Lorsch Highlights Workforce Development Programs for White House Workshop
NIGMS director Dr. Jon Lorsch represented NIH in a panel discussion during the White House Initiative on historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) annual conference on Sept. 21.
His presentation, which was streamed live on the event’s mobile app and viewed by virtual and in-person attendees, focused on agency and institute programs that promote diversification of the biomedical research workforce and funding to HBCUs.
“NIGMS is the basic science institute at NIH and it’s also the institute that by far funds the most programs in the extramural community in training, workforce development and diversity,” said Lorsch, adding that the “key features of this are that we cover the entire career pathway” of someone pursuing a career in the biomedical life sciences.
Sharing a comprehensive chart, Lorsch noted that NIGMS’s programs begin with the Science Education Partnership Award and go all the way to independent faculty careers. He highlighted the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP), which supports training of clinician scientists getting dual degrees such as M.D.-Ph.D.s.
In order to broaden institutional and regional participation in MSTP, NIGMS is starting a second branch of the program called Leading Equity and Diversity (LEAD) MSTP, which will have eligibility limited to HBCUs, Tribal colleges and universities and institutions in Institutional Development Award (IDeA) eligible states. Learn more about MSTP at: https://bit.ly/3eB746y.
NIGMS and NIMHD provide more funding to HBCUs than any other NIH institute or center. Lorsch presented FY 2021 data in which NIGMS awarded $17.6 million in direct grants to 28 of the 101 HBCUs. NIGMS also supports capacity building and training at many under-resourced institutions, including 100 minority-serving establishments and 400 organizations located in states that received the IDeA.
“On the one hand, we are proud of the fact that along with NIMHD we are the biggest funder of HBCUs at NIH,” Lorsch said. “On the other hand, you can see that it is a minority of HBCUs that actually have a grant from NIGMS and the amount is relatively small compared to the budget of NIGMS.”
NIGMS manages the IDeA program, which is a congressionally mandated initiative to provide funding necessary to build research capacity, as well as support research and research training in states that historically have not received much research funding support from NIH. One component of the program is the IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE).
“INBRE provides support for faculty and students to conduct research and also provides infrastructure in the form of core facilities,” Lorsch said, noting that INBRE currently includes 12 HBCUs.
Lorsch was joined on the panel by Dr. Robert Langer, institute professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Dr. Lesia Crumpton-Young, president of Texas Southern University; Dr. Trivia Frazier, CEO of Obatala Sciences, Inc.; and moderator Dr. Willie E. May, vice president of research and economic development at Morgan State University. Texas Southern University and Morgan State University are HBCUs within the NIH Path to Excellence and Innovation (PEI) Initiative.
The workshop, the Role of HBCUs in Creating Entrepreneurial Equity, was coordinated by the initiative, which is administered by the Small Business Program Office. PEI’s mission is to empower HBCUs with the knowledge, resources and skills they need to effectively and consistently compete for and win NIH contracts.