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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)

FierceHealthcare covered the health-related initiatives in President Trump’s State of the Union address Tuesday night, including funding for HIV prevention, research on childhood cancer, drug-pricing legislation, and surprise medical billing, among others.
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Rush D. Holt, PhD, CEO of the AAAS, and executive publisher of the Science family of journals, will retire from his position later this year. Dr. Holt has served as CEO of AAAS since February 2015. The AAAS Board of Directors announced in a statement that it will launch an international search for the next CEO to succeed Dr. Holt, who plans to serve as the organization’s chief executive until early fall to ensure a smooth transition for the incoming CEO.
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Science reported on the NIH’s request for federal investigators to review 12 allegations of rule violations related to researchers at U.S. universities who may have failed to disclose foreign affiliations on grant proposals.
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The Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research has published its “Ranking Tables of NIH Funding to U.S. Medical Schools in 2018 as compiled by Robert Roskoski Jr.”
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Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison published a study in Nature Human Behavior showing that the NIH’s initial grant application review process appears to be free of race or gender bias, according to Phys.org.
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NPR explored clues that suggest the underlying cause of prolonged irritability and “anger attacks” in adults might, in fact, be depression.
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Women’s brains appeared younger, on average, than same-aged men’s brains, reported CNN in coverage of a study in PNAS. The findings have implications for treating neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s
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The gene-editing toolbox has grown and become more sophisticated since the introduction of CRISPR-Cas9, with scientists discovering Cas enzymes that make certain edits more likely to work or are easier to insert into cells, reported the LA Times.
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And speaking of CRISPR, Science reports that the University of California had a patent victory courtesy of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Alexandria, Va., in the ongoing legal battle between UC and the Broad Institute, which “likely moves a fierce legal war over who owns the valuable intellectual property for this powerful tool closer to a peace treaty.”
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The New York Times described how deep learning technology is quickly revolutionizing drug discovery science, highlighting how DeepMind, the artificial intelligence lab owned by Alphabet Inc., beat out the world’s leading biologists in a biennial competition akin to the “World Cup of biochemical research.”
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NIH Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity Hannah Valantine, MD, will join AAMC Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer David Acosta, MD, for a webinar, Transforming Institutional Culture: Assessment and Intervention, on Feb. 13 at 11 a.m. EST on organizational approaches to effect culture change. The NIH's approach and activities to achieve inclusive excellence in the scientific workforce focus on monitoring, tracking, and implementing equity measures, and increasing faculty diversity.
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NYU Langone Health’s Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center has been designated a Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute.
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From the Group on Graduate Research, Education, and Training (GREAT)

NIGMS Council Approves Concept Clearance on MOSAIC
The NIH’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) advisory council had a meeting on January 24-25, for a which a recording is available. The council approved a concept clearance for the Maximizing Opportunities for Scientific and Academic Independent Careers (MOSAIC) program, which is being developed to address the lack of an increase in faculty diversity despite an increase in biomedical PhDs from groups underrepresented in research. The program will consist of two parts, a new K99/R00 component and a UE5 cooperative agreement component. The funding announcements are expected in the Spring for the UE5 and the Fall for the new K99/R00. This program follows the NIGMS Request for Information on Strategies for Enhancing Postdoctoral Career Transitions to Promote Faculty Diversity, which AAMC responded to in a July 2018 letter. Other topics covered during the meeting include a concept clearance for an NIGMS National and Regional Resources (R24) award, reissuing of several awards, an evaluation of the F31 Diversity Program Evaluation, and highlights from the NIH Common Fund Glycoscience Program. For information, contact Jodi Yellin, PhD, AAMC Director, Science Policy.

PLOS One: Faculty Perceptions around Career Development of Biomedical Trainees
A study published in PLOS One used survey data from two institutions, Michigan State and Vanderbilt Universities, participating in the NIH-funded Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training (BEST) program to “understand faculty perceptions around professional and career development for their trainees.” The authors concluded that faculty respondents felt that while career development for the trainees was essential and that they were actively mentoring in this area, they also felt “uncertain as to whether they actually have the knowledge or training to do so effectively.” The authors also hoped their study would create a greater awareness of the BEST programs and to connect BEST resources to those at other institutions.

NSF Soliciting Proposals on Equity for STEM Faculty and Research in STEM Learning
The National Science Foundation (NSF) posted two dear colleague letters to inform the community about its Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR) intention to support two research areas under the EHR Core Research Fundamental Research in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Education program solicitation. One letter explains the EHR is soliciting proposals on “fundamental research projects on equity, inclusion, and/or ethical issues for STEM faculty in postsecondary STEM academic workplaces and academic professions.” The other letter states that the EHR is inviting proposals on “the development, application, and extension of formal models and methodologies for STEM learning research, research synthesis (including meta-analysis and meta-synthesis).” The next applications deadline for both areas is October 3, 2019.

NCATS: CTSA Wants to Improve Rural Health Outcomes and Eliminating Disparities
The NIH posted a notice to provide information on the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) Program’s efforts to “accelerate clinical and translational research to address health disparities and the significant burden of conditions that disproportionately affect rural, minority, and other underserved populations.” The notice provides examples of project areas to meet these needs, including projects designed to implement, assess and/or disseminate methods, approaches, education and training in clinical and translational science.

Open Mike: Curling up with a New NIH Data Book
NIH Deputy Director for Extramural Research Michael Lauer, MD, in his Open Mike blog announced a new edition of the NIH Data Book updated with data for 2018. Dr. Lauer highlights how a new interface can be used to examine research award trends. A legacy version in the book’s previous format will be available until April to help compare and navigate the changes.

Open Mike: Year in Reflection 2018
Michael Lauer, MD, also reflected on the Open Mike blog’s outreach in 2018. “At NIH, we seek to develop and implement policies and processes that lead to improved rigor, stewardship, transparency, and integrity” which includes elements of decisions about grant funding and the probability of success of those funded projects. He lists the top 10 most read blogs of 2018 and encourages readers to share additional topics of interest for 2019.

NIH Announces a New Website on Protection of Human Subjects
The NIH announced on January 25 the launch of a revised Protection of Human Subjects website. The announcement notes, “On the new Protection of Human Subjects site, you can find useful information about proposing and conducting NIH extramural research involving human subjects, including policies, regulations, training, resources, and updated information on the revised human subject regulation (Common Rule).”

AAMC/FASEB Hosting Webinar on NAS Next Generation Report
The AAMC and the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) are hosting the fourth webinar in their 2018 National Academies reports webinar series. Study director Lida Beninson, PhD, of the National Academies, will unpack the key findings of the report "Next Generation of Biomedical and Behavioral Science Researchers: Breaking Through," focusing on two essential recommendations: 1) providing every postdoctoral researcher with a high-quality training and 2) developing mechanisms to increase the number of individuals in staff scientist positions. This webinar will also feature examples of institutional implementation of these recommendations. The webinar is being held on February 19, 1:00-2:00 PM ET and free registration is required.

Burroughs Wellcome Fund Seeks Proposals for Awards
The Burroughs Wellcome Fund is seeking proposals for awards with approaching deadlines. Applications for the Physician-Scientist Institutional Award, which provides $2.5 million grant for opportunities and support for MDs to pursue training that will enable them to launch and continue a successful career as independent investigators, are due February 15. And the deadline for the $50,000 Career Guidance for Trainees Grant is March 7.

Acad Med: Future Directions of Training Physician-Scientists
An article published in Academic Medicine addresses the question of “who qualifies to be a physician-scientist?” to understand how this workforce is measured and quantified as the community continues to fight attrition rates. The authors state, “Through suggesting an expanded appreciation of these research contributions, recognition of collaboration, and funding models that support both of these aspects, this perspective hopes to add to the conversation…and promote all physicians to engage with research.”

Nature: Postdoctoral Mentorship Key to Career Success
Nature covered a study published in Nature Communications that determined that “scientists who incorporate ideas and techniques from multiple mentors while still forging their own paths are the most likely to succeed in academia” and that “mentoring received during postdoctoral training has a bigger impact than mentoring received during graduate school.” The study authors recommended that PhD graduates seeking postdoctoral positions should search for labs that lack their skill set and labs in which the lab head has mentored many trainees.

Quick Links:

IHE: Developing Your Teamwork Skills

Science: It’s OK to Push Back on your PhD Adviser

CHE: On Enjoying Grad School

Science: Pressure to Compete Hurt my Science—and my Happiness. Then I Found a New Way Forward

Science: When PhD Stands for Problematic Hiring Detriment

IHE: Careers Go in Chapters

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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.