Dr. Hannah Valantine, NIH chief officer for scientific workforce diversity
NIH recently announced the award of nearly $31 million in fiscal year 2014 funds to develop new approaches that engage researchers, including those from backgrounds underrepresented in biomedical sciences and prepare them to thrive in the NIH-funded workforce.
The awards are part of a projected 5-year program to support more than 50 awardees and partner institutions in establishing a national consortium to develop approaches to encourage individuals to start and stay in biomedical research careers. Supported by the NIH Common Fund and all 27 NIH institutes and centers, 12 awards will be issued as part of 3 initiatives of the Enhancing the Diversity of the NIH-Funded Workforce program.
“The biomedical research enterprise must engage all sectors of the population in order to solve the most complex biological problems and discover innovative new ways to improve human health,” said NIH director Dr. Francis Collins. “While past efforts to diversify our workforce have had significant impact on individuals, we have not made substantial progress in expanding diversity on a larger scale. This program will test new models of training and mentoring so that we can ultimately attract the best minds from all groups to biomedical research.”
The awards have been made to a geographically diverse group of institutions serving multiple underrepresented populations in biomedical research. Awardees will draw upon research to develop approaches to training and mentoring. The consortium will determine hallmarks of success at each phase of the biomedical career path, including competencies and skills required for a successful research career that extend beyond content knowledge in the sciences, such as leadership, grant writing, innovation and networking. The consortium will disseminate lessons learned, so effective approaches can be adopted by institutions across the nation.
“These awards represent a significant step toward ensuring that NIH’s future biomedical research workforce will reflect the unique perspectives found within the diverse composition of our society,” said Dr. Hannah Valantine, NIH chief officer for scientific workforce diversity.
Three initiatives form the diversity consortium:
- Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD) is a set of experimental training awards designed to learn how to attract students from diverse backgrounds into the biomedical research workforce and encourage them to become future contributors to the NIH-funded research enterprise.
- The National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) will be a nationwide network of mentors and mentees spanning all disciplines relevant to the NIH mission and will develop best practices for mentoring, provide training opportunities for mentors and provide professional opportunities for mentees.
- The Coordination and Evaluation Center (CEC) will coordinate consortium-wide activities and assess efficacy of the approaches developed by the BUILD and NRMN awardees.
For details on BUILD, NRMN and CEC, visit http://commonfund.nih.gov/diversity/fundedresearch.