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NIH announces awards to strengthen the biomedical research workforce

The National Institutes of Health is making available approximately $3.7 million for awards to enhance training opportunities for graduate students and postdoctoral scholars to prepare them for careers in the biomedical research workforce that could take them outside of conventional academic research.

The first set of NIH Director's Broadening Experience in Scientific Training (BEST) awards are supported through the NIH Common Fund's Strengthening the Biomedical Research Workforce program.

"NIH recognizes that there are many ways in which biomedical Ph.D. graduates can meaningfully contribute to the biomedical research enterprise," said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. "The future of biomedical research depends upon a sustainable and robust workforce, in which talented, well-trained scientists are best prepared to make significant contributions in academia, industry, government, business, and other venues."

"The NIH Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD) Biomedical Workforce Task Force analyzed the state of the biomedical workforce, and found that many trainees are pursuing research and research-related careers outside of the traditional academic path that serves as the current model for training," said Sally Rockey, Ph.D., Deputy Director for Extramural Research. "The BEST awards are intended to expose trainees to the multitude of career paths that utilize their Ph.D. training."

BEST awards will support bold and innovative approaches to increase student and trainee exposure to multiple research and research-related career options. These new approaches could include coursework, rotations, workshops and hands-on training experiences, or other forms of exposure. Each BEST awardee will be required to evaluate whether or not these novel approaches are successful, share lessons learned with the other BEST awardees, and work with other BEST awardees to share information about successful approaches with the biomedical research training community.

"BEST awards are an opportunity to transform the way in which biomedical Ph.D. students and postdoctoral scholars are trained," said James Anderson, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives, which oversees the NIH Common Fund. "These awards will allow trainees to understand the many career options available to them within biomedical research and should therefore make biomedical research training more appealing, enabling us to retain our best talent. Wide dissemination of the approaches that are being developed will result in a nation-wide impact."

These awards will be for up to $250,000 in direct costs per year for up to five years, pending availability of funds. A call for applications for the second round of BEST awardees is anticipated in late 2013. Details for this upcoming funding opportunity will be available on the Strengthening the Biomedical Research Workforce website and in the NIH Guide.

The first recipients of the NIH BEST awards are:

  • Dr. Joel Baines, Cornell University BEST Training Program, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.

  • Drs. Roger Chalkley and Kathleen Gould, Vanderbilt ASPIRE Program, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville

  • Drs. Cynthia Fuhrmann and Phillip Zamore, An Integrated Curriculum and Community-Based Approach to Career Development, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester

  • Dr. Ambika Mathur, Wayne State University Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training (BEST), Wayne State University, Detroit

  • Drs. Nael McCarty, Mary DeLong, Wendy Newstetter, Lisa Tedesco, and Keith Wilkinson, Beyond the Professoriate: Transforming Pathways for Biomedical Research Careers, Emory University, Atlanta

  • Drs. Frederick Meyers, Lars Berglund, and Andrew Hargadon, Frontiers of University Training to Unlock the Research Enterprise (FUTURE), University of California, Davis

  • Drs. Keith Micoli and Carol Reiss, NYU STEP, New York University School of Medicine, New York City

  • Drs. Teresa O'Brien, Jennie Dorman, William Lindstaedt, and Keith Yamamoto, Motivating INformed Decisions (MIND): Careers for the Future Biomedical Workforce, University of California, San Francisco

  • Drs. Audra Van Wart and Michael Friedlander, Mentorship and Development Program for Biomedical Trainees, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg

  • Dr. Inge Wefes, Innovative Biomedical Graduate Training for Workforce Readiness, University of Colorado, Denver


Contact: Edmond Byrnes
NIH/Office of the Director

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