NIGMS Statement in Support of Diverse and Inclusive Meetings and Conferences

On June 12, NIH Director Francis Collins announced that he will not take part in conferences or meetings in which “attention to inclusiveness is not evident in the agenda.” In keeping with this announcement, all NIGMS staff, including leadership, program and scientific review officers, grants management specialists, and others, will only attend meetings and conferences where the organizers have shown a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion in their selection of chairs, speakers, and panelists. NIGMS has a long-standing mission to promote diversity in the scientific enterprise. Helping to ensure that the organizers of scientific conferences and meetings plan diverse and inclusive agendas will further our goal of developing the most creative, vibrant, and productive biomedical research workforce possible.

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

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”

Apply to SCISIPBIO: A Joint Initiative Between NIGMS and NSF to Support Research on the Science of Science and Innovation Policy

We are pleased to announce the Science of Science Policy Approach to Analyzing and Innovating the Biomedical Research Enterprise (SCISIPBIO) Link to external web site program, a joint initiative between NIGMS and the Science of Science and Innovation Policy (SciSIP) program Link to external web site in the Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences at the National Science Foundation (NSF). The longstanding SciSIP program funds research designed to advance the scientific basis of science and innovation policy and is a leader in this field.

Continue reading “Apply to SCISIPBIO: A Joint Initiative Between NIGMS and NSF to Support Research on the Science of Science and Innovation Policy”

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.

Continue reading “Your Perspectives: Strategies for Enhancing Postdoctoral Career Transitions to Promote Faculty Diversity”

Give Us Your Input on Strategies for Advancing Sepsis Research Supported by NIGMS

Although NIGMS is not the only source of federal funding for sepsis research, the Institute supports a substantial portfolio of research that includes both fundamental and clinical studies, from the molecular to the organismal, that emphasizes the host’s response rather than causative factors such as infection or injury. In an effort to more rapidly move NIGMS’ sepsis research program and its translation forward, we’ve issued a Request for Information (RFI) to obtain feedback, comments, novel ideas, and strategies that address the challenges and opportunities in sepsis research to accelerate advances in detection of and treatment for this condition.

Continue reading “Give Us Your Input on Strategies for Advancing Sepsis Research Supported by NIGMS”

Encouraging News for Women Entering Academia in the Biomedical Sciences

A recent analysis by NIGMS staff has uncovered some promising results for women entering academic positions in the biomedical sciences. The study, which published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), found that once men and women receive their first major NIH grant, their funding longevity is similar. The data contradict the common assumption that, across all career stages, women are at a large disadvantage compared to men.

NIGMS Deputy Director Judith H. Greenberg on key findings in the paper.

The results of the analysis should be encouraging for women interested in becoming independent investigators, since the likelihood of sustaining NIH grant support may be better than commonly perceived. You can read the full study, “NIH Funding Longevity by Gender,” Link to external web site in the current edition of PNAS.

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

UPDATE: The Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC), Undergraduate Research Training Initiative for Student Enhancement (U-RISE), Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD), Graduate Research Training Initiative for Student Enhancement (G-RISE), Bridges to the Baccalaureate, and Bridges to the Doctorate 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.

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

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.

Continue reading “Give Input on Strategies to Enhance Postdoctoral Career Transitions to Promote Faculty Diversity”

Requesting Your Input on the Draft NIH Strategic Plan for Data Science

UPDATE: NIH has released the Strategic Plan for Data Science. The plan was informed by community and public input, and NIH will continue to seek input as it implements the plan, many elements of which are well underway. By maximizing the value of data generated through NIH-funded efforts, the pace of biomedical discoveries and medical breakthroughs for better health outcomes can be substantially accelerated.

To capitalize on the opportunities presented by advances in data science, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is developing a Strategic Plan for Data Science. This plan describes NIH’s overarching goals, strategic objectives, and implementation tactics for promoting the modernization of the NIH-funded biomedical data science ecosystem. As part of the planning process, NIH has published a draft of the strategic plan [PDF 490KB], along with a Request for Information to seek input from stakeholders, including members of the scientific community, academic institutions, the private sector, health professionals, professional societies, advocacy groups, patient communities, as well as other interested members of the public.

As co-chair of the NIH Scientific Data Council, which is overseeing development of the Strategic Plan for Data Science, I encourage your comments and suggestions. Responses should be submitted via an online form by April 2, 2018.

Avoiding Hype and Enhancing Awareness in Science Communication

When I joined NIGMS about four years ago, I was struck by the number of press releases from journals and grantee institutions that came across my desk each day. Many of them focused on a recently published paper and failed to explain how the work fit into the broader field. Others overstated the research results to make them sound more exciting and closer to clinical application.

I moderated one of the panel discussions.

Around the same time, science communicators started writing articles and conducting studies about the effects of hyped research findings (e.g., Schwartz et al., 2012; Yavchitz et al., 2012 Exit icon, Sumner et al., 2014 Exit icon; Vox, 2017 Exit icon). While these discussions focused on clinically oriented research, we at NIGMS began thinking deeply about how the issue relates to basic biomedical science. On the heels of our work with the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) on enhancing rigor and reproducibility in biomedical research, we started talking to them about this topic as well. Two years later, we were pleased to host their Workshop on Responsible Communication of Basic Biomedical Research: Enhancing Awareness and Avoiding Hype Exit icon.

The June 22 meeting brought together a diverse group of science communicators Exit icon [PDF, 22KB] who included early and established investigators, researchers who study science communication, academic and corporate communication officers, policy advisors and journalists. Each panelist represented a stakeholder group with a role in what panelists later called the “hype cycle” and shared his or her perspectives on the problems of hype, the incentives that cause it and recommendations for avoiding it. The meeting focused on basic biomedical research, but the discussions were also relevant to other areas of science.

In her keynote address Exit icon, veteran science journalist Erika Check Hayden defined hype as “exaggerating the outcomes of research, for whatever motives people have, leading to potential negative effects due to inaccurate portrayal of research.” She credited this definition to Judith Greenberg, our deputy director.

The keynote address by Erika Check Hayden focused on new directions in science communication.

The subsequent discussions highlighted the shared responsibility among all the stakeholder groups for improving science communication and changing the incentives for it. Panelists acknowledged that scientists sometimes oversell the conclusions of studies hoping to get their work published in “better” journals or to improve their chances for obtaining funding; journals may decide on manuscripts to publish based on which ones they think will be cited the most or get press attention; communication officers and journalists are often judged by how many hits their stories get; and universities and research institutes may consider the fundraising potential of scientific news stories.

Here are some of the topics discussed during the workshop that really resonated with me. Continue reading “Avoiding Hype and Enhancing Awareness in Science Communication”