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  • Washington Highlights

    AAMC Comments to the National Academies on STEM Education and “Next Generation Researchers”

    Jodi (Lubetsky) Yellin, Director, Science Policy
    Stephen Heinig, Director, Science Policy

    The AAMC submitted comments to two committees of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) in response to the committees’ request for input on how to revitalize graduate education and how to support the next generation of researchers.

    NASEM’s Committee on Revitalizing Graduate STEM Education for the 21st Century requested public comments on how to improve “graduate education programs to better serve the needs of diverse students, the scientific enterprise, and the Nation.” In its Sept. 22 letter, the AAMC focused on the education of PhD students and advised thatcareer exploration and professional skills be a core part of PhD education, with exposure to multiple career paths occurring early in graduate school.

    In addition, the AAMC recommends that effective mentorship be a key component of training, institutions have a built-in evaluation and dissemination plan for their training programs, and institutional models of data collection and dissemination be shared to help institutions adopt their own data collection efforts.

    The NASEM Next Generation Researchers Initiative Committee solicited input on “the policy and programmatic steps that the nation can undertake to ensure the successful launch and sustainment of careers among the next generation of researchers in the biomedical and behavioral sciences, including the full range of health sciences supported by NIH.” The AAMC’s Oct. 2 letter calls for supporting early- and mid-career investigators, noting that combined efforts of policymakers, institutional leadership, faculty, and sponsors should help institutions to optimize their research programs.

    Additional recommendations include avoiding policies that disproportionately shift the costs of research from federal agencies to academic institutions or other partners, encouraging efforts to prioritize resources to support early and newly established mid-career investigators, disentangling “workforce” and “training,” and including physician- and clinician-investigators in recommendations that support early and mid-career investigators.