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Research Clips

A weekly roundup of research news items curated from the professional development groups within the AAMC’s Scientific Affairs cluster and other sources.

From the Council of Faculty and Academic Societies (CFAS)


Members of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) will vote on April 30 whether to allow proven sexual harassers and those guilty of other misconduct to be ejected from membership, reported Science.
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Three science groups published a guide on how organizers of scientific conferences can counter "manels" (meaning conference panels made up exclusively of men) and foster meetings that are more inclusive, reported Nature.
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An article in Religion News Service reported how NIH Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD, engages with the Christian community to get them to reconcile their faith with science.
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Researchers are attempting to harness smartphones to look for "behavioral biomarkers" for mental illness in facial expressions, voice, and language, reported the Wall Street Journal.
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China's push to become a biomedical leader by 2025 is driving a global market for gene-altered mice, which is expected to top $1.59 billion by 2022, said Bloomberg in an article that delved into China's burgeoning drug development enterprise.
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MIT announced it will more closely scrutinize research collaborations with Chinese, Saudi, and Russian universities and academics because of increased security and IP theft concerns from the U.S. government, reported the Chronicle of Higher Education.
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The state of Oklahoma's $270 million settlement of a suit that alleged deceptive marketing practices by Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, will be used to fund a National Center for Addiction Studies and Treatment at Oklahoma State University's medical complex in Tulsa, reported Science.
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Yasmine Belkaid, PhD, has been named the winner of the 2019 Lurie Prize in Biomedical Sciences by the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH). Dr. Belkaid's work focuses on understanding the microbiome's significant role in immune regulation, according to an FNIH press release. Dr. Belkaid is the director of the Microbiome Program and chief of the Metaorganism Immunity Section in the Laboratory of Immune System Biology at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).
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Kate Nautiyal, PhD, assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences at Dartmouth College and a mother of two, wrote a blog post in Scientific American advocating for providing postdocs who become new mothers with paid family leave as a way to shore up the leaky pipeline for women scientists.
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From the Group on Graduate Research, Education, and Training (GREAT)

STAT: Staff Scientists at UC Set to Form a First-of-its-kind Union
University of California’s (UC) 5,000 staff scientists are forming the first union of its kind, called the Academic Researchers United, which is “exclusively for academic researchers who are not faculty, postdocs, or graduate students,” according to STAT. The union expects to begin negotiating its list of initial demands with the UC system this spring. The formation of this union follows the rise of several new graduate student and postdoc unions throughout the US.

NIGMS Feedback Loop: New Undergraduate Training Programs Announced
The NIH’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) announced two new undergraduate funding opportunities in a Feedback Loop blog post - Undergraduate Research Training Initiative for Student Enhancement (U-RISE) (T34) and Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC) (T34). This announcement follows a concept clearance in May 2018  and a December announcement of two graduate training programs (IMSD T32 and G-RISE T32). The goal of the new undergraduate programs is to “enhance diversity in the biomedical research workforce,” and the post describes the qualities the NIGMS is seeking in training program applicants. Applications are due May 21 for both grants.

Herald Net: National Institutes of Health Tightens Security
The Herald Net reports that the NIH is now asking visitors about their citizenship, “a policy that has unnerved staff scientists and led to recent disputes with at least two Iranian scientists invited to make presentations, only to be blocked from campus.” Both men had green cards and were previously allowed on campus with no problems. The Washington Post reported that NIH Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD, had directly apologized to the two students for a “mishandled” clearance process by security staff.

NSF Posts Letter on Commitment to Research in Harassment in STEM
The National Science Foundation (NSF) posted a Dear Colleague Letter to emphasize its continuing commitment to “support competitive, peer-reviewed research that advances fundamental knowledge about the nature and underlying dynamics of sexual and other forms of harassment, and mechanisms for evaluating harassment prevalence, prevention, and responses, in a range of STEM education, research, and workplace settings.”

Open Mike: Association Between Receiving K Award, Subsequent Research Support
In an Open Mike blog post based on a December Academic Medicine paper by the NIH’s Silda Nikag, PhD, and Kay Lund, PhD, (covered by GREATmail), NIH Deputy Director for Extramural Research Michael Lauer, MD, discussed the correlation between NIH career development K awards and the subsequent receipt of an NIH research project grant. “After accounting for confounders…K awards predicted a 24% increased likelihood of subsequent first R01 or RPG,” Dr. Lauer stated, although he added that, “K awards were not independently predictive of second awards.”

Congressional Hearings Highlight Issues in Research Funding and Higher Education
Francis Collins, MD, PhD, and five institute directors testified April 2 on the president’s fiscal year (FY) 2020 budget proposal before the House Appropriations Labor-HHS Subcommittee, during which committee leadership dismissed President Trump’s cuts to NIH as unaligned with the Subcommittee’s bipartisan support of medical research. Separately, on April 4, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar testified on the budget proposal before the Senate Labor-HHS Subcommittee. The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing April 2 on the Department of Education’s proposed rule regarding campus sexual harassment and how Congress can best address this issue in the Higher Education Act reauthorization. Read more at AAMC Washington Highlights.

Register for the AAMC Minority Faculty Leadership Development Seminar
Registration is open for the AAMC Minority Faculty Leadership Development Seminar. The seminar will take place June 27-30 in Atlanta, GA, and will help participants develop real-world guidance and tools for pursuing career advancement in academic medicine, while expanding their network of colleagues and role models.

Applications Open for Grant Writers Coaching Group for NIH Awards
The AAMC is accepting applications for the 2019 Grant Writers Coaching Group for NIH Awards, designed for racial and ethnic minority faculty who are working on a K or R NIH grant proposal. This one-day intensive workshop offers hands-on guidance and cultivates development through peer-review sessions created specifically to strengthen a proposal. Applications are due by June 30.

Nature and Estée Lauder Seeking Applications for Two 2019 Awards
Nature, in partnership with The Estée Lauder Companies, is seeking applications for their second annual Inspiring Science Award and Innovating Science Award, which “celebrate and support the achievements of leading women in science, and of those who have encouraged girls and young women to engage with STEM subjects around the world,” respectively. Applications are due May 6.

Nature: Five Reasons To Do an Internship during your PhD Programme
An article in Nature explains the benefits of doing an internship outside of academia during graduate school, particularly in the final year. These benefits include getting out of the lab, adjusting to a different workplace hierarchy and dynamic, making important career connections, learning how your personal skills fir into the workplace, and rekindling your spark for learning.

Nature Collection: Work-life Balance
Nature published a collection of its papers on work-life balance. Topics include burn out, the need for leisure activities, reflections from scientist dads, how a hobby can boost productivity and creativity, restricting work hours to reasonable amounts, and the pressures young scientists are facing.

Nature: Why You Need a Support Team
In a Nature article, Ruth Gotian, EdD, MS, past GREAT Group MD-PhD section steering committee member, wrote about the need for a support team in a science career – “a group of dependable, reliable, clear-eyed peers…from whom you can seek advice, counsel, support and perspective.” Dr. Gotian explained that over the years her team helped her to “understand and learn poorly communicated and poorly documented yet crucial information,” such as funding opportunities, speaker suggestions, obscure regulations, and difficult professional interactions.

IHE: Overcoming the PhD Stereotype
An article in Inside Higher Ed gives advice on “how to rebrand your academic skills for nonacademic careers.” The article first explains that credentials matter less than experience and makes suggestions on how to reconsider what skills are gained during a PhD program. Then it gives three tips to fighting the stereotype that PhD graduates are “überacademics who can’t function in the real world” – 1) speak the language, 2) reframe work experience, and 3) focus less on hard skills and more on soft ones.

Scientific American: Paid Family Leave for Postdocs
Following the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences study that showed 43% of women leave their full-time STEM positions after having their first child (reported by GREATmail), an article in Scientific American argues for paid family leave for postdoctoral researchers, stating “what is needed is not only paid time off, but the funding for the research time as originally awarded in a grant.”

ITIF Hosts Roundtable on the Critical Role of Investing in NIH
The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) released a paper calling for increased and sustained investment in NIH, ideally two to three percentage points faster than the nominal rate of GDP growth, titled “Healthy Funding: The Critical Role of Investing in NIH to Boost Health and Lower Costs.” The ITIF hosted a roundtable discussion on the paper on April 9 at 2:00 PM ET in Washington, DC.

UMR Publishes Reports on the Impact of NIH-Funded Research
United for Medical Research (UMR) has released two studies on the economic impacts from NIH funding on rural states. One report looks at the state-by-state impact of NIH-funded research on jobs and economic activity for FY 18, and the other focuses on how NIH-funded research benefits rural states. UMR also posted new infographics to explore why medical research is a smart investment.

Quick Links

CHE: ‘This Was a Hell Not Unlike Anything Dante Conjured.’ Readers Share Their Stories of Fraught Academic Careers

Nature: Rent or Conference — Early-career Researchers Shouldn’t Have to Choose

CHE: How Not to React to Your Pregnant Student

The (UK) Guardian: Are PhDs just Cheap Labour for Universities?

HelloBio Blog: Gender Bias from A Woman in Science

IHE: Professionally Productive Vulnerability

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From the Research on Care Community Health Equity subgroup (ROCChe)

Subscribe to the AAMC Health Equity Research Updates for the latest news in health equity research and policy.