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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)

The Conversation advocated for federal funding for basic research because of its long-term payoff. The article also discussed the Golden Goose Awards, highlighting examples of research projects that were initially unconnected to health but later led to landmark discoveries.
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Over the past decade, the number of philosophical vaccine exemptions has risen in most of the states that allow them, and there seems to be a cloud of fear forming around vaccine science that is keeping scientists and physicians from pushing back against anti-vaccine sentiments, said an op-ed in the New York Times.
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To safeguard its public-private partnerships from ethical conflicts, the NIH should adopt similar guiding principles and organizationwide policies and procedures to those the CDC, under former director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, adopted in 2015 for its own public-private partnerships, recommended a Viewpoint in JAMA. The Viewpoint was co-written by Deborah Grady, MD, MPH, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics and medicine, and vice chair of the Department of Epidemiology at UCSF.
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The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report recommending the NIH take additional actions to ensure the success of its drive to increase the diversity of the scientific workforce by developing measures of plan progress.
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“Science has never truly been separate from the political system that funds it and uses the tools it creates. But scientists have not traditionally pushed so hard to make that relationship explicit, or to be the ones in charge of it,” said an article in FiveThirtyEight on the relationship between science and politics in the Trump era.
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On a related note, Scientific American ran an article explaining how graduate students can create a science policy group.
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Scientific American also ran an article on the All of Us Research Program, exploring whether some of the very issues related to race in scientific research that the project seeks to address will somehow be limited by the problem itself.
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Animal rights groups are trying to pass laws that would ultimately halt federal funding for experiments using dogs, monkeys, cats, and other animals, reported Laboratory Equipment.
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Problem-led science startups, which identify specific problems that exist in the world and then recruit scientists and engineers to create companies to solve those problems, are more likely to be successful than your traditional, university-based technology transfer offices, reported Forbes.
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From the Group on Graduate Research, Education, and Training (GREAT)

GAO Report on NIH Research: Action Needed to Ensure Workforce Diversity Goals are Achieved
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) August 10 published a report titled, “NIH Research: Action Needed to Ensure Workforce Diversity Strategic Goals Are Achieved.” The GAO found that, while NIH has a diversity strategic plan and has taken positive steps such as establishing a Chief Officer of Scientific Workforce Diversity position, NIH lacks concrete measures to assess its progress. GAO recommended that, “the Director of NIH should develop quantitative metrics, evaluation details, and time frames to assess NIH's efforts to diversify its scientific workforce against its diversity strategic plan goals, and take action as needed.”

Strategies to Increase Diversity and Inclusion in Acad Med
Two Academic Medicine articles discuss strategies to increase diversity and inclusion in the biomedical research workforce. In one study, Baylor College applied the AAMC Holistic Review in Admissions process to faculty, developing a “tool for identifying, hiring, and promoting faculty members and administrative leaders that is aligned to the values of Baylor.” The second article “presents recommendations [to avoid the pitfalls and realize the promise of diversity statements] based on experimental studies that investigate the impact of diversity messages,” including suggestions that diversity statements “be aspirational, emphasize autonomy, and express a value for difference.”

Early Bird Registration for the AAMC GREAT Group Annual Meeting Ends August 22
Register by August 22 to receive the early bird discount for the AAMC GREAT Group Annual Meeting, being held in Atlanta, Georgia, from September 27-29. This year’s meeting focuses on issues that will help training program leaders and trainees to succeed in a research training environment that is more diverse and inclusive, while also adapting to changing funding requirements, accountability metrics, and performance measures.

White House Releases Memorandum on Agency Priorities for 2020
The White House released its 2018 Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies, which highlights its “R&D priorities and provides guidance to agencies as they formulate their Fiscal Year 2020 budget submissions.” The document includes “American Medical Innovation” as a priority, emphasizing basic research, health data use and security, public health threats such as the opioid epidemic, and the care of veterans and aging adults.

NIH RFI: Reporting Standards for Basic Science Studies Involving Human Participants
The NIH is requesting information on “the standards NIH should use in assuring adequate registration and results information reporting for fundamental research studies involving human participants.” The NIH is “considering prospective basic science studies involving human participants to be those that overlap with both the definition of fundamental research and the definition of a clinical trial” and is requesting input on several topics covered in the RFI. Institutions are encouraged to respond. Responses are due November 12.

NASEM: A National Convocation for Leaders in Academia on Preventing Sexual Harassment
The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) is convening leaders in academia to continue the discussion of their recent report, “Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture, and Consequences in Academic Science, Engineering, and Medicine.” The meeting, being held on November 9, 2018, in Washington DC, will focus on developing strategies on how to prevent sexual harassment in academia.

Webinar for Bridges Applicants
An NIGMS Feedback Loop blog post gives details on an upcoming webinar for the Bridges to the Baccalaureate and Bridges to the Doctorate funding opportunities, which are due September 25. The webinar will be held on Thursday, August 16, 2:00-3:30 PM ET.

NASEM Soliciting Applications for Mirzayan S&T Policy Fellowship
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Math (NASEM) is soliciting applications for its Christine Mirzayan science & Technology Policy Graduate Fellowship Program,  which “provides early career individuals with the opportunity to spend 12 weeks at the Academies in Washington, DC learning about science and technology policy and the role that scientists and engineers play in advising the nation.” The 2019 session run January 22 – April 12, and applications are due September 7, 2018.

NINDS Soliciting Nomination for 2019 Landis Award for Outstanding Mentorship
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) is soliciting nominations for its Landis Award for Outstanding Mentorship, which “provides $100,000 (direct costs) to up to five (5) faculty members who are considered to be outstanding mentors and trainers to help foster the research career development of additional students and postdoctorates.”

Science: Rosalind Franklin and the Damage of Gender Harassment
An article in Science relays the story of the negative effect gender harassment had on the career of Rosalind Franklin, resulting in her losing authorship and credit for her work in discovering the structure of DNA. The article discusses this story in light of the recent NASEM report on sexual harassment in science, engineering, and medicine, and in particular its focus on the widespread problem of gender harassment.

Nature: Why it is Not a ‘Failure’ to Leave Academia
An article in Nature written by Philipp Kruger, a PhD student in his final year, promotes the idea that, “researchers who leave academia are not failed academics.” The author proposes steps both students and supervisors can take towards this goal, including (for students) determining preferences, developing a range of skills, and arranging an internship, and (for supervisors) supporting students’ professional development, establishing a flexible work environment, and encouraging work experience. Related, an Inside Higher Ed article gives tips on how trainees can prepare for non-faculty positions.

Open Mike: Trends in Diversity within the NIH-funded Workforce
NIH Deputy Director for Extramural Research Mike Lauer, MD, used an Open Mike blog post to highlight a recent FASEB Journal publication, previously noted in GREATMail, that studied diversity in investigators identified on grant applications and awards between 2009 and 2016. The study showed that “women, underrepresented racial minorit[ies], and Hispanic researchers” comprise a higher percentage in early-career versus late-career investigators, providing “important evidence that funding of more early career investigators could help enhance the diversity of the NIH workforce.”

Quick Links:

NASEM: Workshop on Advancing Systemic Change in Undergraduate STEM Education

Science: Paying it Forward as a Mentor

IHE: Standing Out After the Interview

NIH Extramural Nexus: New Clinical Trial K Application FAQs

Scientific American Blog: How to Create a Science Policy Group

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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.