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Action Plan 5: Strengthen the Nation’s Commitment to Biomedical Research and the Research Community

Celia Maxwell, MD; Kaveri Curlin; and Anurupa Dev, PhD, describe the role of diverse and inclusive environments in scientific discovery.

An optimal research environment that drives impactful biomedical discovery is supportive, diverse, equitable, and inclusive.

Medical schools and teaching hospitals are already working to develop policies and practices that promote progress in these areas, and together we can have greater momentum and impact. In this action plan, the AAMC will focus on the needs and opportunities for all people in the biomedical research workforce in furtherance of a more supportive and inclusive environment for science. 

Where we are now

We have identified six key areas to focus our efforts to achieve the overall goal of AP5.

  • Policy and Impact: We aim to shape the federal policies that impact the training and work environment for biomedical research scientists. In particular, the AP5 team has been actively working with constituent medical schools to provide recommendations to the NIH on the UNITE initiative, established to identify and address structural racism within the biomedical research enterprise, as well as the NIH-wide scientific workforce diversity strategic plan and initiatives to improve training and career progression.
  • Data and Analysis: We have launched a data research workstream to fill gaps about our understanding of the state of the biomedical research workforce and to tie these findings to potential policy interventions. We have concluded a comprehensive scoping review of datasets available from federal and nonprofit sources that will be used as the basis for forthcoming analyses along with AAMC data. Initial work has focused new insights that can be gained on race, gender, and the workplace environment. In Sept 2023 we released a data brief on “Demographic Characteristics and Work Experiences of Physician Scientists in the U.S.” based on an Analysis of the 2022 National Sample Survey of Physicians (NSSP).
  • Career Development: We are working to expand opportunities for underrepresented scientists through programs such as MOSAIC (Maximizing Opportunities for Scientific and Academic Independent Careers), which provides a multichannel educational program for cohorts of NIH-awarded scholars. The goal of the MOSAIC program is to facilitate the transition of promising postdoctoral researchers from diverse backgrounds into independent faculty careers in research-intensive institutions. The AAMC MOSAIC program currently supports 26 scholars across three cohorts.
  • Research Environment: We are committed to exploring and improving the ecosystem in which biomedical scientists work. One early effort of AP5 was to partner with constituents in the AAMC Group on Research Education and Training (GREAT) to form the Appropriate Treatment of Learners (AToL) working group and develop the Appropriate Treatment of Research Trainees (AToRT) document. This document affirms the shared principles that are essential for fostering supportive and inclusive graduate and postdoctoral training environments, identifies examples of behaviors that are incompatible with these principles, and provides a framework for identifying and addressing these issues that may be adapted for use at individual institutions.
  • Public Outreach – We are working to ensure bidirectional engagement that advances the goals of the strategic plan through intentional connections and collaborations with other action plans, AAMC initiatives, and external partners. Team members are serving as subject matter experts in working groups and meetings to help ensure research representation in AAMC public outreach initiatives. Additionally, AAMC has partnered with AAAS to sponsor four AAAS Mass Media Fellows. Through this program, students and recent graduates are placed in various newsrooms where they obtain real-world experience communicating science to the public.
  • Communications: Our goal is to ensure that biomedical research is accurately represented and visible in AAMC communications and that AAMC is seen as a resource for the scientific community.

What happens next

Over the next few months, we will continue to build and expand upon projects in the key areas listed above by:

  • Working with a communications expert to develop a strategic communications plan with the goal of better connecting AAMC to established and new biomedical research constituents, including scientists, research administrators, and research oversight policymakers. Through this project, we will look at internal communications to ensure they are inclusive of biomedical research and ways we can integrate science and research into resources created by and for AAMC on aamc.org and the AAMC virtual communities.
  • Conducting analyses of datasets to better understand the current state of the biomedical research workforce, including primary projects that focus on the NIH-funded workforce specifically at academic medical centers and longitudinal studies of to learn about career pathways.
  • Working with member institutions to better understand their process for collecting biomedical PhD student data. Soon, we will be launching a survey to \better understand common data points collected, data not collected, and shared best practices across institutions.
  • Partnering with other action plans and AAMC teams to host a webinar series focused on spreading awareness on the need for increased representation and inclusion of people with disabilities in biomedical research and medical education.
  • Launching a storytelling project aimed at amplifying the voices of Black women in research.
  • Enhancing the experience of the MOSAIC scholars by modifying existing and developing new skills-based programming, creating new mentor resources, and analyzing scholar feedback.
  • Supporting our two new AAAS Mass Media Fellows who will begin in summer 2024.

Ways to get involved

Are you conducting or supporting research at an AAMC member institution? Are you interested in connecting with the AAMC and peers across academic medicine on the topics above?

  • To express interest in joining an advisory committee related to this strategic action plan or to share your thoughts about how the AAMC can support and improve the research enterprise contact us at science@aamc.org.
  • To connect with the MOSAIC program, visit the AAMC MOSAIC webpage.