Tag: Postdoctoral

Funding Opportunity: Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Awards (IRACDA) Program

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We’re pleased to announce that the Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Awards (IRACDA) (K12) funding opportunity announcement (PAR-19-366) has been reissued with some minor changes. IRACDA combines a mentored postdoctoral research experience at a research-intensive institution with an opportunity to develop critical teaching and mentoring skills at a teaching-intensive partner institution that has a diverse student population. The primary goal of the program is to develop an inclusive pool of well-trained biomedical scientists who have the necessary knowledge and skills to pursue independent academic teaching and research careers. An additional goal of IRACDA is to benefit the teaching-intensive partner institutions by:

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New Maximizing Opportunities for Scientific and Academic Independent Careers (MOSAIC) Programs Announced

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UPDATE: The webinar video Link to external web site and slides [PDF, 863KB] from the MOSAIC Webinar have been posted.

In March, we shared our plans to develop a new program as part of our efforts to enhance postdoctoral career transitions to promote faculty diversity in the biomedical research workforce. We’re pleased to announce that the Maximizing Opportunities for Scientific and Academic Independent Careers (MOSAIC) funding opportunity announcements have been published. MOSAIC is designed to facilitate the transition of promising postdoctoral researchers from diverse backgrounds, such as individuals from groups underrepresented in the biomedical research workforce at the faculty level, into independent faculty careers at research-intensive institutions. The program has two components:

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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

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UPDATE: The MOSAIC Institutionally-Focused Research Education Cooperative Agreement to Promote Diversity (UE5) and Postdoctoral Career Transition Award to Promote Diversity (K99/R00) funding opportunity announcements are now available.

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”

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

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

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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.

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

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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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Take Charge of Your Scientific Journey With a New iBiology Course

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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 Link to external website,” 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.

Moving Further Afield

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In recent talks for iBiology Link to external website and TEDx Link to external website, NIGMS grantee Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado proposes that because so much of biomedical research focuses on only a handful of model organisms we are limiting our knowledge of biology. He suggests that many important discoveries lie waiting in species that have not yet been the subjects of sufficient investigation. This is a topic of interest to us as well; in fact, Dorit Zuk, director of our Division of Genetics and Developmental Biology, is currently leading an internal working group that’s examining the varied landscape of organisms studied by NIGMS grantees and the new scientific questions that could be answered using a diversity of organisms. We’ll be discussing these topics in future posts.

In addition to the number of organisms we study, other aspects of the biomedical research system may be limiting the breadth of our knowledge. For example, does the expectation that junior faculty work on a problem closely related to their postdoctoral research constrain our explorations to “islands” of study, leaving vast areas under- or unexplored?

The forces keeping biomedical junior faculty within their postdoctoral research areas include the expectations of faculty search committees, grant review panels and funding agencies, as well as the promotion policies of academic institutions. Interestingly, in the chemical sciences, junior faculty are usually expected to develop projects that are distinct from their postdoctoral work, which often involves moving into completely new areas of study. Why the sociology of chemistry evolved so differently in this regard from other fields related to biomedical research is an interesting question.

Should the biomedical research enterprise change its expectations to empower junior researchers to move further away from their postdoctoral work when they start their independent research careers? Would this accelerate the pace of discovery? New programs such as the Maximizing Investigators’ Research Awards (MIRA) for Early Stage Investigators give us an opportunity to revise our expectations for researchers at the beginning of their independent careers. Would this be desirable? What might we look for in assessing outcomes? If we, as funders, successfully made such a change in expectations, would the rest of the research ecosystem make parallel changes to support efforts by junior scientists to leave their home “islands” and move into new territory?

I would be interested to hear your thoughts on these questions.

Outcomes Analysis of the NIGMS Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Awards (IRACDA) Program

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We recently analyzed the career outcomes of scholars who participated in the NIGMS IRACDA program. A goal of this program is to provide a diverse pool of postdoctoral scholars with research and professional skills needed to be successful in academic careers. The program combines a mentored postdoctoral research experience with an opportunity to develop additional academic and teaching skills, including a teaching practicum at a partner institution that enrolls a substantial number of students from underrepresented groups. Since its inception in 1999, 25 research-intensive institutions have received IRACDA awards, which have supported more than 600 scholars.

Our assessment focused on the 450 alumni who completed their training through November 2014. Important findings include:

  • IRACDA scholars are diverse: 63% are female, and 53% identify as a race/ethnicity other than white, non-Hispanic.
  • Approximately 73% of IRACDA alumni are in academic faculty positions at a range of institutions (see Figure 1).
  • Among the scholars in faculty positions, 35% are at research-intensive institutions, 25% are at primarily undergraduate institutions and the remaining percent are at associate- and master’s degree-granting institutions. In addition, 25% of the IRACDA alumni in academic positions are faculty at a designated minority-serving institution.

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The Feedback Loop As a Resource for Your Grad Students and Postdocs

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This blog is one way that we reach out to the scientific community with information about research and research training policies, funding opportunities, analyses, resources, meetings and other useful news. It’s also a key way in which we get your input on our activities and plans.

When I looked back at some recent posts, I was struck by how many of them are relevant to the graduate students and postdocs in your labs. For example, the post describing our plans to modernize graduate education is a must-read for graduate students, whose ideas and perspective will further inform our efforts. The post on talking to NIH staff about your application and grant provides essential information for postdocs who will soon be independent investigators.

Please encourage your students and postdocs to subscribe to the Feedback Loop as well as to send us their suggestions for topics to cover in future posts.