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NIH Physician Scientist Workforce Working Group Presents Report to NIH ACD

June 13, 2014— The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Physician Scientist Workforce (PSW) Working Group June 6 presented its findings and recommendations to the NIH Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD).

The working group co-chair, David Ginsburg, M.D., investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Michigan Medical School, noted a renewed urgency for support of physician investigators given stagnation and aging of the current physician investigator pool; the adverse environment for new clinical investigators and trainees; and disproportionally low growth in African-American and Native American physician scientists.

The working group called for development of new data sources and tools to track training outcomes and career choices. Data limitations make it especially difficult to identify better ways to integrate research around clinical training. A lack of sufficient information about physician scientist careers in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries was also noted.

The working group’s recommendations include:

  • Sustain strong support for M.D./Ph.D. programs;

  • Shift National Research Service Award (NRSA) postdoc training awards to support proportionately more individual fellowships vs. institutional grants;

  • Continue to address the gap in R01 award rates between new and established investigators;

  • Develop more effective tools for assessing the strength of the biomedical workforce and tracking career progress;

  • Establish a physician-scientist-specific K99/R00-equivalent granting mechanism;

  • Expand loan repayment programs and increase dollar amounts for loan forgiveness;

  • Support pilot grant programs to test existing and novel approaches to improve and/or shorten research training;

  • Intensify efforts to increase diversity in the physician-scientist workforce; and

  • Leverage the existing resources of the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) program to obtain maximum benefit for training and career development.

The PSW working group was convened as a result of 2012 recommendations from the Biomedical Workforce (BMW) Working Group for NIH to conduct a follow-up study that focuses on physician scientists. The PSW working group data analysis considered individuals with M.D., D.O., D.D.S./D.M.D., and D.V.M./V.M.D. degrees, as well as nurses with research doctoral degrees who devote the majority of their time to biomedical research.


Irena Tartakovsky, M.D.
Director, Constituent Engagement
Telephone: 202-862-6134


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