and Biomedical Data Science

Modern biomedical research is becoming increasingly quantitative and reliant on computational methods, with growing use of large and complex datasets to address biomedical research questions and advance human health. To help address the need for biomedical researchers with cutting-edge computational and quantitative skills, we have updated the focus areas of our Predoctoral T32 Training Program in Computational Biology, Bioinformatics, and Biomedical Data Science (formerly called Bioinformatics and Computational Biology). In doing this, we aim to better integrate training in data-science approaches throughout the curriculum and during the mentored research period. We are now placing a strong emphasis on programs that:

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New T32 Medical Scientist Training Program Funding Opportunity Announcement

We’ve just released a new funding opportunity announcement (FOA) for the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP). Through this FOA, we intend to encourage changes in integrated medical and graduate research training to keep pace with the rapid evolution of a research environment that is increasingly complex, interdisciplinary, quantitative, and collaborative.

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NIH Statement: Changing the Culture of Science to End Sexual Harassment

Last week, NIH Director Francis S. Collins issued a statement about the pervasive problem of sexual harassment in science and reaffirmed NIH’s commitment to address it. He noted that NIH is working to bolster its policies and practices to foster a culture of respect wherever NIH research activities are conducted, and to ensure that sexual harassment is not tolerated or ignored.

NIH has launched a new website on anti-sexual harassment activities. I encourage you to explore the site and become familiar with NIH’s policies, practices, and initiatives.

Consistent with NIGMS’ strong commitment to research training, the Institute recently announced that applications for our predoctoral T32 training programs must include in their required institutional support letters information about the institution’s policies and procedures to prevent discriminatory harassment and respond appropriately to allegations or findings of discriminatory harassment. Moving forward, NIGMS will require this information in institutional support letters for applications for all of our training programs.

Revised Instructions for Predoctoral T32 Applicants

Are you applying for the NIGMS Predoctoral Institutional Research Training Grant (T32) – PAR-17-341? If so, it’s important you note revisions to our FOA instructions that clarify application requirements. We have also added a new requirement concerning institutional responsibilities related to harassment. We encourage you to read the full NIH Guide notice, published on August 23, 2018. Key points include:

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Webinar for Bridges Applicants

UPDATE: The slides from the Bridges Applicants webinar have been posted.

Are you preparing an institutional Bridges to the Baccalaureate or Bridges to the Doctorate grant application? If so, you may have questions about the funding opportunity announcements, data tables, and FORMS-E application package required for the upcoming September 25 receipt date.

We’re offering a webinar to discuss these topics:

Thursday, August 16, from 2:00-3:30 p.m. ET

You may send questions to us (Mercedes Rubio or Patrick H. Brown) before the webinar or post them live in the chat box during the event. If you’re away from your computer, you can access the webinar from a mobile device or listen to a voice-only option by dialing 1-800-857-5163 from anywhere in the United States or Canada and entering the participant passcode 2222558.

NIGMS Staff Participating in the August 16 Webinar:

Mercedes Rubio, Bridges to the Baccalaureate Program Director
Patrick H. Brown, Bridges to the Doctorate Program Director
Rebecca Johnson, Scientific Review Officer
Justin Rosenzweig, Grants Management Specialist

We look forward to talking to you about the Bridges programs. Slides will be posted on the Bridges to the Baccalaureate and Bridges to the Doctorate websites following the event.

Early Notice: Concept Clearance for the Reorganization of Undergraduate and Graduate Programs to Enhance Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce

UPDATE: The Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) and Graduate Research Training Initiative for Student Enhancement (G-RISE) funding opportunity announcements are now available.

NIGMS has a longstanding commitment to developing a diverse pool of biomedical scientists through a variety of institutional training and student development programs. Based on stakeholders’ feedback through Requests for Information (NOT-GM-15-108; NOT-GM-17-017), as well as extensive analyses and discussions with NIH staff and the community, we intend to make adjustments to our programs designed to enhance the diversity in the biomedical research workforce. The modifications, which the NIGMS Council recently approved, are designed to: 1) provide equity of trainee support across programs; 2) prevent programmatic overlap; 3) align the funding strategies with the programmatic goals; 4) tailor expectation of outcomes, support mechanisms, and review considerations according to the institution’s level of research activity; and 5) strengthen our ability to evaluate the success of the programs. The changes, described in more detail in the recent Videocast of the Council Open Session, will impact the Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD), the Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE) program, and the Maximizing Access to Research Careers – Undergraduate Student Training in Academic Research (MARC U-STAR) programs. We don’t anticipate any immediate changes to our Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP). Possible adjustments to the Bridges to the Baccalaureate and Bridges to the Doctorate programs are currently under discussion.

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

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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