Supporting the Biomedical Research Workforce
Ensuring the future of U.S. competitiveness and innovation in biomedical research is of utmost importance to NIH. One avenue for achieving this goal is to support a sustainable and diverse biomedical workforce. To this end, in 2011-2012 a working group of the NIH Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD) developed a workforce model to inform decisions about training the right number of people for the relevant positions that will advance science and promote health.
The working group's analysis led to two major conclusions:
- The large upsurge in U.S.-trained Ph.D.s, increasing influx of foreign-trained Ph.D.s, and aging of the academic biomedical research workforce make launching a traditional independent academic research career increasingly difficult.
- The long training time, combined with the relatively low salaries for early career scientists when compared to other scientific disciplines and professional careers, may make a biomedical research career seem less attractive to the best and brightest of our young people.
NIH has undertaken the following initiatives to make progress towards achieving these goals between now and 2015:
- Establish a grant program to encourage innovative training approaches
- Improve graduate student and postdoctoral researcher training
- Develop a simple and comprehensive tracking systems for trainees
- Encourage fair consideration of staff scientists on grant applications
- Initiate discussion with the community to assess NIH support of faculty
- Create an office in the NIH Office of the Director to assess the biomedical research workforce
- Conduct ACD Working Group study on optimal research training of individuals in clinical disciplines