Category: Training/Fellowships/Career Development

The Value of Attending SACNAS and ABRCMS

1 comment

SACNAS National ConferenceThis fall, NIGMS will be sponsoring the Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) national conference in Anaheim, CA, September 30-October 3, and the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) in Charlotte, NC, November 10-13.


These meetings present two wonderful opportunities for you to meet and recruit science-oriented undergraduate students from groups that are underrepresented in the biomedical sciences. In addition to listening to research talks, you can volunteer to mentor students during the meeting or judge their posters. For those of you who are MORE program directors, you’ll also be able to support your students.

I encourage you to attend one or both of these meetings, as they bring in some of the best and brightest undergraduate students in the nation.

You can visit NIGMS staff at SACNAS exhibit booth 817 or ABRCMS exhibit booth 700.

For additional information or to register as a meeting participant, mentor and/or judge, visit the SACNAS Link to external website and ABRCMS Link to external website Websites.

60th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting Promises to Be a ‘Dynamite’ Event

1 comment

This year, I’m the lucky NIGMS program director attending the 60th Annual Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Lindau, Germany. Like John Schwab, who traveled with last year’s group, my main job is to help the 16 super-energetic, really smart graduate students we sponsored interact with each other, hundreds of their peers from all over the world and, of course, dozens of Nobel laureates.

60th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting

The Lindau meeting, which started in 1951, is designed to “educate, inspire and connect” generations of scientists by bringing together Nobel laureates with young researchers. Unlike last year’s meeting, which focused on chemistry, this year’s is more interdisciplinary. It showcases all three of the Nobel Prize natural science fields: chemistry, physics and physiology or medicine.

As you might imagine, the competition for student slots is fierce, with more than 40,000 applying for 650 slots this year. The U.S. contingent consists of 75 students supported by the Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU), the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, Mars (the company, not the planet!) and NIGMS/NIH.

It’s quite appropriate that NIGMS is involved in this program again this year. Our portfolio of funded research is extremely diverse, including a lot in chemistry and physics. After all, an interdisciplinary approach can help us better address problems relevant to human health. And around NIH, NIGMS is also widely called the “Nobel Prize Institute”—we’ve funded the Nobel Prize-winning of research of 73 laureates, and some of them are here in Lindau.

So far, the trip is going pretty well. We’re surrounded by World Cup fever! We haven’t had much of a chance to meet the laureates yet, since the opening ceremony was just on Sunday. I know that much of the close laureate-student interactions will take place through small group discussion sessions set up for this purpose.

I truly feel fortunate to be here—for the interactions, the interdisciplinary science and what I anticipate will be really inspiring lectures by the laureates. But even if you can’t be here, you can still watch the scientific proceedings online and follow the meeting using a variety of social media.

Post submitted from Lindau, Germany, on Monday, Jun 28, 2010 6:25 PM CEST

Beyond Bio2010


Beyond Bio2010Last month, I attended the “Beyond Bio2010” conference held at the National Academy of Sciences. The meeting highlighted the progress made in implementing the Bio2010 Link to external web site recommendations, chiefly to transform undergraduate biology education by using the quantitative sciences (mathematics, chemistry, physics, engineering and computer sciences) to study biology and vice versa.

The 2-day meeting, which was held in the same room that the Bio2010 report was publically released in 2002, primarily consisted of teams of biology, math and computer sciences faculty discussing strategies used by their institutions to reform science curricula. Among the efforts that really caught my attention were those that:

  • Assessed student learning outcomes and showed improvement as a result of integrating math, physics, chemistry and computer science into biology;
  • Established new interdisciplinary majors or minors in areas like bioinformatics;
  • Described efforts to break down “departmental silos” through collaborations among biology, math, chemistry and other faculty;
  • Trained faculty for an integrated pedagogical approach (for a resource, see The National Academies Summer  Institutes on Undergraduate Education in Biology); and
  • Discussed the need for the administration to formally recognize faculty who reformed the curricula.

In addition, I presented a summary of NIGMS-supported efforts, namely the MARC Curricular Improvement grant, a competitive mechanism for eligible institutions to implement Bio2010 recommendations. The inclusion of all undergraduate students, with a focus on historically unrepresented populations, was a significant theme of the conference. In fact, I was delighted to see one of our MARC Curricular Improvement grantees from the University of Puerto Rico talk about her institution’s efforts on this front.

A unique feature of the conference was that several undergraduate students also presented posters on their interdisciplinary biology and mathematics research. Their posters showed math majors collecting samples in a stream and biology majors performing mathematical modeling. A faculty attendee at the conference noted that when he walked around and listened to the student presenters, he really could not figure out who was a math major and who was a biology major—a desired outcome of Bio2010!

If you are interested in finding more details about “Beyond Bio2010,” a report of the conference is slated to be published in the Fall 2010 issue of CBE—Life Sciences Education Link to external web site.

Video from Postdoc Workshop Now Available


Marion Sewer, University of California, San DiegoAs you may recall from an earlier Feedback Loop message, NIGMS hosted its first workshop to help postdocs successfully transition to independent positions. We just posted videos for all the presentations.

The two-day career development event at NIH brought together 150 postdoctoral fellows from diverse backgrounds to discuss a wide range of topics, including applying and interviewing for jobs; establishing a lab and getting that first grant; and balancing research with teaching, family and other commitments. Meeting attendees also had the opportunity to ask panelists questions about their personal experiences and get other valuable career advice.

So far, we have received a lot of positive feedback from participants and presenters. If you have additional comments, please feel free to post them here or e-mail me.

Online Site for Giving Input on Research Training and Career Development Closes Next Week

1 comment

Give us your input on the future of NIGMS-sponsored research trainingIn March, I announced the launch of a strategic planning process focused on training and career development. I encourage all stakeholders, including faculty members, postdocs, graduate students, university administrators and government and industry scientists to provide input on this important topic.

One easy way to make your voice heard is through our online form (no longer available). We list several questions that you can respond to anonymously. You don’t have to respond to every question, and you can also make other comments or recommendations.

If you have not yet shared your views, there’s still time—the Web site closes April 21.

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.

New NIH Director’s Initiative on Scientific Workforce Diversity


NIH recently announced the NIH Director’s Pathfinder Award to Promote Diversity in the Scientific Workforce, a new program under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that NIGMS will manage. The program is designed to foster new ways of thinking about initiatives related to scientific workforce diversity. Awards will empower exceptionally creative scientists to develop highly innovative, and possibly transformative, approaches to this complex challenge.

NIH expects to make approximately five awards, each up to $2 million in total costs over a 3-year period. Awardees must commit a substantial portion (generally 30% or more) of their research effort to the funded activities. Also note that letters of intent—which are encouraged but not required—are due by April 5 and that applications are due by May 4.

If you’d like more information, please e-mail Clif Poodry or call him
at 301-594-3900.

Minority Programs Updates


Minority Opportunities in Research (MORE) LogoI want to let you know about recent changes to our Minority Biomedical Research Support Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (MBRS RISE) program and about two upcoming technical assistance workshops.


Applicants for this program, which enhances student development at minority-serving institutions, now must select and apply for one of three options based on their institution’s track record of students graduating and pursuing Ph.D.s in the biomedical or behavioral sciences and their number of faculty participating in funded biomedical research as principal investigators. For more information, see the latest program announcement.

Technical Assistance Workshops

These one-day regional workshops led by NIGMS staff will discuss MBRS RISE and a similar program, Minority Access to Research Careers Undergraduate Student Training in Academic Research (MARC-U*STAR). The workshops, which are geared toward individuals who would like to learn more about these programs, will examine the program announcements, offer tips on preparing applications and discuss recent changes in peer review.

  • West Coast Regional Technical Assistance Workshop
    Friday, April 16, 2010
    University of California, Irvine
    (Registration closes April 2)
  • East Coast Regional Technical Workshop
    Friday, April 23, 2010
    LaGuardia Community College
    (Registration closes April 16)

To get other news about NIGMS minority programs and information of interest to participants in these programs, subscribe to the Minority Programs Update e-newsletter.

Give Us Input for Our Strategic Plan on Training and Career Development


Give us your input on the future of NIGMS-sponsored research trainingI’m proud of NIGMS’ long and strong commitment to research training and biomedical workforce development. As biomedical research and its workforce needs evolve, we want to be sure that our training and career development activities most effectively meet current demands, anticipate emerging opportunities and help build a highly capable, diverse biomedical research workforce.

To this end, we are beginning to develop a strategic plan focused on research training and career development, and we want your input.

Between March 2 and April 21, you can anonymously submit comments at

You can also give us input at one of the regional stakeholder meetings we’re holding in Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia and San Francisco between April and June 2010. If you’re a pre- or postdoc, you can participate in a special webinar designed just for you on June 11, 2010.

You don’t need to be an NIGMS grantee to share your thoughts on this important topic. We want to hear from individuals with many different perspectives, so in addition to responding yourself, I encourage you to let others know of these opportunities to offer comments.

As the planning process unfolds, look for updates on the Feedback Loop.

New Research Education Program to Enhance Diversity in the Neurosciences

NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research

The NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research, which NIGMS actively participates in, recently announced the Blueprint Program for Enhancing Neuroscience Diversity through Undergraduate Research Education Experiences (BP-ENDURE).

The program will support the development of collaborative research education partnerships to increase the number of students from underrepresented groups who are well-prepared to enter and complete Ph.D. degree programs in the neurosciences. It will connect academic enhancement and research training activities at research-intensive institutions (such as those participating in the Jointly Sponsored Institutional Predoctoral Training Programs and the Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) Program) and institutions that have substantial enrollments of undergraduate students from underrepresented groups majoring in areas relevant to the neurosciences. These activities must be designed to increase students’ interest in the neurosciences and better prepare them for graduate studies in the field.

The deadline to submit a letter of intent is February 24, 2010, and the application deadline is March 24, 2010. Please see the funding opportunity announcement or contact me if you need more information.