The Common Fund’s Increasing the Diversity of the NIH-Funded Workforce program will support innovative and transformative approaches to increase the diversity of the biomedical workforce. This program will build upon and synergize with ongoing efforts to promote diversity, with the intention that this synergy will create a wide-ranging culture shift to facilitate broad impact on many diverse biomedical research scientists. The Increasing the Diversity of the NIH-Funded Workforce program consists of a series of coordinated initiatives:
Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD):
The BUILD will establish and test new models for student recruitment and development within the biomedical sciences. BUILD awards are intended to transform the environment at the recipient institutions, enabling them to dramatically improve their ability to draw students into research career paths and to prepare them for success. We are encouraging applicants to propose bold and different approaches to achieve these goals.
This initiative is expected to include 5 integrated components, and novel and creative implementation of these components in highly encouraged:
1) Rigorous one-on-one mentored research experiences for undergraduate students during 2 summers while in college and up to 2 years post – graduation.
2) Tuition scholarships, including stipend, for up to two years of undergraduate studies, and once accepted to a PhD program of their choice, the possibility for additional loan repayment funds to enable them to pay off any additional educational-related indebtedness, thereby to reduce debt as a barrier to pursuing a biomedical research career.
3) Salary offset and other infrastructure support (e.g. acquisition of key equipment for research training purposes; support for summer student research) for key faculty responsible for research training.
4) Resources for highly effective mentors to train new mentors.
5) Support for an “innovation space” to enable organizations to develop bold and creative approaches to increase the diversity of the student pool that enters the PhD training pathway relevant to biomedical research.
One way to fashion novel programs will be to synergize with partner institutions as appropriate. Therefore, multi-institution partnerships involving a Primary Institution and one or more of the other institution types below are encouraged:
- Primary Institution – The primary institution will be the awardee institution with primary responsibility for the conduct and oversight of the award. Primary Institutions are limited to baccalaureate-granting colleges/universities that receive less than $7.5 million (total costs) of NIH research project grant (RPG) funding annually (averaged over three preceding fiscal years) and have an award-eligible pool of undergraduate students, at least 25% of whom are supported by Pell grants.
- Pipeline Partner – Two- or four-year undergraduate institutions with student populations that will enrich and expand the pool of students eligible for the research scholarships at the Primary Institution. Primary Institutions and Pipeline Partners are expected to co-develop and implement any necessary tutoring programs or coursework to prepare students from Pipeline Partner institutions for participation as BUILD scholars.
- Research Partner - Research-intensive institutions with investigators who are committed and able to serve as effective research mentors for BUILD scholars. Research partnerships are intended to expand education, research, and mentorship opportunities available to participating students. Partnerships with industry, NIH intramural research laboratories, or other research institutions may be established.
- Graduate/Medical Partner Institutions - Medical and graduate institutions that do not have undergraduate programs but do have a pool of doctoral-level students engaged in research or planning a research career, and that receive less than $7.5 million in NIH funding (total costs; averaged over three preceding fiscal years) through Research Project Grants. Primary Institutions and Graduate/Medical Partner Institutions will work collaboratively to provide joint programs for both undergraduate and graduate students.
The Common Fund is currently soliciting applications for six month planning grants for BUILD (RFA-RM-13-001), with the first awards to be issued in September 2013. These awards provide the opportunity for awardees to think creatively about strategies and approaches they could develop to stimulate culture change resulting in a significant increase in the diversity of the biomedical research workforce. These planning awards are intended to position awardees to prepare applications for the multi-year implementation grants for BUILD (anticipated solicitation in late 2013, anticipated awards in late 2014).
National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN):
The NRMN is intended to facilitate the development of robust mentoring relationships by coordinating nationwide pairings of scientific leaders and early career scientists (undergraduate students through junior faculty members) who may benefit from additional mentoring, including but not limited to individuals from underrepresented backgrounds. This initiative will also support development of novel tools and training activities to improve mentoring skills. The NIH intends to identify an entity that will engage and assemble multiple persons and/or professional organizations into a single, Nation-wide consortium.
Goals for the NRMN include:
1) Develop standards for good mentorship.
2) Connect students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty to experienced mentors both in person and through online networks.
3) Provide training to individuals interested in learning how to become better mentors.
4) Provide or arrange for relevant workshops and training opportunities in grantsmanship (grant writing, mock study sections, feedback on grant applications) and career “survival” strategies.
5) Link to mentees across the "Increasing the Diversity of the NIH-Funded Workforce" program as well as mentees outside the consortium.
6) Create networking opportunities for students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty with the larger biomedical research community.
The NRMN will be expected to establish robust partnerships with various organizations through which mentors may be recruited. NRMN is intended to synergize with BUILD, expanding the impact of BUILD by linking trainees to mentors across the country. Additionally, the NRMN network will extend beyond BUILD to incorporate mentees from existing programs that aim to recruit and retain scientists from diverse backgrounds, thus expanding and enhancing local efforts to reach mentees across the country.
The Common Fund is currently soliciting applications for six month planning grants for NRMN (RFA-RM-13-002), with the first awards to be issued in September 2013. These awards provide the opportunity for awardees to think creatively about strategies and approaches they could develop to stimulate culture change resulting in a significant increase in the diversity of the biomedical workforce. These planning awards are intended to position awardees to prepare applications for the multi-year implementation grants for NRMN (anticipated solicitation in late 2013, anticipated awards in late 2014).
Coordination and Evaluation Center (CEC):
The CEC will serve as an integration hub to enable the integration of BUILD and NRMN with existing programs. In close collaboration with the NIH, it will also assess the impact of the BUILD and NRMN initiatives from the earliest stages of implementation, to provide early indications whether the novel approaches implemented by BUILD and NRMN awardees are having a meaningful effect. This assessment will also provide for mid-course corrections if they are necessary.
Some goals of the CEC are:
Applications for the Coordination and Evaluation Center will be solicited in mid-2013, with awards made in mid-2014.
- Identify the most effective approaches for increasing diversity in the biomedical workforce.
- Disseminate information about program success so that effective approaches can be widely implemented.
- Leverage success of existing programs through interaction, coordination, and collaboration among existing and newly identified stakeholders.
- Catalyze a change in the approach to developing diversity programs such that metrics of success drive the adaptation of novel approaches.
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