Establishing a grant program to encourage innovative training approaches
The success of the biomedical research enterprise depends on the creativity, innovation, and dedication of the scientific workforce. The NIH Advisory Council to the Director (ACD) Task Force on the Biomedical Research Workforce noted in their report to the ACD the concern that the long training time and the declining percentage of Ph.D. graduates that obtain independent academic research positions are making biomedical research a less attractive career. Many graduates are moving into research-related occupations rather than traditional research-intensive positions in academia but the traditional training programs do little to prepare trainees for these alternative career options. NIH leadership recognizes that traditional research-intensive positions in academia are not the only means by which Ph.D. graduates can meaningfully contribute to the biomedical research enterprise and is committed to supporting a sustainable and robust workforce equipped to address the greatest challenges and opportunities in biomedical research.
To address this need, NIH has launched the Strengthening the Biomedical Research Workforce program through the Common Fund as one component of a trans-NIH strategy to enhance training opportunities for early career scientists to prepare them for a variety of research-related career options. An award program has been developed known as the NIH Director's Workforce Innovation Award to enhance the biomedical research training. These awards, also called the Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training (BEST) awards, will provide support for institutions to develop innovative approaches to complement traditional research training in biomedical sciences. Institutions are encouraged to partner with industry or other entities to provide a wealth of diverse training opportunities for their trainees, and the awardees will form a network to share experiences and determine best practices. Novel training approaches will be rigorously analyzed to assess impact, and proven approaches will be widely disseminated throughout the community.
NIH first solicited applications for this program in early 2013, with the first awards to be issued in fall of 2013. Additional awards are anticipated in 2014.
ACD Biomedical Workforce Working Group Data on the Post-Training Workforce