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  • Washington Highlights

    NIGMS Announces New Institutional Research Training Grant

    Jodi (Lubetsky) Yellin, PhD, Director of Research Workforce, Training, and Science Policy
    Amanda Field, Specialist, Science Policy

    The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) Oct. 6 announced its new Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Predoctoral Institutional Research Training Grant (T32). Applications open April 25, 2018. The goal of the NIGMS-specific T32 is to place more emphasis on trainee development. Last August, AAMC submitted comments to NIGMS in response to a request for information on how to catalyze the modernization of biomedical graduation. The new T32 reflects many of the AAMC’s recommendations.

    While the new grant application continues to emphasize a strong research training program that will produce rigorous scientists, the application now contains new requirements to ensure that trainees are prepared to enter a broader range of careers in the biomedical workforce, not only the research track, once training is complete. To accomplish this, applications must contain a Program Plan that focuses on key areas, including those described below.

    Career development: The Program Plan must address the career development of trainees, outlining a plan to provide trainees with information on a variety of careers and career outcomes of their program. It also requires the program to provide trainees with opportunities to learn career skills, such as leadership, communication, and teamwork, as well as experiential learning opportunities to gain skills and networks to transition into careers. Additionally, each program faculty member must describe how they will encourage the career development of their trainees.

    Rigor and reproducibility: Training scientists to conduct rigorous and reproducible research must be emphasized by the program, including how it will synergize this topic with its “responsible conduct of research” training and develop a “Plan for Instruction in Methods for Enhancing Reproducibility.”

    Diversity and Inclusion: The program needs to include plans to increase diversity and inclusion by actively recruiting underrepresented groups, forming a candidate review process that considers all types of qualifications that can result from different backgrounds, fostering inclusive research environments, and ensuring diverse program faculty.

    Evaluation: While continuing previous requirements for evaluation of the quality and effectiveness of scientific training, the NIGMS T32 evaluation adds a focus on career outcomes and mentor training. The program needs to provide a plan to track career outcomes and disseminate information about them to both trainees and the public. It must also provide a plan for all mentors to be trained in mentorship, in addition to a plan for mentors to be evaluated and held accountable to the program standard.