Public Listing of Comments on Request for Information (RFI): Input into the Deliberations of the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director Working Group on Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce

Comments requested in the January 10, 2012 NIH Guide Notice
Entire Comment Period: 01/10/2012 - 02/24/2012


Entry Date Affiliation Organization
Name
Organization
City, State
Comment 1 Comment 2 Comment 3 Attachment text
01/11/2012 at 10:54:37 AM Self CSR   Care should be taken when interpreting the data provided in the Science article since this study was not peer reviewed by NIH and was not a properly controlled prospective study. Since underrepresented minorities are woefully absent from chemistry-related disciplines, I feel that NIH should provide more renewable scholarships to underrepresented minority students who plan to pursue degrees in chemistry-related fields. Awards of up to $25,000 could be given to underrepresented minorities statring with high school juniors/seniors and extending to college students pursuing a college degree in the chemical disciplines. Stipulations should be made to prevent many of these candidates from diverting to dental and medical degrees. There are many unwritten policies that prevent women and underrepresented minorities from serving on study sections. For example, CSR nominations slates and even roster are scutinized for publication productitvity, NIH funding, and the number of assistant professors (less than 10% on rosters). Early career reviewers (ECR) is a nice program but it was poorly thought out and it changes every peer review round. For example, ECRs can now be assigned to four applications as a reviewer-3; up from 1 to 2 assignments. NSF is also far better than NIH in giving women reviewers some perks for their service. This was anounced by the White House in 2011. What is anything special NIH doing for women and underrepresented minority reviewers?  
01/11/2012 at 11:47:05 AM Organization Case Western Reserve University cleveland, ohio 1. I actually think that URMs have great opportunities in science and engineering. Graduate and post doctoral support is easy to obtain. At least at our institution, we have a strong push to hire URMs into faculty positions. I don't really see discrimination at the recruiting stages.

2. One issue identified at my university is that URMs may not participate in study groups and have all of the "insider" information in classes. (The same can probably be said of some international students.) In classes, one way to fight this is to create study groups.

3. We should continue with supplements and fellowships for URMs. It will help draw these persons into high powered labs.

4. The problem is the pipeline. There are not enough URM STEM students. This must be tackled with high school students.

To get more URMs in science and engineering, we need to go to the high school students. All of hte

4. The problem is the pipeline. There are not enough URM STEM students. This must be tackled with high school students. NIH could tackle the pipeline problem. Of course NSF does all of that emphasis on k-12 in all of their proposals. I wonder how many people actually go beyond lip service with this. I don't think we want to burden PIs.

I suggest a simple, sustainable model. Any person getting NIH training funding, must make themselves available at least one afternoon per year in outreach to high schools having a large number of URMs. This could be administered by the research office of any institution receiving > $XX million. The research office would identify opportunities for trainees and record their efforts. NIH would provide materials which could be part of an hour lecture. The rest could be their personal story and research.

 
01/12/2012 at 12:45:02 PM Self Case Western Res Univ Cleveland OH Institutions need help to understand the value of inclusion, other than "feeling good." This is key particularly in research that defines itself as objective rather than medicine where personal characteristics are clear. Case studies and economic models to use with Deans etc would be helpful. Institutions also need help to navigate the changing legal challenges that are constraining academic institutions (use of race in admissions, what "counts" as minority and why). This cannot be left to chance or really each institution's interpretation...

There is a perception that adding diversity costs more to the institution--that minority investigators are few (true) so that enticing the individual to take our job will cost more money than the standard market. There is skepticism about whether this is "worth it." Some statistics here might help. Also # for start up, if it turns out this is a problem.

A variety of pipeline programs to increase diversity have been in place for some time and are underutilized. T32s can support diversity, but progress is not an explicit review criterion, and directors fear URM scores and grades will bring down program perception. Maybe they can get a bonus to create key mentoring for any URM appointment (capped at distribution in US population %)? Separate Fs support diversity but are seen by some as inferior support.

The real challenges are likely social-among biology top graduates the majority choose medical school not doctoral programs, in light of perceived social status, job security. In my experience, many Puerto Ricans do not perceive themselves as minorities, and have few of the internalized handicaps we provide to other minority communities.

I hear from my minority physician friends that mentoring is key at job transition points for physician researchers. In particular, there is an impression that minority physician investigators are swayed by less important issues (salary, size of office) than more important ones (access to research funds, release time etc) and only those who come from and go to secure mentoring relationships manage this well. Mentoring is key for all

I do not have confidence that professional societies have immediate-enough relationships with either institutions or minority investigators to do very tangible things. Nice to have around of course

Institutional infrastructure and mentoring at all levels.

This requires that institutions take some risks, perhaps by better utilizing established funding mechanisms in place. New mechanisms may require certain benchmarks for eligibility (i.e only if you have 10% URM could you compete for ABC new initiative). With such initiatives, there will be a tender line between establishing expectations for the highest quality institutions and those with more populist approaches but perhaps less prominent research capacity. My sense is to aim high, push research intensive places to increase access and limit funding where research is not contemporary or competitive. More poorly-trained minority students is not a good outcome (some MARC programs, sorry Cliff).

Mentoring is not good at most career transitions for majority individuals, let alone minority individuals. All efforts here will benefit everyone. Need to move from minority mentor model to anyone mentor model.

We've all been discussing whether increasing minority participation on study sections will help. First, removing race/ethnicity identifiers wherever possible and educating everyone about what to put on biosketches and in letters of recommendation etc may help a little. There are so few successful minority investigators that burdening them with additional admin activity may also backfire (too many committees, designated minority etc). However, a way to have more participation and dissemination of those learnings at the home institution might be an interesting project.

   
01/12/2012 at 01:34:58 PM Self     Pipeline - this is the origin and most critcal issue. I mean the K-12 pipeline. There is research which supports this crucial element. Without it URM and disadvantaged individuals do not succeed in college and cannot progress onto graduate education. Thus they do not become practicing scientists. Strengthing K-12 education -- all of it not only science and math in disadvantaged and poor communities. To succeed one must be able to read, write, analyze, sythesize and communicate effectvely with others. English proficiency must be at a high level as well. I realize this does not sound like a NIH issue but if NIH does not become involved in K-12 education policy and support, the diversity will never change.  
01/12/2012 at 05:33:24 PM Self NHLBI   Comment on: The role of mentorship in the training and success of biomedical researchers throughout their careers; Creation and expansion of institutional mentoring programs. Consider expanding the reporting system for the T32 program, diversity supplements and other training programs that target minorities and those with disabilities by having PIs and mentors report on their mentoring plan whenever they get new proteges and each year throughout the training period, especially when they send in their progress report. A system can be in place to enable tracking and evaluation of mentoring along the continuum (from start to end) of the training. In addition, periodic workshop on good mentoring for mentors and "how to" for proteges will help establish a good mentoring system.      
01/12/2012 at 06:05:23 PM Self     1) The transition from postdoc to faculty level 2) The acquisition of the first 1-3 R01/equivalent level grant awards 3) Institutional culture and support for NIH extramural activities You ask whether you should focus on the "pipeline" in response to a finding of disparity in NIH grant review outcome (Ginther et al, 2011) for those who have survived the challenges to attain professorial rank. This seems a foolhardy misdirection to me. Undergraduate recruiting and graduate study recruitment is best left to the universities. Many of them have been trying to achieve diversity goals for decades for their own purposes, with varying success. It is not clear to me how any initiative on the part of the NIH can make a quantum leap improvement.

Rather, you should focus on the transition points from non-faculty to faculty ranks and the attainment of the first one or two major (R01/equivalent) awards. This is the prime bailiwick of the NIH after all. The rationale is quite similar to the one recently being navigated with respect to the transition of young / Early Stage investigators of any ethnic or racial background. These are the critical choke points. The seeming low odds (some might say futility) of landing a faculty position discourages many scientists all along the pipeline. Young scientists are willing to suffer deep into postdoctoral training but it is the ultimate lack of a permanent job ahead that drives the decisions to drop out. To seek other paths of employment. Underrepresented scientists are no different. They need to be shown that there is a chance for them to make it. The best way to do that is to provide clear evidence by way of showing that the NIH can make change. That it can boost the numbers of underrepresented funded extramural investigators and redress the disparity of review/funding outcome.

I would suggest there is likewise little advantage to be gained from traditional efforts to expand mentoring. While this is undoubtedly an important factor in the Ginther findings, generic increase in mentoring is not likely to assist with the real problem at hand. The places to focus are in the institutional infrastructure and climate with respect to grant writing and acquisition. The trouble is that top-down advice from the NIH about how to best secure grant awards is of only limited value. Occasional drop in visits to smaller Universities with minimal prior NIH funding cannot replace the experience of having a long history of many, many investigators securing funding on many topics. So while NIH official presentations at smaller institutions should be increased, this should also be seen as a low-return activity. In terms of NIH messaging and outreach, again, nothing speaks louder than results. Ginther was a serious body blow. The only thing that can reverse this is to have it be the reality that within a year or two, the success rate disparity has been closed.

The very likely possibility that there is bias at the point of primary review is absolutely the most important thing for the long term health of the NIH system. We all recognize that while imperfect, the aspiration to fair, even handed review of the scientific proposals is the absolute lynchpin of the excellence of NIH funded science. It is the very highest priority to seek further into the causes for review disparity and to seek ways to minimize any bias that is found based on the race or ethnicity of the PI.

The one thing that seems disappointingly absent from the NIH's deliberations and comments on this matter, following the Ginther report, is the thought that perhaps interviews with successful and unsuccessful applicants from underrepresented groups would lead to new insights. Not just finding the most successful and established people who happen to be African-American, say. But seek out those who have struggled to get funded...or may never have been able to acquire funding. Ask them what they have been doing. How many applications submitted? How many revisions? What breadth of proposals have they made? Etc. And to then see how those behaviors relate to the more successful applicants. There seems a role here for highly specific hypothesis-generating investigation that hasn't been a part of the public thinking on this topic.

In terms of transition to independence, I observe that the K99/R00 mechanism has been successful in opening up job opportunities for young scientists and one good solution would be to increase the number awarded to African-American or other underrepresented groups.

Improving the appearance that NIH takes grant disparity seriously and showing that it has actually altered the outcome can be done via the exception funding that is an established process. In the case of the ESIs, the NIH papered over the real problem (at IRG level) with exception funding; it would seem obvious that a similar initial/stopgap solution would apply here as well. Charge the ICs with tracking and improving their own success rates for underrepresented PIs. If the initial response is to do so with exception funding and special paylines, as has been done for the ESI applications, so be it.

In terms of the review process, I recommend that the first and most essential factor is to present the data to the members of panels so that they know what they are doing. Widely disseminate the Ginther paper to new and existing reviewers. Generate additional sub-analyses right down to the study section by study section level (and the IC by IC level) to identify which ones have the greatest disparities. Make those data available to the reviewers.

The panel should also launch some pilot studies, preferably in which real applications are reviewed twice- once in the regular panel and then once in specially convened test panels. These would be be the places to attempt blinded review and to assess the degree to which blinding can be maintained. Perhaps this would also be the way to test the proposal for "unconscious bias training".

 
01/13/2012 at 08:32:11 AM Self     Please see attached letter. Please see attached letter. Please see attached letter. A recent article published in Science (Ginther K, Schaffer WT, Schnell J, et al. Race, ethnicity, and NIH research awards. Science 2011;333:1015-19) documented stark racial/ethnic disparities in NIH investigator-initiated research funding (R01s), including: Although 16% of the US population is Latino, 13% is African-American, and 1% is American Indian/Alaska Native, the proportion of R01 applications submitted is only 3% for Latinos, 1% for African-Americans, and 0.05% for American Indians/Alaska Natives Compared with NIH R01 applications from white investigators, applications from African-American investigators are 13 percentage points less likely to be awarded (P < .001) After controlling for the applicant's educational background, country of origin, training, previous research awards, publication record, and employer characteristics, African-American applicants remain 10 percentage points less likely than whites to be awarded NIH research funding African-Americans (45%) and Latinos (56%) are significantly less likely to resubmit an unfunded application, compared with white investigators (64%; P < .001) These substantial racial/ethnic disparities in NIH funding are disturbing, and it is respectfully suggested that eliminating these disparities should be a national and NIH priority. What can be done to eliminate these disparities and achieve equity in NIH funding? 1. Maintain support for and grow existing NIH diversity programs that work. These include such successful programs as the Research Supplements to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research, NIDDK Professional Society Programs to Promote Diversity (R25), and Mentored Research and Clinical Scientist Awards to Promote Diversity (K01s and K08s) at selected institutes. 2. Expand career development diversity initiatives at NIH so that every Institute and Center has such programs. NCI, NINDS, and NHLBI (with two) have K01 Mentored Career Development Awards to Promote Diversity or for Faculty at Institutions that Promote Diversity, NINR has a K01 Mentored Research Scientist Development Award for Underrepresented or Disadvantaged Investigators, and NCI also has a similar K08 for Clinical Scientists. I am unaware of similar career development awards to promote diversity at any of the other 23 NIH Institutes or Centers, including the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD). Broadening the K01 and K08 Program Announcements to include all NIH Institutes and Centers would be a significant advance in achieving equity in NIH funding. In addition, there currently are no K12 awards (Mentored Clinical Scientist Development Program Awards to provide support to institutions) focused on diversity, and establishing K12 Awards to Promote Diversity at Institutions could contribute substantially to achieving equity in NIH funding. Career development awards targeting investigators from diverse backgrounds have been shown to substantially enhance the likelihood of subsequent NIH R01 funding and future academic success. For example, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program has resulted in scores of R01-funded investigators, medical-school department chairs, directors of two NIH institutes, a surgeon general, and an astronaut. 3. Create a special NIH Independent Scientist Award (K02) to Promote Diversity across all NIH Institutes and Centers. This would provide under-represented minority investigators with crucial "bridge" funding between career development/smaller NIH awards (such as R03s) and R01s. 4. Enhance efforts to diversify study sections. As noted in the Ginther et al. article and highlighted in your accompanying Science commentary with Dr. Tabak, serving on an NIH review committee increases the likelihood of R01 funding by eight percentage points (P < .001). NIH's Early Career Reviewer Program is a step in the right direction, but it does not specifically focus on minority investigators' targeting, enrollment, or study section placement. It is respectfully suggested that this Program should be revised to include a special "subprogram" focused on diversity, and that an NIH Study Section Diversity Task Force be established to address this issue. 5. Conduct studies to determine whether racial/ethnic disparities exist in career development (K) awards and study-section composition. It is essential to determine whether racial/ethnic disparities exist for K awards and study section membership which are of similar magnitude for the R01 disparities noted in the Ginther et al. study. If such additional disparities are found, then an urgent priority would be to address these disparities, given their significant association with disparities in R01 funding. 6. Enhance the diversity pipeline for medical research. Studies document that underrepresented minority college applicants are admitted to medical school at the same rates as white applicants, but the problem is that the pool of qualified underrepresented minority college students majoring in the health sciences and related fields and graduating is alarmingly small. Thus, it is not surprising that the proportion of minority physicians, other healthcare providers, and medical-school faculty continues to be woefully smaller than the proportion of minorities in the US population. Effective pipeline programs are needed at very early stages (including late elementary and middle school) so that young students interested in possible careers in the health sciences are identified early, mentored adequately, provided with enrichment experiences, and given the necessary resources to succeed and pursue their dreams. NIH could take the lead in this effort by creating new funding opportunities, internships, school initiatives, and programs targeting young minority students and the promotion of research careers in the health sciences. As you and Dr. Tabak so eloquently stated in your recent Science commentary, our nation's biomedical research workforce remains nowhere near as rich as it could be. Taking the six action steps described above should substantially help us unite around the common goal that you mentioned of weaving a new, richer, and more beautiful research tapestry from all available threads.
01/13/2012 at 02:33:58 PM Self University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center Dallas TX My experience as Associate and now Interim Dean of UT Southwestern Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and as the mentor of an under-represented minority graduate student is that the critical issues limiting diversity in biomedical sciences (I am not including disparities due to sex) occur before graduate school. There is a critical shortage of adequately prepared students from some minority groups. I suspect that much of this is due to economics. Students who have inadequate high school preparation matriculate into colleges and universities that must engage mainly in remedial instruction that does not prepare these students adequately for graduate studies in biomedical sciences. We find at my institution that many students from diverse backgrounds are asked to synthesize information and engage in critical thinking and problem solving for the first time in their academic career when they take our first semester core course. Many of these students simply never catch up to their better-prepared peers, although they receive the same credentialing (which may have something to do with the current angst over grant success rates). I include in this students who have participated in MARC programs, although those programs do help recruit students to apply to graduate school. I think the most useful strategy to fill the research pipeline would be to create effective mechanisms for establishing training in critical thinking and problem solving at the undergraduate level. Perhaps even that is too late. Perhaps it needs to occur in grade school. Most of the efforts towards diversity that I see at the graduate and postgraduate level are simply rearranging the furniture in a house with foundation problems.   The current system tends to reward credentialing rather than real outcomes and penalizes attempts at quality control (which would require higher failure rates). This is a very difficult issue, because the real outcomes have long incubation times compared to the reporting cycle for grants.  
01/13/2012 at 03:21:11 PM Self     I read with interest of the findings with regard to research applications by black and african-american PIs. I am a pacific islander/white and I am often mistakenly identified as African American by white colleagues (was once assigned a scholarship intended for AA students).

I received special supplementary funding (1990-1991 as med student, 1997-1999 as scientist) for racial minority groups in my training, and I think that NIH is aware and working toward helping disadvantaged minorities who are beginning their careers. However, the challenge at the senior scientist level is also tremendously important as AA, women, etc. are not represented at the level of dept chairs, society presidents, etc. so not only mentoring but distribution of resources and opportunities are often controlled by people from a narrow gender/ethnic background set.

Can the NIH make a more concerted effort to appoint review section chairs or special initiative/committee leaders who are AAs or women? Funds that would make AA and female scientists more visible at the Chair, program project, president of assoc level would be helpful, but I am not exactly sure how the NIH could help this to happen. I do know that executive coaching and leadership training is not available to many AAs and women and wonder if the NIH could catalyze development of such resources.

Women and AA scientists are at a decided disadvantage on the international scene , as they are not viewed as being in the traditional mold by many European colleagues (or at least that is what some European colleagues have expressed to me). If funds for international travel or international conference organization were earmarked for AAs/women this might help to build international/senior scientist reputations.

Thanks for this opportunity to comment.

     
01/13/2012 at 05:39:52 PM Self   New Orleans, LA All the issues laid out are important, but I think the pipeline begins before graduate school. Some minorities/ethnic groups do not consider or know a career in science can be a viable possibility. This fact is reflected by the small numbers of some minority students who enter colleges in the first place. The pipeline to science really begins in elementary school. The demographics of the starting population are defined in elementary school. As education progresses we see that some groups turn toward careers in science and some turn away/drop out. To show success, we need to do things to keep the demographics proportional through college, graduate school, and into academic positions. NIH should focus more effort on ways to stop the narrowing of the pipeline in the early stages. Lots of potential scientists never make it to college. By the time application to graduate school rolls around it is too late implement plans that will make a significant impact on the proportions of minorities in science.  
01/13/2012 at 05:54:27 PM Self     1) Revisiting the review process. Three reviewer's cannot be the best source of evaluating scientific merit of the proposals. There are almost 30 members in the scientific study sections, if all of the collective wisdom could be utilized for assessing blinded one pager describing the specific aims and proposed approaches, we could apply a fair assessment from a diverse scientific expertise on any given particular scientific topic/area. 2) Why would review of one shortened application (precis) by 30 reviewer's be better than 3 reviewers assigned to one application? Pros and cons for this scenario? 3) What should be the role of Program Director in the review process? Most of the times PDs help create these funding opportunities and are considered experts in that particular area. Should their involvement during review process be reduced to mere spectators after they have given the overview of that particular FOA? 4) Do we need to revisit the streamlining process of 50% triage based on initial assigned three reviewer's opinions? 5) How do we remove implicit and explicit bias and subtle conflict of interest and ongoing competing scientific focus/direction of the reviewer's evaluating the scientific merit of the potential competitor's proposal. 6) Is there a myth or truth in weeding out the competition? 7) Is networking a good, bad or ugly truth for securing grants? 8) How could mentor-mentee relationship be fostered and synergized into collaborator/consultant role while transitioning from F-, K-, R-series and Program project grants without negative connotations with regards to promotion, tenure etc? Pros and cons scenario? 9) Should junior faculty members be burdened with review responsibilities' while they are supposed to maintain academic, administrative, and scholarly activities at the same time? What is the correct balance between training, exposure to the review process and critical thinking of the cadre of next generation scientists. 10) Are we preparing the competitive workforce diverse enough to capture the best and the brightest minds among all races/ethnicities/geopolitical/cultural spectrum of the United States of America. The working group needs to take a holistic approach in addressing this problem. Training, education, mentoring are very much integrated to find the best among wider talent pool. The group needs to consider all the ground realities and factors that have led to this problem. Poverty and lack of societal and community support system to make necessary changes in any given racial and ethnic population groups. Working group could recommend drastic and bold initiatives that are really transformative in identifying young scientifc talent among inner city school system. Mind is a terrible thing to waste...brilliant ideas, innovative and critical thinking cuts across all racial, ethnic, socioeconomical backgrounds. Yes! 1.Evaluation of all training, education, research and outreach programs and initiatives funded by HHS and Department of Education, Federal and non-federal funding agencies needs to be made a top priority. 2). Review process of all fellowship and grant programs ought to be revisited. I have extensively written on this front in the Comment 1 section. 3). K-12 programs should provide incentives to schools and community colleges to enhance their curriculum that is reflective of STEM programs of other competing nations in the World. 4). NIH should be asking and mandating the federally funded investigators to train and mentor young immpressionable budding scientists from all racial/ethnic/geopolitical/disadvantaged/vulnerable populations groups as a requirement for their R01 projects and it should be made a review criteria.  
01/13/2012 at 07:58:28 PM Self   Cincinnati, Ohio Why do we strive for diversity? What is the goal? A diverse workforce is a good thing because it provides more viewpoints, and should increase growth. But if we are going to strive for diversity, we should really define diversity as being....diverse. Diversity doesn't fit into a check box. Our program has people from many walks of life, but we get marks only for people who can be fit into a category. Where do I put the Japanese-Brazilian dermatologist? The gay steel-town football star who joins our program to become molecular biologist? I have one student whose father is a goat herder in Africa, and the student is the first generation to live in a building with a basement. Our program mixes Mormons with Muslims, and both are better for the experience. But there are no boxes or forms to illustrate how our program gains strength from our diversity.  
01/15/2012 at 04:06:59 AM Organization University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, PA Although all of the avenues you identified are important, what is not mentioned is the importance of FUNDED current tenured minority professors/assoc./assist professors to serve as mentors. Your track record on funding minority investigators is dismal, and as a result you keep training new minority grad students, postdocs under faculty who are not minority and who don't share the worldview/research/clinical experience of the minority populations you want to reduce health disparities among. Until you correct this fundamental error, your results will be meager at best. My comment #1 addresses this issue as well. In addition why aren't HBCU's not more prominent in these training efforts; why not AA and other minority scholars sought to lead these efforts? There has been a recent NIH report declaring the poor prolieration of minority scholars/NIH research awards. Start by correcting this inequity by making a special effort to fund established minority faculty who wish to conduct research in areas of health disparities and new areas such as genetics/epigenetics.  
01/15/2012 at 01:39:03 PM Self     Please see my attachment. I believe that institutionalized racism is the most important issue to work on, although I don't believe this was listed as an area of focus. Please see my attachment. I have typed my responses in italics. I am making my comments from the perspective of a woman who is a PhD-prepared nurse, with White and American Indian ancestry, with white skin, who easily blends with the dominant culture. Thus, I hear comments that are often withheld from those with dark skin. I am married to a man with brown skin who is a member of a federally-recognized American Indian tribe, who also has Mexican ancestry. It seems ridiculous to talk about skin color, but unfortunately, that is the world in which we live--at present. I have to hope the future will be different. Biomedical Research Workforce Pipeline o The appropriate transition points where NIH's training, career development and research grant programs could most effectively cultivate diversity in the biomedical research workforce - Entry into graduate degree programs Entry into graduate degree programs typically comes late due to lack of role models; lack of emotional, academic, and financial support;, as well as the drain and effects of covert and overt racism. - Transition from graduate degree to post-doctoral fellowships Ditto my comment above. The accumulated barriers and traumas drain minorities of energy and enthusiasm. - Appointment from a post-doctoral position to the first independent scientific position - Award of the first independent research grant from NIH or equivalent in industry o There are often academic difficulties for minorities, even though they may have completed a doctoral degree. For instance, one of my African American colleagues has difficulties with writing. I don't know why this is, since she went through the same PhD program I did, and was in my cohort. Maybe faculty are not expecting as much from minorities. - Award of tenure in an academic position, at the NIH, or the equivalent in an industrial setting o Many people have priorities that supercede those of scientific and academic success. This includes family and church. Raising a healthy child is much more important in life overall than getting an NIH grant. There need to be ways of supporting a balanced life--childcare assistance, work sharing, funding for salary support, etc. o The role of mentorship in the training and success of biomedical researchers throughout their careers - Development of relationships between professional societies, institutions, and individuals to develop mentoring programs - Creation and expansion of institutional mentoring programs - Mentoring of applicants and preparation of applications prior to submission o The influence of role models whose qualities and characteristics can positively affect the training and success of underrepresented biomedical researchers through their careers There is a lack of mentors for minority researchers, due to small numbers of minority faculty. Which came first, the chicken or the egg?! It really doesn't matter--what matters is that we fix it. A "leader" in medicine and research at my institution said, "Every time you see an Indian, that's 5 possible experiments." As long as that mentality persists, we are on a slippery slope. o The role of NIH messaging in encouraging underrepresented researchers to apply for NIH fellowships and grants - I suggest separate culturally tailored messages geared towards each minority group . They could be in posters or online formats. o The role of institutional infrastructure support and climate as a factor in the success of underrepresented researchers This is quite important. However, there is an economic strain right now on our academic institution. Also, leadership is perceived as discriminatory. Institutional support is vital! However, this is often where I see stereotyping and racism occur, unfortunately. My Dean perceives me more as Indian because of how I behave and live, and thus has written me up for things I did not even do! It is sick, sick, sick. I end up having to play mind games with leadership in order to be left alone in peace (pretty much gave up on having institutional support from the Dean). What I am doing in my institution is having my American Indian staff come to campus and interact with institutional leaders as much as possible, so that the "leaders" can get to know the staff as people, rather than experiment numbers. My staff are behaving more maturely than the "leaders." There need to be positive relationships between the dominant society members and minorities in order for the most favorable outcomes for minority people. Thus, whatever strategies you develop need to include education and attitude adjustment interventions for those who are behaving and thinking in discriminatory ways. Factors in the Review Process o The potential role of institutional affiliation, academic pedigree, and various conscious and unconscious factors on review outcomes - Exploration of the possible influences of racial, ethnic, gender, affinity, or other biases o I am sure there are biases, and these can certainly come out during the review process. - Research on the NIH Peer Review system to determine appropriate methods or interventions to identify and if necessary redress bias, including efforts to anonymize applications or test the effects of unconscious bias training on outcomes. o It would be mighty difficult to make the peer review process anonymous, and still be able to conduct the review in a comprehensive manner. We need more minority peer reviewers, so that there is equal representation among the reviewers. I served several years as a mentor in the National Coalition of Ethnic Minority Nurse Association's Mentor/Mentee-Nurse Scientist Stimulation Program. If you look into this, you will see the kind of program that works to support minorities to achieve success. Those I mentored are now either in PhD programs, or have graduated from them, or have funding, or published a peer-reviewed article with my support.
01/16/2012 at 03:16:28 PM Self     1. Mentorship is critical to developing relevant scientist. It is imperative to the success of the minority investigator to have routine access to senior scientist in their research field. As implied by the term mentor, such persons must be invested in the success and advancement of the minority investigator. 2. Intricacies of the path to becoming an independent scientist must be exposed 3. "Early preparation" Mentorship is the most important because . . . 1) by definition the mentor is committed to the mentee's success without fear of mentee's success, particularly related to the mentor's own career 2) provides opportunity for detailed planning for the pathway to academic success 3) allows for the intricacies of achieving research independence and academic success to be divulged 4) gives trainees opportunity to learn the language of research academia such that they too will one day be able to speak it and pass it on to the next generation of aspiring research scientists The level of an individual's mentoring exposure along with the reputation of the mentor him/herself should, in an objective manner, be included in a NIH review-all mechanisms.  
01/16/2012 at 04:19:44 PM Self     There is a lack of properly mentoring minority PhDs by their advisors. Many postdocs and junior faculty do not 'learn the ropes' from their immediate supervisor or are pointed in the right direction. My dissertation advisor was useless in helping locate a good lab and as junior faculty, no one took the time to introduce me to the inner workings of NIH nor suggested I be a reviewer. Therein lies the difference in my career path and ability to obtain funding. Getting postdoctoral fellows in a position to where they are compeititive in finding jobs by inroducing them to other highly regarded members in their field and helping junior faculty become part of NIH as a grant reviewers. It is obvious that if you do not become an NIH grant reviewer, you do not make contact with fellow scientists and this, unfortunately, affects your success in obtaining grants.  
01/16/2012 at 05:00:00 PM Organization University of Hawaii Honolulu, Hawaii It will be a very enriching experience for the individuals who are able to help understand the needs of a particular or various community or disease type. Working closely with different nationalities or ethic groups or academic pedigree may help identify the key issues in the health care system never seen before. Finding a right mentor is a key requirement for a student's career. Being an international student, I have spent sometime wandering and finding the right academic set up for my career development. Having a mentor who is able to understand you ambitions and over all life goals helps tremendously. It can save an individual and an institute a lot of time and anguish.

# The appropriate transition points where NIH's training, career development and research grant programs could most effectively cultivate diversity in the biomedical research workforce

* Entry into graduate degree programs * Transition from graduate degree to post-doctoral fellowships Establishing milestones helps an individual be more affirmative of their own endeavors.Encouraging junior investigators to accomplish such milestones will develop them as an individual and deliver better.

Expanding opportunity to various other minority groups or programs is a positive feature of the Biomedical Research Workforce. I strongly believe that training new minds will help consolidate our grounds in research.  
01/17/2012 at 09:27:35 AM Self     The following areas are critical issues and have an impact on diversity in research: (1) The appropriate transition points where NIH's training, career development and research grant programs could most effectively cultivate diversity in the biomedical research workforce, (2) The role of mentorship in the training and success of biomedical researchers throughout their careers, (3) the influence of role models whose qualities and characteristics can positively affect the training and success of underrepresented biomedical researchers through their careers, (4) the role of NIH messaging in encouraging underrepresented researchers to apply for NIH fellowships and grants, and (5) the role of institutional infrastructure support and climate as a factor in the success of underrepresented researchers. The appropriate transition points where NIH's training, career development and research grant programs could most effectively cultivate diversity in the biomedical research workforce should be a focus of the Working Group. Students with interest in research may benefit from education and training in applying for NIH grants during their doctorate training. As a doctorate student, we did not receive this education and training as part of my education. It appears that those individuals able to align with a mentor/professor in research that there is exposure to NIH grant funding/writing. There seems to be a certain amount of privilege created from the beginning of one's education. If we want to create a diverse population, then we want to focus on how to help students pass the boundary of research interests towards the role of a researcher. Education and training appear to be key in moving students in this direction, creating a place of equality. Other institutions (particularly, those in need with a diverse population) may be able to conduct research in health disparities. The atmosphere would be more competitive for research to be conducted, increasing the quality of research being conducted with the NIH. I'm sure there will be people concerned that some grant funding is being given to fill quotas for diversity. This argument is often used with regards to diversity.  
01/17/2012 at 11:50:14 AM Organization Director, Center for Translational Neuroscience, UAMS Little Rock, AR 1. Pipeline: a. Entry into graduate programs and transition to postdoctoral- The amount provided for T32 awards is $570/750 million or 78% of the total training dollars, a number that has prevailed for many years. This percentage has NOT done the job of increasing the pipeline. The T32 awards should be drastically curtailed in favor of individual F31 and F32 awards, with a substantial portion targeted at minority applicants! The NIH Diversity policy (https://grants.nih.gov/training/faq_diversity.htm#865, see below) is tied to institutional awards (T32, T35, K12, CTSA, and R25, and NO MENTION IS MADE OF INDIVIDUAL AWARD PROGRAMS!) but this has not worked in the past and will not work in the future. Institutional training grants have a success rate of 50%, BUT THEY HAVE NOT DONE THE JOB. Individual training grants have lower, appalling success rates (F31 35%; F32 25%). c. NIH messaging- The published NIH Diversity policy is tied to institutional awards, this must stop. What is the Recruitment and Retention Plan to Enhance Diversity? ?It is a plan that institutional research training, institutional career development, and research education grant award (e.g., T32, T35, K12, CTSA, and R25) applicants must include in their application. https://grants.nih.gov/training/faq_diversity.htm#865 Institutional awards should total less than 50% of training dollars (<$350 million), and the rest devoted to individual awards. This will drastically increase the pipeline.

Minority applicants will seek minority mentors. Applications by minority mentors should be funded at a higher rate than other applicants. This will attract more minority applicants.

Review- By moving the money AWAY from institutions, much of the bias in reviews is moot.

1. Pipeline: a. Entry into graduate programs and transition to postdoctoral- The amount provided for T32 awards is $570/750 million or 78% of the total training dollars, a number that has prevailed for many years. This percentage has NOT done the job of increasing the pipeline. The T32 awards should be drastically curtailed in favor of individual F31 and F32 awards, with a substantial portion targeted at minority applicants! The NIH Diversity policy (https://grants.nih.gov/training/faq_diversity.htm#865, see below) is tied to institutional awards (T32, T35, K12, CTSA, and R25, and NO MENTION IS MADE OF INDIVIDUAL AWARD PROGRAMS!) but this has not worked in the past and will not work in the future. Institutional training grants have a success rate of 50%, BUT THEY HAVE NOT DONE THE JOB. Individual training grants have lower, appalling success rates (F31 35%; F32 25%). Institutional awards should total less than 50% of training dollars ( <$350 million), and the rest devoted to individual awards. This will drastically increase the pipeline. b. Mentoring- Minority applicants will seek minority mentors. Applications by minority mentors should be funded at a higher rate than other applicants. This will attract more minority applicants. c. NIH messaging- The published NIH Diversity policy is tied to institutional awards, this must stop. What is the Recruitment and Retention Plan to Enhance Diversity? It is a plan that institutional research training, institutional career development, and research education grant award (e.g., T32, T35, K12, CTSA, and R25) applicants must include in their application. https://grants.nih.gov/training/faq_diversity.htm#865 This sends the wrong message, one that has NOT worked. 2. Review- By moving the money AWAY from institutions, much of the bias in reviews is moot.
01/17/2012 at 03:53:51 PM Self     In my opinion, the most important element to ensure genuine institutional transformation is to develop leadership in the URM faculty ranks. Until URM faculty sit in Council, serve as NIH institute leaders, and are engaged in defining policy, the system will suffer from a patronage mentality, and true equity will not be achieved.

I therefore recommend that the following pipeline goals statement be modified to incorporate the aforementioned objective:

# The appropriate transition points where NIH's training, career development and research grant programs could most effectively cultivate diversity in the biomedical research workforce

* Entry into graduate degree programs * Transition from graduate degree to post-doctoral fellowships * Appointment from a post-doctoral position to the first independent scientific position * Award of the first independent research grant from NIH or equivalent in industry * Award of tenure in an academic position, at the NIH, or the equivalent in an industrial setting

It is of interest to know how minority women fare as compared with minority males and whether the undergraduate degree institution impacts the R01 success rate. Therefore, I recommend a deeper demographic analysis be conducted on the R01 data that aggregates the success rate by gender, undergraduate institution, and graduate institution.    
01/18/2012 at 12:40:46 AM Organization Native American Interfaith Ministries Pembroke NC American Indian inclusion, representation and parity in biomedical research allowing American Indians to be involved through community based participatory research Should be technical assistance and capacity building provided to American Indians to assist in becoming a statistically significant number in biomedical research and empahsis  
01/18/2012 at 01:16:36 PM Self     - Entry into graduate degree programs: There are insufficient mentoring programs at undergraduate programs that help to guide undergraduates into a graduate level of study. This could be helped by rewarding institutions with recognition (and or funding) when they have solid mentorship plans with clear rubrics for measuring success at attracting underrepresented populations. - Transition from graduate degree to post-doctoral fellowships: There need to be official and clearly advertised programs held on campuses with high percentages of underrepresented populations that discuss post-doctural fellowships (sponsored by NIH) - Transition from graduate degree to post-doctoral fellowships: There need to be official and clearly advertised programs held on campuses with high percentages of underrepresented populations that discuss post-doctural fellowships (sponsored by NIH) There should be efforts to create face-to-face and on-line programs that target underrepresented populations. For example, researchers that come from these groups should be recruited to speak at historically Black Colleges and Universities about NIH positions and or fellowships as well as the role of health research in general. I am sure that many of us would volunteer our time to travel.  
01/20/2012 at 02:23:45 PM Self     One of the issues I have seen is a desire on the part of institutions to involve minorities in virtually every aspect of institutional function. As a result, the small number of minority faculty members find themselves inordinately involved in service. That impacts severely the amount of time and energy they can devote to writing grant applications and participating in other activities that will increase their chances to submit applications that are competitive. I have also observed minority individuals with cross-disciplinary interests. Those interests combined with the typical lack of complete integration of minorities into social networks at institutions likely places some additional barriers in front of those scientists applying for grants. Almost certainly there is bias that remains even when it may be unintentional. I raised three issues that I have observed. It is likely these are not the only issues. In my opinion, continuing to work on identifying and eliminating bias, and its effects on minorities is the most critical. As progress is made in that area, the social network related issues should also improve. There are already programs at many institutions that try to improve social networks and mentoring, so I am not sure additional efforts to address those issues are of top importance. However, I think it is also very important to address the overuse of minorities by well-meaning institutions. Certainly involvement of minorities on committees is important, but efforts to be sure that minorities are not over-burdened with service efforts are critical. I do not have any specific suggestions here.  
01/20/2012 at 04:26:15 PM Self     First we have to value diversity: To some this is just the right thing to do. Others may need an argument based on a bottom line of money or health benefits. For the second group we must first document that there is lack of diversity in the biomedical workforce and that the same under-represented groups have higher rates of disability and death from chronic disease. We can then hypothesize that these two are related, and by correcting the first we can impact the second with all the attendent benefits ( reduced health care expenses, etc ).

Once we accept that diversity in the work force is an important goal, we must be willing to allocate resources for that purpose. It is imperative however that we do not merely do window dressing for a quick superficial fix. Rather we need to identify capable students early, understand and reduce barriers that isolate them from the research community, and make it possible and desirable for them to compete in this environment. (see sttachment for specific plans)

Identifying talented students early, introducing them to the biomedical research community and helping them to find the beginning of the "pipeline"

Mentoring at all critical points in the pipeline

Addressing the impact of pedigree on the review process, and/or creating a new form of pedigree

see attachment

Fred Hutchinson
Cancer Research Center
Date: January 19, 2012
To: The Advisory Committee to the NIH Director (ACD) Working Group on Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce
RE: NOT-OD-12-031
In response to the RFI: I believe that the paucity of capable students entering the pipeline and our failure to provide mentors at critical points in the pipeline have limited our ability to remove barriers that isolate diversity-targeted populations. Further I believe that to address this issue interventions have to be delivered early and they have to be sustained.
The recommendations I want to propose to address these issues form the basis of six active Minority Supplements awarded in conjunction with U01 HL099993 and P30DK056465; and one R25 currently under review (HL115443).
All are based on the underlying assumption that there are barriers due to racial, ethnic, and economic isolation, as well as physical disabilities that function to limit diversification of the biomedical workforce, and create disparities in NIH funding success among the few minority representatives who have managed to join that workforce. To overcome these barriers we propose that capable and committed diversity-targeted students should be identified by grade 10 and introduced to the biomedical research community via interaction with scientists. Importantly this academic intervention should be sustained through high school and beyond.
The program currently in place at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (FHCRC) serves 6 students, selected from an alternative public school, who were recommended by their teachers. During the school year they spend 5 hour on alternating Wednesdays in the FHCRC t raining lab learning laboratory skills and safety, as well as scientific content. They also interview members of the FHCRC faculty and are trained in the ethical conduct of research. After a year of training (~90 hours) they are ready for full-time summer internships. They program was so successful t hat the first 4 students, after one year of training, outperformed undergraduate and post-baccalaureate interns. This provided clear evidence to these students that they can compete with anybody and they belong in the biomedical research community. This has influenced their choices of undergraduate programs and increased the competitiveness of their applications.
During the 2-3 years the students participate in this program we anticipate they will develop strong mentor-mentee relationships that will be maintained at least throughout their high school career. We propose to provide additional support during undergraduate studies for students who major in Science. This program is the subject of the R25 application currently under review. Briefly it proposes to bring the students back to the FHCRC for one or two semesters during the academic year for continued research training in an accredited independent study program. We hypothesize that this program will increase the likelihood of the students continuing on for graduate degrees.
We believe the combined high school/undergraduate programs will reduce, if not eliminate the barriers associated with isolation, provide strong mentors, familiarize the students with the procedures associated with competing for NIH support, and make them known, through the efforts of their mentors, to the community of NIH funded researchers. These last two points may help address the disparity in NIH funding realized among minority investigators.
It is important to understand that these programs are not designed to be remedial or to address science literacy in general. They are designed to identify capable and committed students and move them quickly into a new environment. To make this work we must remove economic barriers. Therefore students receive a stipend to alleviate pressure to work outside of school. Since many are on subsidized lunch programs they are all offered lunch cards for use at the FHCRC. Finally, since they live in an underserved community 20 miles south of Seattle, funds are provided for transportation.
There is reason to be optimistic that this program is working. After the completion of the first full year the students made a video tour of the FHCRC by saying ...
“...new students joining the program may be able to work in our new building, that we just bought”
They are clearly at home in our research community, they know they can perform and that they do belong. Furthermore, it is clear that we are providing role models not based on shared race, ethnicity, etc., but rather based on how we act, communicate and aspire to learn. It is our recognition of, and commitment to, their potential that moves them. One student interviewed for a local TV news program said he could picture himself as Dr Bev... well I am an old white woman, so he was not talking about how I look, rather he could see himself as me the scientist.
My goal is that all 6 will join the biomedical workforce in the not too distant future.

Beverly Torok-Storb, PhD, Med
Member, Clinical Research Division
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

01/20/2012 at 06:29:33 PM Self     I strongly recommend that NIH continue three efforts that should have significant impacts on diversity efforts at the nation's top research universities and their medical schools. 1) strong commitment to continually monitor the outcomes of grant review panels to ensure that women and URM researchers are receiving their fair share of awards granted through the regular NIH channels; NIH should proactively disseminate the results and trends widely to the research community 2) insistence that training grant directors and their faculty participants pay serious attention to recruitment and retention of predoctoral URM trainees; with follow-up as needed to affect real change 3) increase the number of individual fellowships for talented URM graduate students I think all three of the above suggestions should be easy for the NIH to implement; basically. NIH incentives is a real driver of diversity efforts at major research universities but how those get institutionalized into regular practices is still a challenge. Given the very slow change in growing the upper ranks of URM science professionals, in spite of rapidly changing U.S. demographics, there's a need for research to figure out where the most serious bottlenecks are. So I recommend that the working group also discuss ways to drive institutional change. Perhaps innovations such as NSF's ADVANCE program that seeks to education leaders should also be considered by the working group.    
01/23/2012 at 04:16:49 PM Self Howard University College of Medicine Washington, DC I have identified "institutional infrastructure support and climate" as an important factor in the success of underrepresented researchers. I would like to specifically argue for continued and enhanced NIH support of the Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI) program, formerly housed at the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) and now at the National Institute for Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD). I am a faculty member at Howard University, a historically black university in Washington, DC. I have had grants through the RCMI and MBRS-SCORE programs. I am active in biomedical research.

I think that the issue of the low success rate of African American R01 applicants is complex with deep roots in culture and society. I applaud the NIH for taking on the task of trying to improve this situation. I think that the NIH can begin by noticing the areas in which it has been successful, and then trying to build on those successes. One of these is the Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI) program.

I have attended a number of the biannual RCMI symposia on health disparities over the years. I was particularly struck with the one that was held in December 2010 in Nashville, TN. Dr. Tabak was a keynote speaker at that meeting.

Here is what I observed: a diverse community of researchers who had a sense of identity and who felt that they were making a difference in the health and lives of people. The science was of a high quality, and the participants were passionate about what they were doing. Frankly, I felt that I was seeing a community that, after years of growth, was coming into it own and was exploding with possibilities in addressing a critical need today--that of trying to understand and address health disparities. People at the meeting were sharing ideas, networking, and forging collaborations.

One of the factors that can discourage African American researchers is a feeling of isolation; a feeling that they are on their own in this tough research climate. The RCMI program directly provides infrastructure support; it helps junior researchers at minority institutions to get on their feet and start a research program. But it also provides other kinds of support that are just as important: mentoring, and a sense of identity. Of course there is the expectation that researchers supported by RCMI will move toward obtaining R01 grants. This is a critical and necessary element in the program.

One part of the solution in addressing the low success rate of black R01 applicants, then, is to nurture existing programs, such as RCMI, that are highly successful. These programs help junior researchers at minority institutions get a foot in the door. They are critical. They help to level the playing field so that these scientists can begin to compete in the tougher R01 arena. The NIH should not underestimate the importance of these programs that foster as sense of identity and belonging among their participants.

   
01/23/2012 at 06:23:01 PM Self     Training and Mentorship:

There is an urgent need to prepare and design programs to train and educate senior scientists to mentor minority investigators. Presently, the NIH has emphasis in training minority investigators to conduct research, however without the inclusion of qualified and well-prepared senior level professionals to mentor and develop minority professionals into independent investigators; the minority fellows will most likely not succeed.

In addition, the environment (organizations) needs to be educated on the needs of minority investigators. Even more critical is the need for the institute to develop an evaluation method to determine the mentor abilities. Minority research training fellow should have access to an evaluation system to evaluate the level of mentorship received. As an example; I received several federal based extra mural fellowship as a minority investigator and was never approached by any of the funding agencies to provide some sort of feedback about my training experience.

Because of the lack of accountability and supervisory sustainability in fellowship training programs; one of my mentors unexpectedly terminated my "at-will" academic position and took over my lab and research without further notice. His statement was that I was very intelligent and will have no problems in designing another research lab. Unacceptable!

Scientific Review: Another area that the institute needs to increase awareness is on the Center fro Scientific Review. I, as a member of several review panels, do not experience the presence of many minority investigators in the review process making the review procedure unbalanced and unequal.

As I previously mentioned:

I. Training and Mentorship

II. The Inclusion of Minority Investigators in the Scientific Review Process

By having a more liable and structured training grant where the organization and the mentor will be evaluated and held responsible for the trainee and training delivery the NIH will support truthfully the importance of minority training.

By including a balance numbers of minority investigators in the review process the institute will support the importance of minority representation in sciences.

 
01/24/2012 at 09:38:02 AM Self     I believe it will be critical to intervene early in the training process to establish an environment during the graduate degree programs that is respectful of diversity so that the training becomes equal for all trainees. I am the director of the Northwestern University MSTP, and we have ~100 students, ~18% from underrepresented minorities. I see issues that make the environment difficult for our minority students throughout their training. These are often unintentional, but they have the effect of causing stress and distractions for minority students in a way that is not true for non-minorities. Examples: Admission committees in which minority students participate where faculty say things like "he is very good for a black applicant". Or a faculty member comments that because a minority applicant's parent is a physician, they are not a "real" minority. And students working in the lab notice that when the white janitor comes in to clean the lab, they greet the white PhD students, but not the black one, every single day. Or the medical school shows a video to pre-clinical MD-PhD students that depicted black patients in a stereotypically angry, non-compliant, and abrasive manner contrasted with a polite, well-spoken white patient and white medical staff. These daily insults create a difficult learning environment with emotional stress and distractions that non-minority students never have to face. And this is at a top-tier institution in a city with a substantial minority population. It is largely not overt bias, but a negligent insensitivity that does have a basis in racial structures that tolerate bias. I think that NIH should create diversity center grants; Institutions with strong NIH support and training records could become centers for diversity where the focus is broad education about overt bias and passive racial micro aggression that involve students, faculty, and even staff of the grantee institutions. There should be financial support to recruit, admit and retain minority students at these centers. The fact is that there are a limited number of qualified minority applicants that tend to get distributed across the countries top institutions. I believe when they are "diluted" like this, they are easy to marginalize and there is minimal pressure on institutions and training programs to recognize bias. Environmental microaggression is not a problem at "traditionally black" schools, but the training environments for successful scientific careers is generally not as strong as at schools with deep NIH support. I think by making diversity centers at a handful of top tier research schools, this will increase the number of minority students in scientifically rich training environments and will facilitate structural changes to those environments that remove the kind of racial bias and microaggression that makes it difficult for minority students to focus on their scientific learning and to remain interested in joining the scientific workforce (why struggle with a long and difficult training path if at the end of the journey you will join a system that is perpetually biased against you because of your race?) I think by focusing early and broadly across the institution (faculty and staff training) the diversity center will lead to wider changes- when the diversity-aware faculty attend study section they will recognize the type of bias that leads to discrimination in awarding of grants and hopefully reject this bias. I believe intervention needs to happen early in training, and needs to be broad based to change the environment that the training is happening in. Minority students must be freed from the distractions of daily insults so they can focus on training, and they need to know that their future in a top-notch institution can be free of bias. They will be able to more fully take advantage of the training opportunities and know they are working to enter a field where they will be valued for their scientific contributions and not judged based on their skin color. As I mentioned above, I think NIH should competitively fund diversity centers at strong research institutions. Also, much like the requirement for training in responsible conduct of research, I believe that training grants should require institutional training in diversity for all students, postdocs and faculty members if the NIH grant is to be awarded.  
01/24/2012 at 10:14:08 AM Self     My experience as an administrator in conducting recruitment for diversity applicants is that we are reaching these populations far too late in the process. Focus on science, math, and engineering should be committed in K-12. These curricula are cumulative. If they are not already highly successful in these areas in college, they are very behind for graduate programs. I think putting resources into K-12 education is the most critical and effective way to increase diversity for graduate programs and beyond. Higher educational institutions have a committed base of students and faculty who would love to be able to work in their community's schools. If NIH could include K-12 outreach resources to Center grants, or other mechanisms, enough to pay for even .5 FTE (perhaps $60K for salary and fringe), a dedicated person could coordinate student and faculty volunteers to excite inner city and disadvantaged K-12 students to pursue careers in science, math and engineering.  
01/24/2012 at 02:13:31 PM Self     The appropriate transition points where NIH's training, career development and research grant programs could most effectively cultivate diversity in the biomedical research workforce + Entry into graduate degree programs

I think the NIH should outreach at entry into graduate degree programs. There should be incentives to established PIs with great track records for mentoring ethnic and women graduate students.

I believe that the NIH should increase outreach at the undergraduate level for ethnic students interested in the sciences. It is important to spark the interest early and to support resources that will help students identify good mentors. Summer internships are a great way to engage students in a project and to introduce the pathway of a research career. I think early exposure is key to spark interest in biomedical research. Factors in the Review Process The potential role of institutional affiliation, academic pedigree, and various conscious and unconscious factors on review outcomes + Exploration of the possible influences of racial, ethnic, gender, affinity, or other biases + Research on the NIH Peer Review system to determine appropriate methods or interventions to identify and if necessary redress bias, including efforts to anonymize applications or test the effects of unconscious bias training on outcomes.

I support the above and think that it is crucial to understand if factors in the review process in any way influence the diversity of the workforce.

 
01/24/2012 at 04:22:17 PM Organization University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center Albuquerque, New Mexico The following is the University of New Mexico's Clinical and Translational Science Center's response to the Request for Information issued by the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director (ACD) Working Group on Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce seeking comments to "help inform the development of recommendations to present to the ACD and the NIH Director on actions the NIH can take to increase the diversity of the biomedical research workforce."

1. The Advisory Committee with its emphasis on training, career development and research grant programs that promote cultural diversity during crucial transition points during one's academic career miss the crux of the matter. For decades, NIH has argued that we have a "pipeline" problem in recruiting and retaining under-represented minorities in careers in biomedical research. The fundamental question is whether we have a "pipeline" problem or what we have in the pipeline? Do we have sufficient numbers of under-represented minorities interested in biomedical research? There is the need for another transition point than that proposed by the Advisory Committee-middle- and high-school. Interest in the sciences and science careers take shape before we enter graduate school. Therefore, it is imperative we focus more educational and mentoring resources, through academic health centers, to foster interest in the sciences among school-children. Academic health centers can play a central role is establishing long-term culturally and developmentally appropriate research education programs among under-represented minorities.

2. We could be doing much more to encourage and incentivize young, talented minority youth to enter science fields and pursue careers in health-related research. Early outreach programs are important, but equally important, are funding opportunities for promoting accelerated educational pathways to the PhD, like the BS to PhD options, so that scientists (including those from under-represented communities) are trained at earlier points in their careers. The successful MD/PhD programs funded through NIGMS could be a model for promoting a diverse workforce of clinical and translational researchers in a broad range of disciplines.

3. Another area that needs attention and resources is the development of long-term mentoring program, which may be one-on-one mentoring or mentoring circle and could be in-person mentoring or e-mentoring or a combination. The mentorship relationship needs to be constantly evaluated on its benefit, purpose, effectiveness, and appropriateness. Further, the mentorship should be flexible enough to be team-based, especially given the need for multi-disciplinary, transformative, translational research.

4. For under-represented minority post-docs or junior faculty at academic health centers, it is important to create an environment conducive for success in biomedical research. This would include research space, release time, support staff, research seed monies, and appropriate mentors who have the dedication and time for the post-doc or junior faculty.

5. Having successful and accessible role models is another important element to increasing diversity of the workforce. Increasing programs like the NIH Native Investigator Development Program funded through NIA that provides intensive research mentoring and peer support would be a potential strategy. The new initiative at the Center for Scientific Review to bring young researchers, particularly minority faculty, into NIH peer review in a mentored experience is another potentially effective strategy to impact diversity.

     
01/24/2012 at 04:28:26 PM Organization Epidemiology Dept, Univ of Washington Seattle, WA Mentoring at the undergraduate level is critical for minority and 1st generation college students to advance to graduate degrees. Training in when and how to look for and apply to graduate programs is critical. In my experience, these applicants, on average, seem to start the processes of looking for graduate programs and applying to them later than other applicants. This affects their ability to submit competitive applications. In addition, they seem to less careful in following the application instructions and slower to respond to email. This also affects the ability of the average student to find funding for graduate studies. I only mentioned one issue, but it is critical because many biomedical positions require an advanced degree. If minority and 1st generation college students do not submit the best applications possible, then fewer will be admitted and trained. I think that 1st general college students should be counted for graduate programs as well as undergraduate. I also think more training resources should be directed at training undergraduates when and how to look for graduate programs. Summer research programs are critical to this effort. The NIH funding should include the applied sciences and non-clinical training, such as public health, to a greater extent.  
01/25/2012 at 08:52:25 PM Self     I wonder whether there are systematic age, gender, racial and ethnic biases in the peer review process. For example, do men tend to give higher scores to men? Women to women? Asians to other Asians? Caucasians to Caucasians? Chinese to Chinese? East Indians to other East Indians? Graduates of international schools to similarly trained applicants? Tribal instincts are strongly embedded in the human psyche.

This could contribute to the lower scores of African Americans because there would be fewer study section members "advocating" for them because there are probably relatively few African Americans who serve on study sections.

The underrepresentation of African Americans is the most important issue. However, a more general look at potential gender, racial and ethnic biases could be informative and could help lead to a more general solution that "lifts all boats". Efforts would be made to eliminate biases or, if confirmed during a particular review cycle, scores might be adjusted to balance them out. However, this would be difficult and potentially volatile.  
01/26/2012 at 08:22:16 AM Self     The solution to the third submission is actually very simple, and I suggested this when input was requested.

All resubmissions are the perview of the study section. Each reviewer must vote on whether or not a resubmission should be invited. If the grant is unscored, this is based on the critiques. I would recommend that a majority rules and a 1-1 or 2-2 vote fets another shot. Many grants will never have a fruitless second try, while some that improved a great deal, but missed the payline, will get a well deserved third try.

I have over 15 years service on standing study sections and have served on ad hoc review committees many times.

Study Section reviewers should assert that they have read and will follow the mission statement of the study section. This may seem obvious, but a couple of very serious lack of understanding of the mission of two study sections led to cryptic critiques that never discussed the grant in any detail, but passed them off as outside of the mission as they incorrectly thought it to be. In both cases, the applicants considered appeals, which I discouraged.    
01/26/2012 at 08:48:41 AM Self     Are women getting their grants renewed at the same frequency as men?

In their study "Sex Differences in Application, Success, and Funding Rates for NIH Extramural Programs" Pohlhaus et al.(attached) stated that "Success rates for new R01 awards over the past decade have been almost identical between the sexes, but women consistently have been less successful at receiving competing renewal R01- equivalent awards." and that "Within applications that did not propose research on human subjects, women had higher cumulative application rates but lower funding rates."

    Provided PDF copy of paper: Sex Differences in Application, Success, and Funding Rates for NIH Extramural Program by Jennifer Reineke Pohlhaus et. al., published by Academic Medicine in June 2011 (vol 86, no 6)
01/26/2012 at 01:24:25 PM Self     As a female, Hispanic NIH grantee, I am very concerned that there might be bias in the peer review system. I believe NIH should perform blinded studies, such as they did to prove that women were being underfunded (or receiving lower scores during review). These data are necessary to prove that bias is inherent in the system, as most reviewers I have interacted with (on Study Sections) would probably not accept that this is occurring. I have witnessed reviewers making racially-insensitive comments and have been surprised that few committee members have intervened on the behalf of the applicant. Thus, it is imperative that we get data soon; this has gone on too long and I believe it is more accentuated now, with tighter funding.      
01/26/2012 at 03:09:53 PM Self Florida A&M University Tallahassee, Florida The critical issue is difficulty in gaining entry into PhD programs for UR groups. Problem: UR groups lack scientific skills needed in the research laboratory; most UR have laboratory skills learned in teahing laboratories. Hence students from UR groups, though academically sound (high GPA, fair to good GRE scores) have not been engaged in the scientific process during their undergraduate years.

We should look into the success rate of participation in post bacculaurette programs by UR and non-UR and see if the year long mentored research experience improved the chances of the UR student's graduate application the second or third time around. If the answer is yes, the participation in a year long mentored research experience and not an 8-10 week summer research experience is the key to increasing UR entry into graduate schools and may contribute to their sustained presence in scientific careers.

It is interesting to note that, for the most part, underrepresented students who earn a BS or BA, who are not at first successful gaining entry into PhD programs at research intensive institutions are successful after participation in a year long postbaccaularette program where they research apprentice with multiple research education mentors. This observation, though not validated as far as I know, could suggest that UR are not successful at gaining acceptance into PhD programs because of lack of research skills set. It would be important to validate this hypothesis that lack of hands-on research coupled with development of critical scientific thought makes the difference between entry or denial of entry in PhD programs.

I think there is a large pipeline leak at the transition from PhD to postdoctoral as far as UR minority groups are concerned. In my twenty one years of teaching, I have noticed that more than 80% of our PhD graduates do not seek competitive postdoctoral postition ( they do however continue their careers in science via industry and government). When a I randomly ask a small number of them why they dont consider a career in academia, the reply is often; I want a balance of work and life.

So my point is there are many talented UR groups capable of pursuing careers in academia; but many are opting out of academic careers. Obviously, we cant force career choices, but we can provide and avenue where successful UR who have opted for academic careers can come to institutions to give seminars and to mentor groups or graduate cohorts during graduate career fairs.

I think we stop mentoring once students are admitted to our programs; we train without continue to ask " what do you want to be when you grow up". The same statements can be made about postdoctoral fellow to junior faculty career transition...too little mentoring; not enough start-up packages.

There is an an old adage "Seeing is believing" . This statement supports my idea that students, and faculty at all stages need to participate in at least two national meetings each year so that they can see science at its best and choose a real or virtual persons as mentors. A virtual mentor is someone who you probably think is larger than life and would never have time to mentor you so you follow their careers, their science and you do your best to imitate their enviable skills and accomplishments that you really like in the laboratory, in your manuscript and grantsmanship and in your professional and career development plans. Full participation in national meetings, specialize workshops and conferences, annually with the intent of implementing "that something new" in your science or your career works wonders and keeps you updated in your area of science. Could scientific societies be encouraged( financially) to increase the number of student, faculty and faculty/student travel awards.  
01/26/2012 at 07:19:59 PM Self     Study section bias. I have submitted numerous applications and have had problems getting them into the appropriate study section. If SRO is asked about whether they have expertise to cover the area, The SRO will always say yes. If they say no, they are admitting a vulnerability. Once assigned to a study section, it is difficult to have it moved. I was told in the critique that if instead I used a technique that only one member of the entire study section was using, then my grant would be fine. I have critiques that say that schizophrenia has nothing to do with GABA when there is more than ample evidence that this disease could have a GABAergic neuron dysfunction at its core. The study section assignment is a problem. Not only which study section but who on the study section reviews the application. The system has to get away from the notion that a few top tier investigators are getting all of the money because they are the most connected and have the most grants already. A2 submission. I have had problems with just having one submission. For example, my application is reviewed in study section A and then moved to a SEP for the next round. This means there has only been one review at the specific study sectiomn. Another example of this - my A2 was scored at 23%. This will not get funded. so what do I do now? The critiques are minor and more data would have made it stronger but there is no option for an A2. what about the the grant that goes unscored the first round. The PI needs to start over because you cannot bring a grant from being unscored into the fundable range in one round. It never happens. But now we can't start over because our grants are flagged as having been submitted already-even if they are different. The biggest problem is the concept that those people who are successful at getting grants keep getting additional grants. The study section sees productivity and rewards this. if you lose your grant and it goes for more than one cycle, there is no way to get back on track. There should be a limit on the number of R01s that any person holds. This should also be limited based on whether the lab has additional funds- like from NARSAD or through another NIH mechanism (P50). Something has to be done to help people who are in the latter stage of their career but have lost funding. Young investigators are given a break. But if you do not have funding you are looked down upon because you lost your grant. it's a prejudice. Having yound non-seasoned investigator review senior level PIs is inherently unfair. too many times I've seen grants that are trashed by young investigators trying to make a name for themselves on the study section. I have reviewed grants for over twenty years. I have been a regular member of an active study section for 6 years and served on a fellowship study section for over 8 years. This system is broken and all of the changes that have been made have been relatively transparent.  
01/30/2012 at 07:02:23 PM Organization Weill Cornell/Rockefeller/Sloan-Kettering Tri-Institutional MD-PhD Program New York, NY Please see attached letter Please see attached letter Please see attached letter Two key problems facing the development of a diversified biomedical research workforce are: the paucity of individuals who are motivated and prepared to pursue careers as biomedical investigators; and the paucity of appropriate role models and mentors for these individuals. We will focus on the former problem, with emphasis on the training of dual-degree physicianscientists and the generation of an applicant pool of highly qualified applicants to MD-PhD programs. A pipeline of motivated and prepared trainees will, over time, generate the role models needed. Good undergraduate career advising is essential. Unfortunately, undergraduate career advisors tend to be poorly informed about dual-degree training, and tend to emphasize grades and standardized test scores over the more substantive, but less quantifiable predictors of suitability for a physician-scientist career. This has the unintended consequence that members of underrepresented minorities often are advised not to pursue dual-degree training. This is a serious problem because competitive applicants to dual-degree training programs need to have considerable undergraduate research experience⎯enough to know that research is hard work with frequent failures. Even if students who are members of underrepresented minority groups, or otherwise are disadvantaged, learn about dual-degree training, they frequently do so too late, as they do not have the time to acquire enough research experience to become competitive applicants. One way to overcome the pipeline problem is to have dedicated summer programs that introduce the target student body to the excitement of biomedical research early in their undergraduate training. Undergraduates who participate in most traditional NIH-funded research (summer) programs, however, tend not to apply to MD-PhD programs⎯in part because many of the NIH-supported programs worry that their students will end up in medical school rather than graduate school. NIH needs to formulate clear guidelines for what kind of undergraduate training programs they wish to fund and what is considered to be acceptable outcomes. Summer programs are unlikely to have an impact, however, unless they: first, are willing to admit students early in their undergraduate training, such that the students receive the prerequisite research training; and second involve the students' families, who need to understand why their sons and daughters wish to undertake the long and arduous training required to become biomedical investigators. In the Tri-Institutional MD-PhD Program we do Response to RFI on Enhancing Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce Page 2 so by (1) focusing on freshmen and sophomores and (2) inviting one member of each student's family to the final "graduation" ceremony from our Gateways to the Laboratory Program⎯a 10-week summer research program for underrepresented minorities, persons with disabilities, and persons from disadvantaged backgrounds. We began inviting the parents in 2000, and we have found that the percentage of "graduates" from the Gateways program who are pursuing PhD and MD-PhD training increased three-fold (to >40%, with 1/3 pursuing PhD and 2/3 pursuing MD-PhD training). Therefore, we believe it is important that NIH funding for summer research programs focus on programs aimed at freshmen and sophomores and include funds to get the students' families involved. We further believe that NIH funding for summer programs should be provided through the Office of the Director or NIGMS. Undergraduates have so little insight into what they really want to do that it makes little sense to provide funding for summer programs through the categorical institutes, who may misjudge their programs effectiveness if they simply monitor how many trainees will later show up in the institutes grant portfolio. Monitoring the success of summer programs should be an NIH-wide activity. Such specialized programs are expensive to run, but looking at the outcome of the Gateways to the Laboratory Program (which was turned down for NIH support, seemingly because we focus on generating competitive applicants to MD-PhD programs) these programs have positive results. Once students who are members of underrepresented minority groups, or otherwise are disadvantaged, have matriculated in MD-PhD programs they do about as well as the overall student body. The major issue we deal with is that the students tend to come from socioeconomically disadvantaged groups that may not provide the family support the students need to get through rough spots in their training. It is important that NIH emphasize the critical need for such mentoring to be provided by the MD-PhD programs. We finally wish to point out that whereas there are few problems associated with identifying suitable candidates who are members of ethnic minorities or who are (socio-economically) disadvantaged, there are major problems with respect to candidates with disabilities. First, most candidates with disabilities do not wish to be identified as such; second, some disabilities preclude the candidates ability to complete the training; and third, and very important in the case of physician-scientists, how disabled can a person be and still practice medicine in a responsible manner? NIH needs to provide clearer definitions that focus on legally verifiable criteria, so that programs can determine whether or not they are able to fulfill the mission.
01/31/2012 at 03:31:12 PM Organization AIMBE Washington, DC On November 17-18, 2011 the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), hosted its inaugural Leadership Institute with joint support from its Women in Medical and Biological Engineering Committee (WIMBE) and its Committee on Underrepresented Minorities (CURM). The inaugural institute Effective Mentoring Strategies to Accelerate Retention and Career Advancement of Underrepresented Minorities and Women in Biological, Biomedical, and Bioengineering, found that there is a need for systemic institutional investment in mentorship programs in each of the areas identified in the NIH RFI. Though mentoring is only one part of an overall approach to developing individual support, mentoring programs, either in academic institutions or corporations are more likely to see increased diversity in their programs and thereby, the workforce. We have found that one key problem to increasing diversity was a lack of mentors for women and people of color.

The solution is to foster a greater understanding of the importance of mentorship at all stages of one's career and enhancing mentorship skills to allow for leaders to mentor proteges who may be of a different race, ethnicity, or gender.

As a member of AIMBE's WIMBE, I encourage the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director (ACD) to appropriately fund and effectively implement women and diversity mentorship programs at all stages mentioned in the RFI. These programs should have formalized checklists and/or the ability to measure progress. To ensure diversity increases, and programs are making efforts towards mentorship programs that include women and people of minorities, grant funding could be tied to benchmarks that programs must meet to demonstrate their ability to increase diversity. In addition, we suggest a continued outreach and utilization of societies like AIMBE, as we are especially dedicated to increasing diversity in medical and biological engineering to ensure there is an ample workforce to increase the development of new technologies to improve public health. We have the depth and breadth of experience to objectively evaluate proposals that the ACD puts forth, and offer our assistance in the development of diversity initiatives like mentorship programs. AIMBE, for example, represents universities, industry, professional societies, and leaders. With investment, groups like this can catalyze relationships and house information that is useful to changing the culture of recognizing mentorship and diversity as integral to research and development and the innovation ecosystem.  
01/31/2012 at 03:52:35 PM Self     Factors in the Review Process

"The potential role of institutional affiliation, academic pedigree, and various conscious and unconscious factors on review outcomes" - in my opinion, this is an area of critical need. Although the other areas are compelling, changes to review that address this one area will have the most immediate impact, which will also affect the pipeline "downstream".

"Exploration of the possible influences of racial, ethnic, gender, affinity, or other biases...Research on the NIH Peer Review system to determine appropriate methods or interventions to identify and if necessary redress bias, including efforts to anonymize applications or test the effects of unconscious bias training on outcomes" - seminal research studies demonstrate the unconscious bias that most people have, regardless of gender or race. The most fulfilling peer review process that I had for the submission of an original scientific paper (ok, not a grant, but a similar process) was when the process was "double-blinded", i.e. anonymized authors and reviewers. My personal experience with the process was convincing. Not only did I feel that the process was inherently as bias free as possible, but the process actually *improved the science* (I learned from the reviewers and they learned from me and my coauthors!)

     
02/01/2012 at 10:05:40 AM Self     Issue: Lack of senior female biomedical scientists to serve as mentors.

Context: The derth of female biomedical scientists is well documented. The reasons are varied but one contributor is a lack of senior female role models; the situation creates a self-sustaining crisis. The problem is escalating due to a decrease in R01 funding levels with a simultaneous increased emphasis on maintaining the young investigtor pipeline and funding. The effort to preserve our young is critical but at the same time this may create a wider mentor gap due to decreased availability of senior level female scientists to mentor junior female scientists. This places a greater burden on the few senior level female scientists and may affect productivity and increase burnout. A systematic evaluation of the gender gap in junior and senior female biomedical researchers may be helpful to understand the magnitude of the problem.

Strategies: Consider special programs/funding aimed to increase the female scientific workforce by increasing the number and quality of senior level female scientists available to mentor junior scientists. For example, the concept of Mid-Career Investigator Awards could be extended to Senior-Level Investigator Awards. Once the 10 year limit has been reached on a K24 then the possibility to renew/extend support for mentoring and career development could be made available to senior level female scientists with a track record for training junior female scientists, especially under-represented scientits such as minorities. This has the potential to be an effective mechanism to better balance the workforce but it should be evaluated prospectively. For example, a condition of acceptance of award would be to systematically report the number and outcomes of junior female scientists that are mentored.

     
02/01/2012 at 11:13:19 AM Self     One of the most critical issues is that many times minority or diverse scientists are called upon to be role models, to participate in committees, panels, training programs, etc. We do these willingly, but many times at the expense of our own research careers. These activities are not given the same value as research activities and often are viewed with suspicion by our peers. Consequently, award of tenure is a struggle. As a minority, we often feel inferior and not welcome at the table. This creates tremendous anxiety. Minority students in general are very family-oriented and view a career in science as "too hard" and unsustainable in the long term. Most resources and funds are expended in training grad, post-doc and junior faculty members. However, mid-career scientists are often forgotten, but are the ones who struggle the most. Given the issues I mentioned above, non-research activities that focus on training under-represented minorities should be rewarded as well. Mentors and role models are critical for the success of these students. Students feel more comfortable with those who look like "them", but there are too few minority mentors and role models. Once again, rewarding those few who have made a commitment not only to biomedical research but to training the future generation of scientists should be a priority. Granting agencies should not only focus on funding trainees but also should reward the mentors who are willing to put the time and effort, and sometimes their research careers on the line, to put together training programs. The NIH message should be that research is a rewarding and sustainable career. Physicians and other health professionals know that they will always have a job. Students know this.  
02/01/2012 at 09:01:42 PM Self     The fact that we want to increase diversity is a waste of time in my opinion. Giving someone an advantage just because they are a certain race is wrong Increasing diversity at the expense of doing good science is the biggest issue. Science should be driven by merit-not race Diversity should play NO factor in providing support; merit and productivity of the investigator should be the driving factors. In my 30 years of experience diversity has not added anything to research productivity  
02/02/2012 at 09:38:34 AM Self     1) Need to intervene earlier to encourage minority success in biomedical research. 2) Definition of "minority" should not be based solely upon ethnic group. Financially disadvantaged students form a signficnat minority group as well. In contrast, some students in 'minority' ethnic groups have come from highly priveleged backgrounds. Times are changing, and definitions need to reflect this. 3) NIH needs to provide greater support for the expenses associatied with minority outreach efforts of training programs. I have run a graduate training program, and served as PI for a T32, for > 15 years. During this entire time, I have employed a variety of strategies to increase minority participation in the biomedical science professions. Based upon this experience, I have become convinced that we need to start encouraging and empowering students in underrepresented groups EARLY i.e., in grade school and middle school, so they can take the appropriate curriculum, have enrichment opportunities that expose them to scientific careers, etc. To suddenly turn a college senior into a successful graduate student if the prior preparation has not been good is just to set this student up for a frustrating, negative experience. I stronly believe the efforts, focus, and resources should priortize much earlier intervention and pro-active efforts. 1)Define "diversity" in a broader and more valid way for training programs. Providing training to a student who grew up in a trailer park and worked full time during college is more significant than admitting an NIH-designated minority student who is the child of two professionals, grew up in a priveleged environment, and attended an Ivy league college. 2) Asking training programs to say how they "recruit" handicapped students is unrealistic. There are no conferences, etc. at which faculty can specifically meet such students. While every effort should be made to encourage and enable their participation, the concept of "recruitment" is baffling.  
02/02/2012 at 10:38:18 AM Self     I believe all areas are worthy of consideration. I believe all are important issues. Please see below for comments, As noted in my letter, some changes can be made by NIH but many need to be institutional. I would like to start by saying thank you for addressing these issues. I am an African-American female professor in a Research I institution. This is from my perspective as someone who has been part of minority research programs (NIH, NSF, Merck-UNCF), led an IMSD, been a member of study sections, and held an active funded laboratory. These are personal reflections after being in an academia for almost 15 years and do not reflect the opinions of my institutions. In its initial deliberations, the working group identified the following issues as important to consider when developing recommendations: Biomedical Research Workforce Pipeline o The appropriate transition points where NIH's training, career development and research grant programs could most effectively cultivate diversity in the biomedical research workforce - Entry into graduate degree programs - Transition from graduate degree to post-doctoral fellowships - Appointment from a post-doctoral position to the first independent scientific position - Award of the first independent research grant from NIH or equivalent in industry - Award of tenure in an academic position, at the NIH, or the equivalent in an industrial setting One of the critical issues that I believe impacts the success of the underrepresented biomedical workforce is an institutional issue (that I have seen at multiple institutions), especially Research I institutions. A major challenge is identifying overlapping efforts within each college/departments/college/university, points of integration, and opportunities for all trainees and faculty. On many campuses, numerous separate diversity efforts exist with funds appropriated to diversity and professional development efforts. These monies are typically significant in amount. In reporting success of programs, one issue that I have seen, especially in regard to trainees, has been competition between programs for the same cadre of trainees instead of a synergistic relationship. Many programs have nearly identical goals and recruit the same group of underrepresented trainees. Dual reporting of one specific trainee (i.e. financing from multiple sources) may be one solution, however this often results in tapping these trainees for promotional aspects of two programs and hampering their full academic potential. NIH may be able to play a role in identifying overlap with NIH training grants at any given institution. In addition, the level of institutional support for minority programs should be discussed. The number of opportunities to help at the career transition points is staggering. Every school I have visited or been employed by has these programs as well as most of the professional societies. Despite this, when I have visited and met with URM students, common-sense topics (i.e., what is a post-doctoral fellowships, what is an R01) are not covered and the students are unaware of the path they have embarked on for their career. My concern is that there is a greater focus on the "minority" and not on the "scientist." This becomes more of an issue as a person rises through the ranks and there are fewer URM scientists to interact with, creating a greater sense of isolation. The need for networking with other scientists (not of color) is key, especially when looking for your first independent position. However, I am not sure how an NIH policy will address this issue. Funding and the closely linked issue of tenure are both difficult in the current climate. However, it is imperative that URM investigators have protected time. I had a HHMI Resource grant that funded my initial efforts. This came with the stipulation that I would be protected, which I contribute to my success in getting my lab set-up in a relatively short time, and getting funded fairly quickly. When I showed success in this, I was given a teaching portfolio and was approached about performing University service. I have seen many of my other URM colleagues not granted the same protected time or having an overload of service. Most often, they are approached about diversity efforts on campus, they rise the administrative ranks within the diversity field, and they often times relinquish their academic role and a tenure-track position. I worry that many of our institutions are sacrificing some of the greatest scientific talents in order to fulfill an academic mission. It is one thing for someone to want to pursue this track, but it is another for an institution to make that decision for someone. One other aspect that cannot be underestimated is peer mentoring. When I started my first faculty position, many of the African-American women on campus met once a month socially to talk about strategies for academic success (we were almost all Assistant Professors). Our fields were broad (Education, Medicine, Public Health, Dentistry, Nursing) but we learned strategies of success for other academic fields. This was helpful for all of us and everyone is now tenured. The role of mentorship in the training and success of biomedical researchers throughout their careers - Development of relationships between professional societies, institutions, and individuals to develop mentoring programs - Creation and expansion of institutional mentoring programs - Mentoring of applicants and preparation of applications prior to submission o The influence of role models whose qualities and characteristics can positively affect the training and success of underrepresented biomedical researchers through their careers o The role of NIH messaging in encouraging underrepresented researchers to apply for NIH fellowships and grants o The role of institutional infrastructure support and climate as a factor in the success of underrepresented researchers The role of mentoring is key at all levels and poor mentoring can lead to an unsuccessful career. That being said, my belief is that the opportunities for mentoring are abundant. Most societies as well as departments, universities, schools (at least at the Research I schools) offer this however whether one attends these sessions or meets with their mentor is another issue. In other fields, programs have senior colleagues and junior colleagues have one weekend experience that includes both research and career topics. This is a competitive process so that ~20 people (senior and junior faculty) are invited to attend. I think something like this would be more effective and it would combine both research and career development. This could include mentoring applicants in preparation for grant submissions. In regard to trainee and mentoring along the grant angle, there has been a heavy reliance of many underrepresented minorities to remain on grants associated with URMs. While there has been more of an effort to get them onto T32 fellowship programs, having URM students applying for F32 or getting independent funding does not seem to be a priority. Grant writing skills are key to success this day and age. The programming of these grants and their recognition by institutions differ and there has to be a greater emphasis on developing skills of independence. Factors in the Review Process o The potential role of institutional affiliation, academic pedigree, and various conscious and unconscious factors on review outcomes - Exploration of the possible influences of racial, ethnic, gender, affinity, or other biases - Research on the NIH Peer Review system to determine appropriate methods or interventions to identify and if necessary redress bias, including efforts to anonymize applications or test the effects of unconscious bias training on outcomes. I have served on a number of NIH study sections. One thing I have noted is that it is not unusual for a reviewer to note "this is from an xxx investigator" describing either race or ethnicity. This is likely where unconscious (or conscious) factors significantly contribute. I think have a social scientist who investigates racial bias could be imbedded in the process (i.e. posing as a NIH institute employee) would be helpful is assessing this. If reviewers think that someone is in there watching their behavior, they will not be themselves. I think it is difficult to anonymize applications since research fields are very small. However, this may work for a new investigator who is not well established and has not attained their first independent grant. I do believe that it would be interesting for the advisory committee to review a few applications from investigators who are in the 10-percentile gap and just miss the funding cut (as discussed in the Science article) and see if there are any indicators of bias in their summary statements.
02/02/2012 at 11:05:27 AM Organization MarthasVineyardMinistry DOUGLASVILLE I am surprised at the lack of knowledge on the part of all groups: elderly, young adults, and the middle class.

The program should reach out to communities rather than state and local governments alone so that minorities can be able to participate in these programs.

both    
02/02/2012 at 01:10:59 PM Self   Yonkers, NY Minority researchers find it difficult to find mentors to support their careers. In the absence of good mentors they struggle for years, frustrations set in and they move their skills into sectors where there is less need for mentors. Lack of good mentors for minority researchers I think NIH program officers should establish mentoring relationships with early researchers with promising research questions.  
02/02/2012 at 04:30:24 PM Self     1. The role of mentorship in the training and success of biomedical researchers throughout their careers. Critical issues include providing mentors with additional support (training grant opportunities, skills training for communicating with diverse populations) and supporting nontraditional models of mentoring such as multi-institutional mentoring teams. 2. The role of institutional infrastructure support and climate as a factor in the success of underrepresented researchers. Critical issues include supporting an institutional environment that promotes inclusiveness and assisting minority researchers in identifying institutional resources that facilitate research. 3. The appropriate transition points where NIH's training, career development and research grant programs could most effectively cultivate diversity in the biomedical research workforce. A critical issue is promoting research opportunities during undergraduate education, which is a time when students are making critical decisions that will impact their careers. 4. The potential role of institutional affiliation, academic pedigree, and various conscious and unconscious factors on review outcomes. A critical issue is the role of unconscious bias in the review process. Strategies to recognize the potential for unconscious bias and approaches to minimize effect of these biases. 5. It is critical that review committees are comprised of members from diverse groups to facilitate a fair review process. The two most important issues are - Providing optimal mentoring and - Selecting reviewers from diverse groups.

1. Because of the complexities of conducting biomedical research and writing competitive grant proposal, a mentor who is experienced in this area is crucial for becoming an independently funded investigator. An intelligent, well-educated scientist can fail to receive funding without a good mentor to help navigate the systems and obtain supportive resources.

2. Study sections comprised of diverse groups are likely to have a diversity of thought and will be able to identify additional strengths from proposals.

1. Provide additional support and incentives for mentors of minority researchers. This is important and necessary as mentoring is a substantial time commitment and is often uncompensated. These mentors may also benefit from additional training in cultural sensitivity and communicating with diverse populations. 2. Provide additional training and education on the nonscientific skills necessary for conducting biomedical research. Budget development, management, communications, etc. 3. Support nontraditional models of mentoring such as multi-institutional mentoring teams. These could facilitate the natural development mentor-mentee relationships that are the best fit and decrease the burden for mentors. 4. Provide incentives and training to prepare a diverse group of reviewers. The current process for identification of reviewers is biased by 'who you know' and whether you already have funding.  
02/03/2012 at 10:01:04 AM Self     The best way to increase diversity, is to hire more qualified minority scientists who usually also hires qualified scientists, except they have a soft corner for minority scientists.

Coming from similar challenging background and facing similar roadblocks in their life, they gave minority scientists better chance than the other powerful current gatekeepers who predominate in NIH campus.

I could see this is happening as we see more minority scientists are hired; except the pace is slow.

We must expedite this process.

This also applies equally in the extramural campus. We have to train more minority scientists at NIH and make them grant-worthy so that they could set up their labs in the academic campuses and train more minority scientists and thus increase diversity.

Good luck.

   
02/03/2012 at 03:22:37 PM Self     In order to increase diversity in the Biomedical research workforce, I believe that several key issues need to be addressed. Among these issues are providing more funding opportunities and set aside funds for minorities in the training and independent phases of their careers, having the process of applying for minority supplements to existing grants more streamlined with funds awarded with less of a lag time, and reaching out to K-12 students to promote excitement in science and the scientific process. The issue of having more minority-related funding opportunities at the postdoctoral training and early stage investigator level is one that would definitely lead to more minorities participating in biomedical research right away. At present, the mechanisms for obtaining specific minority-based funding are the F31 predoctoral award, and minority supplements to existing NIH research project grants (R01, U01, U19, P01). There are no specific minority postdoctoral , K awards or research grant awards. Supporting minorities at the postdoctoral levels and beyond is likely to have a greater impact than the current strategy for pre-doctoral training because it would maximize the chance that senior minority faculty would be generated to serve as role models for younger scientists. Moreover, the pre-doctoral award is the least needed in terms of funding availability. Many minority graduate students can be supported by grants from their graduate school (there are often minority scholarships on the institutional level), or on training grants. It is during the postdoctoral stage and beyond where increasing support for minorities would have the greatest impact. Currently, there are no specific minority postdoctoral awards, and no formal process by which minorities with F32s scoring in the excellent-to-outstanding range can be considered. Due to the ever decreasing paylines and payout of NIH grants, and the necessary increase in postdoc salaries, PIs can only support one (maybe 1.5) postdoctoral fellows per R01 application. Providing more support for minorities at the postdoctoral level would increase the pool of minority scientists significantly. The other mechanism for obtaining minority-based support is for the mentor to obtain minority grant supplements. From my experience and that of other investigators, obtaining these supplements can take 9 months-one year, such that the term of support is usually greatly reduced by the time it is awarded. Moreover, one cannot get a supplement if you happen to already have that minority student in your lab being supported by your NIH grant. The impracticality of not being able to support a minority student off of your research grants while you wait one year for the supplement makes this type of mechanism of limited utility. My suggestion would be to change the scope and type of individual awards for minority scientists, with more directed at postdoctoral and early stage investigator level. I believe that NIH should have an firm policy that most of its resources be allocated for the support of basic research on the individual investigator or program project levels; however, I am not sure that this is the current trend. It appears that considerable resources are being devoted to huge contracts, big multi-institutional centers,and clinical trials that only detract from funds allotted to R01s and P01s. As a result, scientissts at all levels feel in a constant state of peril regarding the future of their laboratories. For minorities, there is no specific set aside, and therefore funding for the minority-based mechanisms is the most fragile of all. If NIH would focus on what has and will continue to make the US scientific enterprise the most innovative and creative with the highest impact on improving world health, increasing allotments for minorities would enhance the existing policies and improve the diversity of approaches for pursuing solutions to the intractable problems in human health. The current climate of funding so few and having so many outstanding scientists leaving the field needs to stop. Funding of expensive clinical trials and drug contracts will continue to detract from basic research in ways that will be devastating for the future of science in this country. Increasing minority representation will in the end, only be possible by improving the climate of research for all individual investigators. Creativity is not built on negativity, and diversity is not built on adversity.  
02/04/2012 at 05:01:57 AM Self     One of the important factors not incorporated is a concrete plan to support mentorship of trainees and early investigators. For instance, there are a number of funding mechanisms, including diversity supplements and F and K awards, but none of these provide any resources or time for mentors.

I am fortunate enough to have held a K24 award for mentoring others for the past 8 years, but after this, I will not be eligible for further NIH support for this activity. The K24 has been an excellent mechanism to allow me to mentor the next generation of researchers, but when it runs out (10 year maximum), there will not be any further mechanisms for support.

While a K05 is an option, I am currently not yet 50 and have (hopefully) many years of mentoring and research ahead of me. It seems to me that a K05 should be reserved for somewhat later in my career, so there is not another mechanism.

When researchers are provided support for their mentoring time, it becomes much easier to spend additional time seeking diversity candidates (which I do) and providing the extra time that is required to enhance their productivity.

Though there are a number of considerations, perhaps adding funding support (in addition to the candidate) to the mentor in these funding mechanisms would encourage mentors to seek out and provide extra mentorship for candidates would benefit the overall mission of NIH. Without that incentive, the path of least resistance is to accept the qualified candidates that come through the normal graduate school pathways. Alternatively, coming up with MENTORING awards (between a K24/K02 and a K05) for individuals who have a track record would be worth considering as well.

     
02/05/2012 at 08:55:34 PM Self     Remove exclusion of current Federal support for Minority Supplements. Career development often requires stringing together a series of funding mechanisms. In addition, some ICs automatically exclude research staff such as project coordinators who are supported by federal grants. This is a mistake. Some of the strongest candidate for minority supplements will have held staff level positions. I would encourage a set aside for career developments (K awards) for candidates from historically disadvantaged minority candidates.

Expand funding for minority supplements.2

   
02/06/2012 at 01:33:50 PM Self     Critical issue: Inadequate salaries for postdoctoral fellows and first-time scientists

Impact:

As economic inflation occurs, people are gravitating to jobs that pay more money.

I am an African American NIH funded postdoctoral fellow working in Washington DC. My critical issue is that NIH funded postdoctoral fellows particularly those living in major cities (DC, Chicago, Dallas) where the cost of living is very high, are struggling to pay bills.

Why stay in governmental biomedical research workforce, when I can make more money in a different career choice.

As for being a minority, the decision makers and the those that make the most money, traditional and continually are not people of color. When this invisible ceiling of discrimination is broken then there will be more people of color willing to stay in the biomedical research workforce.

If NIH is truly interested in diversity in the biomedical research workforce, then start with improving the work environments of those people of color that are already funded by NIH

Incentives for staying:

-automatic student loan forgiveness -adjust salaries according to where the person is located -support groups/retreats for diverse groups to come together and discuss what their needs are and how to work with NIH to collectively achieve these goals.

 
02/07/2012 at 03:59:46 PM Self The University of Montana Missoula MT I am attaching a PDF file within which i have commented on most of the points included in the request for comments.     Input into the Deliberations of the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director Working Group on Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce THE NATIONAL INITIATIVE ON GENDER, CULTURE AND LEADERSHIP IN MEDICINE: C - CHANGE The National Initiative on Gender, Culture and Leadership in Medicine (C - Change) research team is pleased to respond to the NIH RFI. We are an inter-disciplinary investigative team conducting mixed-methods research to address issues central to the NIH Working Group's charge at the faculty research scientist level. Our work (generously funded by the Macy Foundation) on the engagement, retention and optimal realization of potential of a diverse biomedical research workforce is well-known for the following: Five years' experience developing and administering the C - Change Faculty Survey (CFS) that documents the professional experience of biomedical faculty and the culture of academic medicine-in our opinion, the most comprehensive survey of its kind; A reliable instrument, available for streamlined administration, analysis, and reporting; A national benchmark faculty dataset from 26 randomly-selected, representative U.S. medical schools; A national dataset that includes responses of over 500 under-represented minority faculty in medicine (URMM); The CFS measures 12 critical dimensions of the culture for assessing the experience of biomedical faculty; Key analytic variables include research as primary or secondary role, percent time spent in research, type of research, and focus on disparities research. The C - Change research team welcomes the opportunity to present these data to the NIH Working Group to inform their efforts and investigation. Preliminary analyses of the national data reveal important differences for URMM compared with non-URMM faculty. A modest NIH contract would allow completion of analyses to describe these important differences. About C - Change Created in 2006 and housed at Brandeis University, the National Initiative on Gender, Culture and Leadership in Medicine, known as C - Change (for culture change), is devoted to achieving the realization of the full potential of all faculty, including under-represented minority and women faculty, by changing the culture of academic medicine through research and action. C - Change research is based on the premise that under-utilization of key populations of faculty means that the U.S. biomedical research workforce does not optimally serve the nation's health care, research and training needs. Using a mixed-method research design and involving a consortium of medical schools, C - Change has investigated important human capital issues in the biomedical sciences. Mixed-Methods Research In an initial phase, C - Change conducted in-depth interviews with men and women faculty (with oversampling of faculty from under-represented minority groups in medicine URMM) in five academic medical centers to develop a deeper understanding of the culture and issues affecting faculty productivity, advancement and well-being.2-11 These qualitative data served as the basis for the construction of a quantitative survey instrument. The C - Change Faculty Survey systematically explores and documents the professional experiences of medical school faculty and their perceptions of the organizational culture in their academic medical centers. The comprehensive survey assesses levels of vitality, trust, competition, feelings of being valued, and gender and diversity equity, as well as other constructs related to the organizational culture for faculty, such as their school's support for career development, mentoring and work-life management issues. It also collects extensive and varied demographic data on faculty, e.g., percent time spent in research and research focus. C - Change National Biomedical Faculty Dataset From 2007 to 2009, we used the CFS to collect data from a stratified national sample of randomly selected schools. The 26 schools encompass a range of key attributes of medical schools (public/private, region of the U.S., NIH research intensive or community care focused). The schools 1) spanned all school types (including one historically Black school), and 2) achieved a distribution similar to the overall proportion of AAMC schools across eight strata defined by four geographic regions crossed with public/private status Randomly selected faculty in each of the 26 schools were surveyed, oversampling women and URMM by early, mid and senior career stages to ensure adequate numbers for analysis. The study's response rate was 52%, and the respondent pool includes 1271 women, 1110 men and 574 URMM faculty. This large and unique nationally representative dataset of faculty allows exploration of important questions that lie at the core of both the development of human capital (e.g., trust, support, perception of opportunity, self-efficacy) as well as the waste of human capital (e.g., dissatisfaction, burnout, desire to leave academic biomedicine). Because of the large number of women and URMM faculty included in the study, the dataset allows for in-depth examination and understanding of the experiences of these at-risk faculty in the biomedical workforce. Twelve scales with demonstrated statistical reliability were developed to summarize C - Change data along important environmental dimensions, allow comparison of sub-populations and investigate outcomes of interest. The 12 Environmental Scales are presented below with a summary description, the number of items included in the scale, the Cronbach's alpha coefficient and examples of representative items. National Dataset: Under-represented Minority Faculty C - Change is uniquely positioned to inform NIH's work exploring diversity in the biomedical research workforce. Preliminary data analysis revealed significant differences between URMM and non-URMM faculty, e.g., levels of relatedness, inclusion and trust as well as levels of ethical/moral distress and perceptions of equity. These were further differentiated depending on whether the URMM faculty member was at an institution with primarily majority or diverse faculty (i.e., an HBCU or off-shore school). Further analysis of these findings is needed to confirm and detail these important differences and predictors of optimal productivity. The survey database holds many keys to a better understanding of those factors predicting engagement, advancement and retention of a diverse faculty and differences among various faculty constituent groups. The 574 URMM faculty in the C - Change dataset includes over 200 URMM faculty who indicate that research is their primary or secondary role. Of specific relevance are faculty who consider research their primary role: the dataset includes 166 URMM faculty (94 men and 72 women) and 575 majority faculty (247 men and 328 women). Additional faculty denote research as their secondary role. Data concerning percent of time spent in research, type of research (basic, clinical, translational, educational), and whether faculty are focused on "disparities research" provides additional depth to an investigation of diverse faculty in biomedical research. These elements, in combination with the C - Change environmental scales, offer much potential for analysis and actionable recommendations. C - Change Qualitative Data Publications of C - Change studies are listed below, 1-4, 6-11 together with a summary of findings focused on the experience of URMM faculty. C - Change Research Team We have an experienced, dedicated and diverse research team: C - Change Publications 1. Pololi LH, Krupat E, Civian JT, Ash AS, Brennan RT. Why are a quarter of faculty considering leaving academic medicine? A national study of perceptions of institutional culture and intention to leave. In Press. 2. Pololi LH, Jones S.J. Women faculty: an analysis of their experiences in academic medicine and their coping strategies. Gender Medicine. 2010;7:438-450. 3. Pololi L, Cooper LA, Carr P. Race, disadvantage and faculty experiences in U.S. Academic Medicine. Journal of General Internal Medicine. 2010;25:1363-9. (Summary provided below) 4. Pololi LH. A prescription for diversifying medical faculties. Chronicle of Higher Education. September 24, 2010. B32-34 5. Pololi LH. Changing the Culture of Academic Medicine. Perspectives of Women Faculty. Hanover, NH: Dartmouth College Press; 2010. 6. Pololi L, Kern DE, Carr P, Conrad P. Authors' Reply: Faculty values. Journal of General Internal Medicine. 2010;25(7):647. 7. Conrad P, Carr P, Knight S, Renfrew MR, Dunn M, Pololi L. Hierarchy as a barrier to advancement for women in academic medicine. Journal of Women's Health. 2010;19(4):799-805. 8. Powell D, Scott JL, Rosenblatt M, Roth PB, Pololi L. Commentary: A call for culture change in academic medicine. Academic Medicine. 2010;84:586-587. 9. Pololi L, Kern DE, Carr P, Conrad P, Knight S. The culture of academic medicine: Faculty perceptions of the lack of alignment between individual and institutional values. Journal of General Internal Medicine. 2009;24(12):1289-95. 10. Carr P, Pololi L, Knight S, Conrad P. Collaboration in academic medicine: Reflections on gender and advancement. Academic Medicine. 2009;84(10):1447-1453. 11. Pololi L, Conrad P, Knight S, Carr P. A study of the relational aspects of the culture of academic medicine. Academic Medicine. 2009;84:106-114. Pololi L, Cooper LA, Carr P. Race, disadvantage and faculty experiences in U.S. Academic Medicine. Journal of General Internal Medicine. 2010;25:1363-9. Summary: Medical schools hold a social mission to educate physicians who will care for the entire population. Diversity among faculty enhances the ability of academic medicine to fulfill its educational, research and patient-care missions. Despite compelling reasons to draw on the perspectives and contributions of URMM faculty members, there is an alarming lack of these faculty in U.S. medical schools and a serious paucity in leadership and senior roles. Our study findings show that URMM faculty experience isolation and feelings of being an outsider, which resulted from a combination of barriers to communication and relationship formation with majority faculty; scarcity of people of color among the faculty; and a lack of role models. Lack of family instrumental support and social capital combined with education-related debt add to the burden of continuing to function successfully in academic medical careers. URMM faculty experience disrespect, discrimination and racism, and a devaluing of their professional interests in community service and minority health disparities. Minority women faculty also comment on the double impact of gender and minority status. URMM faculty experience social as well as professional discrimination and may feel justifiably angry. The "tokenism" and "window dressing" they describe pertains to at least three concepts - one that implies a lack of authenticity among institutional leaders in efforts to include minorities, another that speaks to the burden of having to represent one's entire race, and yet another that deals with being on the receiving end of special programs and having people assume that as a person of color, one's achievements are because of special favors rather because of one's own merits. Faculty describe a pivotal role for leadership in combating discrimination and achieving diverse faculties. URMM faculty bring knowledge and experience of different backgrounds and world views to medical schools. Our findings suggest that these valuable attributes and abilities, instead of being received as beneficial, are often responded to as both negative additions and barriers to acceptance and advantage in the systems of academic medicine. Achieving real multiculturalism in medical school faculty would help meet the mission of academic medicine to train a physician and research workforce that meets the diverse needs of our multicultural society. Medical school leaders need to value the inclusion of URM faculty. Failure to fully engage the skills and insights of URMM faculty means that we don't have the best science, education or the best medical care that we could have.
02/07/2012 at 07:16:13 PM Organization AAMC Group on Diversity & Inclusion/The Ohio State University Columbus, Ohio A. Defining Mentorship

B. Institutional Support 1) Department Chair 2) Department Research Chair 3) Faculty Affairs Dean 4) Bridge funding

C. Importance of interprofessional and multidisciplinary collaboration

D. Extended tenure clock polices

E. Demonstrating robust diversity of NIH leadership and grant reviewers

F. Potential impact of refocused CTSA institutions

G. Design and fund grant awards that support team research

H. Holistic review of MD/PhD Medical Scientist Traing Program (MSTP) candidates

February 7, 2012

Dear NIH Advisory Committee,

Mentorship in academic medicine goes beyond the traditional role of having an individual provide advice and guidance to those considered having the potential to become researchers and tenured faculty. In fact, a requirement at The OSU College of Medicine includes selecting and providing a mentoring committee for faculty seeking tenure. The wisdom shared by the group of 3 senior faculty researchers on a monthly basis was much more impactful than receiving feedback from one research mentor. The Dean for Faculty Affairs must also be engaged in the process so that the College of Medicine has an informed investment and personal commitment to the success of underrepresented in medicine and biomedical sciences tenure track faculty.

Support from the faculty member's department chair and research chair is critical. This support may take the form of providing episodic bridge funding to cover research time until grant monies pay for all of the protected time for research, sharing examples of successful grant applications, and supporting time to attend professional development conferences presented by organizations such as the exemplary NIDDK Network of Minority Research Investigators.

The importance of collaboration cannot be overstated. Interprofessional and multidisciplinary collaboration should be a goal of all tenure track faculty. The collaboration between the M.D. and Ph.D. researchers is particularly synergistic. This finding is aligned with what we know about the super-additive affects of diversity on innovation and excellence. Whereas obtaining continual RO1 NIH funding for research is an optimal research career goal, in the interim, researchers must be resilient and resourceful by sustaining funding streams for salary support with foundation and other external sources of funding such as HRSA.

Extended tenure clock policies, such as the eleven year policy at The Ohio State University, provides for a more humane and attractive work-life balance. It also allows for time to develop service based and trusting relationships within communities to conduct translational and community based participatory research.

The NIH Clinical Science Translational Awards (CTSA) program provided great hope as a funding source for many underrepresented in medicine and biomedical sciences researchers because of the potential to translate research findings into improved community health. The NIH should make a greater effort to demonstrate and ensure greater diversity among CTSA leadership and grant reviewers at the local and national levels. There is a concern that limited diversity among the leadership and grant reviewers may marginalize the viewpoint of those few leaders and reviewers and decrease the likelihood of funding of specific research topics proposed by underrepresented in medicine and biomedical sciences faculty. The CTSA program should partner with the NIDDK Network of Minority Researchers and the AAMC Diversity Policy and Programs to leverage expertise to further engage underrepresented in medicine and biomedical sciences researchers at AAMC medical schools, many of whom are very interested in translational and community engagement research.

Larger grant awards to support a team of researchers should also be made available through CTSA programs. Success of the individual researcher is facilitated by the diversity of thought and expertise among the team of researchers.

Lastly, greater emphasis should be placed on enhancing the diversity of MD/PhD Medical Scientist Training programs to include adoption of holistic review. There is a much higher likelihood of MD/PhD graduates having successful academic medicine careers.

Sincerely,

Leon McDougle, MD, MPH AAMC Group on Diversity and Inclusion, National Chair-elect Associate Professor, Family Medicine Associate Dean, Diversity and Inclusion The Ohio State University College of Medicine

See # 2. Attachment #1: Mentorship in academic medicine goes beyond the traditional role of having an individual provide advice and guidance to those considered having the potential to become researchers and tenured faculty. In fact, a requirement at The OSU College of Medicine includes selecting and providing a mentoring committee for faculty seeking tenure. The wisdom shared by the group of 3 senior faculty researchers on a monthly basis was much more impactful than receiving feedback from one research mentor. The Dean for Faculty Affairs must also be engaged in the process so that the College of Medicine has an informed investment and personal commitment to the success of underrepresented in medicine and biomedical sciences tenure track faculty. Support from the faculty member's department chair and research chair is critical. This support may take the form of providing episodic bridge funding to cover research time until grant monies pay for all of the protected time for research, sharing examples of successful grant applications, and supporting time to attend professional development conferences presented by organizations such as the exemplary NIDDK Network of Minority Research Investigators. The importance of collaboration cannot be overstated. Interprofessional and multidisciplinary collaboration should be a goal of all tenure track faculty. The collaboration between the M.D. and Ph.D. researchers is particularly synergistic. This finding is aligned with what we know about the super-additive affects of diversity on innovation and excellence. Whereas obtaining continual RO1 NIH funding for research is an optimal research career goal, in the interim, researchers must be resilient and resourceful by sustaining funding streams for salary support with foundation and other external sources of funding such as HRSA. Extended tenure clock policies, such as the eleven year policy at The Ohio State University, provides for a more humane and attractive work-life balance. It also allows for time to develop service based and trusting relationships within communities to conduct translational and community based participatory research. The NIH Clinical Science Translational Awards (CTSA) program provided great hope as a funding source for many underrepresented in medicine and biomedical sciences researchers because of the potential to translate research findings into improved community health. The NIH should make a greater effort to demonstrate and ensure greater diversity among CTSA leadership and grant reviewers at the local and national levels. There is a concern that limited diversity among the leadership and grant reviewers may marginalize the viewpoint of those few leaders and reviewers and decrease the likelihood of funding of specific research topics proposed by underrepresented in medicine and biomedical sciences faculty. The CTSA program should partner with the NIDDK Network of Minority Researchers and the AAMC Diversity Policy and Programs to leverage expertise to further engage underrepresented in medicine and biomedical sciences researchers at AAMC medical schools, many of whom are very interested in translational and community engagement research. Larger grant awards to support a team of researchers should also be made available through CTSA programs. Success of the individual researcher is facilitated by the diversity of thought and expertise among the team of researchers. Lastly, greater emphasis should be placed on enhancing the diversity of MD/PhD Medical Scientist Training programs to include adoption of holistic review. There is a much higher likelihood of MD/PhD graduates having successful academic medicine careers. Attachment #2: Provided PDF copy of paper: Variables Associated With Full-Time Faculty Appointment Among Contemporary U.S. Medical School Graduates: Implications for Academic Medicine Workforce Diversity by Dorothy A. Andriole, et. al., published by Academic Medicine in July 2010 (vol. 85, no. 7)
02/09/2012 at 01:42:17 PM Self     Both of the respondents come from Vanderbilt University and have spent a considerable amount of time thinking about these issues, as well as devising ways at our home institution to address some of these concerns. One of us (AC) has put a proposal together which has been submitted to the AAMC. This addresses a very broad issue in this area which goes all the way back to a need to improve K-12 education in this country. This is summarized in the following abstract :

As we look at our options I would like to share one Big Idea around this topic..note this is my idea not my institutions(at least at this point):

There are multiple pipeline programs of variable success around the country that are attempting to address the problem of inadequate numbers of URG(underrepresented groups) in the biomedical sciences(specifically research). Some programs are working the pipeline early-ie pre-college programs; some are later ie pre-grad school programs. There is some NIH/NSF funding that is used in many of these programs with poor follow up or outcomes in many cases.

I think there should be an attempt to codify these programs in a way to unite multiple resources and bring some NATIONAL unifying strategy/purpose. Consider:

A respected not for profit tied to education being at the helm of this program(?AAMC). This organization would lead a program where all members of the AAU(American Association of Universities) would buy into a network of colleges/universities across the country adopting (under some imposed structure) an elementary ,middle school, and high school in their city with a preponderance of URG's in the student bodies.. There would be a predetermined set of curricular enhancements that would be incorporated into the schools' curricular. These educational enhancements would be focused on math and science classes and some new courses whose intent would be to foster innovative problem solving(science/math projects). The effects of this codified process would be measured -URG student entrance into college and the med/grad school and obviously where they eventually "land" vis-à-vis their careers. Along the way further enhancements would include summer science/math projects(possibly at major institutions where biomedical research(NIH included) was present with mentoring ea summer in high school and college). The AAU colleges working with the chief funding agencies(NIH) would support college scholarships on those students moving on to college and graduate school in the biomedical sciences.

It will be important that local URG mentors(preferably tied to the biomedical sciences but could be MD's and other professionals(consider the 100 black men/women programs as a source or model) are involved early in the student's school experiences and stay with them to offer guidance, emotional support, and in some sense serve as an academic/professional role model for the entirety of the student's school(and possibly life) experiences.

Some schools have successful small pipeline programs but to make the difference to change current trends and inertia it will take a big unifying resources idea lead by an institution with a lot in the "game".

This will require significant infrastructure to run and funding but the real issue what other choices do we have. Single schools and institutions can only have a small" gain factor ".Such a nationally coordinated program could have a very large" gain or amplification factor".

The other respondent (RC) has spent many years working with NIH programs (T32s as well as other NRSAs)to increase the diversity of the workforce. Currently the related NIH initiatives to increase the diversity of graduate programs and postdoc programs have increased the number of participating URM students to a level reflecting the fraction who graduate with a BS degree, and they must be ranked as moving very definitely in the right direction. (KUDOS to the NIH!). However this respondents current concern lies in the fact that despite these obvious positive improvements the number of minority groups on basic science faculties in medical schools is no better than it was in 1980! The fact is that students and postdocs of diversity simply do not apply for such faculty positions. The medical school administrations in general are fairly passive in this regard (note that for clinical faculty a different impetus is bringing more minorities into this area).

The Solution? The NIH can play a role which is similar to that played in stimulating the recruiting of underrepresented groups into graduate school. If, on average, schools applying for RO1 grants were required to make the same efforts in basic science faculty recruiting and retention, that they make for graduate students the problem could be resolved over the next decade or two. No diversity on the faculty, no grants! A simple imperative which would surely get our attention.

This is encapsulated in the previous text box.    
02/09/2012 at 02:52:44 PM Organization C - Change, Brandeis University Wlatham, MA see attached see attached see attached The IDeA Program in NIGMS, especially the IDeA Network for Biomedical Excellence (INBRE) programs provide exemplars for NIH to use in broadening participation and developing the workforce for biomedical research and professions. The Vermont Genetics Network (VGN) is the Vermont IDeA Network for Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE), located at the University of Vermont (UVM), the lead institution for the state. We build biomedical research capacity throughout the state by promoting faculty and student research at our 7 Baccalaureate Partner Institutions (BPIs) and our partnership with the Community College of Vermont (CCV). The BPIs comprise both private and public colleges serving a diverse population of students. CCV has 12 campuses statewide reaching out to traditional and non-traditional students. Biomedical Research Workforce Pipeline Infrastructure support Microarray, Proteomics and Bioinformatics Core Facilities were developed at the lead institute and are supported to serve the entire VGN network. Undergraduate students at our BPIs have the opportunity to use the state of the art equipment at these facilities as part of our efforts to interest them in biomedical (STEM) majors and careers. We subsidize the usage of core technologies by faculty and student researchers at our partner institutes. Grants Awarded to BPI faculty and undergraduate students Currently funding - 8 Faculty Research Grants - 6 Faculty Pilot Grants - 8 Undergraduate Research Grants Mentoring - Mentoring for VGN funded faculty is mandated. o Mentors are compensated for the efforts. o Required periodic meetings between mentor and mentee o Mentor provides critical review of manuscripts and subsequent grant submissions. - Student grantees work in the laboratory of a VGN funded faculty member at a BPI. o Faculty are required to address a mentoring plan for students when applying for the award. o Students are expected to show their research as a poster at a yearly VGN event. Outreach Program BPI Outreach This program exposes upper level undergraduates to scientific technology and resources using hands-on experiences. We provide all teaching materials, laboratory materials, and if necessary, laboratory equipment for baccalaureate colleges within the state to run each module. These modules increase the skills of undergraduate science students and the exposure to cutting-edge technology helps students in their scientific career development. Undergraduate modules offered - Microarray - Proteomics - Bioinformatics (Introduction to Data Mining) CCV Outreach An outreach partnership has been established with CCV. Support includes: the development of equipment "foot lockers" to be loaned to faculty to strengthening the laboratory offerings around the state and the formation of webpage with resources for CCV faculty and students. Other Outreach - Seminars provided to faculty and students around the state. - High School tours of core facilities, seminars and hands on experiments. - Support of new laboratory curriculum development at our partner institutes. - Research specific technical training for baccalaureate students and faculty provided by VGN supported core staff. Diversity We are making progress in increasing the diversity of the students in STEM majors and careers that impact the biomedical research workforce despite the demographics of Vermont. Vermont demographics: - Primarily homogeneous population 94.3 % white and non-Hispanic. (2011) - 11.1 % of Vermonter's living below poverty level (estimated 2006-2010). - Poverty as high as 16.9 % in the most economically depressed part of Vermont referred to as the Northeast Kingdom. VGN partners and outreach networks - Our public and private BPIs and the CCV campuses span the state reaching out to a diverse student population including first generation college students. - Two CCV campus locations as well as Lyndon State College are located in the Northeast Kingdom servicing the highest population of rural poor. - CCV's main campus supports over a third of the student population. It is located in Winooski VT one of the most diverse cities in Vermont (81.5% white non-Hispanic) and is located in the most populated county in Vermont. - CCV credits are transferable to baccalaureate colleges; the open admission policy, average student age of 28 years and 69% female student population caters to both traditional and non-traditional students. Assessment - All of our education outreach and research programs for undergraduates and faculty are assessed by multiple tools - Annual surveys/assessments evaluated by an outside consultant. - Surveys for every module taught (evaluated yearly) - Longitudinal Studies of the impact of our INBRE on students' attitudes toward STEM majors and careers (two longitudinal studies since 2003) Summary The goal of Vermont's INBRE program (VGN) is to cultivate cultures of research at colleges throughout Vermont in order to increase the size and diversity of the biomedical workforce in the state. Our network and programs are diverse and help to strengthen student interest in research and future biomedical careers.
02/09/2012 at 03:35:53 PM Self   Michigan Hello, my name is Nicole Huby and I am a forensic neuropsychologist who works for a State of Michigan forensic hospital, and who does private practice medical consulting for the Detroit Service Area - Disability Determination office for the Social Security Administration. I would like the Task Force to work on expanding the biomedical research pipeline by facilitating grant work (releasing RFPs) for streamlined, effective, and data-driven projects.

These projects would be for clinicians with solid research backgrounds who work in extremely high volume face to face assessment and treatment workplaces and have perhaps 1 day per week to devote to research.

It is most important to find and support an avenue that would afford busy nontraditional (not necessarily working in a top research university-but with ties to suitable offsite mentorship/resources) clinical researchers the opportunity to continue to provide services, and complete small, but significant (perhaps highly specialized projects i.e., forensic psychological) research projects. NIH processes should be expanded to afford the opportunity for small and sound research projects (i.e., K award or smaller, Loan Repayment projects etc) that are completed in a collaborative manner: focusing on nontraditional settings with nontraditional relationships (i.e., using archival data in a state forensic hospital or jail with a mentor in a local research 1 university).

Thank you, Nicole M. Huby, PsyD Forensic Neuropsychologist

 
02/09/2012 at 10:30:10 PM Organization Liver Disease and Hepatitis Program, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, Anchorage AK Anchorage, Alaska I can only speak from the point of view of a physician/clinician and researcher working in the field of Alaska Native/American Indian Health care issues who has also received NIH grants. Competition for NIH grants are stiff and most reviewers seem to not have a good knowledge of the problems and difficulties of doing research in Native communities and the lack of laboratory facilities and support systems. Too often when universities contact AI/AN organizations and researchers, they have their own ideas about what project(s) they want to pursue. Often times it is difficult to get universities interested in projects and specific diseases that AI/AN organizations and their researches feel are important.Tribal facilities are often most interested in studies to define the epidemiology of disease conditions to learn where intervention might work or disease outcome studies which could be used to define where intervation might be useul. Universities are more interested in sophisticated laboratory based studies which can generate funding but may not lead to ideas for interventions such as treatmement, monitoring etc. However, Tribal organizations do need university research experts to help design studies. NIH might have meeting with Native organizations and established researchers in these organizations to come up with a list of areas of research of interest where specifec RFA's can be developed by NIH. NIH should consider offering summer research scholarships to college minority college students who show interest in medical sciences careers to work in a Tribal research organization. High school students with strong science backgrounds could also be considered. The University of Alaska Anchorage has a strong summer program in engineering and science for Alaska Native High School students as an example.

NIH should consider also offering more collaborative grants where in house NIH researches collaborate on projects with Tribal Researchers.

 
02/13/2012 at 02:23:31 PM Organization Vermont Genetics Network Burlington, VT Critical issues 1.) Biomedical workforce pipeline -Introduction of different career possibilities to undergraduates and education about the graduate student process to first generation students. -Infrastructure and climate support at primarily baccalaureate colleges to promote a research culture. -Reach out to community colleges to identify students that may feed into the biomedical workforce pipeline. 2.) Mentorship -First year graduate students paired with senior graduate students. - Junior faculty paired with senior researches with incentive for both Impacts 1.)Increases diversity by casting a broad net, to research intensive, primarily baccalaureate colleges and community colleges. 2.) Provide supports at critical stages of career transitions strengthening institutional departments and individual scientists. Most important to address Target first generations science students to help build and diversify the biomedical workforce. Support scientific research infrastructure and culture at primarily undergraduate colleges. Target community colleges to identify and support students interested in pursuing a baccalaureate degree in science.   Text of attachment same as that of comment boxes.
02/13/2012 at 03:42:07 PM Self     In a competitive resource allocation system in which unfair bias is suspected of playing a role in the allocation of the competed resources, it is important to minimize decision points that require minimal or no justification and accountability from decision makers. Such decision points allow unfair bias, as well as conscious unfair discrimination, to thrive unchecked. The NIH's policy of "not discussed" scores for grant applications is a possible case of such a decision point with minimal justification and accountability on the part of reviewers.

Of course, theorizing unfair bias and conscious unfair discrimination is often not a sufficient basis for developing a remedy. It is ideal to have quantitative evidence that it exists. Therefore, it would be of interest for NIH to conduct two evaluations:

1) Investigate whether rates of NIH grant success by minorities have significantly decreased since NIH instituted "triaging" in the late 1990's.

2)Investigate whether the "not discussed" rates of grant applications submitted by minority applicants are significantly greater than those of majority applicants.

Only one issue submitted.

However, it will be very tempting for the Working Group to spend most of its effort on the "pipeline" and "mentoring" aspects of this important U.S. scientific workforce issue. These focus areas are important, and they are easier to address in many social and political respects; but they tend to focus the solutions on perceived deficiencies in minority scientists instead of on the barriers they face as a consequence of racism in America. If the Working Group will balance their attention to strategies for identifying and reducing barriers due to racism, unfair conscious discrimination, and unfair bias, which minority scientists face at their home institutions and in the NIH review process, they will do America a great service.

If the requirement of reviewers to identify 50%-60% of grant applications for immediate exclusion from additional discussion is found to be a point of significant differences in the outcomes for minority versus majority applicants, the policy should be revoked or safeguards should be developed to insure more equitable decision-making at this critical point in the grant review system.  
02/16/2012 at 09:33:28 PM Self     I think the issues of how to support individuals during the training phase should be a significant consideration, secondary to the identification of any bias within the reviewing and funding process. My concern with the training phase, however, is that this training and exposure should occur earlier and more intensive programs in the last two years of the undergraduate degree could provide critical experiences particularly for underrepresented individuals coming from less academically-oriented backgrounds (e.g., first generation college students). However, all the issues named are worthy of consideration. see above. As an NIH reviewer, I often observed that those members with more experience and seniority may have had more impact on group discussion. This may be as it should be. But given the composition of scientists, seniority is crossed with gender and ethncity/race and results in a potential for discrepancy in the imapct that views of different reviewers with different scientific foci have in these groups. I am not sure what the remedy may be. As we seek to rectify that coulping as a science, some consideration of how to socialze new reviewers into the discussion at reivew may be worth considering.  
02/16/2012 at 09:33:46 PM Self     I think the issues of how to support individuals during the training phase should be a significant consideration, secondary to the identification of any bias within the reviewing and funding process. My concern with the training phase, however, is that this training and exposure should occur earlier and more intensive programs in the last two years of the undergraduate degree could provide critical experiences particularly for underrepresented individuals coming from less academically-oriented backgrounds (e.g., first generation college students). However, all the issues named are worthy of consideration. see above. As an NIH reviewer, I often observed that those members with more experience and seniority may have had more impact on group discussion. This may be as it should be. But given the composition of scientists, seniority is crossed with gender and ethncity/race and results in a potential for discrepancy in the imapct that views of different reviewers with different scientific foci have in these groups. I am not sure what the remedy may be. As we seek to rectify that coulping as a science, some consideration of how to socialze new reviewers into the discussion at reivew may be worth considering.  
02/17/2012 at 09:47:36 AM Self    

Strategies to Reenergize African-American Scientists after NIH's Reconciliation and Recommitment

By

Gerald Schatten Director, Pittsburgh Development Center Professor & Vice-Chair of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences; Professor of Cell Biology & Physiology, & of Bioengineering; Director, Division of Developmental & Regenerative Medicine; University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine 204 Craft Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15213; gschatten@pdc.magee.edu -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- President, International Cell Research Organization (ICRO), a UNESCO Affiliated NGO

Evidence that "African-American applicants are 13% less likely to receive NIH funding compared with whites," or perhaps 10% after applying certain correction factors, by Ginther et al in their article: "Race, Ethnicity and NIH Research Awards" appears shocking to those of us at majority institutions and perhaps unsurprising to colleagues at minority institutions, who never-the-less appreciate the quantitative analysis. While we commend the NIH for seeking more creative, effective mechanisms to improve the 'Biomedical Research Workforce Pipeline,' 'Mentorship,' 'NIH messaging' and 'Institutional infrastructure,' as well as 'Factors in the Review Process(NOT-OD-12-031; 'Request for Information: Input into the Deliberations of the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director Working Group on Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce').' The NIH's responses appear to represent only modest steps. While statistically significance differences were noted between Asian-American and White PIs, the most glaring statistic of >10% was between African-Americans and others; while not intending to minimize concerns for other under-represented individuals, the comments here concentrate on the rectifying the situation of African-American scientists first. Here, we propose four concrete actions to increase the biomedical workforce's diversity from <2% towards the Nation's diversity demographics of 28.5%.

Specifically, we recommend that the NIH Committee responsible for improving Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce (DBRW): 1. Investigate soberly the hurdles for launching and sustain an NIH-sponsored research career, and strategize mechanisms to circumvent these barriers; 2. Rectify past and current inequities in NIH funding; 3. Reward successful African-American Mentors so that they can be sustained during this difficult times and 4. Reenergize our commitment to representative diversity in the Nation's research workforce for the benefit of all Americans by coordinated and sustained improvements in the biomedical infrastructure at minority-serving institutions, so that colleagues from majority institutions will seek to collaborative opportunities.

Threats Facing our 'Endangered' Colleagues: Our African-American colleagues who successful navigate the treacherous waters to build and sustain NIH-funded labs with promising trainees represent among the rarest of individuals who desire admiration, encourage and augmented resources - and often they encounter bruising experiences along the way. Ironically, as noted by Dr. Carrero-Martínez , pressures to serve as role models and contributing citizens, e.g. as mentors for summer research students, service on institutional and national advisory committees, et al., represents an unintended form of parasitism on their time and concentration.

Attention on the 'pipeline' is worthy though building on the endangered species model, far more offspring need to be produced, particularly in light of the hurdles now needed to be circumvented - especially the evidence which may convince our most promising younger colleagues of color that the decision to choose a research career is far less likely to be successful than the more lucrative and certain clinical trajectories.

Reconciliation and Rectification: Ginther et al note that of the 40,069 unique PhD PIs, 1149 were African-Americans and that 337 of those would have been expected to garner NIH awards, were they awarded at the same as for white applicants. Because only 185 NIH grants were actually awarded during the period from 2000-2006, 152 African-American PIs (and their lab colleagues including graduate, postdoctoral and undergraduate trainees) were deprived of access to this vital federal sponsorship. From 2007-2012, we anticipate that the rates have not changed favorably.

The 152 PIs who missed out on funding over those past six years represents about 26 PIs/year. As noted on the NIH's blog, because the NIH is made up of 27 Institutes and Centers (IC), a straightforward strategy today for addressing these inequities might be have each IC make an award to an African-American PI.

But what about the fate of those ~150 African-American PIs during 2000-2006 or the ~300 PIs from 2000 to now? Are those individuals still in scientific careers? Are their trainees still in the pipeline? Can the NIH reconsider an updated application, assuming that resubmissions were likewise unsupported? Because confidential records may be to be decoded, we propose that the NIH convene at Reconciliation Commission to consider mechanisms for restorative justice, as used elsewhere for rectifying other forms of discrimination. The message conveyed by rectification of these current inequities may help to dispel impressions that the outrageous biomedical abuses conducted experimentally Tuskegee and in Guatemala are indeed relegated to history. Without addressing NIH's current inequalities, this existing sieve of the pipeline will both discourage the most promising trainees into less discriminatory career trajectories and incur expensive ineffective compensatory over-recruitment.

Recommitment and Study Section Biases. Multiple factors may account for the lower rating of proposals from African-Americans, many of whom - though not all -- may apply from Historically Black Colleges or Universities (HBCUs). The NIH sponsors several mechanisms to promote career development at minority-serving institutions (MSIs) including NIH's Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI), Support of Continuous Research Excellence (SCORE), MARC Undergraduate Student Training in Academic Research (U*STAR) Awards, among administrative supplements and other mechanisms. Perhaps Reviewers are of the impression that these applicants are already well supported by NIH programs intended for HBSUs, as are the impressions from applications with Howard-Hughes Medical Institution (HHMI) or California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) funding. Maybe Reviewers are biased that the institutional environment is inferior at minority settings versus majority institutions.

Reenergize After Reconciliation and Recommitment. The newest NIH IC is the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, which has a mandate to improve the scientific infrastructure of predominately minority serving academic institutions by providing resources to strengthen faculty initiated research programs and improve the capacity for training future research scientists as well as building a cadre of scientists through faculty development and student preparation (http://www.nimhd.nih.gov/our_programs/rimi.asp ). But perhaps every IC should have a commitment to full diversity in the workforce, so that the NIMHD should exercise its leadership to encourage grants across the full spectrum of NIH's biomedical and behavioral portfolio. Mutually beneficial partnerships between minority and majority institutions must be encouraged for research, training, research resource repositories and especially mentoring. Initiative like the AAR Pathfinder Award to Promote Diversity in the Scientific Workforce is a commendable example. Perhaps MSI Research Centers, self-defined based on existing talents and institutional commitments, might be considered to help rebalance the research portfolios. In summary, improving diversity in the Nation's research workforce benefits of all Americans and the rectification of the currently shameful situation is urgent and important.

    Text of attachment same as that of comment boxes.
02/17/2012 at 11:56:20 AM Self     As a graduate student I can't comment knowledgeably on the higher levels. But I will say that inducing minorities to take an interest in the biomedical sciences at the level of pre-baccalaureate would help.      
02/20/2012 at 03:56:44 PM Self     With regard to the role of mentorship in the training and success of biomedical researchers throughout their careers; more study about the following issues is needed: 1. Dynamics of majority mentor (e.g. male and/or white) and minority mentee (e.g. female and/or black)on mentoring relationships. Given the paucity of women/minorities at higher academic ranks (African americans are 3% of med school faculty, 1.2% of professors), more training of majority mentors in seeking out/ engaging/supporting minority mentees is warranted. Issues related to implicit bias, concerns about being "politically correct", best practices in overcoming any perceived and/or actual differences in communication and work styles could be explored in a qualitative manner. 2. Focus on not only predictors of attrition along the pipeline, but also predictors of persistence in the pipeline. 3. Data from Science paper suggested that a higher proportion of initial applications for R01s among Blacks tended to have poor scores; and in turn, it appears that these applicants were less likely to resubmit. Research should focus on why minority applicants are turning in poorer quality initial applications, and if these reasons are also the same reasons for not attempting resubmission (e.g.,not having adequate mentorship to submit initial or subsequent applications). Presumably, applicant may not feel the need to invest time in an application that is ranked so poorly initially; or feels intimidated/defeated with first attempt. Are there differences in the time spent, the number of internal reviewers, type of mentorship Black applicants receive for initial grant submissions. 4.Partner with other research foundations (e.g. RWJ, Amer Heart/Diabetes/Cancer associations) to see if same trends apply 5. Explore disparities among clinician-investigators; physician investigators consistently experienced higher rates of attrition and failure, even after receiving a first R01 grant and clinical research proposals were less successful in obtaining funding than nonclinical research (JAMA.2007;297(22):2496-2501 and JAMA. 2004;291(7):836-843) 6. Explore gender gap: Are there are more women in medicine but not in clinical research? Do racial differences persist among women investigators? Dynamics of majority mentor (e.g. male and/or white) and minority mentee (e.g. female and/or black)on mentoring relationships. Given the paucity of women/minorities at higher academic ranks ( for example, African americans are 3% of med school faculty, 1.2% of professors), much of the career mentorship for minorities will come from majority mentors. There may be a need for more cultural competence training of the current leaders of graduate and post-doctoral research programs. In addition, more training overall needs to occur on teaching mentees how to "manage up" to engage senior faculty in their career development. May need to look to business literature (see Thomas, David A. (2001) The Truth about Mentoring Minorities: Race Matters. Harvard Business Review, April 2001, 99-107.) Require T32 grantees to show evidence of training of senior faculty as mentors. Curriculum could include broad topics like work and communication style assessment, conflict resolution, exploration of implicit/explicit bias; could be an online module centered at NIH.  
02/21/2012 at 01:36:06 PM Organization National Hispanic Science Network National Office - Miami, Florida Recently, Ginther et al. published a study in Science that examined the relationships among race, NIH application submission, priority scores and NIH award probability while highlighting the significant discrepancies experienced by black researchers, as compared to other racial groups. Underemphasized were the disparities in applications by Hispanic investigators, which comprised only 3.2% of NIH submissions. These statistics are troublesome given that Hispanics are the fastest growing demographic comprising 15.75% of the US population (U.S. Census Bureau, 2009) and have low college completion rates (13%) that constrain the supply of highly trained scientific investigators. Nevertheless, the success rate for Hispanic applicants did not significantly lag behind that of "white" applicants. This is an interesting finding given that Ginther et al identify access to research resources, mentoring during training or early career stages, and participation in established programs (i.e.: individual fellowships and career development awards) as key advantages in success rates.

Your response to Ginther et al.'s analysis highlighted NIH's identification of several approaches to address these discrepancies such as increasing the number of early career reviewers, including underrepresented minorities in the NIH review process, and improving mentoring and support for grant applicants. These anticipated remedies also include a comprehensive evaluation of current training programs and initiatives that have been successful in affording these opportunities to Latinos and other underrepresented groups so that they can be cultivated and amplified.

Rejuvenating efforts to advance underrepresented minorities in biomedical research can begin with utilizing an organization such as the National Hispanic Science Network (NHSN) as a successful model to develop and support programs providing formal mentoring and training to underrepresented minority investigators to enhance their rates of application and success in NIH funding. With support from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the NHSN was established in 2001 in response to the Federal government's commitment to the training and development of Hispanic scientists and researchers to ensure an effective and diverse civilian workforce. The NHSN's mission is to improve health equity of Hispanics by: 1) Increasing the amount, quality, and dissemination of interdisciplinary translational research; and 2) Fostering the development and advancement of Hispanic scientists to promote future leaders. NHSN offers opportunities for early career scientists by providing access to cutting edge scientific discoveries, interdisciplinary collaboration, successful Hispanic role models and effective mentoring through early career stages, including for grant applications. The NHSN has served as a vehicle for success by developing an infrastructure for early career scientists to develop a sound vision for their future as researchers.

In the light of the U.S. demographic transition with an aging workforce and youthful Latino population that will increasingly replace them by mid-century, we urge NIH to re-prioritize and support programs like NHSN that give increased opportunities for all underrepresented minorities and focus attention towards resource allocation and access to training and mentoring programs for these investigators. Preparing scholars from underrepresented groups is a national priority to remain competitive internationally.

The National Hispanic Science Network on Drug Abuse, with 450 members, has been very successful in promoting the next generation of scientists in the field of Hispanic drug abuse research by providing training and mentoring of early career scientists and trainees. The Network has provided travel awards to students to participate in the NIH Summer Internship program; has implemented six annual Summer Research Training Institutes (SRTI) with a total of 101 fellows; conducted two cohorts of the Interdisciplinary Research Training Institutes with 22 fellows; and has provided early career pilot funding awards. In addition, eleven, highly interdisciplinary, annual international conferences have presented examples of 21st Century approaches to science around issues relevant to Hispanic drug abuse research, reviewing gaps in drug abuse research among the diverse Hispanic subpopulations, and future Hispanic drug abuse research directions.

In the light of the U.S. demographic transition with an aging workforce and youthful Latino population that will increasingly replace them by mid-century, we urge NIH to re-prioritize and support programs like NHSN that give increased opportunities for all underrepresented minorities and focus attention towards resource allocation and access to training and mentoring programs for these investigators. Preparing scholars from underrepresented groups is a national priority to remain competitive internationally. Text of attachment same as that of comment boxes.
02/21/2012 at 06:10:30 PM Self Alaska INBRE and BioPREP Fairbanks, AK INBRE and COBRE funding have made it possible to begin to grow a biomedical research enterprise in our state. Several faculty have been awarded RO1 funding but we are not close to the criterion used on many training program solicitations: "the applicant institution must be a research-intensive institution that has a significant number of faculty mentors with active and extramurally funded (such as R01 or equivalent) research programs to support adequate research and academic training of the participants." It used to be that the T32 program was the main one with such a requirement, but it has been appearing more even on R25s (e.g., the NIGMS PREP program). It seems that a few boards are missing in the bridge from INBRE/COBRE funding to the standard NIH training program mechanisms: we've had enough to get us started but no way to make it to the regular NIH training programs. This lack of funding for pre and post graduate students makes it more difficult to grow vibrant research labs with a critical mass of students. Of course the students need to be exposed to larger research enterprises than we have at this time. One way to achieve that would be to allow a consortium of schools to apply for the training grants, such that the consortium met the requirement for enough RO1-funded researchers in a particular area. The training program would then provide for appropriate travel and experiences for the participants. Some mechanism of funding training programs for pre and post doctoral students is needed for institutions that do not have sufficient RO1-funded researchers to qualify for T32 and other such programs, especially in this time of decreasing pay-lines for NIH funding. The consortium idea is not the only solution but something is needed so that the many minority students in, for example, the western INBRE states (AK, ID, MT, WY, NM, HI, and NV) can continue their progress through graduate school and beyond. Many of those students are being recruited in existing student "pipelines" but the lack of funding opportunities at the higher levels limits their success.    
02/21/2012 at 06:13:56 PM Self     The role of institutional infrastructure support and climate as a factor in the success of underrepresented researchers:

My review of web-based records of research-intensive departments indicates that the proportion of women and Black faculty in basic science departments of highly research-intensive medical schools is much lower than the proportion in similarly research-intensive university science departments. Why might med school basic science departments be less successful than university-based cell/molecular biology departments in recruiting or retaining women and Blacks? There are some obvious differences between the two sets of departments, e.g. lighter teaching loads in the med school departments, but that is unlikely to turn off many applicants. The most obvious reason is the expectations for faculty productivity in medical school departments vs. university-based departments. In medical schools, scientists are urged to apply for many grants and pay their salary from these funds, leading to an institutional climate that is highly competitive and rewards aggressive individuals. There is much experimental evidence that a competitive (tournament) environment increases the performance of white males but not women. And more limited evidence that it has a negative effect on minority males.

The climate in research-intensive medical schools (which are NIH's primary clients) is antithetical to diversity, with respect to both gender and under-represented minorities. NIH has to find a mandate permitting it to influence the cultural issues that make med school scientific research a haven for aggressive white males. NIH has never attempted to change the institutional climate in medical schools (and research institutes), but the culture of "you can eat what you kill" and "your faculty appointment comes with four walls and a hunting license" is a major deterrent to scientists who lack big egos. Women and under-represented minorities tend to grow up in a culture that encourages avoidance of risk, and science faculty jobs in med schools are clearly high risk. And perhaps NIH's recent shift towards fewer grants/PI and salary caps might, as a by-product, improve diversity in med schools?  
02/22/2012 at 12:20:15 AM Organization Idaho INBRE Program Moscow, Idaho RFI response: Increasing the diversity of the workforce by addressing 'disadvantaged backgrounds' that are particularly importance in Western IDeA states.

Geographically Disadvantaged and Educationally Underserved The geographically disadvantaged live in remote and isolated locations. The Western IDeA states cover large areas, are sparsely populated, and have few institutions of higher education. For example, Idaho has a land area of 83,574 square miles (479 miles long and 305 miles wide) and has only three community colleges. The spectacular Idaho mountain ranges contribute to the isolation: the Rocky Mountains, Bitterroot Mountain Range, Coeur d'Alene Mountains, Clearwater Mountains, Sawtooth Mountains, Seven Devils Mountains, Lost River Range, and the Lemhi Range. There is only one 2-lane highway linking Northern Idaho to Southern Idaho. A comparison that highlights the unique geographic remoteness of the Western IDeA states is this: Mississippi (another IDeA state) has a community college within a 30 minute drive of every citizen whereas North Idaho College serves students from an area as large as Massachusetts.

The educationally underserved are often under-prepared in science, so that capable students find it requires exceptionally hard work, compared to their urban counterparts, to meet college expectations in science and math. Although these students have the ability to excel, they often reject science majors for easier success in 'softer' majors for which their High School-attained skills have made them more prepared.

o Solutions: Programs that enhance networking and communication. Programs that enhance science education by linking the K-12 educators to resources and training from institutions of higher education.

First Generation College Common to the Western IDeA states, rural first-generation students are often under-prepared for college and are surrounded by a culture that values the blue collar work ethic, but undervalues education beyond High School. For example, Idaho ranks 13th in the nation in High School graduation rate but ranks 49th in the nation for students continuing onto higher education (NCHEMS 2008). Once in college, retention is also a major challenge; Idaho ranks 50th in the nation for the percentage of first-generation-college freshman returning for their second year (NCHEMS 2008).

Many students are not supported financially by their families and are afraid to leave their hometowns.

o Solutions: Programs that specifically address the transition from High School to college and retention once in college. Programs that offer housing stipends. Programs that organize mentoring and peer-support pipelines from the hometown to the college town.

Both the geographically remote/educationally underserved and the first-generation-college students are the most important. A large segment of the Western United States is geogrphically remote and are home to many first-generation-college students. It is important to address these populations because they include many talented individuals who can make a difference in our nation's health and well being if given opportunities. Cultivating their abilities will create biomedical research workforce diversity. The 'N' in NIH stands for National. I believe there is an obligation for the NIH to serve the entire nation.....this must include the geographically remote, educationally underserved Western IDeA states. Engaging communities from these populations will be facilitated by a biomedical research workforce that includes individuals from these areas.  
02/22/2012 at 07:47:22 AM Self     Our comments below have been informed by our work on the academic and professional development of graduate degree program enrollees who enrolled in MD or MD/PhD programs at medical schools throughout the U.S. With funding from the NIH National Institute of General Medical Sciences (R01 GM085350, 2008 - 2011; "Promoting Research Careers among Underrepresented Minority Physicians"; joint PIs: DB Jeffe and DA Andriole), we created a unique database of individualized records for nearly 130,000 U.S. medical students who entered medical school in 1993 - 2000. With longitudinal data collected through 2010, we have examined factors associated with racial/ethnic differences in several outcomes related to the educational and professional development of medical school enrollees in our database.

We believe the educational and professional development of medical school enrollees should be of interest to the working group because many students aspiring to careers involving biomedical research enroll in MD and MD/PhD degree programs after graduating from college. As physicians, many MD and MD/PhD degree holders enter academic medicine careers, where they make substantial contributions to the biomedical research enterprise through work as biomedical researchers, as participants in the education and training of students in a wide range of health professions and graduate training programs and in their service as role models/mentors for students and trainees. We identify several critical issues worthy of consideration by the working group because of their implications for the diversity of this emerging workforce of physician-scientists (both MD and MD-PhD degree holders).

Beyond medical school matriculation, the medical education pipeline from medical school matriculation to entry into the academic medicine workforce is a "leaky" pipeline and this is particularly so for students from racial/ethnic groups historically under-represented in medicine ([URM], including African American, Hispanic/Latino American, and Native American /Alaska Native). URM medical students remain more likely than white students to be impacted by attrition during medical school [Andriole, 2010] and, among medical graduates, URM graduates remain less likely than white graduates to be appointed to full-time faculty positions in academic medicine. (Jeffe, under review)

We summarize below results of our findings for three issues that warrant consideration by the working group: 1) long-term impact of participation in structured research experiences during college on students who enroll in MD-degree programs, 2) the advanced-degree program institutional environment, and 3) impact of debt on MD-degree program enrollees and on MD-PhD program graduates.

1. The long-term impact of participation in structured biomedical research experiences during college on students who enroll in medical school:

Among all students enrolled in MD-degree programs (N = 84,018), participation in a laboratory research apprenticeship during college was independently associated with a lower likelihood of academic withdrawal/dismissal (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 0.82, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.71-0.94) and a lower likelihood of non-academic withdrawal/dismissal (aOR 0.77, 95% CI = 0.70-0.86). Importantly, we made these observations in models that controlled for both academic preparation (Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) scores) and for pre-medical debt. [Andriole, 2010]

Among all medical-school graduates with MD-degrees (MD-PhD program graduates excluded) eligible for full-time faculty appointments (N = 68,068), participation in a laboratory research apprenticeship during college was independently associated with a greater likelihood of full-time medical school faculty appointment (aOR 1.08, 95% CI = 1.03 - 1.12) in a model that controlled for academic preparation, debt at medical-school graduation and other research-related variables, including participation in a research elective with a faculty member during medical school (aOR 1.06, 95% CI = 1.01 - 1.11), authorship/co-authorship on a manuscript submitted for publication during medical school (aOR 1.10, 95% CI = 1.04 - 1.15) and participation in = 1 year of research during residency training (aOR 1.67, 95% CI = 1.56 - 1.77).[Andriole, under review]

2. The role of institutional Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) funding in MD-PhD workforce diversity and in full-time faculty appointment among MD-degree graduates

In a national cohort study of MD-PhD program graduates (N = 3,142) URM graduates were 4.20 times more likely (95% CI = 3.06 - 5.78) to have attended long-standing Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP)-funded than non-MSTP-funded medical schools and 3.47 times more likely (95% CI = 1.75 - 6.85) to have attended long-standing MSTP-funded than more recent MSTP-funded schools.[Jeffe, 2011]

Among all medical-school graduates with MD-degrees (N = 68,068), attendance at a medical school with long-standing MSTP-funding was independently associated with a greater likelihood of full-time medical school faculty appointment (aOR 1.17, 95% CI = 1.09 - 1.26) in a model that controlled for other research-related variables (as noted above in #1) as well as for the institution's NIH-top 40 funded medical school-status (which was NOT independently associated with full-time faculty appointment in this model ).[Jeffe, unpublished data]

3. The impact of debt on educational development of MD-degree program enrollees and career plans of MD-PhD program graduates:

Among all students enrolled in MD-degree programs (N = 84,018), premedical debt of $25,000 to $49,999 was independently associated with an increased likelihood (aOR 1.40, 95% CI = 1.10 - 1.80) of academic withdrawal/dismissal from medical school, as was debt of = $50,000 (aOR 2.33, 95% CI = 1.57 - 3.46).[Andriole, 2010]

Among only MD-PhD program graduates, those who graduated with debt of $50,000 to $99,999 were twice as likely (aOR 1.99, 95% CI = 1.05 - 3.77), and those who graduated with debt of = $100,000 were over three times as likely (aOR 3.58, 95% CI = 1.86 - 6.87), to plan to pursue non-university clinical practice careers rather than research-related (full-time faculty or research scientist) careers.[Jeffe, 2011]

References Andriole DA, Jeffe DB. Prematriculation variables associated with suboptimal outcomes for the 1994-1999 cohort of U.S. medical-school matriculants. JAMA. September 2010;304(11):1212-1219. PMCID: PMC2963622

Andriole DA, Jeffe DB. The road to an academic medicine career: A national cohort study of men and women U.S. medical graduates. Under peer review.

Jeffe DB, Andriole DA. A National Cohort Study of MD-PhD Graduates of Medical Schools With and Without Funding From the National Institute of General Medical Sciences' Medical Scientist Training Program. Acad Med. 2011; 86(8):953-961. PMCID: PMC3145809

Jeffe DB, Yan Y, Andriole DA. Post-secondary research activities mediate racial/ethnic disparities in full-time faculty appointments at U.S. medical schools. Under peer review.

Provision of opportunities for research experiences during college to a broad range of students with varying degrees of academic preparation: such experiences should be offered to those who may be considering pursuing careers as physicians as well as those who may be interested in pursuing advanced-degree training and careers in other STEM fields.

Institutional MSTP funding: as well as promoting greater physician-scientist workforce diversity, such funding has impact on a wider stakeholder group at MSTP-funded institutions than only those MD-PhD program enrollees who are intended to most directly benefit from MSTP funding.

In evaluating the impact of particular programs, consideration should be given to the following:

Research-based programs (including those at the college-level and beyond) that are intended to promote greater biomedical research workforce diversity have important long-term benefits for students who participate in these programs. Many other students, in addition to those who participate in formal research programs funded by the NIH (e.g., the MSTP), may benefit from the institutional impact of such NIH-program funding.

 
02/22/2012 at 12:05:07 PM Self     I am an African American researcher and in my opinion (and many other African American researchers) the lack of African American scholars receiving NIH grants in the social and behavioral sciences has been the result of an unwillingness of the review panels to fund this group of scholars. I served on a CSR review panel for 4 years and have served as an ad-hoc member or a member of a special emphasis panel on several occasions. I was also invited to attend a meeting with the former director of NIH and selected chairs of review panels to discuss the changes in NIH proposals (the reduced page limits). I was the only non-chair of a review panel and only African American that attended that meeting.

I have found NIH staff to be very open to research by African America scholars, but this is not the case for review panels. The panel that I was on only provided fundable scores to 4-5 African American scholars over the 4 year period that I served. White panel members would say in confidential discussions that they favored research that was similar to theirs, or was proposed by people that they personally knew could do the work and was on research that excited them. All of these issues disadvantaged African American researchers. Even when African American researchers had great credentials and a great proposal, many white researchers would discuss how great the proposal was and how wonderful the team was and still provide a clearly un-fundable score.

I have been a PI or Co-PI on a grant for almost 25 years straight. When I looked at the grants where I was the PI and that were funded, the panels tended to be smaller and had a strong African American member. When this was not the case, my proposals have been consistently triaged. The reviews of these triaged proposals are in some cases outlandish such as "I published too much." I am an ISI Highly cited scholar and conduct workshops on how to obtain NIH funding to junior African American scholars. I do not discuss the subtle and sometimes not so subtle discrimination that I have witnessed on review panels because I do not want to discourage these young scholars.

When the article in Science first came out there was a lot of e-mail traffic about this issue. African American scholars who have dealt with this issue for years indicated that this is not a new issue but were glad that it was documented and public. The e-mail traffic on list serves that had mostly white scholars dealt more with questioning the methodology of the study.

In my opinion, the issue is not the workforce pipeline. The issue that must be addressed is biases in the review process that disadvantage African American investigators.

Please see Comment #1

Please see Comment #1

 
02/22/2012 at 02:10:20 PM Organization BRAINS Program Seattle, WA Retention of highly skilled scientists from diverse and underrepresented groups is critical for creating the diverse leaders of tomorrow needed for innovation in neuroscience. To broaden ideas and perspectives in neuroscience and to continue pushing scientific boundaries, the field needs a diverse array of neuroscientists, particularly those from underrepresented backgrounds. However, neuroscience assistant professors and postdoctoral scholars from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds (including racial and ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, and people from disadvantaged backgrounds) face scarce early career professional development resources as well as the challenges of inequitable access to resources, tips and tools for success, a sense of isolation and lack of community. This lack of career development opportunities at such a critical stage is likely to have a disproportionate negative impact on minorities. Furthermore, this population of postdoctoral scholars and early career assistant professors has already made a major investment in science, and science has made a major investment in them. The field of neuroscience will progress when both the individuals and the scientific community are able to fully reap the benefits of these investments. To fill these gaps, we have created BRAINS: Broadening the Representation of Academic Investigators in NeuroSciences, a national program to accelerate and improve the career advancement of neuroscience postdoctoral researchers and assistant professors from underrepresented groups. (See www.depts.washington.edu/brains for more information.) The BRAINS program, newly funded by a R25 grant from NINDS, creates unique, life-transforming experiences for participants, who may be at high risk of leaving the field. The BRAINS program goal is to increase engagement and retention of academic early-career neuroscientists from underrepresented groups by reducing isolation, providing tips, tools, and skills development to prepare for tenure track success, and increasing career self-efficacy. To achieve this goal, the program couples a multi-day professional development symposium packed with discussions with senior scientists panelists on a wide variety of career topics such as time management, designing a research program, work/life balance, etc. with facilitated peer mentoring circles and a career development incubator experience to address these critical career management issues. This experience will propel BRAINS participants to be better able to direct their careers and, thus, be more likely to achieve success in academic neuroscience. While postdoctoral training is the norm in academic science careers, the postdoctoral and early career stages are underserved in the academy in terms of professional development support and access to networking opportunities. With professional development support, however, the postdoctoral and early tenure-faculty career stages can be viewed as critical target stages where career development support will result in an increase of the representation of underrepresented minorities in neurosciences at the faculty level. It is important that NIH continue to offer financial support, such as R25 grants, to efforts which address diversity in the biomedical research workforce. To create environments where a diversity of scientists can succeed, it is important to understand where the system is failing vulnerable populations and create solutions to rectify inequities. In an ideal world, the skills and information participants gain at programs like BRAINS would be readily available and accessible in the normal course of research training.     PDF Can't copy
02/22/2012 at 03:36:45 PM Self Hunter College of CUNY New York, NY The working group correctly identifies diversification of the work force as critical for American science. Diversification is essential, not only to provide equity, but also to broaden the decision making process for prioritizing good science. For example, a more diverse group may prioritize disease prevention over drug development, or collaboration over competition. They might value steady progress towards addressing neglected health problems and community impact over perceived "great leaps" on the "hot topics" of the moment. The existing programs of NIGMS-MORE (e.g. MARC/MBRS/SCORE) and the RCMI programs and those addressing scientists with disabilities or in IDEA states, seem to address well the overall goals of the Workforce Group. These excellent programs have contributed enormously to the development of my own research career, and the improvement of the research infrastructure of my institution. However, they now direct their diverse bounty of highly qualified scientists into an ever more narrowly focused and potentially self-serving R-type proposal review and funding process. To meet its goals for a more diverse biomedical research enterprise, the NIH must 1) increase the cutoff scores and/or percentiles for R-type (e.g. R01) awards, and 2) expand the review criteria relevant to NIH diversity goals. Colleagues on study sections justify the low funding cutoffs by reciting mantras that they support only "the best" science. The danger of this view is that notions of what constitutes "the best" may be more in line with the dominant culture of a field, and less with the stated goals of the NIH for the nation. The benefits of cultivating diversity include, presumably, diversification of what science is done, who benefits, and what impact it brings to the American public. 11. Adjust the allocation of NIH resources to restore a 20-25% funding cutoff: Promoting a diversity of excellent projects in a diversity of research-supportive settings requires flexibility in the funding cutoffs. I was encouraged to see a presentation from the NIH Office of Extramural Research entitled, "Ways of Managing NIH Resources, October 2011" (report.nih.gov/FileLink.aspx?rid=809) that suggests increasing funding rates by capping number of awards per PI, and making smaller awards. In addition, large "elite" institutions can do their part. They profit enormously from very high F&A (indirect) cost rates. Temporarily reducing and/or capping of F&A cost rates, during the present funding crisis can enlarge the pool of funds maintaining the diverse breadth of NIH-funded activities. 2. Diversify the review criteria for R-type awards: Incorporate review criteria that seek, promote and achieve positive outcomes congruent with the stated NIH diversity goals. Furthermore, multiple members of study sections should review and score proposals and outcomes with respect to NIH diversity goals. The working group correctly identifies diversification of the biomedical research workforce as critical for American science. Diversification is essential, not only to provide equity, but also to broaden the decision making process for prioritizing good science. For example, a more diverse group may prioritize disease prevention over drug development, or collaboration over competition. They might value steady progress towards addressing neglected health problems and community impact over perceived "great leaps" on the "hot topics" of the moment. The existing programs of NIGMS-MORE (e.g. MARC/MBRS/SCORE) and the RCMI programs and those addressing scientists with disabilities or in IDEA states, seem to address well the overall goals of the Workforce Group. These excellent programs have contributed enormously to the development of my own research career, and the improvement of the research infrastructure of my institution. However, they now direct their diverse bounty of highly qualified scientists into an ever more narrowly focused and potentially self-serving Rtype proposal review and funding process. To meet its goals for a more diverse biomedical research enterprise, the NIH must 1) increase the cutoff scores and/or percentiles for R-type (e.g. R01) awards, and 2) expand the review criteria relevant to NIH diversity goals. 1. Adjust the allocation of NIH resources to restore a 20-25% funding cutoff: Promoting a diversity of excellent projects in a diversity of research-supportive settings requires flexibility in the funding cutoffs. I was encouraged to see a presentation from the NIH Office of Extramural Research entitled, "Ways of Managing NIH Resources, October 2011" (report.nih.gov/FileLink.aspx?rid=809) that suggests increasing funding rates by capping number of awards per PI, and making smaller awards. In addition, large "elite" institutions can do their part. They profit enormously from very high F&A (indirect) cost rates. Temporarily reducing and/or capping of F&A cost rates, during the present funding crisis can enlarge the pool of funds maintaining the diverse breadth of NIH-funded activities. 2. Diversify the review criteria for R-type awards: Incorporate review criteria that seek, promote and achieve positive outcomes congruent with the stated NIH diversity goals. Furthermore, multiple members of study sections should review and score proposals and outcomes with respect to NIH diversity goals. Colleagues on study sections justify the low funding cutoffs by reciting mantras that they support only "the best" science. The danger of this view is that notions of what constitutes "the best" may be more in line with the dominant culture of a field, and less with the stated goals of the NIH for the nation. The benefits of cultivating diversity include, presumably, diversification of what science is done, who benefits, and what impact it brings to the American public. Thank you for the opportunity to contribute to this process.
02/22/2012 at 05:27:18 PM Self     Biomedical Research Workforce Pipeline Transition points Where NIH training, Career development and research grant programs could most effectively cultivate diversity in the biomedical research workforce. A. To address many the discussion points regarding transition points for a career in biomedical research then NIH need to revisit the basic concepts on the Extramural Associates program (EA) for this program addressed many of the issues outlined in RFI. The concept of this program was to provide individuals with the needed experience to provide the required environment to assist with increasing the number of underrepresented minorities in the STEM pipeline. B. There are several programs at the NSF that have been proven as successful models 1. The Louis Stokes alliance for Minority participation 2. Bridges to the Doctorate The overall concept is to have major institution work together with at times smaller institution to provide the needed training to assist with students in the pipeline. However, the success of this program is again with the mentoring of students. Alliances are successful when institutions have actually worked together. Please see the enclosed attachment. A. Entry into graduate school rationale - while there has been an increase in minority students, especially women completing their undergraduate degree in a STEM field only a limited number of these individuals continue to graduate school. Secondly, individuals need to complete their doctoral/terminal degree in order to proceed with the post-doctoral/educator/researcher. B. The role of institutional infrastructure support and climate are major factors not only for underrepresented research but also for any young investigator. The lack of institutional support to young faculty/investigators can prevent that individual from developing a competitive grant application. Again it is important to have programs like the Extramural Associates program to educate administrators of the have the proper infrastructure in place to support individuals interested in conducting research.    
02/22/2012 at 05:28:34 PM Organization Leadership Alliance, Brown University Providence, RI The Leadership Alliance, a consortium of 32 research and teaching institutions of higher education, addresses directly the societal issue of racial and ethnic minority underrepresentation in the academy and public and private research sectors. For the past 20 years, the Leadership Alliance has been implementing programs that have been successful in establishing a biomedical research workforce pipeline. This is evidenced by the 45% of undergraduates participating in our national summer research program who subsequently matriculated into PhD or MD-PhD programs. Further, more than 200 Leadership Alliance alumni have obtained their PhD (203) and MD-PhD (24), representing an 11.8% completion rate. Thus, the Leadership Alliance has developed best practices that have fueled the production of a diverse pipeline of aspiring scholars and researchers. In response to this request, the representatives from the Alliance's member institutions were encouraged to solicit responses to the issues posed. The response provided represents a collective effort.

The Leadership Alliance ranked the transition from undergraduate to entry into graduate degree programs as the point as which NIH's training, career development and research grant programs could most effectively cultivate diversity in the biomedical research workforce. Noting the need to infuse diverse talent into the pipeline and establish them within the workforce pool was predominant in perspectives regarding the scale and breadth of scholars who can then continue to be mentored at successive or more advanced levels of their career trajectory. Given this focus, Alliance representatives then underscored the need to focus on the mentoring and preparation of applicants and the expansion of mentoring practices at the institutional level as opposed to developing professional society relationships to do the same. The need for continued attention to institutional transformation and incentives for mentorship and participation in broadening impact programs across the academy is foundational to sustained progress in diversifying the research workforce.

An additional observation shared from the research institution perspective noted that the number of URMs with tenure track faculty positions in medical schools has not changed since 1980. At the same time, most of these faculty members are at the three traditionally URM oriented medical schools. While there has been an increase in the fraction of URM students in graduate school and postdocs from 3% to 13% since 1980, the number on tenure track faculty in medical schools is still 2%. This bears attention as role models for URMs are critical to shaping aspirations and expectations for success in higher education.

If the academy is to one day reflect the true demographic composition of our nation, the number of underrepresented minorities in training to become tomorrow's academic leaders must be increased. Without dramatic changes, the diversity gap in the academic sector will continue to increase despite the ever expanding demographic diversity of the U.S. population. A concerted effort must be undertaken to identify, train, mentor and encourage underrepresented students along the entire academic career pathway. Internship programs committed to sustained mentorship and professional development are critical to introducing students to the research process and motivating them to explore careers in the STEM fields.

An undergraduate research experience has become an unspoken requirement for competitive applications to top graduate programs in the biomedical sciences, especially as graduate programs seek quality students who are already well versed in discipline-specific research methodology. Internship programs contribute to developing the talent pool by giving timely and important research experiences that introduce and/or enhance young scholars' methodological expertise. Competitive research training opportunities supplemented with mentorship and evidenced-based professional development training activities prepare students holistically to compete for positions in the academy.

Faculty, departments, research institutes and professional organizations should begin mentoring undergraduates and graduate students early in their academic training so that students make the decision to pursue careers in biomedical research well-armed with the facts. Students need to know what it takes to become a successful biomedical scientist, and that a research career is not an easy alternative to medical school. Many underrepresented students need more training in writing and oral presentation skills, and professional networking skills, to make them more competitive. The professional skills training should be enhanced and continue through graduate school on a more sophisticated level. Some of this training should take place outside of the individual labs in a more neutral environment (i.e., the P.I. is not always the best person to explain how to refine an oral presentation and handle difficult questions about research in progress, or how to write successful grants and abstracts). Advanced underrepresented minority students as well as beginning students need a comfortable space to share their concerns and receive additional training and mentorship. Institutions need to examine their own practices to uncover any internal cultural barriers that may limit the successful recruitment, retention, or postgraduate success of URM students. Mentoring is absolutely key, but we need to support to consider a range of approaches, models and incentives to realize an impact on student aspirations.

Further, through ongoing evaluation of our programs, the Alliance has learned that a comprehensive research experience provides students with both a realistic expectation of what graduate school is like that and an understanding of what is critical to making an informed decision. This is accomplished by equipping students with knowledge about the application process, sources of financial support for graduate school, and a sense of career opportunities in their discipline of interest. Data from these evaluations speak to the criticality of being surrounded by other students and professionals in science. The formal and informal exchanges afforded through undergraduate research experiences and mentorship enhance the reach of students' social and professional networks, including both peers and academics, their mentors, PIs, and postdocs. These interactions within the research groups provide students with a realistic view of how science operates as a social process.

The undergraduate research experience should also provide opportunities for students to obtain advice from a trusted source about appropriate actions, resources, environments and time frames for making decisions about the next step in their careers. Without role models in leadership positions, future generations of racial and ethnic minorities will not consider that leadership through advanced education is an option. Each year the Alliance's national symposium offers a comprehensive tiered mentoring structure whereby undergraduates are mentored by the graduate students, who are in turn mentored by the Alliance alumni who have obtained their PhD or MD-PhD, who are mentored by a rich and extensive network of Alliance professionals. This structure leverages the expertise of all participants and promotes interaction with role models from similar backgrounds. Our assessments of these activities that foster networking with role models at various stages of the academic pathway reveal a high student satisfaction of on average 80%.

We propose creating a Think Tank to review the needs and develop plans to address the needs. This group should be comprised of individuals from organizations or institutions with background and history towards resolution. In addition, a forum or bi-annual series of forums that incorporates representatives from various programs would provide inclusive opportunities to share best practices, identify synergies and encourage learning.  
02/23/2012 at 10:36:44 AM Organization The Association for Academic Minority Physicians Baltimore, MD The United States needs to significantly increase the number of talented, well-trained and visionary biomedical scientists if we are to understand and develop effective treatments for many diseases and disorders; and if the United States is to continue as the world's leader in biomedical research and public health. This cannot be accomplished unless more minority investigators are appropriately trained and supported The article in Science, August 19, 2011 clearly showed that the U.S. is not getting the full resevoir of scientific talent from the nation's minorities, especially the African American community. The NIH should provide long-term research career development grants to private academic organizations to support the recruitment, mentoring, counselling and evaluation of young minority scientists for their development of competitive applications for RO1 grants. Grants should be made to those academic organizations with a high percentage of minority basic and clinical scientists who are, or have been, recipients of RO1 grants from NIH and/or NSF.  
02/23/2012 at 12:26:47 PM Self     I think there should be more opportunities for students coming from colleges and universities that serve historically marginalized groups, such as women's colleges, historically black universities, tribal colleges, schools for the deaf, etc. There should also be scholarships/fellowships for queer and trans* individuals. This is important because ensuring that prestigious opportunities go to underrepresented (and still discriminated against) groups allows society to see them in respectable positions. This will pave the way for future generations of diverse scientists. Also, people with diverse backgrounds have different views of what is most important to study; their curiosity and knowledge therefore results in a wider breath of scientific knowledge. They would allow for increased equality in the workplace.  
02/23/2012 at 01:03:49 PM Organization UNM IMSD Albuquerque, NM First of all, thank you to all the people serving on this committee.

I think that, to come up with novel ideas to affect diversity in the sciences, we might have to reframe the discussion. The pipeline analogy tends to focus our attention on transition points. Although these are valuable areas of attention, in recent years, I have come to realize that even if we had a perfectly intact pipeline, it does not mean that water will flow. For that reason, I have been developing ideas of "energizing the water" or empowering and energizing the students - since, if water is on the mountain, it will flow downward whether or not there is a pipeline. We are not close to the scale of what is needed to diversify the sciences. To get to the numbers of UR and URM students we need right now to successfully diversify the sciences, we need a flood.

If we think about energizing the water, there are several related ideas that come to mind. First, you have to "energize the water" to enter the pipeline. Students often talk about the Magic School Bus when we are working with them to develop imagination in learning science. We need to look at that model for engaging students in earlier grades, so they realize that their imaginations are key in thinking about science. But we have to go beyond the Magic School Bus and get the students get beyond the blocks they have to being creative and to use their imaginations to discover the science all around them.

In the pipeline, the flow of water is strong when students know their hearts, who they are, and what they bring to the table. The flow can be impeded or diverted when students face challenges or obstacles that they don't know how to deal with. Finances and family issues, a resonance of passive education in the classroom and at home, and lack of quality, thoughtful mentoring all present significant obstacles. For students, the imposter syndrome and test anxiety can be debilitating. Lack of exposure to the "widel world" of scientific opportunities can discourage students who don't want to be funneled into occupation A or B. Finally, if the student doesn't know what is in their heart to do and is blocked from "hearing" it, the flow typically stops completely.

Fear is one of the major emotions experienced by this generation of students. "Losing heart" or the fear of jumping over a real or perceived abyss is common. This generation of students often fears authority, trusting their own judgment, and, especially, being wrong. The fear increases as students get close to graduation, when making a decision, taking a job, or just making a plan is perceived as risky. The uncertainty of the future - especially in this time when both biology and computing seem to be expanding faster than Moore's law - adds to this insecurity.

It is disheartening to think that most of what we have tried has not gotten us where we would like to be in terms of diversifying the sciences - but it also opens up opportunities for real change. We have had success one-by-one, but we have not changed the playing field, the players, or the game. We have the opportunity to find new ways to help the students take the time to examine their hearts, understand that fear is natural and that they have ways to overcome it, and help them see uncertainty as a positive.

Think of our heroes and people who have managed to become successful, senior scientists of color. These are not people who were helped to avoid adversity. Our heroes and t, hose of us who have stuck it out have done it not because it was easy - but because we loved what we were doing, we were excited by the challenges, and we knew it was important for us to be doing this.

We don't own the students. They have to want to choose science. Once they make that choice freely and have the tools they need to see challenges as positives, understand how to bring out their own creativity in research, and realize that they have the ability to make real discoveries while holding on to the parts of themselves and their history that they treasure - they are happy and excited about the future. They can seek out and accept help when it is needed. They know how to build and sustain real teams. They understand that the Imposter Syndrome will always be there to keep them honest and humble. They know that there is no map and that a happy life and a path with heart has to be their own choice.

I think mentoring is key to getting the numbers of successful URM scientists needed for the US. We have administrators, faculty, staff, students, and parents who don't know the difference between advising (which classes to take) and quality mentoring. We have some successful mentoring programs and these should be evaluated to determine what explicit and implicit components are most successful.

Quality mentoring programs should lead to the identification of needs in writing - so that grant proposals, publications, etc. are less of an impediment to success.

While the transitions are important, once again, if we focus on getting students to a place where they are "in charge" of their lives and understand that fear does not have to be debilitating - then these transitions are easier.

This is complex. NIH policies should be aimed at creating the largest group of innovative scientists we can have. Innovation, however, can often be missed or dismissed if the innovator is from another culture or region of the country - so finding ways to broaden our ideas of innovation are important for diversity.

I think the review process can be a problem - from pre-docs to post-docs and faculty. I suggest NIH evaluate what are the ostensible "problems" with minority applications - whether it is the actual writing skills or imagination/thought skills or what it is that keeps minorities from getting funding at the same rate as non-minorities. Then, once the phenotypes are clear from the reviews, we need to think deeply about and keep from jumping to conclusions about why this happens. Is it who reviews things - do they think that someone at this or that institution couldn't do good work or is it an accurate evaluation? Did the PI have trouble really being logical or presenting a great idea - or did they just not have a great idea? Our goal should be to develop researchers who are able to communicate great ideas - AND to develop panels that can recognize great ideas, no matter where they come from.

In my own case, for example, there was a person who just didn't like my work who ended up having too much authority over two different grant reviews. I think it would have helped if the program officer had understood the situation better or helped me out. I felt lost in the system, to be honest.

For URMs, where the Imposter Syndrome - or feeling that you don't really "belong" in a group - can pop up at any moment, developing a mentoring relationship with someone at NIH could really help. In my case, I had that with people at NSF and it stabilized my career. If you don't have that, the tendency is to give up or go another direction.

Because there is such an increase in the amount of publishing now, the signal to noise ratio is harder and there is a tendency for only those people at big coastal institutions to be recognized, invited to speak, etc. NIH needs to keep tabs on this and ensure that there is more random distribution to who comes to talk, etc.

 
02/23/2012 at 01:58:09 PM Organization Booz Allen Hamilton Rockville, Maryland The Advisory Committee to the NIH Director (ACD) established the NIH Working Group on Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce (DBRWG) to specifically focus on enhancing diversity throughout various research career stages, including building solutions for enhancing the biomedical researcher workforce pipeline and improving NIH review processes. Thoughtful efforts in these areas will help to increase and expand the number of individuals who, from their early academic training, seek to pursue this field. And, sound strategies will help to improve how individuals are then evaluated for consideration of fellowships, grants, positions, and other opportunities in the biomedical research field.

Booz Allen concurs that efforts in both of these areas - enhancing the pipeline and improving review processes - are vitally important to make noticeable strives in the diversity of the biomedical research workforce. Expanding on this thinking, we believe that there are three additional areas that warrant focus: leadership preparation and engagement, partnerships development and coordination, and measurement capability. In our response, we present how and why focus in these areas can enhance the overall efforts of the NIH Working Group on Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce.

1. Leadership Engagement and Preparation: Given its role as both a research institution and a grant-providing organization, NIH can play a vital role in shaping the biomedical research workforce. As such, NIH should actively engage its leadership to take a more visible and deliberate role in championing this endeavor. With the right support and direction, NIH leaders can drive internal organizational change and exert influence on the biomedical research community. Leadership engagement must be prepared, demonstrable, and relentless in its commitment to diversifying the biomedical research workforce to address the barriers referenced in the National Academies study.

2. Partnerships Development and Coordination: Fully addressing the longstanding issues identified in the National Academies study requires an effort that extends beyond any one organization. NIH's scope of influence affords the organization an unparalleled opportunity to improve, develop and comply with policies that are focused on enhancing diversity throughout the biomedical research. This prominent position allows NIH to serve as a convener of the biomedical researcher community, including public and private entities. In addition, NIH can serve as a contributor; creating a coordinated solution by integrating the nation's best efforts to increase diversity within the biomedical research community.

3. Measurement Capability: Instituting an effective measurement and feedback process is critical to tracking progress against diversity goals. Measures are defined as those quantitative and qualitative indicators designed to reflect overall progress, achievements, or gaps.

In this section, we further expand upon the three additional key areas of consideration for the working group: (1) Leadership Engagement and Preparation, (2) Partnerships Development and Coordination, and (3) Measurement Capability. Booz Allen views these additional areas as critical to supporting the existing Working Group areas of emphasis detailed in the RFI. The section below details how each of the three areas can be leveraged to advance diversity of the biomedical research workforce across the community.

1.1 Leadership Engagement and Preparation As a Federal government organization and major funder of biomedical research, NIH is well-positioned to lead efforts to enhance the diversity of the biomedical research workforce from two perspectives: first, as an employer of staff involved in biomedical research, and second, as a major funder of biomedical research at colleges, universities, and other grantee organizations throughout the United States. As such, NIH leaders have a role in shaping the biomedical research workforce, both in terms of the workforce employed by NIH and those in the broader community.

To move efforts forward, leaders must be committed to making a noticeable difference in the diversity of this workforce, including driving internal organizational change and exerting influence on the biomedical research community at large. This includes leaders in a broad sense of the term, including those with influence, impact, and/or responsibility within various Institutes/Centers, research programs, study sections, and/or initiatives at NIH. As an example, leaders should examine grant programs, specifically the contents of Request for Applications, the peer review process, and evaluation criteria. They must encourage broad participation and eliminate unintentional barriers. Specifically, the science will be foremost and various cultural bias regarding language and presentation will be controlled in order to examine the basic scientific impact the application will advance. This will require leadership development, coaching, and other preparedness activities, including enhancing the focus on diversity competencies within NIH as well as in academia and industry.

NIH leaders who spearhead addressing diversity must understand their opportunities to make an impact; develop and comply with related policies; and effectively use funding and other resources to address mission-related and workforce-related priorities. Through our work with other agencies, we have identified four foundational leadership tenets that are essential to the success of diversity efforts. Oftentimes, organizations focus on tactical short term solutions but, without these strategic leadership tenets, the more operational initiatives will not have a sustained impact. To drive necessary change both internally and externally, NIH leaders should: Champion and visibly support diversity by publicly committing to diversity initiatives Align diversity as integral to the strategic mission of the organization Ensure accountability to diversity by tying diversity performance to compensation, awards, and performance appraisals Develop forums for open communication between leaders, employees, and industry partners on diversity issues to foster an environment of inclusion.

On the surface these appear to be basic diversity imperatives; in practice, it is difficult for organizations to ingrain these tenets in their culture. NIH has already implemented actions - over the years - that align with the aforementioned imperatives. However, given the robust number of suggestions from various organizations, including those from the presenters at the recent public meeting (held by the NIH Working Group on February 14, 2012), NIH will need to have a set of principles that set the basis for a framework by which to include all the tactical activities. There must be a balance between immediately putting actions into place to address the issues with making sure that those actions are sustainable, become intrinsic to an organization, and can evolve as information and data are acquired. It would be "easy" for NIH to set up a quick fix but this will not address the fundamental issues that perhaps led to the biases in the first place.

NIH leaders can drive greater attention toward diversity of its own biomedical research workforce and throughout the biomedical research community by directing a review of current offices, programs, and initiatives established to grow the workforce to determine if approaches and resources are working effectively. NIH leaders can also serve as diversity champions and role models throughout the industry, leading communication with its grantees and industry partners on issues related to increasing the diversity of our nation's biomedical research workforce.

The lack of diverse participation and success in biomedical research has not come about due to a lack of programs and interventions. In fact, several programs and interventions exist. However, they have not resulted in dramatic increases in science participation, achievement, and success. A possible contributor to this outcome is the architecture of the programs' interventions themselves. Some programs at NIH, as well as academic institutions, are designed to have a unidirectional relationship. Examples of unidirectional relationships are programs designed to encourage principal investigators, for example, to recruit members of underrepresented populations for post-doctoral fellowships. The incentives that are used for these programs only address recruitment. The matrices for determination of success for both the applicant and the principal investigator are not distinct. This leads to confusion regarding how the applicant can position himself/herself for advancement within their respective fields. Programs that provide a bi-directional responsibility to both the applicant and the culture of the workspace allows for a community to develop with shared responsibility. With a bi-directional infrastructure, institutions as well as applicants will have a distinct guide for matrices for success allowing for increased participation and retention of underrepresented populations. As another example, there are steps to be taken to help underrepresented and/or new organizations have a fair chance at funding opportunities. NIH leaders can review the language in Requests for Applications to ensure there is no language discouraging new applicant organizations; solicit feedback from first time applicants and recipient organizations on their experiences in finding, applying, and managing the new grant; and provide enhanced technical assistance to the underrepresented organizations. Such efforts not only can make a direct impact on increasing the demographic diversity of NIH grantees, but also send a message to diverse communities that NIH and its industry partners are employers of choice.

1.2 Partnerships Development and Coordination Fully addressing the longstanding issues identified in the National Academies study requires an effort that extends beyond any one organization. As a Federal government organization and major funder of biomedical research, the influence that NIH has to create partnerships at the national and local level is unparalleled. NIH is well-positioned to develop "industry" partnerships to plan for, coordinate, and measure the impact of efforts to increase participation of underrepresented minorities, persons with disabilities, and persons from disadvantaged backgrounds. Partnerships are defined as those entities that join with NIH to increase representation of these populations (e.g., educators, employers, and funders of biomedical researchers). Collectively, these partnerships can work to provide an integrated and systemic approach to diversify the workforce pipeline, strengthen mentorship arrangements (i.e., person-to-person and organization-to-organization), assess the grants application and review processes, identify training opportunities, and provide training. One way to do so is through a Megacommunity approach. Booz Allen coined the term "Megacommunities" to capture the concept of a collaborative socio-economic environment in which business, government, and civil society interact according to their common interests, while maintaining their unique priorities. In this case, it is an opportunity to identify and coalesce the partnership of educators, employers, and funders of biomedical researchers. The Megacommunities approach is designed to work with such large scale change efforts and transcend the traditional public-private relationship model, and to include and integrate additional partners (external to the organization) that can tackle complex problems. Using this approach brings to bear the combined power and resources of business, government, and civil society. The results of engaging in such a forum include: A public sphere: Where organizations and people deliberately join together around a compelling issue of mutual importance Following a set of practices and principles that will make it easier for participating organizations to achieve desired results.

The Megacommunity approach requires commitment by the various stakeholders. While NIH can take a lead in initiating the approach (perhaps with the Foundation for the NIH) and facilitating the relationships, it will require the other educators, employers, and funders of biomedical researchers to take responsibility as well. This is important for NIH to convey as the solution(s) to the issues at hand are not just about the largest funder doling out more monies to various parties. NIH could implement the Megacommunities effort by developing a forum around the areas that they have identified in the RFI as key recommendations or they can explore other areas such as technical assistance, industry partnerships, and mentorships.

1.3 Measurement Capability As progress is made in increasing the diversity of the biomedical research workforce, it will also be vitally important to establish a focused measurement capability that identifies and tracks the right metrics. Through data capture, analysis, and sharing, greater insight will be gained into where and how progress is being made.

We advocate that the Working Group also take strides to establish a measurement capability early on, and that this capability include three interlocking components: (1) ownership of the measurement capability, including where it will reside; (2) determination of the measures and data sources to feed into the measures; and (3) mechanisms for feedback including an interactive data gathering approach.

(1) One immediate task is to define where this measurement capability should reside; or more specifically which Institute/Center or Office should manage the data and own the process, and more importantly report on impact of the program that emanate from the Working Group's recommendations.

(2) Measures are defined as those quantitative and qualitative indicators designed to reflect overall progress, achievements, or gaps. NIH and its stakeholders have already identified some important components of the measurement process, as noted in the studies that were commissioned and as demonstrated by the establishment of the working group structure. Additional components may need to be considered and these can be determined through examination of other studies or review of existing programs, and in collaboration with other organizations like the Department of Education and the National Science Foundation.

(3) Instituting an effective measurement and feedback process is critical to tracking progress against diversity goals. Important to NIH and its partners is to be able to institute corrective action as soon as analyses of the measures indicate a deviance from any diversity goal. A feedback process yields valuable data and information for all stakeholders in order to achieve the most robust and effective outcomes.

Mentorship: NIH advocates mentorship through professional societies and intra- and inter-university bodies. While these bodies have had some positive effect, it could be more effective if NIH focused its efforts to generate well-defined measures of success for their various mentoring programs. One such example would be actually following the career trajectories of mentees. Without such a stringent evaluation process, it is likely that the mentoring bodies are reduced to having one more token "mentoring session" at national meetings once a year. In addition, all biomedical researchers and especially mentees who are recipients and beneficiaries of NIH-sponsored mentorship should be obligated by NIH to pay it forward by mentoring others that come behind them. This should be an integral part of their professional evaluation process, for example, by capturing how many biomedical researchers they have mentored and how their mentees are currently doing professionally. Furthermore, effective mentorship is a critical tool in increasing the retention of minorities, persons with disabilities, and the disadvantaged. Mentors can serve as role models for a successful career at NIH or within the larger biomedical research community and can drive the career development of their mentees. Reverse mentoring, mentor teams, and senior leader mentors are examples of effective mentorship programs that can be utilized.

Recruitment: NIH already has in place a requirement for recruitment of women and minorities as a prerequisite for all kinds of federal funding to academic institutions. However, the evaluation of such programs by NIH should not stop at recruitment alone and should include an objective assessment of areas such as career trajectories, quality of professional life when compared with peers, and opportunities offered to these candidates within institutions when compared with peers, all at regular intervals.

Peer Review: In order to combat unconscious bias that may be present during the review process, NIH can focus on the preparation and composition of review panels. Training can also be used as a tool to ensure panel participants leave any unconscious biases at the door. In addition, NIH can follow up with first time applicants that are denied a grant to provide helpful feedback and encourage them to reapply in the future. This is an area where NIH has an opportunity to make an impact on diversity much more broadly than within its own organization.

ttachment: 1) RFI Response 1 RESPONSE APPROACH Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. (Booz Allen) is pleased to be afforded the opportunity to comment on the Request for Information (RFI): Input into the Deliberations of the Advisory Committee to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Working Group on Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce (NOT-OD-12-031). We recognize the demonstrated commitment, insightfulness and courage shown by NIH by launching this public examination of underrepresented minorities, persons with disabilities, and persons from disadvantaged backgrounds in NIH's biomedical research workforce and throughout the research industry (i.e., NIH's grantees, academic institutions and industry). Addressing diversity within the broader biomedical research community is a complex - and yet necessary - undertaking. In 2006 the National Academies issued a report describing a critical "underrepresentation" of minorities in science and the "barriers" to entry they face, noting that it is "a situation that deprives the United States of an important source of talent as the country faces increasingly stiff global competition in higher education, science and technology, biomedical research and the marketplace." In addition, compelling evidence supports the view that diversification of the research workforce is imperative for our nation's continued success. Booz Allen offers both functional expertise in diversity consulting and workforce development, and a wealth of firsthand experience about NIH's mission, environment, and processes, having supported 17 Institutes and Centers on varied engagements for more than ten years. This combination of perspectives allows us to provide tangible, impactful recommendations to contribute to the deliberations of the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director Working Group on Diversity. In this response, we present our responses to each of the three questions posed in the RFI, drawing from our experiences supporting NIH and our experiences providing similar support on diversity initiatives to other public sector organizations. For any of the areas identified above and any other specific areas you believe are worthy of consideration by the working group, please identify the critical issues(s) and impact(s) on institutions, scientists, or both. The Advisory Committee to the NIH Director (ACD) established the NIH Working Group on Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce (DBRWG) to specifically focus on enhancing diversity throughout various research career stages, including building solutions for enhancing the biomedical researcher workforce pipeline and improving NIH review processes. Thoughtful efforts in these areas will help to increase and expand the number of individuals who, from their early academic training, seek to pursue this field. And, sound strategies will help to improve how individuals are then evaluated for consideration of fellowships, grants, positions, and other opportunities in the biomedical research field. Booz Allen concurs that efforts in both of these areas - enhancing the pipeline and improving review processes - are vitally important to make noticeable strives in the diversity of the biomedical research workforce. Expanding on this thinking, we believe that there are three additional areas that warrant focus: leadership preparation and engagement, partnerships development and coordination, and measurement capability. In our response, we present how and why focus in these areas can enhance the overall efforts of the NIH Working Group on Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce. 1. Leadership Engagement and Preparation: Given its role as both a research institution and a grant-providing organization, NIH can play a vital role in shaping the biomedical research workforce. As such, NIH should actively engage its leadership to take a more visible and deliberate role in championing this endeavor. With the right support and direction, NIH leaders can drive internal organizational change and exert influence on the biomedical research community. Leadership engagement must be prepared, demonstrable, and relentless in its commitment to diversifying the biomedical research workforce to address the barriers referenced in the National Academies study. 2. Partnerships Development and Coordination: Fully addressing the longstanding issues identified in the National Academies study requires an effort that extends beyond any one organization. NIH's scope of influence affords the organization an unparalleled opportunity to improve, develop and comply with policies that are focused on enhancing diversity throughout the biomedical research. This prominent position allows NIH to serve as a convener of the biomedical researcher community, including public and private entities. In addition, NIH can serve as a contributor; creating a coordinated solution by integrating the nation's best efforts to increase diversity within the biomedical research community. 3. Measurement Capability: Instituting an effective measurement and feedback process is critical to tracking progress against diversity goals. Measures are defined as those quantitative and qualitative indicators designed to reflect overall progress, achievements, or gaps. Please identify and explain which of the issues you identified are, in your opinion, the most important for the working group to address and why. In this section, we further expand upon the three additional key areas of consideration for the working group: (1) Leadership Engagement and Preparation, (2) Partnerships Development and Coordination, and (3) Measurement Capability. Booz Allen views these additional areas as critical to supporting the existing Working Group areas of emphasis detailed in the RFI. The section below details how each of the three areas can be leveraged to advance diversity of the biomedical research workforce across the community. 1.1 Leadership Engagement and Preparation As a Federal government organization and major funder of biomedical research, NIH is well-positioned to lead efforts to enhance the diversity of the biomedical research workforce from two perspectives: first, as an employer of staff involved in biomedical research, and second, as a major funder of biomedical research at colleges, universities, and other grantee organizations throughout the United States. As such, NIH leaders have a role in shaping the biomedical research workforce, both in terms of the workforce employed by NIH and those in the broader community. To move efforts forward, leaders must be committed to making a noticeable difference in the diversity of this workforce, including driving internal organizational change and exerting influence on the biomedical research community at large. This includes leaders in a broad sense of the term, including those with influence, impact, and/or responsibility within various Institutes/Centers, research programs, study sections, and/or initiatives at NIH. As an example, leaders should examine grant programs, specifically the contents of Request for Applications, the peer review process, and evaluation criteria. They must encourage broad participation and eliminate unintentional barriers. Specifically, the science will be foremost and various cultural bias regarding language and presentation will be controlled in order to examine the basic scientific impact the application will advance. This will require leadership development, coaching, and other preparedness activities, including enhancing the focus on diversity competencies within NIH as well as in academia and industry. NIH leaders who spearhead addressing diversity must understand their opportunities to make an impact; develop and comply with related policies; and effectively use funding and other resources to address mission-related and workforce-related priorities. Through our work with other agencies, we have identified four foundational leadership tenets that are essential to the success of diversity efforts. Oftentimes, organizations focus on tactical short term solutions but, without these strategic leadership tenets, the more operational initiatives will not have a sustained impact. To drive necessary change both internally and externally, NIH leaders should: Champion and visibly support diversity by publicly committing to diversity initiatives Align diversity as integral to the strategic mission of the organization Ensure accountability to diversity by tying diversity performance to compensation, awards, and performance appraisals Develop forums for open communication between leaders, employees, and industry partners on diversity issues to foster an environment of inclusion. On the surface these appear to be basic diversity imperatives; in practice, it is difficult for organizations to ingrain these tenets in their culture. NIH has already implemented actions - over the years - that align with the aforementioned imperatives. However, given the robust number of suggestions from various organizations, including those from the presenters at the recent public meeting (held by the NIH Working Group on February 14, 2012), NIH will need to have a set of principles that set the basis for a framework by which to include all the tactical activities. There must be a balance between immediately putting actions into place to address the issues with making sure that those actions are sustainable, become intrinsic to an organization, and can evolve as information and data are acquired. It would be "easy" for NIH to set up a quick fix but this will not address the fundamental issues that perhaps led to the biases in the first place. NIH leaders can drive greater attention toward diversity of its own biomedical research workforce and throughout the biomedical research community by directing a review of current offices, programs, and initiatives established to grow the workforce to determine if approaches and resources are working effectively. NIH leaders can also serve as diversity champions and role models throughout the industry, leading communication with its grantees and industry partners on issues related to increasing the diversity of our nation's biomedical research workforce. The lack of diverse participation and success in biomedical research has not come about due to a lack of programs and interventions. In fact, several programs and interventions exist. However, they have not resulted in dramatic increases in science participation, achievement, and success. A possible contributor to this outcome is the architecture of the programs' interventions themselves. Some programs at NIH, as well as academic institutions, are designed to have a unidirectional relationship. Examples of unidirectional relationships are programs designed to encourage principal investigators, for example, to recruit members of underrepresented populations for post-doctoral fellowships. The incentives that are used for these programs only address recruitment. The matrices for determination of success for both the applicant and the principal investigator are not distinct. This leads to confusion regarding how the applicant can position himself/herself for advancement within their respective fields. Programs that provide a bi-directional responsibility to both the applicant and the culture of the workspace allows for a community to develop with shared responsibility. With a bi-directional infrastructure, institutions as well as applicants will have a distinct guide for matrices for success allowing for increased participation and retention of underrepresented populations. As another example, there are steps to be taken to help underrepresented and/or new organizations have a fair chance at funding opportunities. NIH leaders can review the language in Requests for Applications to ensure there is no language discouraging new applicant organizations; solicit feedback from first time applicants and recipient organizations on their experiences in finding, applying, and managing the new grant; and provide enhanced technical assistance to the underrepresented organizations. Such efforts not only can make a direct impact on increasing the demographic diversity of NIH grantees, but also send a message to diverse communities that NIH and its industry partners are employers of choice. 1.2 Partnerships Development and Coordination Fully addressing the longstanding issues identified in the National Academies study requires an effort that extends beyond any one organization. As a Federal government organization and major funder of biomedical research, the influence that NIH has to create partnerships at the national and local level is unparalleled. NIH is well-positioned to develop "industry" partnerships to plan for, coordinate, and measure the impact of efforts to increase participation of underrepresented minorities, persons with disabilities, and persons from disadvantaged backgrounds. Partnerships are defined as those entities that join with NIH to increase representation of these populations (e.g., educators, employers, and funders of biomedical researchers). Collectively, these partnerships can work to provide an integrated and systemic approach to diversify the workforce pipeline, strengthen mentorship arrangements (i.e., person-to-person and organization-to-organization), assess the grants application and review processes, identify training opportunities, and provide training. One way to do so is through a Megacommunity approach. Booz Allen coined the term "Megacommunities" 1 to capture the concept of a collaborative socio-economic environment in which business, government, and civil society interact according to their common interests, while maintaining their unique priorities. In this case, it is an opportunity to identify and coalesce the partnership of educators, employers, and funders of biomedical researchers. The Megacommunities approach is designed to work with such large scale change efforts and transcend the traditional public-private relationship model, and to include and integrate additional partners (external to the organization) that can tackle complex problems. Using this approach brings to bear the combined power and resources of business, government, and civil society. The results of engaging in such a forum include: A public sphere: Where organizations and people deliberately join together around a compelling issue of mutual importance Following a set of practices and principles that will make it easier for participating organizations to achieve desired results. The Megacommunity approach requires commitment by the various stakeholders. While NIH can take a lead in initiating the approach (perhaps with the Foundation for the NIH) and facilitating the relationships, it will require the other educators, employers, and funders of biomedical researchers to take responsibility as well. This is important for NIH to convey as the solution(s) to the issues at hand are not just about the largest funder doling out more monies to various parties. NIH could implement the Megacommunities effort by developing a forum around the areas that they have identified in the RFI as key recommendations or they can explore other areas such as technical assistance, industry partnerships, and mentorships. 1.3 Measurement Capability As progress is made in increasing the diversity of the biomedical research workforce, it will also be vitally important to establish a focused measurement capability that identifies and tracks the right metrics. Through data capture, analysis, and sharing, greater insight will be gained into where and how progress is being made. We advocate that the Working Group also take strides to establish a measurement capability early on, and that this capability include three interlocking components: (1) ownership of the measurement capability, including where it will reside; (2) determination of the measures and data sources to feed into the measures; and (3) mechanisms for feedback including an interactive data gathering approach. (1) One immediate task is to define where this measurement capability should reside; or more specifically which Institute/Center or Office should manage the data and own the process, and more importantly report on impact of the program that emanate from the Working Group's recommendations. (2) Measures are defined as those quantitative and qualitative indicators designed to reflect overall progress, achievements, or gaps. NIH and its stakeholders have already identified some important components of the measurement process, as noted in the studies that were commissioned and as demonstrated by the establishment of the working group structure. Additional components may need to be considered and these can be determined through examination of other studies or review of existing programs, and in collaboration with other organizations like the Department of Education and the National Science Foundation. (3) Instituting an effective measurement and feedback process is critical to tracking progress against diversity goals. Important to NIH and its partners is to be able to institute corrective action as soon as analyses of the measures indicate a deviance from any diversity goal. A feedback process yields valuable data and information for all stakeholders in order to achieve the most robust and effective outcomes. Please comment on any specific ways you believe these or other issues would or should affect NIH policies or procedures Mentorship: NIH advocates mentorship through professional societies and intra- and inter-university bodies. While these bodies have had some positive effect, it could be more effective if NIH focused its efforts to generate well-defined measures of success for their various mentoring programs. One such example would be actually following the career trajectories of mentees. Without such a stringent evaluation process, it is likely that the mentoring bodies are reduced to having one more token "mentoring session" at national meetings once a year. In addition, all biomedical researchers and especially mentees who are recipients and beneficiaries of NIH-sponsored mentorship should be obligated by NIH to pay it forward by mentoring others that come behind them. This should be an integral part of their professional evaluation process, for example, by capturing how many biomedical researchers they have mentored and how their mentees are currently doing professionally. Furthermore, effective mentorship is a critical tool in increasing the retention of minorities, persons with disabilities, and the disadvantaged. Mentors can serve as role models for a successful career at NIH or within the larger biomedical research community and can drive the career development of their mentees. Reverse mentoring, mentor teams, and senior leader mentors are examples of effective mentorship programs that can be utilized. Recruitment: NIH already has in place a requirement for recruitment of women and minorities as a prerequisite for all kinds of federal funding to academic institutions. However, the evaluation of such programs by NIH should not stop at recruitment alone and should include an objective assessment of areas such as career trajectories, quality of professional life when compared with peers, and opportunities offered to these candidates within institutions when compared with peers, all at regular intervals. Peer Review: In order to combat unconscious bias that may be present during the review process, NIH can focus on the preparation and composition of review panels. Training can also be used as a tool to ensure panel participants leave any unconscious biases at the door. In addition, NIH can follow up with first time applicants that are denied a grant to provide helpful feedback and encourage them to reapply in the future. This is an area where NIH has an opportunity to make an impact on diversity much more broadly than within its own organization. 2 ABOUT BOOZ ALLEN HAMILTON Booz Allen has worked with Federal agencies to address diversity and workforce development issues through a comprehensive set of tools and services. We have delivered our workforce development, diversity and inclusion services across the Federal government including but not limited to the Department of Defense's (DoD) Office of Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity (ODMEO), the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), the U.S. Air Force (AF), and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Working with these and other clients, Booz Allen has developed extensive experience in full-scale design and implementation of diversity and inclusion programs, strategic planning, senior leadership engagement and training, diversity partnership facilitation, diversity workforce analysis and assessment, and measurement systems. Booz Allen has also worked with Federal research organizations, including NIH and the National Science Foundation (NSF) to assist them in providing outreach and technical assistance to underrepresented populations. For example, for the past five years, Booz Allen assisted NSF's Policy Office by planning and hosting semi-annual grantee conferences to provide instruction on the application and management of NSF grants. This assistance also included planning and implementing conferences for underrepresented populations, designing a website that explained the grant proposal merit review process, developing and distributing electronic newsletters to NSF grantees, and creating web-based training modules. To reach underrepresented populations, we assisted NSF with two conferences for Hispanic Serving Institutions (239 attendees), a workshop for Tribal Colleges and Universities (80 attendees), and a workshop for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (241 attendees). In addition, Booz Allen supported the start-up of NIH's National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NCMHD, which is now an Institute) to aid in the design and implementation of an organization capable of effectively addressing health disparities in 2001. We provided support in the following areas: Strategic Planning, Performance and Outcomes Measurement, Communication Strategy and Implementation, Organizational and Staff Development, Grants and Endowment Program Management, and Loan Repayment Programs Support. Booz Allen worked collaboratively with NCMHD leadership to: develop the NIH Comprehensive Strategic Plan and Budget to Reduce and Ultimately Eliminate Health Disparities; establish the NCMHD brand (e.g., logo); design, develop, and deploy the NCMHD Website; and launch its Loan Repayment, Section 736 Endowment, and Centers of Excellence Programs. We also helped plan and implement four technical assistance workshops across the U.S. and prepare informational materials on behalf of NCMHD leaders, including Congressional testimony, correspondence, and workshop presentations. Booz Allen has worked in communities helping to initiate and bridge relationships and partnerships. For example, we recently held a series of behavioral health summits in locations that have a large military presence and community of servicemen and women. Booz Allen partnered with key local organizations to hold these semi-public summits to raise awareness and direct established resources in traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other issues for US servicemen and women and their families. This Megacommunity approach connected Government efforts with academia and also with industry, who serve as potential employers of this population. The combination of Booz Allen's functional expertise in diversity consulting and workforce development, track record of supporting NIH, and experience providing similar services to other organizations positions us to be able to support the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director Working Group on Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce should it choose to act upon recommendations set forth to build solutions for enhancing the biomedical researcher workforce pipeline, improve NIH review processes, and make other broader changes to enhance the success of a diverse biomedical research workforce. Inset text: As a firm, Booz Allen has a proven record of recognition of its commitment to diversity Booz Allen lives its core value of diversity on a daily basis. The firm was named by DiversityInc as one of the "Top 50 Companies for Diversity" for 2011, honoring the company's commitment to hiring and developing a diverse staff, creating an inclusive work environment and leveraging the differences of staff to further enhance client service. In addition, the firm earned a 100% rating on the Human Rights Campaign's "Corporate Equality Index" and has been named to Working Mothers magazine's "100 Best Companies for Working Mothers." Booz Allen's Office of Diversity and Inclusion sponsors 14 employee network forums, including the African American Forum, Armed Services Forum, diverseABILITY Forum, Women's Forum, Latin American Forum, and the GLOBE Forum for LGBT employees, each sponsored by a senior leader.
02/23/2012 at 02:16:56 PM Organization Northeast Ohio Medical University Rootstown, OH Strategies for Diversifying the Biomedical Research Workforce Jay A. Gershen, D.D.S., Ph.D. President Northeast Ohio Medical University February 17, 2012 https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfi_files/nih_dbrw/add.cfm

The National Institutes of Health's (NIH) consideration of strategies for Diversification of the Biomedical Research Workforce is an important endeavor for the future of the nation. In my current role as the sixth President of the Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED), I am working to increase the research enterprise at NEOMED and to increase diversity by expanding opportunities for underserved individuals to enter the pipeline of health professions through a unique "Education for Service" program. With support from the Governor, the Ohio General Assembly, private foundations and partnerships with other Ohio universities, we are mentoring, guiding and supporting underserved and underrepresented students through the continuum of their higher education. As a member of the Executive Committee of Research!America and as Secretary/Treasurer of the Sullivan Alliance, I am committed to the work of expanding and diversifying the biomedical research workforce nationally and in Ohio.

We expect that our efforts in northeast Ohio will serve as a model for the nation, will be replicable, and will increase our base of biomedical researchers, primary care physicians, and clinical researchers. We believe that these efforts will provide a pathway for future scientists that could provide models for young citizens from lower-socioeconomic backgrounds to learn about and to pursue research careers in biomedical sciences.

Compelling data exists to support the goal of diversifying the nation's biomedical research workforce. Approximately 29% of the U.S. population is comprised of African-Americans, Native Americans, Alaska Natives, Hispanic/Latino Americans and U.S. Pacific Islanders. However, these individuals comprise only 8% of the science Ph.D. degree holders and approximately 5% of the NIH R01 grant holders. Diversifying the biomedical research workforce is closely related to the broader agenda of diversifying the healthcare workforce of our nation. In this regard, only 6% of practicing physicians are Latino, African American or Native American. Furthermore, under-represented minority faculty account for only about 4% of U.S. Medical School faculty.

A critical point in this discussion is that underrepresented minority physicians are more likely than their non-minority counterparts to conduct research to help reduce racial disparities in health care. These same physicians are also more likely to serve as role models and mentors in the recruitment of students into medicine, pharmacy and biomedical sciences research. The underlying premise at the Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED) is that the most powerful approach is a unified strategy to promote diversity in both the healthcare workforce and the biomedical research workforce.

To truly have an impact on diversifying the biomedical research workforce, this nation needs to increase the number of underrepresented minorities who become health professionals with an interest in scientific research. This would then create positive role models among university faculty for those students who follow to help influence their decision to consider and pursue biomedical research careers. NEOMED has initiated a truly unique Education for Service program in partnership with Cleveland State University, Kent State University, The University of Akron and Youngstown State University. NEOMED is establishing a significant presence in the Cleveland community by creating the NEOMED Academic Campus at Cleveland State University. NEOMED and CSU are establishing the lead program in this initiative in developing an urban primary care program for up to 35 medical students each year focusing on interprofessional education along with students in pharmacy, nursing, nurse practitioner and medical social work by recruiting students from the community who will be educated and trained as "home grown" practitioners.

The ultimate goals for the Education for Service initiative are to diversify the healthcare workforce, train primary care physicians and improve the health of urban and rural communities. Students from diverse and lower socioeconomic backgrounds are being introduced first to the possibility of pursuing careers in medicine, pharmacy and the biomedical sciences. Second, through a comprehensive approach of mentoring, counseling and guiding these students through high school, college, and then on to medical, pharmacy or graduate studies in the biomedical sciences, these students are being tracked and supported on a continuum from middle school to practice to help assure they reach their professional goals. We anticipate that some of these students will choose careers in biomedical research as they learn about and gain an understanding of the career possibilities in the sciences.

The basic approach is to recruit individuals from disadvantaged economic and educational urban and rural neighborhoods, to then mentor, guide and support these students as they progress through baccalaureate and post-baccalaureate programs at one of the participating universities and then on to medicine, pharmacy or graduate studies in the biomedical sciences at NEOMED. For those students who choose medicine, we will then provide significant scholarships to incentivize them to choose primary care medicine and to return to inner city and underserved neighborhoods to practice medicine. This program will include up to 50 guaranteed seats among the four universities (with 35 at CSU) in the NEOMED College of Medicine for students who satisfactorily meet admissions and promotions criteria. Scholarships are available to support qualified students who commit to establishing their medical practice in an underserved neighborhood for a specified period of time. A key component of this strategy is to engage the local communities and healthcare providers to help identify middle school and high school students and create the right environment to insure the success of these students.

As a component of the Education for Service program, NEOMED is developing structured pipelines to provide opportunities for underrepresented minorities to identify pathways to careers in biomedical sciences research. Data suggest that one of the significant barriers for minorities to a career in science is simply a lack of awareness of the path to these careers and an understanding of the skills needed to be successful in the sciences.

Approximately 33% of African Americans and Latinos at the high school level indicate that they plan to pursue an advanced degree compared to about 45% of Caucasian high school students. However, between 80% and 85% of African Americans and Latinos at the senior undergraduate college level indicate that they plan to pursue advanced degrees compared to 70% of Caucasians. Clearly this indicates that awareness and access are strong fundamental strategies.

NEOMED is establishing the Bio-Med Science Academy on the university campus to create an innovative and progressive learning environment that cultivates academic excellence and rigor in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEM+M) disciplines while nurturing creativity, inventiveness and community in its students. The Academy will provide opportunities for high school students from rural communities and will become an integral part of the Northeast Ohio Medical University campus.

School integration on a medical school campus allows teachers and students to take advantage of sophisticated research laboratories and guest lectures from an array of scientific researchers, professors and medical professionals. The Academy will engage professionals from engineering, science, pharmaceutical, biomedical, and other companies to provide lectures and serve as project advisors. Curriculum themes will be developed based on current trends in science and medicine as well as based on the research and education being conducted at Northeast Ohio Medical University. The Academy will develop educational experiences around community health and the environment in both urban and rural communities.

NEOMED is also partnering with Central State University, a Historically Black College and University in southwest Ohio, to provide research internships in NIH funded laboratories on the NEOMED campus. This highly structured experience involves multiple senior University investigators who form a support team to mentor college sophomore chemistry and biology students through a 10 week internship that will include hands-on laboratory work, participation in seminars and journal clubs, and opportunities to interact with doctoral students in the biomedical sciences as well as medical and pharmacy students and other undergraduate students. By partnering with Central State University faculty, the goal is to increase awareness among these students of paths to careers in science and ultimately to the diversification of the biomedical research workforce.

So why are these programs unique and why can they exhibit success? We believe that it starts with the corporate culture established by the Presidents and the Boards of Trustees of those universities and teaching hospitals that are partnering in the establishment and conduct of these programs. It includes a clear commitment of the Presidents of those institutions to diversify the work force and to do whatever is necessary to make these programs work for their students and the citizens they serve. That clear commitment must be a component of the foundation of each institution's mission by actualizing this effort as part of the culture throughout the entire corporate community. This commitment starts with the President and the leadership team, diversification of the workforce at all levels throughout the institution and a clear institutional commitment, supported by the Board of Trustees, toward identifying, recruiting and mentoring students from diverse and lower socioeconomic backgrounds. Finally, participating leaders, faculty and institutions must exhibit a strong commitment and active involvement in a continuum, over time, of mentoring, nurturing and supporting not only students as they progress through their education and training but also in guiding young professionals as they begin their careers as physicians, pharmacists, biomedical scientists and university faculty.

Northeast Ohio Medical University, formerly known as the Northeastern Ohio Universities Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy (NEOUCOM), is a community-based, public medical university with a mission to improve the quality of health care in Northeast Ohio working in collaboration with its educational and clinical partners. With a focus on scientific and medical research, and the interprofessional training of health professionals that is unique to the state of Ohio, the University offers a doctor of medicine (M.D.) and a doctor of pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree, in addition to graduate-level coursework and research opportunities leading to master's and doctoral degrees in other medical areas. Northeast Ohio Medical University is a founding member of the Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron. Visit www.neomed.edu.

     
02/23/2012 at 03:03:08 PM Self     With regard to increasing diversity for minorities and underrepresented groups, I would say as a scientist of color, the most significant barriers to my success have been due to a lack of NIH funding. Although, programs do exist for minorities scientist they are not trivial to obtain and when NIH does not fund a minority it because a stamp of no-confidence rather than just poor luck. That stamp closes door and changes fates. The most significant being that we have to move to yet another institution with usually another pay cut. For the majority of scientist of color that I know, we have become a group of migrant workers floating from institution to institution being "mentored" in temporary teaching/research programs where the host institution really has no intention of making a tenure track position available. After a while it becomes a catch-22, in my case my last NIH review said We don't want to fund you because we would rather that you were in a tenure track position and the institution (not Grinnell College) said we won't put you on the tenure track without funding. I am in a visiting position at Grinnell College and no there is no opportunity for advancement here either. I have been applying for tenure track positions for 5 years straight, I have had many interviews but the fact is that out of 100-150 applicants the one minority applicant has little chance of being selected to a tenure track position. Really, they have the same chance as everyone else, 1/100. That means that we, the scientist of color, if we make it to the level of accomplishment sufficient for tenure track faculty, we have statistically little chance of actually getting hired and then even less of getting funded. If you want to increase the number of minorities in science, increase the money for tenure track positions for faculty of color. These faculty, in stable positions, can mentor more students over the long term. As a visiting or mentored faculty of color (12 years post Ph.D) I know that without help somewhere , I will have to join my other colleagues of color and abandon academic for the practical pursuit of stability for my families sake and my own professional sanity. I believe that after the postdoctoral fellowship period is over one hits a glass ceiling where institutions talk about wanting to increase the number of underrepresented faculty on the one hand but have no real financial incentive to do so on the other. Rather, it is sufficient for a search committee to state that there was at least one minority in the applicant pool without any real sense of under what conditions, and when would there ever be the right person of color they would hire. I believe that if more faculty of color could bring funding with them or if funding could be matched by the institution then you would see a huge jump in the number of tenure track faculty.      
02/23/2012 at 03:04:36 PM Organization American Society for Microbiology Washington, DC See comments in attached letter. See comments in attached letter. See comments in attached letter. The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) submitted input to the NIH RFI on Biomedical Research Training, which included comments on the lack of underrepresented minority participation in the biomedical workforce and issues that we believe contribute to this lack of representation. We appreciate the opportunity to provide input to the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director Working Group on Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce. The ASM comments on the Biomedical Research Training RFI are available at http://www.asm.org/index.php/policy/brt-10-11.html and we recommend that the Diversity Working Group review these comments as well as the following comments which are specifically focused on diversity in the biomedical research workforce. The ASM has a long history of addressing the disparity in the representation of underrepresented minorities in the microbiological biomedical research work force and strongly believes that professional organizations have an obligation to mitigate this disparity. As early as 1984, the Society established the Committee on the Status of Minority Microbiologists, renamed the Committee on Microbiological Issues Impacting Minorities (CMIIM) in 2003. One of CMIIM's roles has been to address the underrepresentation of underrepresented minorities in the microbiological sciences and in the ASM and to develop recommendations and programs to increase participation. The comments presented here are based on the observations and recommendations of the CMIIM. Comment 1 - For any of the areas identified and any other specific areas you believe are worthy of consideration by the working group, please identify the critical issues(s) and impact(s) on institutions, scientists, or both. Biomedical Research Force Pipeline Middle School - Though not addressed in the RFI, the NIH should establish, strengthen and support programs as early as middle school to introduce young people to the biomedical sciences. These might take the form of supporting programs that provide hands on science experiments, web-based 2 curricula, classroom visits by role models, trips to science museums, engaging students in science fair projects, lab experiences for teachers, etc. An important component of these activities should focus on the ability of students to describe their experiences both by oral and written communication. NIH must take into consideration that a majority of disciplines sponsor programs to interest youth in specific careers, beginning at the middle school level. Therefore, the biomedical research arena must engage in creative, exciting, meaningful and culturally appropriate programs that will attract students at this level. In addition to merely attraction, students will be able to identify and begin taking the necessary courses that will prepare them for college. This is especially true among some underrepresented minorities and individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds where family members and friends don't have the educational backgrounds to guide them in pursuing important precollege courses in science and math. A primary issue in underrepresented minority performance at the precollege, undergraduate and graduate levels is poor academic preparation; and activities to address educational preparation should begin early. High School - Programs should proceed into the high school years where students have the opportunity to work in research labs and engage in all phases of the research training process. For example, activities directed at the high school student such as interaction with other high school research students, age/education appropriate seminars, related cultural activities (e.g., the NIH Cinema Series), assignment to a mentor, and presentations on college selection, study skills, college and financial aid application processes, etc. Again and for the reasons cited in the aforementioned paragraph, these students may not have the opportunity to receive these activities from their homes nor from the inadequate resources of their public secondary schools. An important pipeline resource for underrepresented and disadvantaged high school students are the specialized public high schools of science, math and technology http://www.ncsssmst.org/institutionalmembers.aspx . Publically supported, these schools have strict academic entrance requirements and a mandate to increase and maintain diversity. Undergraduate - At the undergraduate level programs should continue as they are currently supported by the NIH. However, there should be more emphasis on activities to increase student's scientific writing skills for manuscript and proposal writing. NIH should require these kinds of workshops at their annually supported ABRCMS, BKX/NIS, SACNAS, etc. meetings and within the undergraduate supported programs. Graduate School and Beyond - Graduate and Postdoctoral programs should include enhanced activities in proposal and manuscript writing. No graduate or postdoctoral fellow should graduate/leave a program without publications. This should be the responsibility of the PIs/mentor; and if this does not occur, the mentors/PIs should be penalized. It appears that NIH programs have had some success in increased underrepresented minority enrollments into graduate programs, but the problem has been with successful trainee productivity and/or movement into bench research positions for which they have been trained. It appears that three factors have contributed to the latter - (a) the increased length in time to degree and the increased time and number of postdoctoral appointments, which have become common, (b) the lack of job opportunities and low entrance salaries at the postdoc level and beyond, and (c) poor mentoring. As a result, many underrepresented minorities begin to observe these trends midway 3 through their training and have decided to merely graduate and look at other career options. Thus, they don't see the need to work hard at getting publications and to enter postdoctoral training. Beyond graduate and postdoctoral programs, the ability of trainees and junior faculty to become successful and enjoy sustained success is, again, strongly dependent on an involved mentor. Clearly, in previous years, a small fraction has found success without this assistance, but this has required monumental effort. Unfortunately, other disciplines and those closely related to the biomedical fields have changed, but not biomedical research training. The successful training of underrepresented groups in biomedical research can often be predicted by viewing the productivity of the mentor. Thus, a higher standard must be expected and enforced by the NIH. Also, PIs should be aware that the NIH is expecting to see that PIs are actively mentoring and preparing underrepresented minorities, not merely using them as lab technicians. NIH Support of Alternate Career Paths Much discussion has centered on "alternate careers" and this has surfaced simultaneously with the lack of available bench research positions for which underrepresented minorities and others have been trained. Consequently, many underrepresented Ph.D. recipients enter jobs in directing science education and/or minority recruitment programs, entry level policy positions, scientific writing positions, laboratory managers, etc. for which they are overly qualified. The NIH should clearly define whether it is in its mission is to train for traditional (bench research) Ph.D. research careers followed by postdoctoral training and to train for direct entrance into alternative careers. If training for direct entrance into alternative careers is within its mission, NIH should consider developing M.S. type programs, certificate programs and/or programs that don't require rigorous bench predoctoral and postdoctoral research training. Additionally, opportunities for students who decide to opt out of the traditional Ph.D. training programs should be made early in their matriculation. This will enable them to quickly move into a more satisfying career option. Success in receiving funding and RO1 support Successful funding is dependent on several factors which include research topic, publication record, institutional (or access to) intellectual and infrastructure resources, grantsmanship, professional associations and networking opportunities, service on related committees and advisory groups and characteristics of the peer review/study section committee. Success with all of these factors can be initiated and enhanced by the availability of a good and appropriate mentor. The peer review process may also have a negative impact on an otherwise potentially successful applicant. Situations where the applicant is not known by the reviewers, the applicant is from a less prestigious institution, the applicant was trained at a less prestigious institution, or when the applicant's mentor is not well known, can all lead to instinctive negative unfairness. Thus, the NIH might instruct reviewers to take note of these possible prejudicial circumstances. It may also be of value to attempt to ensure that the committee is representative of reviewers from a cross section of institutions, if possible. 4 Of note is the following from ASM's previous opportunity to comment - "While many programs have had increased successes in recruiting URM because of NIH funded programs geared toward increasing the participation of these groups, the ability of training programs to produce RO1 eligible and successful PIs has been extremely limited. I personally believe this has been because of inadequate mentoring (students graduating without publications or a publication where they are tucked in with a group of 5-10 co-authors; the lack of acceptance of URM into viable research teams, continuing overall "feelings" of discrimination and a general lack of support by too many PIs) and students being burned out because of the lack of job prospects (which early in their training they'd assumed to be available) which subsequently has resulted in a lack of enthusiastic pursuit. In general their post graduation and postdoctoral jobs do not qualify them for jobs where they will be RO1 eligible. I've made these observations over the years and when I was invited to participate in a retreat for underrepresented minority biomedical predoctoral students at a prestigious University this past spring, the majority of the latter was evident and students were thinking about pursuing alternate careers. Furthermore, I have received similar sentiments from graduate and/or postdoctoral trainees at other academic institutions and/or government agencies. On the other hand, a recent URM male graduate from a prestigious university who had excellent mentoring and an exemplary publishing record has chosen a "policy" position and has delayed seeking a postdoctoral position. The reason - his predoctoral training was much too long, he is "burned out" and refuses to enter a "long" postdoctoral position." Mentoring Programs Mentoring programs are essential at all areas of the pipeline, but become more critical once graduate training begins. This is very common information, but it appears as if all do not understand how to mentor and/or do not realize that individuals under their tutelage are lacking mentoring. Thus, NIH should consider having required mentoring workshops for all individuals who train NIH supported trainees. This could take the form of "training the trainer" where representatives receive NIH directed mentor training and the representative returns to their institutions to train others. The role of good mentoring is critical in all phases of the pipeline, in particular beginning with undergraduate students. If grantees fail to have successful mentoring programs as evidenced by the profiles of graduates, they should be penalized. Length of Training Programs NIH should revisit the controversy about the length of training programs. Though NIH reported that responses to a 2011 RFI revealed that this was not an issue among PIs, this attitude does not appear to be representative. Many believe that training programs (both predoc and postdoc) are too long. Shorter periods were previously satisfactory and consequently some of the top scientists who benefitted from these shorter periods are very productive today. To say that research has become more complex should also include that the technologies to answer questions have become more precise and data can be obtained and analyzed more quickly. Additionally, much research is being accomplished through collaborations, which provide for quicker and more precise data. If anything, the periods should be shorter, given the advances in instrumentation and intellectual knowledge. The length of training programs together with the lack of job opportunities are becoming major deterrents to underrepresented groups completing and entering biomedical research training programs. 5 Enhance Collaborations with Professional Societies to Address Issue NIH already supports a number of broad spectrum activities managed by professional societies to increase diversity. They include support for conferences, travel awards to attend and present at conferences, society mentoring programs for undergraduate students, workshops, summer research programs for high school and undergraduate students, etc. NIH might consider funding a more intense mentoring program that could pair tenure track and junior faculty with more senior and established faculty from a different institution. Biomedical Research Workforce Demand Currently, all indications suggest that less Ph.D. biomedical researchers are produced than are required. If not available, NIH should accumulate data to demonstrate future year needs. Since biomedical researchers are working longer years than previously, information on their working life span should be included in order that accurate data are presented. With these data, clear and realistic needs can be presented and will help in ensuring that individuals have the opportunity to make good and reliable career choices of which jobs will be available. Quality of Graduate Students In a previous ASM query, responses from microbiology training programs around the country indicated that PIs believed the academic quality of entering graduates students has decreased. This is not surprising given our country's overall performance ranking on international science and math tests. Clearly the increased recruitment of diverse populations, e.g., underrepresented minorities, women, persons with disabilities, persons from disadvantaged backgrounds and the inability of some of these populations to participate in early and rigorous precollege science and math coursework contributes to this low performance. Also, the lack of parental and mentoring support, inadequate financial resources, cultural attitudes and family responsibilities could individually and collectively contribute to either population's poor performance. It is perceived that these factors might not have had the same impact on the majority of a small homogenous group of select students from 50 - 100 years ago. With this in mind, NIH must assume the leadership role with other similar agencies, academic institutions and the private sector to include professional organizations to ensure that students who exhibit early academic abilities and interest in science and math are nurtured up the pipeline. Without the latter, the US will be unable to meet the biomedical research needs of its citizenry. Comment 2 - Please identify and explain which of the issues you identified are, in your opinion, the most important for the working group to address and why. While all of these issues are crucial, the most important might include the following: 1. Ensuring that when trainees are recruited into NIH supported programs that they have sufficient mentoring opportunities and that the rigorous training they receive enable them to secure meaningful career positions that closely mirror their training. This means that they publish in high impact journals, get to meet the top scientists in their respective fields, learn how to write research proposals and where appropriate (especially with postdocs) given the 6 opportunity to serve on national and local subject matter committees and present at higher leveled meetings. 2. Developing required mentoring training programs for PIs/Mentors with subsequent metrics to ensure favorable outcomes. 3. Consider providing alternative training for underrepresented minorities and others to pursue "alternate" career options (M.S. or certification programs). Not all students will choose to invest time into pursuing a traditional training degree but might be very enthusiastic about pursuing other career options that lead to a well-paying job but does not require 6-10 years of advanced training. Furthermore, these "alternate" career paths will be those that will support biomedical research. This type of training should be by individuals who have the appropriate training, not by PIs of training or research grants. 4. Identifying a mechanism where PIs/mentors are held accountable for ensuring that trainees publish, engage in professional society activities, learn the art of grantsmanship, have opportunities to serve on national committees and advisory boards. Success in producing underrepresented minorities who are successful RO1 bench scientist should be a critical outcome measurement in determining whether an existing training program is eligible for further NIH funding. 5. Ensuring that the study section/review committees include reviewers who are fair, impartial and are affiliated with a diverse group of institutions. 6. Expanding the scope of the Loan Repayment Program to help recruit more underrepresented trainees and successfully requesting increased RO1 funding. Overall, the difficulty in securing funding is driving many scientists out of research and making it extremely difficult to secure tenure (thus having a negative impact on underrepresented minority career choice and success). Furthermore, the pay lines for funding RO1s are not equal across institutes and this is very discouraging to many. Comment 3 - Please comment on any specific ways you believe these or other issues would or should affect NIH policies or processes. Addressing these issues would (a) ensure a well-trained biomedical workforce to meet the demands of our country and the global society; (b) enhance the diversity of the U.S. workforce; (c) increase the R01 success rate of underrepresented groups; (d) ensure the U.S.'s global competitiveness; (e) attract the best and brightest and ensure individual personal satisfaction; and 7 (f) determine whether training for direct entry into alternative careers is an NIH objective and develop training programs that best meet the needs of these career aspirants Summary These observations, comments and recommendations represent nontraditional NIH approaches to training the biomedical workforce. Accordingly, and given the many challenges that face the NIH in meeting its training mission, a significant expenditure of money, time and creative efforts will be required to ensure the availability of a continuing biomedical workforce to meet the needs of the American people. It is clear that many of the comments included in this document are not unique to underrepresented groups; and, in many ways, a majority of all trainees may be impacted by many of these factors. Thus, the NIH must provide the leadership and support in engaging similar federal agencies, academic institutions and the private sector to include professional organizations to ensure the availability of a continuing biomedical research workforce. Thank you for the opportunity to comment.
02/23/2012 at 03:26:05 PM Organization Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) Tallahassee, FL 32307 Biomedical Research Workforce Pipeline * The appropriate transition points where NIH's training, career development and research grant programs could most effectively cultivate diversity in the biomedical research workforce --Entry into graduate degree programs --Transition from graduate degree to post-doctoral fellowships --Appointment from a post-doctoral position to the first independent scientific position --Award of the first independent research grant from NIH or equivalent in industry --Award of tenure in an academic position, at the NIH, or the equivalent in an industrial setting

Fact 1: FAMU strength--In 2010 in a report titled Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America's Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroad, the National Academies - National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine - ranked FAMU No. 1 in the nation as the institution of origin for African Americans who earn doctorates in natural science and engineering.

Fact 2: FAMU strength--An important outcome of the impressive research program of the FAMU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (CoPPS) is the training of African-American PhD students. During the last five years, the FAMU CoPPS alone produced over 60% of African Americans with PhDs in the pharmaceutical sciences in the USA. The graduates of this program reflect: a. 46/86 (53%) are now in academic positions, b. 18/86 (21%) are in the pharmaceutical industry, and c. 14/86 (16%) are research scientists with state and federal government.

Fact 3: FAMU strength--Over the past 11 years, one chemistry faculty member helped train and mentor three African-American males at FAMU, who have either earned their Ph.D. or earned their candidacy in Computational Chemistry a. Two of them have been in the program at Jackson State University which has received national acclaim for their efforts with minorities in Computational Chemistry and the other is at the Quantum Theory project at the University of Florida. b. The significance is that after considering that these students make up a huge percentage of the African- American Ph.D.s and or candidates in the USA, and they are all working on biological projects. i. One of them is doing post-doc work at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, ii. A second has interned at the American Cancer Society, and iii. The last of three is working on a project in a group with an NIH RO1 recipient. c. Even more amazing is that all of these students worked on biological projects under a chemistry professor, even though he had no previous experience in the area and they all finished undergrad with below 3.0 GPAs ("Still they rise.").

* The role of mentorship in the training and success of biomedical researchers throughout their careers --Development of relationships between professional societies, institutions, and individuals to develop mentoring programs --Creation and expansion of institutional mentoring programs --Mentoring of applicants and preparation of applications prior to submission * The influence of role models whose qualities and characteristics can positively affect the training and success of underrepresented biomedical researchers through their careers * The role of NIH messaging in encouraging underrepresented researchers to apply for NIH fellowships and grants * The role of institutional infrastructure support and climate as a factor in the success of underrepresented researchers

FAMU's measures of success may be attributed as such:

a. FAMU's excellent mentoring program provided for the students; b. FAMU PhD students mandate to submit at least 2 articles for publication and have 2 scientific presentations at national and international meetings; c. Required to have an external research internship at the federal government lab or pharmaceutical industry lab; and d. One member of the PhD student advisory committee is required to be an external (federal government lab or pharmaceutical industry lab).

* Factors in the Review Process --The potential role of institutional affiliation, academic pedigree, and various conscious and unconscious factors on review outcomes --Exploration of the possible influences of racial, ethnic, gender, affinity, or other biases --Research on the NIH Peer Review system to determine appropriate methods or interventions to identify and if necessary redress bias, including efforts to anonymize applications or test the effects of unconscious bias training on outcomes.

FAMU believes in partnering with major institutions: A. Translational and trilateral biomedical research may be further fostered by FAMU in collaborating with other similarly focused institutions, whether PMIs or MIs.

B. Institutions like FAMU may serve as a subcontractor when input given at the bargaining table, i.e., leveraging to find solutions to global challenges and transform people's lives into longer, productive ones.

C. Increase use of the peer review process-use reviewers from other MIs so that FAMU and others, in striving for more effectiveness through collaboration may deliberately and diligently benefit from partnerships with those peer institutions who have grant writers on staff. NIH may facilitate that investment as a service to FAMU.

Provide support for university-wide infrastructure

A. The infrastructure at minority institutions like FAMU is significantly less than those at majority institutions (MIs) and the amount of teaching required are more at predominantly minority institutions (PMIs) rather than MIs; this has a negative impact relative to the weight of the teaching load vs. research opportunities. B. FAMU needs infrastructure enhancement for facilities, space, fiscal and human resources to further grow its research, service, training, and development programs. Support for major instrumentation is also a challenge at institutions like FAMU; with support from NIH and other collaborations, this may be easily remedied to help further enhance productivity. C. Multiple options are needed to feed upon and grow research- driven programs to train minority students. More opportunities are needed other than limited target programs. More aggressive support from NIH must be implemented for minority institutions to strengthen their infrastructure to help level the playing field. FAMU thanks NIH in advance for grants to be made available for graduate students in the biomedical sciences. D. The lack of sufficient start-up packages still plagues most PMIs, whereby the lack of funding for junior faculty pales in comparison to support provided to junior faculty by MIs. Thus, MIs are offering over $1 million to attract the best and brightest minority faculty. There's clearly an unlevel playing field, particularly when correlated with the number of health disparities plaguing minority communities.

* The role of mentorship in the training and success of biomedical researchers throughout their careers --Development of relationships between professional societies, institutions, and individuals to develop mentoring programs --Creation and expansion of institutional mentoring programs --Mentoring of applicants and preparation of applications prior to submission

FAMU is undoubtedly the poster child for providing the conduit for minority graduates pursuing biomedical degrees. And yet, the University must become more value added. PMIs are recruiting, training and preparing future minority researchers. A great deal of MIs are pseudo-portraying themselves as minority serving institutions, but not serving the same populations.

NIH must provide more vigorous support for internships, fellowships, co-op experiences, and "smart power" opportunities for FAMU in order to continue the legacy already established from decades of previous relationship building. The best for NIH and FAMU is now imminent.

* The role of institutional infrastructure support and climate as a factor in the success of underrepresented researchers

The infrastructure at minority institutions like FAMU is significantly less than those at majority institutions (MIs) and the amount of teaching required are more at predominantly minority institutions (PMIs) rather than MIs; this has a negative impact relative to the weight of the teaching load vs. research opportunities. FAMU needs infrastructure enhancement for facilities, space, fiscal and human resources to further grow its research, service, training, and development programs. Support for major instrumentation is also a challenge at institutions like FAMU; with support from NIH and other collaborations, this may be easily remedied to help further Enhance productivity. Multiple options are needed to feed upon and grow research-driven programs to train minority students. More opportunities are needed other than limited target programs. More aggressive support from NIH must be implemented for minority institutions to strengthen their infrastructure to help level the playing field. FAMU thanks NIH in advance for grants to be made available for graduate students in the biomedical sciences. * Factors in the Review Process --The potential role of institutional affiliation, academic pedigree, and various conscious and unconscious factors on review outcomes >>>Exploration of the possible influences of racial, ethnic, gender, affinity, or other biases

The lack of sufficient start-up packages still plagues most PMIs like FAMU, whereby the lack of funding for junior faculty pales in comparison to support provided to junior faculty by MIs. Thus, MIs are offering over $1 million to attract the best and brightest minority faculty. There's clearly an unlevel playing field, particularly when correlated with the number of health disparities plaguing minority communities. Thanks in great part to NIH, FAMU is making more than a marginal impact. Let us continue.

FAMU-NIH Resolves/Testimonials Proposed by FAMU

A. Recommendations for increasing minority biomedical scientists is to strongly suggest that the federal government increase the support of training of FAMU's pharmacy, biology, chemistry and other biomedical- related graduate programs, 1. Plausible recommendation to use the FAMU CoPPS as a model for other HBCUs in the nation. 2. Counter argument is made in terms of growth and productivity of biomedical scientists. The request for increased NIH funding is directly linked to FAMU's productivity. Please observe some of the comments from the FAMU Department of Chemistry:

- Large teaching loads - Lack of facilities, infrastructure, and instrumentation - Lack of role models and mentoring - Lack of library resources - Lack of postdoctoral and graduate assistant expertise - Lack of time

FAMU's Proposed Solutions: - Use of larger classrooms and technology to reach more students with fewer faculty - Use and CREATION of MORE programs like the materials research facilities network, summer programs, etc.. that allow faculty to make use of agency funded centers - Partnerships in grants that cite specific usage of instruments funded by agencies and for what purpose by smaller institutions stated clearly and precisely in broader impact statements. - Increase the availability of free on line journal articles that have been sponsored by grant agencies - Creating partnerships with webinars specifically dedicated to display ongoing research by underrepresented scientists - Provide funding for short term teaching/research exchange methods between post-doc interested in teaching at smaller schools under the constraint that real and lasting research and technology be exchanged between the two schools (research and smaller school) -Provide mentoring opportunities for retired successful researchers to mentor junior researchers with the desire, potential, and initial signs of progress to do research. (Initial signs are having published, presented, and collaborated with noted researchers besides their postdoctoral or Ph.D. Advisors.) - Provide a set of rubrics that young researchers must score well on to obtain internal funding previously provided under the discretion of the smaller institution. - Also we need more mentors within science and related departments. Creating a program to support researchers coming to be role models and mentors for a short period may be helpful. -Finally recognize the true benefits of HBCU's and their mission. Thereby, removing them from competition from certain MSI schools who have a tremendous advantage in producing research.

FAMU ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ALONG WITH RECOMMENDATIONS:

Increased NIH funding --> Increase FAMU production of biomedical scientists: 1. Black researchers face only about two-thirds of the chance of whites of receiving federal medical research dollars, even with equal training and research records, according to a new analysis of grant winners. http://yourlife.usatoday.com/health/story/2011/08/Study-Whites-fare-better-than-blacks-seeking-medical-grants/50048084/1

2. Support of Competitive Research (SCORE) Research Advancement Award SC1) funding has increased from $100K to $250K as a pilot to see if providing more funds to minorities will increase productivity. 3. In an August 22, 2011 editorial: NIH Must End Discriminatory Funding Practices Against HBCUs by HBCUDigest.com, the following is substantive: A study released recently by researchers from the University of Kansas revealed that African-American researchers are more than 30 percent less likely to receive funding for projects from the National Institutes of Health than their white, Hispanic and Asian counterparts. NIH Director Francis Collins called the revelation "deeply troubling," and vowed "..the problem has been there all along. Now we know about it and have to do something." But despite Collins' "now we know" claims, he and NIH administration have long been made aware of this issue by members of the HBCU leadership community, including FAMU. Data were cited from the White House Initiative on HBCUs noting where black colleges received a maximum of 0.83 percent funding during the 2007-2009 period; a stark contrast to maintained and slight increases in allocations going to HBCUs for agricultural and science & technology research and inclusion initiatives from other federal agencies.

True, over the past decade, much has been done to eradicate the disparity of representation of biomedical research scientists from the African American population. Gratitude is tendered to the National Institutes of Health and similar agencies. Yet, there's a definite disconnect and sadly, a seeming disinterest regarding the available funding to productive MIs being consistent and continual with consummate, mutual reciprocity. Let's do the right thing immediately; we'll either pay now or pay later.

Attachment #1: PDF can't copy Attachment #2: Input on ways the NIH can increase diversity in the biomedical research workforce throughout the various research career stages Health Disparity Issues Impacting the Minority Community http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?isbn=030908265X&page=R1 Disparities in health care have existed within the minority communities for many decades. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services a health disparity refers to gaps in the quality of health and health care across racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. A population is a health disparity population if there is a significant disparity in the overall rate of disease incidence, prevalence, morbidity, mortality or survival rates in the population as compared to the health status of the general population. In the Institute of Medicine's 2002 report Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care it was revealed that racial and ethnic minorities experienced lower quality health services and were less likely to receive routine medical procedures than their white counterparts. Health disparity issues impacting the minority community include: - Access to preventative care: o Neighborhood/Community Health Centers o Rural Health Centers - Lifestyle behaviors: o Exercise o Weight management o Nutrition o Healthy foods o Smoking cessation programs o Tobacco o HIV/AIDS o STDs - Greater support for chronic and acute health care needs such as: o Diabetes management o Hypertension o Kidney disease o Cancer o Heart disease o Cardiovascular accidents (Heart attack) o Cerebrovascular accidents (Stroke) - Institutional racism and bias in the health care system: o Cultural competence 2 Areas of focus in addressing health disparities Improving health data for minority groups Increasing the number of minorities in the health care professions Increasing minority participation in clinical trials FAMU Named One of the Most Popular National Universities by U.S. News and World Report www.famu.edu January 26, 2012 TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida A&M University (FAMU) has been named one of the Top 15 most popular national universities in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. FAMU is the only historically black college or university that is ranked in the Top 15 with other Ivy League universities such as Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Princeton. University of Florida is the only other university in Florida to be listed in the Top 20. The list is compiled by the yield of students who enroll in a university after being accepted. According to the U. S. News and World Report's website, one of the best indicators of a school's popularity among students is the school's yield-the percentage of applicants accepted by a college who end up enrolling at that institution in the fall. In fall 2010, FAMU accepted 4,993 and the first year enrollment was 2,815; therefore, 56.4 percent of the students who were accepted were enrolled as part of the fall 2010 class. . Quick FAMU Facts: (2010-2011) Founded: October 3, 1887 Homepage: http://www.famu.edu Institution Type: Public, Four-Year, Co-educational, Doctoral Granting with intensive research and commercialization emphases Carnegie Classification: Doctoral Research Institution (D.R.I.) University Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) Governing Boards: Florida Department of Education - State Board of Education, Florida Board of Governors, Florida A&M University Board of Trustees Enrollment: approaching 14,000 students Global Influence (Student Diversity): 1.3% Asian or Pacific Islanders 90.7% African American 2.1% Hispanic 0.2% Native American 0.9% International 4.8% Caucasian 3 I. OUR STRENGTHS: A. In 2010 in a report titled Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America's Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroad, the National Academies - National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine - ranked FAMU No. 1 in the nation as the institution of origin for African Americans who earn doctorates in natural science and engineering. 1. The FAMU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (CoPPS) is a doctoral granting institution offering the PhD degrees in the areas of Pharmacology/Toxicology, Medicinal Chemistry, Pharmaceutics and Environmental Toxicology. 2. The FAMU CoPPS has produced over 2,000 graduates, which represents 20% of the nations African-American pharmacists, and over 60% of the African-American PhDs in the pharmaceutical sciences over the past decade. 3. The FAMU, CoPPS is one of the premier pharmacy schools in the nation as it relates to research and research funding. a. Nationwide, the College has been ranked among the top 10 Schools of Pharmacy in terms of National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding for the last seven years. b. The CoPPS has continued to attract private, state and federal government to support the research efforts of the College. 4. The College's excellent faculty members are leading the nation in research publications. a. Among the 100 Historically Black Colleges and Universities, the College's faculty ranked first and sixth as the most published faculty members. 7. An important outcome of the impressive research program of the FAMU CoPPS is the training of African-American PhD students. During the last five years, the FAMU CoPPS alone produced over 60% of African Americans with PhDs in the pharmaceutical sciences in the USA. The graduates of this program reflect: a. 46/86 (53%) are now in academic positions, b. 18/86 (21%) are in the pharmaceutical industry, and c. 14/86 (16%) are research scientists with state and federal government. 2. These measures of success may be attributed as such: a. FAMU's excellent mentoring program provided for the students; b. FAMU PhD students mandate to submit at least 2 articles for publication and have 2 scientific presentations at national and international meetings; c. Required to have an external research internship at the federal government lab or pharmaceutical industry lab; and d. One member of the PhD student advisory committee is required to be an external (federal government lab or pharmaceutical industry lab). b. The FAMU CoPPS has 20 PhD's involved in full-time research and training (not including postdoctoral and MS students) 4 B. The FAMU School of Nursing offers the Doctoral Program which is a comprehensive, cooperative Doctor Of Philosophy (PhD) In Nursing Science with the University of Florida and Florida State University. This collaborative program permits one access to the University of Florida's (UF) doctoral program via 2-way video-interactive approaches to distance learning on the campuses of Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University (FAMU) and Florida State University (FSU). The University of Florida is the degree granting institution. Consequently one must meet the admission and graduation criteria of the UF Graduate School and College of Nursing. The program builds on the advanced practice of nursing at the master's level and develops researchers committed to enhancing nursing's knowledge base. C. Since its start in 1982, the FAMU School of Allied Health Sciences (SOAHS) has experienced continuous involvement in education, practice and research that has contributed to the strong reputation of each academic division within the school. Each of the six divisions is fully accredited by its respective accrediting body. Overall, FAMU ranks as the number one producer of African-American allied health professionals in the State of Florida. SOAHS has been successful in attracting substantial extramural funding, and it has received over $4 million from the Department of Health and Human Services to support programs designed to increase the number of minorities and other underrepresented persons in the allied health professions. D. The FAMU Department of Biology produces graduate students who conduct publishable research. They also prepare our graduate students to continue their education in doctoral or medical programs. The department serves non-majors as well, exposing this population of students to biological concepts which impact their lives. E. FAMU's Department of Chemistry offers a thesis option leading to the Master of Science Degree in Chemistry. It is designed to provide students with advanced course work and experience in active engagement in chemical research. This option is desirable for students to continue graduate studies toward the Ph.D. Degree in Chemistry, and often collaborates their research endeavors with other academic units. For example: 1. Over the past 11 years, one chemistry faculty member helped train and mentor three African-American males at FAMU, who have either earned their Ph.D. or earned their candidacy in Computational Chemistry: a. Two of them have been in the program at Jackson State University which has received national acclaim for their efforts with minorities in Computational Chemistry and the other is at the Quantum Theory project at the University of Florida. b. The significance is that after considering that these students make up a huge percentage of the African-American Ph.D.s and or candidates in the USA, and they are all working on biological projects. i. One of them is doing post-doc work at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, 5 ii. A second has interned at the American Cancer Society, and iii. The last of three is working on a project in a group with an NIH RO1 recipient. c. Even more amazing is that all of these students worked on biological projects under a chemistry professor, even though he had no previous experience in the area and they all finished undergrad with below 3.0 GPAs ("Still they rise."). II. OUR ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ALONG WITH RECOMMENDATIONS: A. Increased NIH funding 1. Black researchers face only about two-thirds of the chance of whites of receiving federal medical research dollars, even with equal training and research records, according to a new analysis of grant winners. http://yourlife.usatoday.com/health/story/2011/08/Study-Whites-fare-better-than-blacks-seeking-medical-grants/50048084/1 B. Support of Competitive Research (SCORE) Research Advancement Award (SC1) funding has increased from $100K to $250K as a pilot to see if providing more funds to minorities will increase productivity. C. In an August 22, 2011 editorial: NIH Must End Discriminatory Funding Practices Against HBCUs by HBCUDigest.com, the following is substantive: A study released recently by researchers from the University of Kansas revealed that African-American researchers are more than 30 percent less likely to receive funding for projects from the National Institutes of Health than their white, Hispanic and Asian counterparts. NIH Director Francis Collins called the revelation "deeply troubling," and vowed "..the problem has been there all along. Now we know about it and have to do something." But despite Collins' "now we know" claims, he and NIH administration have long been made aware of this issue by members of the HBCU leadership community, including FAMU. Data were cited from the White House Initiative on HBCUs noting where black colleges received a maximum of 0.83 percent funding during the 2007-2009 period; a stark contrast to maintained and slight increases in allocations going to HBCUs for agricultural and science & technology research and inclusion initiatives from other federal agencies. II. Partnering with major institutions A. Translational and trilateral biomedical research may be further fostered by FAMU in collaborating with other similarly focused institutions, whether PMIs or MIs. B. Institutions like FAMU may serve as a subcontractor when input given at the bargaining table, i.e., leveraging to find solutions to global challenges and transform people's lives into longer, productive ones. III. Increase use of the peer review process-use reviewers from other MIs: 6 ü FAMU and others, in striving for more effectiveness through collaboration must deliberately and diligently seek partnership with those peer institutions who have grant writers on staff. NIH may facilitate that investment as a service to FAMU. IV. Provide support for university-wide infrastructure A. The infrastructure at minority institutions like FAMU is significantly less than those at majority institutions (MIs) and the amount of teaching required are more at predominantly minority institutions (PMIs) rather than MIs; this has a negative impact relative to the weight of the teaching load vs. research opportunities. B. FAMU needs infrastructure enhancement for facilities, space, fiscal and human resources to further grow its research, service, training, and development programs. Support for major instrumentation is also a challenge at institutions like FAMU; with support from NIH and other collaborations, this may be easily remedied to help further enhance productivity. C. Multiple options are needed to feed upon and grow research-driven programs to train minority students. More opportunities are needed other than limited target programs. More aggressive support from NIH must be implemented for minority institutions to strengthen their infrastructure to help level the playing field. FAMU thanks NIH in advance for grants to be made available for graduate students in the biomedical sciences. D. The lack of sufficient start-up packages still plagues most PMIs like FAMU, whereby the lack of funding for junior faculty pales in comparison to support provided to junior faculty by MIs. Thus, MIs are offering over $1 million to attract the best and brightest minority faculty. There's clearly an unlevel playing field, particularly when correlated with the number of health disparities plaguing minority communities. V. Increase mentorships FAMU is undoubtedly the poster child for providing the conduit for minority graduates pursuing biomedical degrees. And yet, the University must become more value added. PMIs are recruiting, training and preparing future minority researchers. A great deal of MIs are pseudo-portraying themselves as minority serving institutions, but not serving the same populations. NIH must provide more vigorous support for internships, fellowships, co-op experiences, and "smart power" opportunities for FAMU in order to continue the legacy already established from decades of previous relationship building. The best for NIH and FAMU is now imminent. VI. Other Effective FAMU-NIH Resolves/Testimonials Proposed by FAMU Faculty A. Recommendations for increasing minority biomedical scientists is to strongly suggest that the federal government increase the support of training of FAMU's pharmacy, biology, chemistry and other biomedical-related graduate programs, 1. Plausible recommendation to use the FAMU CoPPS as a model for other HBCUs in the nation. 2. Counter argument is made in terms of growth and productivity of biomedical scientists. The request for increased NIH funding is directly linked to FAMU's productivity. Please observe some of the comments from the FAMU Department of Chemistry: ISSUES TO RESOLVE FAMU PROPOSED SOLUTIONS - Large teaching loads - Lack of facilities, infrastructure, and instrumentation - Lack of role models and mentoring - Lack of library resources - Lack of postdoctoral and graduate assistant expertise - Lack of time - Use of larger classrooms and technology to reach more students with fewer faculty - Use and CREATION of MORE programs like the materials research facilities network, summer programs, etc. that allow faculty to make use of agency funded centers - Partnerships in grants that cite specific usage of instruments funded by agencies and for what purpose by smaller institutions stated clearly and precisely in broader impact statements. - Increase the availability of free on line journal articles that have been sponsored by grant agencies - Creating partnerships with webinars specifically dedicated to display ongoing research by underrepresented scientists - Provide funding for short term teaching/research exchange methods between post-doc interested in teaching at smaller schools under the constraint that real and lasting research and technology be exchanged between the two schools (research and smaller school) -Provide mentoring opportunities for retired successful researchers to mentor junior researchers with the desire, potential, and initial signs of progress to do research. (Initial signs are having published, presented, and collaborated with noted researchers besides their postdoctoral or Ph.D. Advisors.) - Provide a set of rubrics that young researchers must score well on to obtain internal funding previously provided under the discretion of the smaller institution. - Also we need more mentors within science and related departments. Creating a program to support researchers coming to be role models and mentors for a short period may be helpful. -Finally recognize the true benefits of HBCU's and their mission. Thereby, removing them from competition from certain MSI schools who have a tremendous advantage in producing research. CONCLUSION: True, over the past decade, much has been done to eradicate the disparity of representation of biomedical research scientists from the African American population. Gratitude is tendered to the National Institutes of Health and similar agencies. Yet, there's a definite disconnect and sadly, a seeming disinterest regarding the available funding to productive MIs being consistent and continual with consummate, mutual reciprocity. Let's do the right thing immediately; we'll either pay now or pay later.
02/23/2012 at 03:38:44 PM Organization The American Society for Cell Biology Bethesda, Maryland Specific Responses to Issues:

1. In terms of the issues identified by the Working Group in the area of the workforce pipeline, we agree that the key issues have been identified. This is the most important issue in our minds. It should be noted that the NIGMS TWD division awards many training grants and other awards whose focus is to address these key transition points, mentorship, role models, and enhance institutional infrastructure. We believe that these awards should be expanded and enlarged and suggest that other institutes be charged with creating similar specific training awards. Moreover, we recommend that all NIH training grants have as a prerequisite for funding minority recruitment plans and demonstrated success with such plans. Such a prerequisite is now in place for training grants funded by the NIGMS and they have been shown to be successful at increasing the diversity of trainees. We are also concerned with the overemphasis on the GRE exam as a barrier for admission to such programs since the exams have been shown not to be a predictor for scientific success. 2. We are concerned about the brain drain every summer of talented undergraduates from minority-serving institutions (MSIs) resulting in burdens on the faculty at these institutions dependent on their most talented students to conduct research. Research at these MSIs cannot be sustained with such a brain drain and thus the pool of future talented undergraduates would diminish. Some new initiatives to continue supporting research at MSIs should be considered.

3. The institutional climate for underrepresented minority researchers at major research universities must be addressed. Many studies have shown that these individuals face specific challenges not faced by White or Asian researchers. They face such additional burdens as: being "solo" in their departments and institutions resulting in much greater demands on service and advising; stereotype threat; exclusion from research networks; social and cultural isolation; and many others. We urge the NIH to lead in this effort by requiring diversity training of its grantees/institutions, including those receiving training grants.

4. The research by Dr. Donna Nelson on the diversity of faculty at the top 50 or 100 research universities in biomedical disciplines demonstrates that underrepresented minorities are half as likely to appear on the faculty relative to their proportion as doctoral degree earning. These studies suggest that the NIH should consider creating some plan or program to assist or require these top institutions to address faculty diversity. For instance, the NSF ADVANCE program has resulted in excellent research in this area, including the publication of guides for search committees (see Bilimoria, D and K Buch. 2010. The Search is On: Engendering Faculty Diversity Through More Effective Search and Recruitment. Change. July. pp 27-32.)

5. The issue of Factors in the Review Process is complex but the study does suggest that bias must exist. We raise the issue of academic pedigree and whether conscious or unconscious bias against underrepresented minorities based on their attendance at an MSI plays a role in outcomes. The composition of Study Sections, in our estimation, is not representative of a diverse scientific workforce and should be addressed. Moreover, the current process results in feedback that is sometimes harsh and may differentially affect the motivation to resubmit revised applications by different racial/ethnic groups based on their cultural heritage. We suggest that the NIH consider professional diversity training for all Study Section members, SRAs, and program officers.

Specific Responses to Issues:

1. In terms of the issues identified by the Working Group in the area of the workforce pipeline, we agree that the key issues have been identified. This is the most important issue in our minds. It should be noted that the NIGMS TWD division awards many training grants and other awards whose focus is to address these key transition points, mentorship, role models, and enhance institutional infrastructure. We believe that these awards should be expanded and enlarged and suggest that other institutes be charged with creating similar specific training awards. Moreover, we recommend that all NIH training grants have as a prerequisite for funding minority recruitment plans and demonstrated success with such plans. Such a prerequisite is now in place for training grants funded by the NIGMS and they have been shown to be successful at increasing the diversity of trainees. We are also concerned with the overemphasis on the GRE exam as a barrier for admission to such programs since the exams have been shown not to be a predictor for scientific success. 2. We are concerned about the brain drain every summer of talented undergraduates from minority-serving institutions (MSIs) resulting in burdens on the faculty at these institutions dependent on their most talented students to conduct research. Research at these MSIs cannot be sustained with such a brain drain and thus the pool of future talented undergraduates would diminish. Some new initiatives to continue supporting research at MSIs should be considered.

3. The institutional climate for underrepresented minority researchers at major research universities must be addressed. Many studies have shown that these individuals face specific challenges not faced by White or Asian researchers. They face such additional burdens as: being "solo" in their departments and institutions resulting in much greater demands on service and advising; stereotype threat; exclusion from research networks; social and cultural isolation; and many others. We urge the NIH to lead in this effort by requiring diversity training of its grantees/institutions, including those receiving training grants.

4. The research by Dr. Donna Nelson on the diversity of faculty at the top 50 or 100 research universities in biomedical disciplines demonstrates that underrepresented minorities are half as likely to appear on the faculty relative to their proportion as doctoral degree earning. These studies suggest that the NIH should consider creating some plan or program to assist or require these top institutions to address faculty diversity. For instance, the NSF ADVANCE program has resulted in excellent research in this area, including the publication of guides for search committees (see Bilimoria, D and K Buch. 2010. The Search is On: Engendering Faculty Diversity Through More Effective Search and Recruitment. Change. July. pp 27-32.)

5. The issue of Factors in the Review Process is complex but the study does suggest that bias must exist. We raise the issue of academic pedigree and whether conscious or unconscious bias against underrepresented minorities based on their attendance at an MSI plays a role in outcomes. The composition of Study Sections, in our estimation, is not representative of a diverse scientific workforce and should be addressed. Moreover, the current process results in feedback that is sometimes harsh and may differentially affect the motivation to resubmit revised applications by different racial/ethnic groups based on their cultural heritage. We suggest that the NIH consider professional diversity training for all Study Section members, SRAs, and program officers.

1. We urge the NIH to release the raw data associated with the report recently published in Science so that further research can be conducted on this valuable data set.

2. We also request further analysis of the data to determine if native born and trained Hispanics face the same discrimination in award of R01s as African Americans. We question the confounding effect of the success of foreign born and educated Hispanics on the data as presented.

3. We are concerned that much of the data on Native American scientists in this report is suppressed due to the low numbers. More importantly, these data raise the bigger issue not addressed of the significant gap in full participation by this group, which faces the greatest health disparities among all the underserved.

4. We suggest similar studies be conducted on other granting mechanisms to complement the work on R01s to determine if there are systemic issues with the NIH review or granting process.

We wish to raise a few other points for consideration by the Working Group. We encourage the NIH to take greater advantage of the many Minority Affairs Committees of professional scientific societies and societies of minority scientists. The series of NIH sponsored meetings leading to the series of publications entitled "Understanding Interventions" provides excellent background for workshops and training. Professional society committees could provide resources for diversity training and the names of highly qualified underrepresented scientists to serve as advisors and on review panels and councils. We believe training on the issues faced by underrepresented minority scientists for Study Section chairs and SRAs and on bias would be very beneficial.

The American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) is one of the nation's preeminent scientific societies representing over 8500 biomedical scientists. Its members include many Nobel Laureates, National Academy of Science members, and numerous members who currently serve or have served on NIH Study Sections and Councils. The ASCB has a very long history of working toward a diverse biomedical scientific workforce as evidenced by its longstanding MARC grant now in its 15th year and the ASCB's programming activities at the ASCB annual conference and throughout the year. The ASCB leadership, its Minorities Affairs Committee, and its Public Policy Committee read with grave concern the recent publication and response by Director Collins on the success rate of underrepresented scientists in obtaining R01 awards from the NIH. It is clear from this research that African Americans (and perhaps members of other underrepresented groups) face unexplained discrimination in their efforts to obtain R01 awards. In providing input to this important Working Group on Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce we are responding to issues regarding the Research Workforce Pipeline and Factors in the Review Process. We wish to raise the following issues for consideration by the Working Group. Specific Responses to Issues: 1. In terms of the issues identified by the Working Group in the area of the workforce pipeline, we agree that the key issues have been identified. This is the most important issue in our minds. It should be noted that the NIGMS TWD division awards many training grants and other awards whose focus is to address these key transition points, mentorship, role models, and enhance institutional infrastructure. We believe that these awards should be expanded and enlarged and suggest that other institutes be charged with creating similar specific training awards. Moreover, we recommend that all NIH training grants have as a prerequisite for funding minority recruitment plans and demonstrated success with such plans. Such a prerequisite is now in place for training grants funded by the NIGMS and they have been shown to be successful at increasing the diversity of trainees. We are also concerned with the overemphasis on the GRE exam as a barrier for admission to such programs since the exams have been shown not to be a predictor for scientific success. 2. We are concerned about the brain drain every summer of talented undergraduates from minority-serving institutions (MSIs) resulting in burdens on the faculty at these institutions dependent on their most talented students to conduct research. Research at these MSIs cannot be sustained with such a brain drain and thus the pool of future talented undergraduates would diminish. Some new initiatives to continue supporting research at MSIs should be considered. 3. The institutional climate for underrepresented minority researchers at major research universities must be addressed. Many studies have shown that these individuals face specific challenges not faced by White or Asian researchers. They face such additional burdens as: being "solo" in their departments and institutions resulting in much greater demands on service and advising; stereotype threat; exclusion from research networks; social and cultural isolation; and many others. We urge the NIH to lead in this effort by requiring diversity training of its grantees/institutions, including those receiving training grants. 4. The research by Dr. Donna Nelson on the diversity of faculty at the top 50 or 100 research universities in biomedical disciplines demonstrates that underrepresented minorities are half as likely to appear on the faculty relative to their proportion as doctoral degree earning. These studies suggest that the NIH should consider creating some plan or program to assist or require these top institutions to address faculty diversity. For instance, the NSF ADVANCE program has resulted in excellent research in this area, including the publication of guides for search committees (see Bilimoria, D and K Buch. 2010. The Search is On: Engendering Faculty Diversity Through More Effective Search and Recruitment. Change. July. pp 27-32.) 5. The issue of Factors in the Review Process is complex but the study does suggest that bias must exist. We raise the issue of academic pedigree and whether conscious or unconscious bias against underrepresented minorities based on their attendance at an MSI plays a role in outcomes. The composition of Study Sections, in our estimation, is not representative of a diverse scientific workforce and should be addressed. Moreover, the current process results in feedback that is sometimes harsh and may differentially affect the motivation to resubmit revised applications by different racial/ethnic groups based on their cultural heritage. We suggest that the NIH consider professional diversity training for all Study Section members, SRAs, and program officers. General Comments and Recommendations: 1. We urge the NIH to release the raw data associated with the report recently published in Science so that further research can be conducted on this valuable data set. 2. We also request further analysis of the data to determine if native born and trained Hispanics face the same discrimination in award of R01s as African Americans. We question the confounding effect of the success of foreign born and educated Hispanics on the data as presented. 3. We are concerned that much of the data on Native American scientists in this report is suppressed due to the low numbers. More importantly, these data raise the bigger issue not addressed of the significant gap in full participation by this group, which faces the greatest health disparities among all the underserved. 4. We suggest similar studies be conducted on other granting mechanisms to complement the work on R01s to determine if there are systemic issues with the NIH review or granting process. We wish to raise a few other points for consideration by the Working Group. We encourage the NIH to take greater advantage of the many Minority Affairs Committees of professional scientific societies and societies of minority scientists. The series of NIH sponsored meetings leading to the series of publications entitled "Understanding Interventions" provides excellent background for workshops and training. Professional society committees could provide resources for diversity training and the names of highly qualified underrepresented scientists to serve as advisors and on review panels and councils. We believe training on the issues faced by underrepresented minority scientists for Study Section chairs and SRAs and on bias would be very beneficial. If one is going to make progress in making the scientific workforce more diverse, one needs to make sure that minorities have a voice in generating policy to address the issues presented above. Minority students and scientists provide unique insights into the hurdles they face. With this in mind, input from professional and well-respected minority scientific organizations/committees will be critical to the development of effective NIH policy on diversity. We hope that the Working Group will use the ASCB MAC as a valuable source of minority input, including meeting in person to discuss this critical matter in more detail. The American Society for Cell Biology The American Society for Cell Biology
02/23/2012 at 03:39:05 PM Organization The American Association of Immunologists Bethesda, MD Please see attached document Please see attached document Please see attached document

February 23, 2012
By submission to
https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfi_files/nih_dbrw/add.cfm
Re: NOT-OD-12-031; Request for Information (RFI): Input into the Deliberations of the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director Working Group on Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce
Dear Drs. Tuckson, Ruffin and Tabak:
The American Association of Immunologists (AAI), the largest professional association of immunologists in the world, representing more than 7,400 basic and clinical immunologists, appreciates this opportunity to submit comments to the Working Group on Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce of the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director (ACD) as the Working Group seeks ways to enhance diversity, including among underrepresented minorities, persons with disabilities, and persons from disadvantaged backgrounds (henceforth referred to as “underrepresented minorities”), within the biomedical research workforce.
AAI agrees with recent comments made by NIH Director Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., and Dr. Tabak that “[t]he NIH mission can only be achieved if the best and brightest biomedical researchers, regardless of race, ethnicity,  disability, socioeconomic background, or gender, are recruited and retained in our workforce.” (Collins and Tabak, “Weaving a Richer Tapestry in Biomedical Science”, Science 333, 940; 2011). As a result, AAI is deeply concerned about the findings of the recent report “Race, Ethnicity, and NIH Research Awards” (Ginther et al., Science 333, 1015; 2011), which found that NIH grant applications from African American scientists have a 10 percentage points less likely to be funded.1 AAI agrees with the conclusion of Drs. Collins and Tabak that “...the findings of Ginther et al. and others indicate that NIH’s current approaches and those of other stakeholders have not gone far enough to facilitate and encourage the recruitment and advancement of underrepresented minorities in biomedical research. This is unacceptable.”
AAI recognizes that NIH’s commitment to fostering workforce diversity is deep. In addition to establishing this Working Group, the NIH Diversity Task Force (of the NIH Director’s Steering Committee) is examining issues related to race, ethnicity, economic disadvantage, and disability. And NIH supports numerous programs - both established and new - that are designed to enhance workforce diversity.2
AAI appreciates that the Working Group has already reviewed the Ginther et al. findings, as well as additional data made available by NIH, and has begun this thorough public effort to develop recommendations for the NIH Director to consider. AAI also recognizes that NIH has already taken steps to address the Ginther et al. finding that service on an NIH peer review committee correlates with success in grant applications, by initialing a new Early Career Reviewer program within the NIH Center for Scientific Review (CSR) to help all junior faculty, including underrepresented minorities, better understand how study sections work and how grant applications are evaluated and scored. However, because we are concerned that this funding disparity may have already adversely impacted the careers of African American scientists, we urge the NIH to move expeditiously to both determine the source(s) of this funding disparity and take appropriate remedial action, with the goal of ensuring equal treatment of all scientists based on merit.
In response to the specific queries raised in the RFI (listed below), AAI recommends the following:
Query 1. The Biomedical Research Workforce Pipeline
AAI believes that the workforce pipeline begins early in a student’s education, and urges NIH to support efforts of professional societies and organizations to engage and support students, including underrepresented minorities and girls, in the study of science in elementary and secondary education. In addition, NIH should explore opportunities to work with the Department of Education, the National Science Foundation, and other federal agencies to support science education at the elementary, secondary, and undergraduate (college) level. Engaging students early will not only benefit them academically, but also foster the early mentoring that can be crucial in advancing a student’s career.
One initiative that NIH already supports, the Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) program (http://www.ncrrsepa.org/about), is an excellent tool to engage young minds earlier in the workforce pipeline. As you know, SEPA is a competitive grants program, targeted primarily at K-12 students, that sponsors partnerships among researchers, educators and community groups to improve student understanding of health sciences. NIH should consider ways to help SEPA reach, and have a greater influence on, underrepresented minorities and girls.
NIH also supports the Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) program, which was established by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) to increase the number of highly-trained underrepresented minorities (as defined by the MARC program) in the biomedical and behavioral sciences. (See footnote 2, above, and http://www.nigms.nih.gov/Training/MARC/MARCDescription.htm.) Through training grants to institutions, and Fellowships to students seeking a biomedical-related Ph.D., the MARC program has strengthened the research training opportunities for underrepresented groups for more than 36 years.
The NIH should also continue to support or enhance professional efforts and programs that seek to increase the participation of underrepresented minorities and women in the transition from graduate degree to post-doctoral positions, as well as into the first independent position. More importantly, the efficacy of all of these programs should be monitored to ensure that they are performing as desired.
Query 2. The role of mentorship in the training and success of biomedical researchers throughout their careers

Quality mentoring is essential to the advancement of a researcher’s career. Fortunately, most biomedical researchers view mentoring students as a fundamental and rewarding part of their job. Professional societies often recognize the importance of this relationship: every year, for example, AAI presents the AAI Excellence in Mentoring Award, which recognizes that “[a] dedicated mentor significantly influences a trainee's professional development and career.”
Researchers may not, however, be aware of specific needs or concerns of underrepresented minority or women scientists. NIH can help by identifying these concerns and challenges, providing guidance and resources tailored to these needs, and supporting society and institutional programs/efforts to address such concerns, potentially through grants or grant supplements to support programs which mentor underrepresented minority or women scientists at various stages of their career.
NIH should also support efforts by professional societies to mentor grant applicants, including underrepresented minorities, on the preparation of applications prior to submission. For, example, AAI has established such a program: Grant Review for Immunologists Program ("GRIP"), which helps new investigators prepare their NIH grant proposals by matching them with established investigators who have significant, successful grant writing expertise.
Query 3. The influence of role models whose qualities and characteristics can positively affect the training and success of underrepresented biomedical researchers through their careers

Positive role models are very important to all young scientists. For underrepresented minority and women scientists, it is especially important to meet and communicate with other underrepresented minority and women scientists who have been successful despite facing challenges. Many professional societies, including AAI (see # 5), have programs to bring together successful minority and women scientists and other professionals to speak to - and network with - young underrepresented minority and women scientists and peers.
Query 4. The role of NIH messaging in encouraging underrepresented researchers to apply for NIH fellowships and grants

NIH must continue to communicate with underrepresented biomedical researchers to ensure that it is aware of, and responsive to, the community’s unique needs. Because underrepresented minority and women scientists want an even playing field - and fairness - for all applicants, AAI recommends that NIH a) periodically communicate that reduction and eventual elimination of racial and ethnic health disparities will be hard to achieve without the contribution and support of biomedical researchers of all ethnic groups and b) support Requests for Applications (RFAs) related to health disparities, for which underrepresented minority scientists would be actively encouraged to apply.
In addition, because NIH is a well respected institution that has an important voice within and beyond the biomedical research community, NIH should support initiatives that highlight contributions of underrepresented minority and women scientists in biomedical research to counteract implicit societal bias, including bias that may affect the objectivity of grant reviewers or other decision makers.
Query 5. The role of institutional infrastructure support and climate as a factor in the success of underrepresented researcher

AAI believes that institutional infrastructure support and climate play an important role in the success of underrepresented researchers. With respect to academic and other institutions, AAI recommends that, in addition to requiring equitable practices for the recruitment and retention of underrepresented minority and women scientists, institutions which receive research funds from federal agencies also monitor success rates for promotion of underrepresented minority and women scientists.
As a professional society, AAI provides special activities directed toward support and encouragement of our minority members. Through the AAI Minority Affairs Committee (MAC), AAI develops programs to advance the scientific development and career opportunities for underrepresented minority scientists. Among those activities are networking and mentoring opportunities, including identifying minority scientists who are available as speakers (through a “speakers' list,” publicly available on our web site), as participants on review panels, as members of editorial boards, and for other professional activities as   the need arises. Through a grant from the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) (funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences), AAI supports MAC activities at the AAI annual scientific meeting and courses. These activities include the Minority Scientist Travel Awards, which enhance minority student and faculty participation at the meeting and AAI courses in immunology), the AAI Minority Scientist Guest Lecture, and the AAI MAC Careers and Networking Roundtable program. AAI appreciates the support it has received from NIH (via FASEB) for these important programs, and encourages NIH to continue supporting professional society efforts in this regard.
Query 6. Factors in the Review Process
AAI believes that equitable review of grant applications is of paramount importance in order to achieve and sustain diversity throughout the scientific community, and to ensure the success of the biomedical research enterprise.3
AAI appreciates that the Working Group is considering whether the lower funding rate for African American scientists results from unfair evaluation of their grant applications. The peer review system evaluates not only the scientific merit of grant applications, but also other factors, including the area of research, the societal impact of the proposed studies, the qualification and productivity of the investigators, and the institution in which the research will be conducted. This information is important for reviewers to know in order to be able to assess whether the proposed research can succeed. It is important, however, for NIH to ask whether the steady drop in NIH pay lines over the last decade has made it even more difficult for members of review panels to assess scientific merit fairly, rather than relying on the investigator’s institution or educational pedigree. Overemphasis on institutional affiliation or pedigree could perpetuate biases that could, consciously or unconsciously, disadvantage underrepresented minority and/or women scientists. Such an approach could have resulted in unacceptable discrimination in grant review and funding, and if continued, will undermine the efforts of the NIH and the federal government to attract and retain underrepresented minority and women scientists within the biomedical research workforce.
As the preeminent biomedical research agency in the world, NIH should know the answers to these questions before implementing solutions that may not work or may exacerbate the problem. NIH should conduct research on its peer review system to identify the source of the funding disparity identified by Ginther et al., determine the best ways to redress any bias, and foster diversity. In the meantime, AAI recommends that NIH take immediate action to:
help make reviewers aware of conscious and unconscious bias and approaches to handling such bias, potentially during orientation sessions prior to receiving the application package
ensure that Scientific Review Officers (SROs) and Institute program officers are aware of conscious and unconscious bias, and are able to respond to incidents reflecting bias
work to increase the number of underrepresented minority and women reviewers on review panels and continue to monitor success rates based on ethnicity to assess whether NIH needs to take additional action to address any disparity
At this time, AAI does not recommend requiring the disclosure of the ethnicity of grant applicants or “anonymizing” applications. Neither approach, absent evidence for the need, will foster the fair evaluation of grant applications. “Anonymizing” the grant application would require the elimination of biosketches, which are a pivotal part of the review process and are required for the evaluation of applicants’ qualifications for performing the proposed work.
Although AAI realizes that it is impossible to undo any past damage that may have resulted from bias, AAI urges that any Working Group recommendations 1) rapidly remediate any unfair treatment of African American scientists with regard to grant funding, and 2) ensure, going forward, that appropriate measures and policies are in place for equal treatment of all scientists on the basis of merit.
AAI stands ready to assist NIH in this effort and greatly appreciates the agency’s commitment to addressing this problem. Please contact either of us, or AAI Director of Public Policy and Government Affairs Lauren Gross at lgross@aai.org, or 301-634-7743, if we can be of any assistance.
1 According to the authors, “proposals with strong priority scores were equally likely to be funded regardless of race...., we find that Asians are 4 percentage points and black or African-American applicants are 13 percentage points less likely to receive NIH investigator-initiated research funding compared with whites. After controlling for the applicant’s educational background, country of origin, training, previous research awards, publication record, and employer characteristics, we find that black applicants remain 10 percentage points less likely than whites to be awarded NIH research funding.” The authors also report that “these data indicate that black and Asian investigators are less likely to be awarded an R01 on the first or second attempt, blacks and Hispanics are less likely to resubmit a revised application, and black investigators that do resubmit have to do so more often to receive an award.”
2 These programs include the Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) Program, Minority  Biomedical Research Support, Research Centers at Minority Institutions, Diversity Supplements, “NIH Director’s Pathfinder Award to Promote Diversity in the Scientific Workforce program, the transNIH Research on Causal Factors and Interventions that Promote and Support the Careers of Women in Biomedical and Behavioral Science and Engineering program, and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) awards for Research to Understand and Inform Interventions that Promote the Research Careers of Students in Biomedical and Behavioral Sciences.” (Collins and Tabak, 940) The Ginther et al. findings suggest that these programs must be evaluated to determine if they are achieving their goals.
3 Although Ginther et al. conclude that their “models do not fully explain the funding gap,” they identify the review process as worthy of additional research, in order to understand why African American applicants did not receive a priority score at the same rate as the full sample.

02/23/2012 at 04:07:35 PM Self State University of New York, College at Old Westbury Old Westbury, New York In Response to the RFI: Input into the Deliberations of the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director Working Group on Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce, please consider the following comments:

The "transition points" listed under Biomedical Research Workforce Pipeline begin with Entry into graduate degree programs. I am sure that the Advisory Committee members recognize that the pipeline issue extends back well before graduate school entry to the K-12 and undergraduate levels. In my opinion the K-12 and undergraduate levels are most important to addressing the scarcity of highly qualified underrepresented minority scientists and NIH should be engaged in a detailed analysis of how it can use its biomedical research resources, human and capital, to encourage greater interest at these levels.

My experience as a former director of NIH's Minority Biomedical Research Support (MBRS) and Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) programs at my undergraduate college focuses on the undergraduate level. I will therefore limit my comments to that level. It is my view that support for research experiences and mentorship at the undergraduate level are critical to increasing and developing sustained interest in biomedical research, especially at minority serving institutions (MSI) where a sizable fraction of the target underrepresented minority population attend school. Without increases at this level there can be little progress expected at higher levels. My suggestion for the undergraduate level is to develop more pro-active programs to link researchers at major research institutions (including the NIH) with faculty researchers and their students at undergraduate minority serving institutions. The objective is to promote research collaboration so that all participants benefit. Clearly students benefit from their active participation in research and MSI faculty benefit from a higher level of professional activity, networking and access to state of the art facilities. This can ultimately help them secure independent funding. Equally important scientists at major institutions benefit from the research skills of MSI faculty who are already highly trained in their fields. Also the major research institutions will have direct experience with the undergraduates involved, increasing the likelihood of recruiting them or simply further encouraging them to pursue biomedical careers. For this to work optimally, I believe it is best to link MSI faculty and scientists at major research institutions whose skills and interests are complementary, so that there is a sense that each benefits from the other. I believe that NIH can promote these kinds of links by providing incentives to investigators funded through RO1 and similar mechanisms. I am aware that NIH has for several years provided minority supplements to RO1 investigators and these should continue. However, I am suggesting a significant upgrade of that activity to be much more pro-active in forging the necessary links. This can happen through greater awareness (publicity) about the activity, greater involvement of the NIH administration by providing some infrastructure to promote the research linkages and greater incentives to RO1-type investigators to participate.

I hope these comments will be useful to the committee as it considers approaches to this important problem.

Biomedical Research Workforce Pipeline. See Comment 1. I am aware that NIH has for several years provided minority supplements to RO1 investigators and these should continue. However, I am suggesting a significant upgrade of that activity to be much more pro-active in forging the necessary links (see comment 1 above) between major research institutions and undergraduate minority serving institutions. This can happen through greater awareness (publicity) about the activity, greater involvement of the NIH administration by providing some infrastructure to promote the research linkages and greater incentives to RO1-type investigators to participate.  
02/23/2012 at 05:06:26 PM Self     There needs to be 1) near term and 2) long term goals to address this issue. 1) Mentoring at the new minority professor's department or mentoring workshops sponsored by NIH should be mandatory. If they are mandatory, it removes the stigma that is sometimes associated with asking for help. As part of the this mentoring either at the University level or at NIH sponsored workshops, Q/A or videos of successful mentor/mentee pairs should be available 2) Ensuring a pipeline of minority scientists will begin at grade school level and it will have to overcome cultural bias and educator bias. Educators who themselves did not like science, engineering, etc themselves will often pass this bias onto their students. Programs that are ongoing in hopes of overcoming this bias need to be expanded. NIH can partner with outside organizations or begin/expand its own programs to address this. In addition, the culture in a good portion of the minority community is responsible for a lack of interest in science, engineering, etc. It is taught or thought in a number of minority homes that the sciences are a great way of "moving up" or achieving success in life. The stereotypical sports or entertainment careers are rare and definitely not the only way to achieve success in life. Attacking the cultural block will take programs going to elementary schools, churches, community centers etc. In addition, we should consider partnering with outside programs like Expanding Your Horizons (program to keep girls interested in science, math, and engineering) or using this as a model for sponsoring a program like this for minorities. However, it needs to begin in grade school, as early as 1st or second grade. Getting a pipeline in place is most important, as it will ensure a continuation of future scientists that will eventually eliminate this diversity shortage. Mentoring is also very important. The new assistant professors need help/mentoring to assist in getting their research funding. Pride or a lack of mentors at their University should not prevent them from seeking guidance to be successful professors and researchers. This will take a cultural shift. We have typically concentrated at the College/University level (MBRS, MARC, etc). By this time, it is usually too late to spur interest in the sciences. Love for science needs to begin in elementary school. We also cannot do it alone and we will need to partner with schools, universities, businesses, etc to get the funds and the people to help in this endeavor. Bureaucracy will need to bend and/or speed up to get things done that need to be done.  
02/23/2012 at 05:07:06 PM Self     I am writing to comment on one particular aspect in the transition points enumerated below under Biomedical Research Workforce Pipeline. This has to do with the "Appointment from a post-doctoral position to the first independent scientific position."

NIGMS currently has an exemplary program that addresses the postdoctoral period with an emphasis on those under-represented in the life sciences and preparing them for academic or leadership positions. This is the IRACDA (Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Award) program. Through a combination of research mentoring, pedagogical and in-class teaching, and career development, these postdocs are prepared to be very competitive in the academic job market. The fact is - it is a miserable job market with 200-300 applicants for many academic positions.

I suggest an enhancement to the IRACDA program, which is that a postdoc completing this program would have a financial incentive that s/he could take to his/her first academic job. (It would not be available to those entering industry.) This would lighten the burden on a hiring institution because it would lessen the start up costs, would function as a bridge for the IRACDA Fellow to help set up his/her lab, but most importantly would make these mostly under-represented IRACDA candidates a little more attractive to search committees. It might tip the balance in favor of interviewing someone who does not look like the rest of their faculty, and encourage a search committee to be a little more adventurous. I have no doubt that if this secured an IRACDA Fellow an interview at the particular campus, they would be very likely to get the job.

Of course, the devil is in the details, but I recommend an incentive of $100,000 for a successful IRACDA Fellow. There could be scaling of this award dependent on the institution. There also could be a ranking system for awarding this to the most productive Fellows, but I strongly believe that the concept is worth exploring.

------------------------------------------------------------- Biomedical Research Workforce Pipeline The appropriate transition points where NIH's training, career development and research grant programs could most effectively cultivate diversity in the biomedical research workforce

? APPOINTMENT FROM A POST-DOCTORAL POSITION TO THE FIRST INDEPENDENT SCIENTIFIC POSITION.

The issue identified in comment 1. APPOINTMENT FROM A POST-DOCTORAL POSITION TO THE FIRST INDEPENDENT SCIENTIFIC POSITION.

NIH has supportive mechanisms for those under-represented in life science or STEM areas for undergraduate, graduates and postdocs. If one does not help in the next critical step, getting a job, it makes the preparative steps less than effective in changing the life sciences or STEM workforce.

Covered above. Attachment #1: Like many others in the nation, we were deeply troubled by the article published in Science in August, 2011, which reported that first -time applicants for ROI grants from the National Institutes of Health who are African American have a success rate approximately one half that of white applicants. We appreciate your subsequent statements of concern about this reality and your stated commitment to put in place a number of initiatives to help address this problem. The Association for Academic Minority Physicians, Inc. (AAMP) is a multidisciplinary professional society of academic physicians and scientists chartered 25 years ago to: (a) promote biomedical research, including research of particular relevance to African Americans and other minorities, (b) increase the number of minority biomedical investigators and (c) promote the general welfare of African American and other underrepresented minority researchers in the health sciences. Its membership includes many presently (or previously) NIH-funded minority scientists. AAMP meets annually and has a scientific plenary session and a business meeting. AAMP's last meeting was on October 14-16,2011 in Naples, Florida. We have attached a concept proposal designed to help correct the reported bias in NIH funding to minority investigators. We would appreciate the opportunity to meet with you and with the members of the ''NIH Working Group on Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce" to explore this concept further. Attachment #2: A PROPOSED PROGRAM TO INCREASE THE NUMBER OF YOUNG MINORITY RESEARCHERS WITH INVESTIGATOR-INITIATED (RO1) RESEARCH GRANTS FROM THE NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH Submitted by the Association for Academic Minority Physicians on December 28, 2011 Presented with revisions to the NIH Public Meeting on Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce on February 14, 2012 To help increase the success rate of young minority scientists competing for RO1 research grants from the National Institutes of Health, AAMP wishes to secure a contract, or cooperative agreement from the National Institutes of Health, to sponsor a program for young minority investigators - holders of Ph.D., M.D., DDS, M.P.H., D.V.M, and other advanced degrees, who are based at academic health centers, health professions schools, hospitals, research institutes, colleges and universities around the nation To develop a robust program for the mentoring and professional development of young minority health sciences researchers, AAMP is committed to working with a number of other predominantly minority research societies, including the Society for Black Academic Surgeons, the J. Robert Gladden Orthopedic Society, and other research-oriented minority professional societies. For mentoring and professional counseling, AAMP anticipates recruiting a number of other current (or former) NIH-funded minority health scientists who may be members of larger research organizations, and some who may not be affiliated with any national research society. The goals of our proposed efforts are multifaceted and include the following: 1. To advise the Director of NIH and the Directors of individual institutes and centers at NIH about programs which are effective and /or needed to strengthen the pipeline of young minority investigators in the health sciences; to assist in the evaluation of such programs; and to help disseminate information about such programs to young minority investigators. 2. To establish a directory of current or former senior NIH-funded minority investigators who could be recruited as mentors and advisors for young minority investigators. This directory would be continually updated. The data collected would include the area of expertise, the availability of the scientist to serve as a mentor and the number of current mentors (if any) of the senior scientist. 3. Evaluation and critique of present (or proposed) research initiatives of young investigators, including suggestions for modification and improvement. This critique will follow the form of a regular study section using reviewers who recently served on study sections and who are willing and capable of performing reviews in the presence of the applicant. 4. 5. Career counseling and networking activities for young investigators, at scientific meetings and individually arranged. 6. Periodic annual research workshops for young investigators which will include: (a) grant-writing workshops, (b) grant evaluation workshops; and (c) exercises in public presentations of scientific studies; (d) working sessions with editors of peer-reviewed life sciences journals. 7. The publication of a newsletter, circulated to all Historically Black Colleges and Universities, to minority-oriented scientific societies and professional associations, to minority scientists at predominantly white institutions, to undergraduate minority student science organizations and others. This newsletter would have timely articles about research programs, including minority -oriented research programs and minority researchers (e.g., new appointments, promotions, publications, and awards). It would list new, or on-going, research grant opportunities from NIH, DOD, VA, Agriculture, other federal agencies and in the private sector. It would also report on new or pending policies on research. It would contain commentaries on research and minority researchers, to help educate and orient minority researchers. 8. The formation of a small oversight committee with representatives from the major health disciplines to monitor the program, and to provide information and recommendations to the administrators of the program. 9. Evaluation of the program, including the success rate of program participants in obtaining NIH RO1 research grants, compared to first-time minority applicants who were not participants in the program. Attachment #3: Good afternoon. I am Dale Dirks, representing the Association of Minority Health Professions Schools. I am also representing several additional people and organizations, including Dr. Donald Wilson, President of the Association for Academic Minority Physicians, and dean emeritus of the University Of Maryland School Of Medicine, and, Dr. Louis Sullivan, president emeritus of the Morehouse School of Medicine, and former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services; - Drs. Wilson and Sullivan could not be here today given the short notice of the hearing but have asked me to submit this statement for them. We are all aware of the striking disparities in health burden and health outcomes that exist in our country for some racial and ethnic minorities and poor whites when compared to the majority population. We also know that there is a long existing deficiency of minorities, especially African Americans, Latinos and Native Americans, in our biomedical, health and research workforce. You have already heard such presentations today. What may not be fully appreciated is how directly and substantially our ability as a country to compete on the world stage in science, health and research over the next decades is dependent on our ability and willingness to address these problems. On November 10, 1993, the Chronicle of Higher Education described a report from the NIH Division of Research Grants, titled "Minorities in NIH Extramural Grant programs, fiscal years 1982-1991." This report showed that African American investigators received only 0.4% of NIH RO1 grant dollars as compared with 90% of NIH RO1 grant dollars going to white investigators. Nearly 20 years later, there is incontrovertible evidence, again from NIH, that this shocking and very disappointing trend has not been altered. The report by Ginther et al in Science, August 19, 2011 shows that the success rate of African American investigators in receiving RO1 grant support was 16 percent as compared with a 29 percent success rate for white applicants. In December 2011 Dr. Donald Wilson, on behalf of the AAMP and others sent a letter to NIH Director Collins requesting a meeting to discuss these issues. Copies of that letter and the proposal are attached to the statement being submitted to this committee today. The Association for Academic Minority Physicians and its consortium partners look forward to the work of your committee, and to the requested meeting with Dr Francis Collins. We have proposed constructive approaches to address this important problem, among them, creating a cooperative agreement or contract with NIH to implement the programs outlined in our presentation.
02/23/2012 at 05:10:54 PM Organization Office of Health Sciences Diversity, University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, PA Biomedical Research Workforce Pipeline o The appropriate transition points where NIH's training, career development and research grant programs could most effectively cultivate diversity in the biomedical research workforce RESPONSE:Internal review process and transitioning up process. Assessing the process at each step of the application process. Being a part of a research group. Post-doc as someone who will be an independent researcher, not seen as a research assistant of faculty researchers? Is there a research infrastructure of ethos and morale within an institution to produce successful R01 candidates?

o The role of mentorship in the training and success of biomedical researchers throughout their careers

RESPONSE: Mentoring that is very detailed and specific at each component of the grantsmanship process, internally. Need a structure in place to delineate the positive aspects of mentoring, and those people who have these characteristics. Some mechanism for funding mentorship, giving time, rewarding the overall excellence of the faculty-mentor. Reward structure should be explicit, rather than implicit. Need push to encourage Jr researchers to re-submit grant proposals. Foster cross-discipline collaboration. Pitt cannot take advantage of the U54 model of institutional cross-mentorship, between a tier one research institution and an HBCU, for example.

o The role of institutional infrastructure support and climate as a factor in the success of underrepresented researchers RESPONSE: Must be some attention to the social network; i.e. group identity, professional memberships (are the lack of these things "leaks" in the pipeline?) This lack of involvement can translate into not being recognized as a member of a respective professional/ collegial society. A gathering or bringing together of anyone who has been awarded a R01(to create a collegium)

We are of the opinion that all of our responses above and below are equally important. However, it is necessary for NIH to find ways to encouarge institutions to: Pitt cannot take advantage of the U54 model of institutional cross-mentorship, between a tier one research institution and an HBCU, for example. Need accountable mentorship. Must be an interest. Mentorship must be rewarded. Funding mechanisms for Training Early Academic Mentors type programs. Pitt cannot take advantage of the U54 model of institutional cross-mentorship, between a tier one research institution and an HBCU, for example.  
02/23/2012 at 05:12:53 PM Self     In general, the critical issue is the production of PhD level scientists from underrepresented groups and their eventual transition to the role of independent investigator. With regard to diversity in the biomedical research workforce, the National Institutes of Health should focus on two areas:

1) Early Career Grants and Fellowships 2) Opportunities for participation in the grant awards process.

Early Career Grants and Fellowships

While an application for an R01 mechanism may be one of the first tasks a new faculty member takes on, it is crucial to keep in mind that the award system sits at the tail end of a long journey though the educational system. One that has historically (and possibly currently) slighted African-Americans. It would be myopic for NIH to only consider the African-American scientists once they have reached the level of assistant professors.

Given tight budgets of academic institutions and the overall probabilistic nature of obtaining a PI position for even very strong candidates, if NIH is to make any serious effort into the arena it must focus on early career awards. At this time there are several mechanisms related to diversity at the F and K award level. However such awards are only available though a small subset of NIH institutes. Thus many researchers from underrepresented groups do not qualify.

If it may be the case that the R01 process is suspect to racial bias, no matter how little, then it is paramount to consider additional mechanisms for earlier career minority scientists, such as K and F awards.

Participation in the Grant Process

It would be of minimal cost to actively recruit junior minority scientists to serve on review panels or otherwise gain experience in the grant process. Familiarity and experience with the process is a major factor in success obtaining grants. NIH must encourage participation by activity seeking out relevant early career researchers. A request for minority scientists to at least observe the review panels process could be quite effective.

If these or any other actions are taken I would encourage NIH to both think broadly about which researchers might qualify (particularly with regard to academic level), and how NIH might go about seeking out said researchers.

 
02/23/2012 at 05:39:47 PM Self     Disparities in fundings between minority and non-minority applicants for research funding.

See attached document

The role of NIH messaging in encouraging underrepresented researchers to apply for NIH fellowships and grants.

See attached document for rationale.

see attached document. Target of interest: Disparity in Resubmission Rates for Minority Applicants Ginther et al's (2011) finding regarding lower application resubmission rates by Black (45%) and Hispanic investigators (56%) than White applicants (64%) suggests that minority applicants respond differently than Whites to the feedback provided in summary statements. The lower application resubmission rates for minority investigators may present an opportunity for CSR to evaluate and improve upon the process by which feedback on initial application submissions is provided to investigators, particularly those with less NIH funding such as minority, new, and early stage investigators. The goal would be to provide feedback in a way that increases the likelihood of resubmission. To address the problem of low minority resubmission rates, we may be able to draw from the health disparity literature which has shown that despite great efforts at public health communication, generic health-related messages are less likely to motivate healthy behaviors that could reduce disparities between minority and non-minority groups (Kreuter & Strecher, 1996). Similarly, to provide consistent feedback to all NIH applicants, the structure and format of summary statements is also generic and, by design, not tailored to the unique needs of minority, new or early stage investigators. The standardized structure of summary statements does not appear to be sufficient to motivate resubmission behavior that would reduce the disparities in these rates in minority and non-minority applicants. In fact, Shavers et al. (2005) found that a perceived communication gap between NIH and minority applicants was a barrier to the success of investigators. To address health disparities, messaging researchers have developed effective strategies for modifying health related messages to take into account the sociocultural and psychosocial context of the communication process (Noar et al., 2007). They have focused on removal of barriers to health education, facilitating acquisition of knowledge, and adoption of target health behaviors (Freimuth & Quinn, 2004). Perhaps the methods of targeting health messages to specific populations can be leveraged to address the problem of disparities in application resubmission rates by minority investigators; making the information more accessible and increasing the likelihood that information will lead to behavior change. While the structure of summary statements must remain uniform across investigators, perhaps targeted supplemental messages can be sent to minority, new and early stage investigators to (1) prepare them for the experience of receiving a summary statement and (2) to help investigators to digest their summary statements in a way that increases the likelihood that they will revise and resubmit their applications. The Psychological Experience of Receiving Scores and Critiques Receiving scores (including ND - not discussed) from the review of a grant application and reading the critiques of one's work by experienced and respected researchers from one's field of study can be as much an emotional and psychological experience as an intellectual one. Despite efforts by SROs to provide objective and clear feedback without inflammatory or otherwise discouraging language, an inexperienced investigator may still receive the feedback as a personal condemnation of his or her work, ideas, creativity, scholarship, knowledge, methodological skills, and writing ability. A poor score and negative feedback from reviewers can foretell practical consequences for a researcher's career, laboratory, finances, and status within an academic institution. If an applicant is not prepared for such an experience, the reading of a summary statement can leave him or her feeling overwhelmed and discouraged and uncertain regarding how or if to proceed. According to cognitive-behavioral theory (Beck, Rush, Shaw & Emery, 1979), strong emotions, perhaps fueled by prior experiences of failure or rejection, can lead to procrastination and avoidance behaviors such as neglecting to revise and resubmit an application for grant funding. How can targeted messages help? It may be possible to cushion the emotional and psychological blow of receiving a summary statement by providing less experienced investigators with guidance on how to receive, interpret, and react to scores and summary statements. This could be provided in the form of (1) an email message from SROs that is sent to all minority, new and early stage applicants ahead of the posting of their summary statements, (2) creation of a video similar to the "NIH Tips for Applicants" on the NIH website that features more experienced and/or minority researchers who have been successful in securing NIH funding, and/or (3) presentations and discussion at national meetings attended by minority, new, and early stage researchers. The messages should address the unique concerns of these groups. These relatively inexpensive universal strategies could have the greatest impact on those applicants with the lowest resubmission rates. The pre-summary statement message could include one or more of the following: Provide perspective on the number of applications received, number funded, likelihood of funding after revision across groups - The goal is to normalize the experience of receiving a negative review and of not receiving funding on the first submission. A brief discussion of Ginther et al.'s findings regarding minority applicants low resubmission rates - The goal is to provide a rationale for sending this message and to encourage resubmission Anticipation and normalization of the emotional and psychological impact of receiving criticism from reviewers - The goal is to assure investigators that they are not alone in feeling distressed by the review process and outcome. Common coping strategies used by experienced investigators and research mentors - The goal is to provide a few easy to use psychological coping strategies for reducing negative emotions and overcoming avoidance behaviors. Strategies for making sense of multiple and sometimes inconsistent critiques - The goal is to aid the applicant in identifying opportunities for improvement of the application. Encouragement to contact Program Officers, mentors, and/or other experienced researchers to help with the analysis of the summary statement - The goal is to facilitate discussion of the summary statements with potential mentors. Decision-making tools for deciding whether or not to resubmit the application - The goal is to help the applicant to be more objective in assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the application and to encourage revision and resubmission. Methods for establishing goals and a timeline for resubmission - The goal is to facilitate action. Reinforce the need for greater diversity in the biomedical research workforce, specifically those who can contribute their unique sociocultural perspectives to research - The goal is to motivate and encourage applicants to revise and resubmit their applications. The inclusion of these messages may help to reduce the psychological and emotional barriers to objectively reviewing, understanding, and responding to the criticisms in a summary statement. Why should this be an effort for CSR? Ideally, research mentors would help minority, new or early career investigators through the process of reviewing their summary statements, getting over the initial shock and accompanying distress of receiving criticism, and formulating a plan for resubmission. It has been well documented that there is a dearth of mentors, particularly minority mentors, to assist minority investigators with their research development (Jeste et al., 2009; Waitzkin, et al., 2006). Program officers, few of whom are minority researchers, are the NIH representatives that are responsible for discussing summary statements with applicants. This messaging program could support their work with minority as well as new and early stage investigators. The SROs at CSR produce the summary statements that communicate to applicants the reviewers' perceptions, criticisms, and suggestions regarding their proposed research projects. That communication is the link between the initial submission and the resubmission. Because of this, CSR shares responsibility for making that communication as effective and fair and possible. Helping investigators to better understand and make use of the summary statement and encouraging them to work with their Program Officers is a logical extension of our service in facilitating and communicating the review of each application. Suggested Methods An advisory panel could be formed that consists of established and minority researchers who are currently serving as reviewers for CSR, Program Officers with experience in working with minority and new applicants, and representatives from CSR (SROs/IRG Chief). This panel would plan the content of the targeted messages regarding receipt of Summary Statements and the methods of delivery. The completed materials should be vetted by a similar group to assure that the messages are helpful and never inappropriate or insensitive to the potential recipients. In addition, NIH administrators would have the opportunity to review and suggest revisions of all materials. The messages could be delivered via joint presentations by one or more of the reviewers, CSR staff, and/or Program Staff at professional conferences, regional NIH meetings, via webcast, podcast, or in a written brochure. The outcome of a tailored messaging effort could include a satisfaction survey of minority, new and early stage investigators, monitoring of application resubmission rates by these investigators who received the tailored messages compared to those who did not access to the materials (assessed by post-submission survey), and/or random assignment of investigators to the receive or not receive these materials. References Beck, A.T., Rush, A.J., Shaw, B., & Emery, G. (1979). Cognitive Therapy for Depression. New York: Guilford Press. Freimuth, V.S. & Quinn, S.C. (2004). The contributions of health communication to eliminating health disparities. American Journal of Public Health, 94 (12), 2053-2055. Ginther, D.K. et al. (2011). Race, ethnicity, and NIH research awards. Science, 133, 1015-1019. Jeste, DV; Twamley, EW; Cardenas, V; Lebowitz, B & Reynolds, CF (2009). A call for training and trainers: focus on mentoring to enhance diversity in mental health research. American Journal of Public Health, 99 (S1), S31 - S37. Kreuter, M. W., & Strecher, V. J. (1996). Do tailored behavior change messages enhance the effectiveness of health risk appraisal? Results from a randomized trial. Health Education Research, 11, 97-105. Noar, S.M., Benac, C.N., Harris, M.S. (2007). Does Tailoring Matter? Meta-Analytic Review of Tailored Print Health Behavior Change Interventions, Psychological Bulletin, 133 (4), 673-693. Shavers, V.L. et al. (2005). Barriers to racial/ethnic minority application and competition for NIH research funding. Journal of the National Medical Association, 97 (8), 1063-1077. Waitzkin, H., Yager, J., Parker, T., & Duran, B. (2006). Mentoring partnerships for minority faculty and graduate students in mental health services research, Academic Psychiatry, 30 (3), 205-217.
02/23/2012 at 08:43:00 PM Self     In looking at factors in the review process, it is critical to also consider unconscious bias in approach and design of innovative projects submitted by minorities. The perspective may be different than reviewers established views on a particular line of inquiry. It is possibe that this different perspective and approach may be seen as inexperienced or not in line with current thought and dismissed as such. Excellence in research can only be attained when value is truly given to young investigators coming from different perspectives are given the ability to evaluate new lines of thought. Training for reviewers in this area is needed. It is also true that mentorship is important but value and support must be applied to this mentorship for both parties to find it worthy of their time. This also applies to support to resubmit grants. In reading the article it was unclear to me that faculty had the ability to resubmit in a timely fashion and why that is needs to be explored. I suspect begin over committed plays a role, also many minority faculty in heavy clinical responsibility settings may play a role depending on the institution and its financial status to support research. Having adequate time and research mentorship and establishing a research support network where proposals can be vetted by other fellow researchers is most important.

Making sure time is protected to do this work is critical. Minority faculty members are routinely tapped to be on review committees, hospital committees and are depended on in the community for their expertise outside of the research world.

These commitments are real and minorities can feel pressure to be spread too thin with research productivity suffering.

Having reviewers primed to evaluate proposals that may differ from what is expected in content is critical

Understanding that there is no reason to wait for a pipeline to be filled, potentially successful talented innovative minority researchers currently exist in this Country but perish or leave academics for lack of support. Along with this minority researchers specifically African Americans who are successful need to be more prominent in discussions, national research presentations, on the NIH websites in places other than just the Office of Minority Health.

Appropriate training for reviewers and proper vetting for clear bias in research approach and innovation is essential.

Having diversity in the agencies that select the questions to be funded for research is also important. There is unconscious bias in how we even solicit for research topics to be studied. Assuring that those selected on the steering committees that make ultimate selection recommendations for funding are also trained to spot excellence that does not fit the typical presentation. It is important for all committees to understand that the status quo currently puts up barriers to potentially ground breaking study designs, that may be the key to improving diversity in research of all kinds.

Text of attachment same as that of comment boxes.
02/23/2012 at 08:49:14 PM Self     Factors in the review process that are focused on potential areas of bias are critical and include gender and institutional affiliation.

The lack of minorities, particularly African Americans, on review panels is striking. The number (lack) of African Americans who Chair review panels is also striking and should be reviewed.

The lack of minorities, particularly African Americans, on review panels is striking. The number (lack) of African Americans who Chair review panels is also striking and should be reviewed.

Including more African Americans on panels will assist these investigators with their own applications and will enhance their ability to mentor others.

Develop mechanisms that specifically target ethnic minority investigators at all stages (mentored awards, mid- and senior-level awards) to get more numbers in the pipeline.

Develop early, mid, and senior-level fellowship awards for ethnic minorities to allow them to buy out teaching/clinical time and devote their efforts to research.

First, we are grateful to the ACD Working Group on Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce for providing us with additional information needed for evaluating Ginther et al. (2009). Limitation 1: After careful review, we find the approach used by Ginther et al. (2009) is imprecise because it relies on the "minimum" set of OMB ethnic/racial categories. As recommended by OMB and IoM (2009), more granular ethnic/racial categories may be needed by the NIH Director Working Group on Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce in order to make well-informed recommendations. The methods used in the manuscript titled Race, Ethnicity, and NIH Research Awards by Ginther et al (2011) are inconsistent with Institute of Medicine's report on Race, Ethnicity, and Language Data: Standardization for Health Care Quality Improvement (2009). Since the authors and the ACD Working Group were unable to disaggregate Latinos in their analyses, important subpopulation differences among Latinos were not reported. This point is especially pertinent to highlighting NIH R01 support for historically underrepresented groups, Mexican Americans and Puerto Rican that represent nearly seventy percent of the 51 million Latinos residing in the U.S. at the end of 2011. Our previous research has shown that "lumping" Latino ethnicities into one group, as reported by Ginther et al (2009), "masks" important differences between groups in treatment rates and health disparities. We conclude that further elaboration of this investigation is needed due to insufficient evidence for the NIH Director Working Group on Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce to make well-informed recommendations. Limitation 2: The report by Ginther et al (2009) was restricted to R01 awards to PhD's. Further analyses are needed to provide comprehensive scope of need for improving Biomedical Research Workforce diversity. Summary: To be effective and efficient in achieving the National Institutes of Health (NIH) objective of improving the nation's health through research goal by diversifying the Biomedical Research workforce, it is essential that investigatory efforts be sufficiently comprehensive. In the case of Latinos, "lumping" at the pan ethnic level blurs our vision of our desired goal to diversifying the Biomedical Research workforce from historically underrepresented ethnic/racial minorities. Examining within Latino differences, in this case, would likely improve the precision of the report; and this could be accomplished by taking full advantage of the data available in the NIH IMPAC without unmasking any personal identifiers. The commend the ACD Working Group for work thus far; however we urge the Working Group to provide detailed more granular ethnic/racial information consistent with OMB and IoM if more granular ethnic/racial data has been collected and is available in the NIH IMPAC. Wayne State University Institute of Gerontology & Department of Family Medicine & Public Health Sciences Division of Population Health Science Social Work and Medicine Edward R. Roybal Institute on Aging
02/24/2012 at 08:25:25 AM Self     First, we are grateful to the ACD Working Group on Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce for providing us with additional information needed for evaluating Ginther et al. (2009). After careful review, we find the approach used by Ginther et al. (2009) is imprecise because it relies on the "minimum" set of OMB ethnic/racial categories. As recommended by OMB and IoM (2009), more granular ethnic/racial categories may be needed by the NIH Director Working Group on Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce in order to make well-informed recommendations. The methods used in the manuscript titled Race, Ethnicity, and NIH Research Awards by Ginther et al (2011) are inconsistent with Institute of Medicine's report on Race, Ethnicity, and Language Data: Standardization for Health Care Quality Improvement (2009). Since the authors and the ACD Working Group were unable to disaggregate Latinos in their analyses, important subpopulation differences among Latinos were not reported. This point is especially pertinent to highlighting NIH R01 support for historically underrepresented groups, Mexican Americans and Puerto Rican that represent nearly seventy percent of the 51 million Latinos residing in the U.S. at the end of 2011. Our previous research has shown that "lumping" Latino ethnicities into one group, as reported by Ginther et al (2009), "masks" important differences between groups in treatment rates and health disparities. The report by Ginther et al (2009) was restricted to R01 awards to PhD's. Further analyses are needed to provide comprehensive scope of need for improving Biomedical Research Workforce diversity.

Summary: To be effective and efficient in achieving the National Institutes of Health (NIH) objective of improving the nation's health through research goal by diversifying the Biomedical Research workforce, it is essential that investigatory efforts be sufficiently comprehensive. In the case of Latinos, "lumping" at the pan ethnic level blurs our vision of our desired goal to diversifying the Biomedical Research workforce from historically underrepresented ethnic/racial minorities. Examining within Latino differences, in this case, would likely improve the precision of the report; and this could be accomplished by taking full advantage of the data available in the NIH IMPAC without unmasking any personal identifiers. The commend the ACD Working Group for work thus far; however we urge the Working Group to provide detailed more granular ethnic/racial information consistent with OMB and IoM if more granular ethnic/racial data has been collected and is available in the NIH IMPAC.

The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) submitted input to the NIH RFI on Biomedical Research Training, which included comments on the lack of underrepresented minority participation in the biomedical workforce and issues that we believe contribute to this lack of representation. We appreciate the opportunity to provide input to the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director Working Group on Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce. The ASM comments on the Biomedical Research Training RFI are available at http://www.asm.org/index.php/policy/brt-10-11.html and we recommend that the Diversity Working Group review these comments as well as the following comments which are specifically focused on diversity in the biomedical research workforce. The ASM has a long history of addressing the disparity in the representation of underrepresented minorities in the microbiological biomedical research work force and strongly believes that professional organizations have an obligation to mitigate this disparity. As early as 1984, the Society established the Committee on the Status of Minority Microbiologists, renamed the Committee on Microbiological Issues Impacting Minorities (CMIIM) in 2003. One of CMIIM's roles has been to address the underrepresentation of underrepresented minorities in the microbiological sciences and in the ASM and to develop recommendations and programs to increase participation. The comments presented here are based on the observations and recommendations of the CMIIM. Comment 1 - For any of the areas identified and any other specific areas you believe are worthy of consideration by the working group, please identify the critical issues(s) and impact(s) on institutions, scientists, or both. Biomedical Research Force Pipeline Middle School - Though not addressed in the RFI, the NIH should establish, strengthen and support programs as early as middle school to introduce young people to the biomedical sciences. These might take the form of supporting programs that provide hands on science experiments, web-based 2 curricula, classroom visits by role models, trips to science museums, engaging students in science fair projects, lab experiences for teachers, etc. An important component of these activities should focus on the ability of students to describe their experiences both by oral and written communication. NIH must take into consideration that a majority of disciplines sponsor programs to interest youth in specific careers, beginning at the middle school level. Therefore, the biomedical research arena must engage in creative, exciting, meaningful and culturally appropriate programs that will attract students at this level. In addition to merely attraction, students will be able to identify and begin taking the necessary courses that will prepare them for college. This is especially true among some underrepresented minorities and individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds where family members and friends don't have the educational backgrounds to guide them in pursuing important precollege courses in science and math. A primary issue in underrepresented minority performance at the precollege, undergraduate and graduate levels is poor academic preparation; and activities to address educational preparation should begin early. High School - Programs should proceed into the high school years where students have the opportunity to work in research labs and engage in all phases of the research training process. For example, activities directed at the high school student such as interaction with other high school research students, age/education appropriate seminars, related cultural activities (e.g., the NIH Cinema Series), assignment to a mentor, and presentations on college selection, study skills, college and financial aid application processes, etc. Again and for the reasons cited in the aforementioned paragraph, these students may not have the opportunity to receive these activities from their homes nor from the inadequate resources of their public secondary schools. An important pipeline resource for underrepresented and disadvantaged high school students are the specialized public high schools of science, math and technology http://www.ncsssmst.org/institutionalmembers.aspx . Publically supported, these schools have strict academic entrance requirements and a mandate to increase and maintain diversity. Undergraduate - At the undergraduate level programs should continue as they are currently supported by the NIH. However, there should be more emphasis on activities to increase student's scientific writing skills for manuscript and proposal writing. NIH should require these kinds of workshops at their annually supported ABRCMS, BKX/NIS, SACNAS, etc. meetings and within the undergraduate supported programs. Graduate School and Beyond - Graduate and Postdoctoral programs should include enhanced activities in proposal and manuscript writing. No graduate or postdoctoral fellow should graduate/leave a program without publications. This should be the responsibility of the PIs/mentor; and if this does not occur, the mentors/PIs should be penalized. It appears that NIH programs have had some success in increased underrepresented minority enrollments into graduate programs, but the problem has been with successful trainee productivity and/or movement into bench research positions for which they have been trained. It appears that three factors have contributed to the latter - (a) the increased length in time to degree and the increased time and number of postdoctoral appointments, which have become common, (b) the lack of job opportunities and low entrance salaries at the postdoc level and beyond, and (c) poor mentoring. As a result, many underrepresented minorities begin to observe these trends midway 3 through their training and have decided to merely graduate and look at other career options. Thus, they don't see the need to work hard at getting publications and to enter postdoctoral training. Beyond graduate and postdoctoral programs, the ability of trainees and junior faculty to become successful and enjoy sustained success is, again, strongly dependent on an involved mentor. Clearly, in previous years, a small fraction has found success without this assistance, but this has required monumental effort. Unfortunately, other disciplines and those closely related to the biomedical fields have changed, but not biomedical research training. The successful training of underrepresented groups in biomedical research can often be predicted by viewing the productivity of the mentor. Thus, a higher standard must be expected and enforced by the NIH. Also, PIs should be aware that the NIH is expecting to see that PIs are actively mentoring and preparing underrepresented minorities, not merely using them as lab technicians. NIH Support of Alternate Career Paths Much discussion has centered on "alternate careers" and this has surfaced simultaneously with the lack of available bench research positions for which underrepresented minorities and others have been trained. Consequently, many underrepresented Ph.D. recipients enter jobs in directing science education and/or minority recruitment programs, entry level policy positions, scientific writing positions, laboratory managers, etc. for which they are overly qualified. The NIH should clearly define whether it is in its mission is to train for traditional (bench research) Ph.D. research careers followed by postdoctoral training and to train for direct entrance into alternative careers. If training for direct entrance into alternative careers is within its mission, NIH should consider developing M.S. type programs, certificate programs and/or programs that don't require rigorous bench predoctoral and postdoctoral research training. Additionally, opportunities for students who decide to opt out of the traditional Ph.D. training programs should be made early in their matriculation. This will enable them to quickly move into a more satisfying career option. Success in receiving funding and RO1 support Successful funding is dependent on several factors which include research topic, publication record, institutional (or access to) intellectual and infrastructure resources, grantsmanship, professional associations and networking opportunities, service on related committees and advisory groups and characteristics of the peer review/study section committee. Success with all of these factors can be initiated and enhanced by the availability of a good and appropriate mentor. The peer review process may also have a negative impact on an otherwise potentially successful applicant. Situations where the applicant is not known by the reviewers, the applicant is from a less prestigious institution, the applicant was trained at a less prestigious institution, or when the applicant's mentor is not well known, can all lead to instinctive negative unfairness. Thus, the NIH might instruct reviewers to take note of these possible prejudicial circumstances. It may also be of value to attempt to ensure that the committee is representative of reviewers from a cross section of institutions, if possible. 4 Of note is the following from ASM's previous opportunity to comment - "While many programs have had increased successes in recruiting URM because of NIH funded programs geared toward increasing the participation of these groups, the ability of training programs to produce RO1 eligible and successful PIs has been extremely limited. I personally believe this has been because of inadequate mentoring (students graduating without publications or a publication where they are tucked in with a group of 5-10 co-authors; the lack of acceptance of URM into viable research teams, continuing overall "feelings" of discrimination and a general lack of support by too many PIs) and students being burned out because of the lack of job prospects (which early in their training they'd assumed to be available) which subsequently has resulted in a lack of enthusiastic pursuit. In general their post graduation and postdoctoral jobs do not qualify them for jobs where they will be RO1 eligible. I've made these observations over the years and when I was invited to participate in a retreat for underrepresented minority biomedical predoctoral students at a prestigious University this past spring, the majority of the latter was evident and students were thinking about pursuing alternate careers. Furthermore, I have received similar sentiments from graduate and/or postdoctoral trainees at other academic institutions and/or government agencies. On the other hand, a recent URM male graduate from a prestigious university who had excellent mentoring and an exemplary publishing record has chosen a "policy" position and has delayed seeking a postdoctoral position. The reason - his predoctoral training was much too long, he is "burned out" and refuses to enter a "long" postdoctoral position." Mentoring Programs Mentoring programs are essential at all areas of the pipeline, but become more critical once graduate training begins. This is very common information, but it appears as if all do not understand how to mentor and/or do not realize that individuals under their tutelage are lacking mentoring. Thus, NIH should consider having required mentoring workshops for all individuals who train NIH supported trainees. This could take the form of "training the trainer" where representatives receive NIH directed mentor training and the representative returns to their institutions to train others. The role of good mentoring is critical in all phases of the pipeline, in particular beginning with undergraduate students. If grantees fail to have successful mentoring programs as evidenced by the profiles of graduates, they should be penalized. Length of Training Programs NIH should revisit the controversy about the length of training programs. Though NIH reported that responses to a 2011 RFI revealed that this was not an issue among PIs, this attitude does not appear to be representative. Many believe that training programs (both predoc and postdoc) are too long. Shorter periods were previously satisfactory and consequently some of the top scientists who benefitted from these shorter periods are very productive today. To say that research has become more complex should also include that the technologies to answer questions have become more precise and data can be obtained and analyzed more quickly. Additionally, much research is being accomplished through collaborations, which provide for quicker and more precise data. If anything, the periods should be shorter, given the advances in instrumentation and intellectual knowledge. The length of training programs together with the lack of job opportunities are becoming major deterrents to underrepresented groups completing and entering biomedical research training programs. 5 Enhance Collaborations with Professional Societies to Address Issue NIH already supports a number of broad spectrum activities managed by professional societies to increase diversity. They include support for conferences, travel awards to attend and present at conferences, society mentoring programs for undergraduate students, workshops, summer research programs for high school and undergraduate students, etc. NIH might consider funding a more intense mentoring program that could pair tenure track and junior faculty with more senior and established faculty from a different institution. Biomedical Research Workforce Demand Currently, all indications suggest that less Ph.D. biomedical researchers are produced than are required. If not available, NIH should accumulate data to demonstrate future year needs. Since biomedical researchers are working longer years than previously, information on their working life span should be included in order that accurate data are presented. With these data, clear and realistic needs can be presented and will help in ensuring that individuals have the opportunity to make good and reliable career choices of which jobs will be available. Quality of Graduate Students In a previous ASM query, responses from microbiology training programs around the country indicated that PIs believed the academic quality of entering graduates students has decreased. This is not surprising given our country's overall performance ranking on international science and math tests. Clearly the increased recruitment of diverse populations, e.g., underrepresented minorities, women, persons with disabilities, persons from disadvantaged backgrounds and the inability of some of these populations to participate in early and rigorous precollege science and math coursework contributes to this low performance. Also, the lack of parental and mentoring support, inadequate financial resources, cultural attitudes and family responsibilities could individually and collectively contribute to either population's poor performance. It is perceived that these factors might not have had the same impact on the majority of a small homogenous group of select students from 50 - 100 years ago. With this in mind, NIH must assume the leadership role with other similar agencies, academic institutions and the private sector to include professional organizations to ensure that students who exhibit early academic abilities and interest in science and math are nurtured up the pipeline. Without the latter, the US will be unable to meet the biomedical research needs of its citizenry. Comment 2 - Please identify and explain which of the issues you identified are, in your opinion, the most important for the working group to address and why. While all of these issues are crucial, the most important might include the following: 1. Ensuring that when trainees are recruited into NIH supported programs that they have sufficient mentoring opportunities and that the rigorous training they receive enable them to secure meaningful career positions that closely mirror their training. This means that they publish in high impact journals, get to meet the top scientists in their respective fields, learn how to write research proposals and where appropriate (especially with postdocs) given the 6 opportunity to serve on national and local subject matter committees and present at higher leveled meetings. 2. Developing required mentoring training programs for PIs/Mentors with subsequent metrics to ensure favorable outcomes. 3. Consider providing alternative training for underrepresented minorities and others to pursue "alternate" career options (M.S. or certification programs). Not all students will choose to invest time into pursuing a traditional training degree but might be very enthusiastic about pursuing other career options that lead to a well-paying job but does not require 6-10 years of advanced training. Furthermore, these "alternate" career paths will be those that will support biomedical research. This type of training should be by individuals who have the appropriate training, not by PIs of training or research grants. 4. Identifying a mechanism where PIs/mentors are held accountable for ensuring that trainees publish, engage in professional society activities, learn the art of grantsmanship, have opportunities to serve on national committees and advisory boards. Success in producing underrepresented minorities who are successful RO1 bench scientist should be a critical outcome measurement in determining whether an existing training program is eligible for further NIH funding. 5. Ensuring that the study section/review committees include reviewers who are fair, impartial and are affiliated with a diverse group of institutions. 6. Expanding the scope of the Loan Repayment Program to help recruit more underrepresented trainees and successfully requesting increased RO1 funding. Overall, the difficulty in securing funding is driving many scientists out of research and making it extremely difficult to secure tenure (thus having a negative impact on underrepresented minority career choice and success). Furthermore, the pay lines for funding RO1s are not equal across institutes and this is very discouraging to many. Comment 3 - Please comment on any specific ways you believe these or other issues would or should affect NIH policies or processes. Addressing these issues would (a) ensure a well-trained biomedical workforce to meet the demands of our country and the global society; (b) enhance the diversity of the U.S. workforce; (c) increase the R01 success rate of underrepresented groups; (d) ensure the U.S.'s global competitiveness; (e) attract the best and brightest and ensure individual personal satisfaction; and 7 (f) determine whether training for direct entry into alternative careers is an NIH objective and develop training programs that best meet the needs of these career aspirants Summary These observations, comments and recommendations represent nontraditional NIH approaches to training the biomedical workforce. Accordingly, and given the many challenges that face the NIH in meeting its training mission, a significant expenditure of money, time and creative efforts will be required to ensure the availability of a continuing biomedical workforce to meet the needs of the American people. It is clear that many of the comments included in this document are not unique to underrepresented groups; and, in many ways, a majority of all trainees may be impacted by many of these factors. Thus, the NIH must provide the leadership and support in engaging similar federal agencies, academic institutions and the private sector to include professional organizations to ensure the availability of a continuing biomedical research workforce. Thank you for the opportunity to comment.
02/24/2012 at 11:10:05 AM Organization Crescent City Biotechnology Consultants Louisiana, metairie. Both The imbalance between the supply of highly trained junior scientists and the availability of senior positions for scientists. I believe that NIH and other funding agencies should implement a new series of financial policies surrounding graduate students and junior scientists designed to financially empower them over long term career paths (please see attached file). The crumbling pyramid of science in America Very few people want to admit that there is a huge problem looming in the wings of our academic institutions and even fewer people know how to deal with this problem. The simple fact is that there is a massive imbalance in the workforce supply and demand. The supply of highly qualified scientists that have dedicated upwards of 20 years to their field vastly outweighs the demand for them as senior investigators. Adding to this problem is the high degree of specialization which lies at the very core of the discipline but tends to hinder the researchers ability to progress to other careers outside of academia. This in essence inadequately prepares researchers to move out of the academic trap and allows universities and senior investigators to utilize highly trained scientists as disposable personnel. This practice is unacceptable in almost all other businesses and should not be acceptable in the sciences. There is no easy solution to these problems but the NIH has issued a request for information on "Input into the Deliberations of the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director Working Group on Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce". Listed below are several ideas that may help to improve the landscape of science and the economy in general. The fundamental way research scientists are viewed has to change. This process should be based on empowering the research scientist with the tools to direct their own future. The key to this lies in the individual researcher building a financial portfolio. While most research scientist are drawn to the field for several reasons, money is seldom one of them. However, being able to make a decent living and not always being treated as an underpaid disposable resource must change for both the scientist and the institutions that employ them. Since scientific research is treated as a long term career path complete with the highest level of resolve and dedication it should be financially matched from the very beginning. One way of accomplishing this is to create a long term fund for the individual scientist from the very beginning. Beginning the second year after entering a doctoral program each student should have a financial account tied to them as a research scientist. This account should be based on a sliding scale increasing yearly over the length of the scientist's research career. Financial planning should also be instituted in the education of the research scientist, giving them the flexibility and options to leverage this financial account into their career. The research scientist will have the ability to utilize this account as a partner with the public or private institution they work for, leverage the account against a tenure tract position, fund a private business venture, or cash it out similar to a 401K plan with penalties for early withdrawals. The scientific researcher will no longer be a disposable resource that is rapidly turned over, but a partner to the institution because the institution will have by permission of the researcher access to these funds to invest for the benefit of the researcher and institution. The cost for this should be factored into the indirect costs operation. Since indirect costs pay in part the benefits and salary of support staff, then at minimum they indirect costs should be used to pay for benefits for the individuals that are actually conducting the scientific research. The initial cost of implementing this method is nominal but will build over the years and become self-supportive for the scientist and institution. Senior scientists running their own lab will be able to utilize their account to bring new students into the lab between major grant funding or use this as a retirement. It is clear that this problem in science is not something that can easily be fixed with a band aid approach and in the long term balance must be restored for the number of investigators entering the scientific community and long term positions for these scientists. Implementing this strategy will act to initially increase the initial cost of producing scientists which in turn should lead to fewer but higher quality scientists. Over many years this process should act to help equalize the imbalance in the scientific community. Thank you for your time and consideration of this matter. Please feel free to contact me for any additional information.
02/24/2012 at 11:11:24 AM Organization Association of American Medical Colleges Washington, DC Please see attached comment letter. Please see attached comment letter. Please see attached comment letter. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) appreciates the opportunity to provide comments to inform the recommendations of the Working Group on Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce. The AAMC represents all 137 U.S. allopathic medical schools, nearly 400 teaching hospitals and health systems, and almost 90 academic societies. Our comments here reflect input from many of these constituents, primarily collected through AAMC's Group on Diversity and Inclusion (GDI), Graduate Research, Education, and Training (GREAT) Group and Group on Research Advancement and Development (GRAND). Despite numerous efforts over many years to build pathways for diversity into the biomedical research workforce pipeline, barriers to sustained career advancement persist. The evidence presented in "Race, Ethnicity, and NIH Research Awards" published in the August 2011 edition of Science by Ginther et al. makes the scope of the problem painfully evident. The AAMC applauds NIH for acknowledging the importance of this enduring inequity and designating a working group to focus on diversity issues. We particularly commend the broad focus that extends diversity to include underrepresented minorities, persons with disabilities, and individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. According to the working group's preliminary agenda, there are two potentially divergent areas of focus: pipeline considerations external to the NIH, and factors internal to the NIH that play out during the review process. We believe the following issues are of special importance and recommend they be considered by the working group: EXTERNAL INVESTMENTS IN THE PIPELINE Encourage partnerships for joint capacity building: Inequitable access to physical, financial and organizational resources including lab space and equipment, graduate assistants and seed funding threaten some scientists' entry and promotion along the research career pathway. Moreover, career advisors, role models, support networks and research navigators are critical to success but not readily accessible at every institution. Investments are needed to level the playing field in terms of research infrastructure and support, offset cumulative disadvantages and foster fair conditions for success. Recommendation: Issue a call for proposals that promotes cross-institutional resource sharing such that mentorship networks, support structures and other elements that have proven successful at diversifying the ranks of biomedical researchers might be more broadly available. Identify bright spots and build an evidence base to inform interventions: There continues to be a lack of knowledge-sharing on effective practices around building diversity in the biomedical research workforce. A critical first step will be to gather and interpret what individuals and institutions have already learned about what works, for whom, and when. There is much to learn from a critical evaluation of effective practices, as well as failures, and this information should be used to highlight bright spots and inform future investments. Key questions include: What are the most vulnerable transition points in the career development of diverse individuals interested in biomedical research? Which interventions (financial aid, academic enrichment, exposure, advising, professional networks, etc.) offer the highest return on investment? Are there institutions where underrepresented minorities, disadvantaged individuals and people with disabilities are experiencing above average R01 application success rates and what can we learn from them? How can the success of such programs be broadly defined? Recommendations: Compile fragmented resources and evidence-based interventions, filter into a set of tools and recommendations and broadly disseminate. Tap into what awardees of the Office of the Director's Pathfinder Awards to Promote Diversity in the Scientific Workforce are doing, as these interventions were singled out as new approaches to engaging, recruiting, enabling, teaching and advancing individuals from underrepresented populations in scientific programs in academia or the scientific workforce and are accompanied by rigorous evaluations. FACTORS INTERNAL TO THE NIH Value the work of all researchers: Individuals from populations underrepresented in biomedical research may be disproportionately drawn towards studying communities or issues under-valued in a culture anchored in bench research. By extension, they may publish predominately within journals from the social and behavioral sciences which-within a culture that venerates basic science-might detract from assessments of the scientific rigor of their work. The NIH continues to update its research agenda to integrate implementation science, comparative effectiveness and other burgeoning fields that combine biomedical, behavioral, social, and other sciences to identify more effective interventions, and more effectively transfer validated research findings into clinical practice and public health. As research priorities evolve to address the nation's most critical health care problems, they should value and reflect the population-relevant perspectives that diverse researchers bring to the process of discovery. Recommendations: We urge NIH to facilitate additional research to investigate whether the discrepancy in R01 application success rates is related to subject matter (e.g. health disparities, community engaged participatory research) that may not be as compelling to review committees due to a prevailing culture of under-appreciation for this type of research. We further suggest that where appropriate, review committees be diversified to include experts in health disparities, implementation science, comparative effectiveness and clinical/human subjects research. Assess and counteract the role of unconscious bias: As suggested by Drs. Collins and Tabak in their commentary accompanying the Ginther et al. study, the role of unconscious bias in the review process must be assessed using blind review comparisons. This research will flesh out the extent of such bias and whether it is directed at the research subject matter, the applicant's institutional affiliation or academic pedigree, linguistic and cultural background, or other demographic identifiers. Findings from this research should then translate into mandatory unconscious bias training for NIH staff and study sections. Recommendation: Measure and raise awareness of unconscious bias across NIH and utilize existing training instruments to combat its effects. Enhance pre-submission supports: Early critiques to potential applicants can mean the difference between receiving a career-altering grant and a discouraging denial that does not result in resubmission. Professional contacts and experienced advisors are a critical source of feedback at this juncture. Individuals underrepresented in the biomedical research workforce often lack the appropriate mentorship networks which provide a valuable leg-up in the application process. Recommendations: Host peer-to-peer grant reviewing seminars and simulated application reviews, especially for young minority investigators and first time applicants whose proposals were rejected, to include focused coaching around the peer review process. Expand opportunities for young minority researchers to participate on review panels, to build familiarity with the process that translates into stronger applications. Build a network of mentors available to consult on the content of research grant proposals. We conclude these remarks by reemphasizing the importance of evidence-based metrics to track progress on these important issues going forward. The AAMC applauds NIH for employing its institutional heft to signal the importance of this work and looks forward to making significant strides together. As the Working Group crafts its final recommendations, we hope you will work with the Biomedical Workforce Working Group, the Diversity Task Force, and the Women in Biomedical Research Careers Working Group to coordinate subsequent implementation efforts. The AAMC is happy to provide support in any way the working group may find helpful. If you have any questions concerning these comments, please feel free to contact me at [contact details redacted].
02/24/2012 at 12:22:08 PM Organization Special Populations Research Forum (SPRF) Bethesda, MD Executive Summary Statement:

The Special Populations Research forum (SPRF) provides a trans-NIH forum for sharing and examining programs and initiatives designed to enhance and accelerate the development of research careers of individuals from underrepresented populations, which are defined as racial/ethnic minority groups, persons from low socio-economic backgrounds, and persons with disabilities as defined by the American with Disabilities Act. Ultimately, we consider a broad range of activities pertinent to the conceptualization, implementation, review, administration, management, and evaluation of research, training, and outreach to programs based in the nation's academic institutions and here at NIH, as a way to increase the diversification of the NIH workforce.

The trans-NIH Special Populations Research Forum (SPRF) comprises a diverse group of NIH staff, researchers and administrators and provides a forum to share and examine programs and activities designed to promote research career development for individuals from underrepresented groups. We have carefully considered the issues and concerns relating to diversity in the biomedical research workforce. Our collective response to this RFI offers specific recommendations and proposed actions that may beneficially effect change in relevant NIH policies and practice, including key points from SPRF working groups focused on training, mentoring and peer review.

The attached documents provide background and additional recommendations in these three areas (Attachment I - Training, Attachment II - Mentoring, Attachment III - Review). We hope our feedback will help the ACD Working Group foster a positive paradigm shift in the current culture related to acceptance, accountability and expectation of diversity in the decision making process and future direction of NIH research.

1. For any of the areas identified above and any other specific areas you believe are worthy of consideration by the working group, please identify the critical issues(s) and impact(s) on institutions, scientists, or both.

The SPRF has identified critical issues that impact the career development and access for institutions and scientists; within their career progression and those just beginning their interests in a career research.

REVIEW

A core principle of NIH peer review is to ensure that each application receives a fair and unbiased evaluation of the scientific merit of that application. The SPRF calls upon the NIH to reaffirm this principle by: 1) initiating focused studies on the factors/barriers which may lead to disparities in R01 funding levels between investigators from racial and ethnic minority populations; and 2) training Scientific Review Officers and Review Panel Chairs to recognize and attempt to balance these factors.

MENTORING

Mentoring is vital for the professional development of individual scientists and is a key complement to institutional investments in research infrastructure, faculty recruitment/retention, and graduate training programs. Providing high-quality mentoring at every stage of career development should therefore be a core value of NIH and all NIH-supported programs.

It is imperative to foster innovative partnerships to distribute the benefits of excellent mentoring broadly throughout the nation, to provide incentives and/or awards that recognize talented mentors and institutional mentoring programs, and to support inclusive programs designed to enhance the skills of mentors and mentees alike, and thereby increase workforce diversity.

TRAINING

The continued support of programs that foster research training and the development of a highly trained, diverse and inclusive biomedical workforce are essential and must continue to be a core priority of the NIH. NIH should proactively promote the advancement and minimize the attrition of individuals from underrepresented groups in biomedical research and seek to strengthen the biomedical research career path and workforce of these individuals by providing earlier and better coordinated educational/training opportunities that will not only help keep them engaged in the sciences but also prepare them for successful careers in the biomedical sciences.

The training of a diverse workforce is an investment in the future of a vibrant biomedical research enterprise. Diversity improves a workforce by sparking innovation and creativity and increasing intellectual diversity. Too often, however, research training, especially training of individuals from underrepresented groups, is not at the forefront for those setting funding levels and establishing scientific priorities.

REVIEW

The SPRF Review group has identified the most significant potential sources of bias in the review process. The potential bias, as opposed to intentional discrimination, will vary greatly with locus of review both within and across CSR and IC review groups is recognized. The below sources of bias most likely may negatively affect the overall impact score, and contribute to review of a grant application from a racial or ethnic minority applicant.

The appearance that minority health and health disparity (MHHD) topics are undervalued and the application may be considered to be of poor significance and innovation thus possibly impacting the overall review scores.

Cues to race and ethnicity can be ascertained from the bio sketch of the Principal Investigator (PI) and other key personnel. The ability to identify the background of the applicant might influence the review, either positively or negatively, and thus may affect the review process.

Racial and ethnic minority representation in review groups is limited. The contributions from diverse reviewers may not be encouraged but undervalued or minimized.

MENTORING

A poor institutional climate for diversity is perceived to be linked with limited opportunities for networking, "invisibility" to colleagues, and lack of leadership support for career advancement. Skilled mentors augment networking opportunities, steer mentees to opportunities for visible engagement with scientific colleagues, and advocate for a mentee's career advancement. The ACD working group should therefore consider a larger role for NIH in promoting, guiding and monitoring mentoring activities in NIH-supported research and programs with training components. This should include efforts to foster institutional mentorship training programs that embody institutional commitment to quality mentoring and emphasize the importance of workforce diversity.

Effective mentors provide a steady, involved presence in both the scientific and personal growth of mentees, fostering mutual respect and an environment that supports each mentee's unique interests and needs.

TRAINING

The development of additional and appropriate training, career development, and/or mentoring mechanisms that complement existing NIH programs will be key to the continued development of a highly trained and inclusive biomedical workforce. These mechanisms should be established to address gaps in the biomedical workforce where researchers from diverse groups are underrepresented. For example, researchers from diverse groups may experience difficulty transitioning from the K-award to R01 grant, and to renewal of a first R01.

Another important factor to strengthening the biomedical career path is more standardized program navigation. Programs that offer enhanced assistance regarding retention within and between various training and career stages can serve as model paradigms for increasing the number of diverse, competitive biomedical researchers. Innovative programs such as the NCI Continuing Umbrella of Research Experiences (CURE) of NCI's Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities (http://crchd.cancer.gov/attachments/CURE_508.pdf) reinforce the standard training pipeline by providing trainees with ongoing support through the various stages of their careers.

The SPRF Review, Mentoring, Training, and Macro-Level Working Groups endorse the following recommendations that can affect or have an impact on NIH policies and procedures related to the diversification of the biomedical workforce. Many of the recommendations are applicable to both the extramural and intramural scientific communities. More detailed explanations for these recommendations are provided in the attached reports.

REVIEW

The NIH should clarify its stance on the value of MHHD research to the current and future public health research agenda and publish this on NIH and IC websites, in FOAs, and instructions to reviewers.

The NIH should critically analyze the application and review process for potential sources of bias and barriers that may disadvantage racial and ethnic minority applicants.

The NIH should enhance the racial and ethnic diversity of CSR and IC review committees and should welcome the contributions and perspectives of all reviewers.

MENTORING

NIH should develop agency-wide policies and guidance to strengthen mentoring within the intramural and extramural research and research training programs and encourage the use of Individual Development Plans (IDPs) that delineate goals, expectations and career pathways. The mentoring pair should review the IDP periodically and continue to work through stated objectives, making changes as needed.

NIH should establish agency-wide reporting requirements for non-competing continuation grant applications (progress reports) that specifically address mentoring activities and mentee progress.

Develop constructs to measure performance of the actual act of "mentoring" for evaluation purposes. Define elements of mentoring and how it could be measured to evaluate success.

Develop social media and web pages to house a commitment statement and definition of mentoring from NIH. The site can serve as a platform for dissemination of resources for mentors and mentees, as well as a forum for dialogue, advice, and problem-solving on relevant issues through the use of various technologies (e.g. live chats, blogs, postings, etc.).

Outreach/Education should be provided to NIH Staff to identify issues related to mentoring via webinars, brown bag or other seminars. Also provide Technical Assistance to mentors and trainees via webinars, workshops and conferences where mentees can network with other mentees and mentors

TRAINING

The NIH should encourage the development and adoption of a universal training tracking system for trainees. The lack of a universal system represents a major barrier to the effective evaluation and modification of NIH training programs aimed at increasing diversity.

NIH should consider the development of clear, stage-appropriate objectives, goals and expected outcomes for training programs as well as the establishment standardized metrics by which to evaluate and/or measure success of these programs.

NIH should consider the development of a 'trans-IC' diversity training initiative that would build collaborative research training partnerships across NIH ICs, especially those aimed at increasing diversity.

Attention and resources should be directed at repairing the "leaking" biomedical research career path pipeline by providing earlier science education and training opportunities (K-12) and better coordinated program navigation and next-steps for training and career development programs in later stages (college - early investigator stage).

IC directors should be major champions for an inclusive scientific workforce and be held accountable for maintaining a continuity of effort to obtain the objectives of increasing the diversity of the NIH workforce and the extramural community it supports.

MACROLEVEL

Factor: Accountability-Diversity should be a core value at the NIH o Diversity should be visible at the highest levels of leadership o NIH's commitment to diversity should be visible in statements about the NIH (website, press releases and other printed media) o It's importance as a core value must be articulated in the mission statements of the ICs o Commitment to diversity must be demonstrated, and a core element for evaluation of IC leadership (Directors, Scientific Directors, Branch Chiefs....) o All Training Programs at NIH, not just diversity- targeted programs, must be committed to and evaluated on their success in training a diverse work-force

Factor: Increase career appeal for underrepresented minority (URM) Scientists o Develop FOAs to improve mentoring and career development opportunities that address the specific barriers to success of URM scientists in the biomedical sciences o Address paucity of funding o Increase funding to provide clinician scientists with protected time to conduct competitive research o Expand targeted funding opportunities for underrepresented groups, such as loan repayment programs , K99-R00, other awards o Increase overall funding or change funding distributions that favor higher success rates for junior investigators

Factor: Need for early educational interventions for underrepresented minorities o Through partnerships with other federal/non-federal agencies focused on K-12 and undergraduate education o Increase opportunities for K-12 students' introduction to biomedical research and exposure to biomedical researchers as mentors and role models o Increase funding for internship experiences for high school and undergraduate students

Factor: Supporting the role of minority institutions in educating and training underrepresented minorities that enter the biomedical research workforce o Sustaining and enhancing the research infrastructure and building capacity in minority institutions o Develop the capacity of minority institutions to conduct scientific research with an emphasis on supporting those programs that integrate research, research capacity building and foster collaborations and partnerships o Develop capacity in minority institutions to support the training and career development

SPRF Mentoring Work Group Response to RFI Question 1. For any of the areas identified above and any other specific areas you believe are worthy of consideration by the working group, please identify the critical issues(s) and impact(s) on institutions, scientists, or both. The Special Populations Research Forum (SPRF) is a trans-NIH group that addresses unmet needs in areas pertaining to special and underrepresented populations by sharing best practices and developing policy recommendations for NIH extramural and intramural research programs. Several groups have identified major barriers to minority investigators competing successfully for NIH funding, including inadequate research infrastructure, poor training, and substandard mentoring - All scientists, including those who are underrepresented in the biomedical research workforce, depend on thoughtful, individually tailored mentoring for structured skills enhancement; intellectual, personal and professional growth; professional training; and career advancement. Mentoring is an important complement which requires institutional investments in infrastructure, faculty recruitment and retention, and training programs. Providing high-quality mentoring at all stages of career development should therefore be a core value to the NIH and all NIH-supported research and research training programs. Mentoring, which can be defined as "a developmental partnership through which one or several person(s) shares knowledge, skills, information and perspective to foster the personal and professional growth of someone else" , is an essential component for the professional development of all scientists and cannot be secondary to the acquisition of technical knowledge and skills. Mentors must provide opportunities for the mentee that foster an upward career trajectory in the targeted subject area. Exceptional mentors are motivated to help others, able to communicate skillfully and work collaboratively with mentees to determine needs. Exceptional mentoring mandates that neither mentor(s) nor the institution feel threatened by the mentee's potential. Importantly, mentoring requires time, so mentors and mentees need organizational support in order to be successful. Given the many facets of career development and the varied needs of mentees, typically no single individual can provide all that a mentee needs, thus a mentoring team should be considered. Question 2. Key issues to address regarding mentorship, role models and institutional climate A poor institutional climate for diversity is perceived to be linked with limited opportunities for networking, "invisibility" to colleagues, and lack of leadership support for career advancement . Skilled mentors augment networking opportunities, steer mentees to opportunities for visible engagement with scientific colleagues, and advocate for a mentee's career advancement. The ACD working group should therefore consider a larger role for NIH in promoting, guiding and monitoring mentoring activities in NIH-supported research and programs with training components. This should include efforts to foster institutional mentorship training programs that embody institutional commitment to quality mentoring and emphasize the importance of workforce diversity. Although effective mentoring can be difficult to define and measure, it involves several essential components: a learning partnership, skilled and motivated role models, the mentor's support of the mentee, and a unique relationship between mentor and mentee which is reciprocal but asymmetric and dynamic4. It is critically important for institutions, faculty (mentors), and the mentee to participate in and engage in open and clear communication expectations for professional growth and advancement for an effective mentoring relationship to occur. A clear outline of the expected mentoring relationship should be developed with input from all parties. The Institution and the mentoring pair should identify strengths, developmental needs, activities, and have in place a tracking system for monitoring the progress of the mentee throughout the mentoring relationship. The Institution and the mentoring pair should also recognize where there may be limitations in the system and plan for alternative solutions and provide a plan on how to address this. The progress of the mentee should be reviewed periodically by someone at the Institutional level to help the mentee and the mentor to reassess their development in achieving their mutually agreed upon goals. It is equally important to understand mentees' professional and personal goals and background, and to exhibit cultural sensitivity and appropriateness, as well as a respect for differences. Mentors and mentoring programs must also recognize and address different developmental needs of mentees as they progress, incorporating stage-specific measures and accountability mechanisms, and some flexibility for change and growth. Further, it is essential for Institutions and funders to recognize excellent mentors, while helping less-effective mentors develop skills through appropriate training, support, release time if needed, and incentive structures. Effective mentors provide a steady, involved presence in both the scientific and personal growth of mentees, fostering mutual respect and an environment that supports each mentee's unique interests and needs. Question 3. Please comment on any specific ways you believe these or other issues would or should affect NIH policies or processes. The SPRF Mentoring Working Group endorses the following recommendations for NIH policies and/or processes as well as other recommendations that may not have a direct impact on policy or procedures as they relate to mentoring for diversification of the scientific workforce. We recognize that many of the issues associated with mentoring are applicable to the NIH intramural research community, thus the following recommendations can be applied to NIH intramural research programs as well as the extramural research communities. Policy and/or Procedure NIH should: Provide an overall role for NIH in monitoring mentoring for trainees while allowing individual NIH ICs to further define, track and monitor mentoring as it fits within each IC Mission. NIH should develop agency-wide policies and guidance to strengthen mentoring within the intramural and extramural research and research training programs and encourage the use of Individual Development Plans (IDPs) that delineate goals, expectations and career pathways. The mentoring pair should review the IDP periodically and continue to work through stated objectives, making changes as needed. Provide specific guidance in funding announcements to require development of Individual Development Plans (IDPs) for both mentors and mentees in programs that have training or investigator development components. Provide guidance in the establishment of Mentoring Plans in order to create mentoring goals, expectations and planning. Provide policy and guidance on reporting requirements in progress reports for evaluation of a program's mentoring component and the progress of mentees. Updates on IDPs and/or mentoring contracts should be a required part of annual progress reporting similarly to budget or personnel changes. Other Recommendations NIH should develop an incentive program for very talented mentors and their Institutions to work with and enhance the skills of mentees from underserved institutions, and environments, while not requiring the mentee to abandon the environment from which they are located permanently. It is imperative that we not only build and strengthen those environments surrounded by our highly productive institutions but engage in a mentoring partnership so that all throughout the United States will benefit in a timely and effective manner. Develop/disseminate evidence-based best practices informed by literature reviews, surveys, and consensus conferences, including standard NIH-wide definitions for key elements of effective mentoring, as well as metrics and benchmarks of success, such as length of time mentees remain in research positions, their professional advancement and scientific productivity (publications, grant applications, funded grants). NIH should evaluate existing mentoring programs, broadly disseminate "best processes and practices," and use the information to shape future FOAs to support expansion of institutional mentoring programs that demonstrate a commitment to increasing workforce diversity and partnership to achieve the NIH mission. Promote the implementation of institutional mentorship training programs and skill development opportunities for mentors Develop constructs to measure performance of the actual act of "mentoring" for evaluation purposes. Define elements of mentoring and how it could be measured to evaluate success. Develop social media and web pages to house NIH commitment statement regarding mentoring, and the definition and to disseminate resources for mentors and mentees and invite dialogue on issues and provide for a place both mentees and mentors can find resources and perhaps solicit advice from similar mentees or mentors (live chats, blogs, postings, etc.) Outreach/Education should be provided to NIH Staff to identify issues related to mentoring via webinars, brown bag or other seminars. Also provide Technical Assistance to mentors and trainees via webinars, workshops and conferences where mentees can network with other mentees and mentors Encourage and support platforms to foster "group mentoring" (e.g., group mentoring programs, on-line group forums) to allow mentors and mentees opportunities to discuss issues such as professional development, managing a laboratory and work-life balance, and to outline strategies for improving mentoring relationships. Mentees and mentors could also establish separate forums to promote frank discussion of challenges, pitfalls, and lessons learned and best practices without fear of repercussions. Support the expansion of existing institutional programs with a record of effective mentoring among underrepresented minority trainees and faculty Implementation of training and skill development opportunities for mentors, and other measures of quality and effectiveness as perceived by mentor and mentee SPRF members who contributed to the Mentoring Working Group include [names redacted]. National Science Foundation, D.o.S.R. Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering 2011. Special Report NSF 11-309. Arlington, VA. Available at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/wmpd/. (2011). Shavers, V. et al. Barriers to racial/ethnic minority application and competition for NIH research funding. J Natl Med Assoc 97, 1063-1077 (2005). National Academy of Sciences. Assessment of NIH Minority Research and Training Programs: Phase 3. Available at http://nap.edu/catalog/11329/.html. (2005). Atkinson, D.R., Neville, H. & Casas, A. The mentorship of ethnic minorities in professional psychology. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice 22, 336-338 (1991). Jeste, D. et al. A call for training the trainers: Focus on mentoring to enhance diversity in mental health research. Am J Public Health, 99, S1: S31-S36 (2009). Definition: ''the perceptions, attitudes, and expectations that define the institution, particularly as seen from the perspectives of individuals of different racial or ethnic backgrounds." Institute of Medicine. In the Nation's Compelling Interest: Ensuring Diversity in the Health Care Workforce. In: Smedley BD, Butler AS, Bristow LR, eds. Washington, DC: National Academies Press; 2004 Price E.B. et al. 2005. The role of cultural diversity climate in recruitment, promotion, and retention of faculty in academic medicine. J Gen Inter n Med; 20: 565-571 Attachment #2: For any of the areas identified above and any other specific areas you believe are worthy of consideration by the working group, please identify the critical issues(s) and impact(s) on institutions, scientists, or both. A core principle of NIH peer review is to ensure that each application receives a fair and unbiased evaluation of the scientific merit of that application. Recent publications, which have documented disadvantages for racially and ethnically diverse applicants in the NIH review process of R01 applications, have raised concerns about potential bias in review. The members of the Special Populations Research Forum (SPRF) understand that bias, as opposed to intentional discrimination, is viewed in social psychology as an unconscious process which is difficult to recognize or overcome. We have sought to identify factors which, based on anecdotal evidence and collective experience rather than data, we think may be sources of bias in the review process that may contribute to the underrepresentation of diverse investigators in the application pool, the failing of diverse applicants to resubmit amended applications, and the significant disadvantage of African Americans in the R01 funding process. Recognizing that potential bias will vary greatly with locus of review both within and across CSR and IC review groups, we submit the following as worthy of consideration: - Minority health and health disparity (MHHD) topics appear to be undervalued and receive poor significance, innovation and/or overall impact scores. o Significance of MHHD research is undervalued because it is not seen as generalizing to larger groups of non Hispanic White populations. o Initial attempts to translate findings from general science/literature in minority populations not credited as being innovative. o Impact scores are defined in terms of potential to advance science in general public health not that of smaller, minority populations. - Cues to race and ethnicity can be ascertained from the bio sketch of the Principal Investigator (PI) and other key personnel. These include: name (first or last); University affiliation (both past and present); membership in or honors, awards, and funding from racial and ethnic minority specific organizations; publication venues, research topics, and co authors; and foreign languages abilities. The ability to identify the background of the applicant might influence the review, either positively or negatively, and thus may affect the review process. o Applications from Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), especially Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), appear to be undervalued. o There appears to be a positive bias favoring proposals submitted by research intensive Institutions. o There appears to be a positive bias for applications that include an NIH grantee as a PI, key personnel or consultant. - Racial and ethnic minority representation in review groups is limited. The contributions from diverse reviewers may not be encouraged but undervalued or minimized. Please identify and explain which of the issues you identified are, in your opinion, the most important for the working group to address and why. The SPRG presents the above as the most significant potential sources of bias in the review process. These are the synthesis of a much longer discussion, which included many more potential barriers and remedies, but we consider these sources of bias the most likely to negatively affect the overall impact scores, contribute to a grant application from a racial or ethnic minority applicant failing to be discussed and not receiving a resume, the trend for ethnic/racial minority investigators to not submit an amended application, and, when scored, to receiving less competitive scores outside the funding range. Please comment on any specific ways you believe these or other issues would or should affect NIH policies or processes The NIH should clarify its stance on the value of MHHD research to the current and future public health research agenda. The NIH can strongly influence review outcomes and the general diversity of the biomedical workforce by making unambiguous public statements that support and describe the NIH's interest in MHHD research to improve the Nation's health. Such clear policy statements can have most impact if posted on the NIH and IC websites, included in the FOAs and instructions to reviewers, and emphasized in training of Scientific Review Officers (SROs) and IRG Chairs. Clear statements by NIH leadership on the value and emphasis they place on MHHD research may also impact NIH staff and the funding recommendations and decisions they make. The NIH should critically analyze the application and review process for potential sources of bias and barriers that may disadvantage racial and ethnic minority applicants and the disparity in success rates for African-American R01 applicants. To the best of our knowledge, no investigations have been conducted which demonstrate the source(s) of bias at the levels of scientific review and funding decisions. Rigorous investigation including collection of new data along with continuing analysis of existing data would be critical to design and implementation of corrective strategies. Research on the influence of the potentially biasing information listed in bio sketches (leaving the narrative content) and redacting the name of the sponsoring institution could be conducted if the review groups are instructed to focus only on the bio sketch narratives and the environment section of the application. The NIH should study the patterns, rates, and levels of success of resubmissions by investigators of racial and ethnic minority populations; the selection of minority health/health disparities research projects; clinical research topics; research focused on small populations that might not be representative of the Nation as a whole. The NIH should substantially enhance the diversity of committees for review groups both within CSR and at the individual ICs. While increasing the diversity of reviewers of racial and ethnic minority backgrounds, the NIH needs to recognize that the pool of potential qualified reviewers from diverse backgrounds currently is limited, and over-recruitment of diverse reviewers could have negative consequences for the careers of individual investigators. Wide dissemination of information about and highly flexible implementation of the pilot program to include productive new diverse investigators in review groups before they have their first NIH R01 can increase the pool of diverse reviewers, hopefully to the point that there are more than one or two diverse reviewers per IRG. In addition, Chairs and SROs need to encourage and support the new diverse reviewers so that their contributions are valued. Chairs, SROs and new reviewers should receive training based on best practices, drawing on the experience and recommendations of SROs and experts on multicultural inclusion in business settings, to enhance the culturally sensitivity and inclusiveness of the IC and CSR review groups. The NIH should explore adding back one more submission (i.e., 01A2) for new and racially and ethnically diverse investigators. Limiting the review process to two reviews may handicap racial and ethnic minority applicants overcoming potential disadvantages in the review process. By adding one more round of review for ALL new investigators, both diverse and non diverse, the NIH would further the inclusion of diverse applicants as well as addressing concerns about the quality of the science being funded for all new investigators who could benefit from one more set of critiques Respectfully submitted on behalf of the SPRF - Review committee. Attachment #3: Response to RFI - SPRF Training Subcommittee Recommendations The following recommendations were prepared by the Training Subcommittee of the Special Populations Research Form (SPRF) in response to the NIH 'Request for Information (RFI): Input into the Deliberations of the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director Working Group on Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce'. Member of the SPRF Training Subcommittee include: [names redacted] Question 1. For any of the areas identified above and any other specific areas you believe are worthy of consideration by the working group, please identify the critical issues(s) and impact(s) on institutions, scientists, or both. Defining Success - NIH does not currently have standard metrics to evaluate and/or measure success of its training programs aimed at increasing diversity in the biomedical workforce. We urge the development of clear, stage-appropriate objectives, goals and expected outcomes for training programs as well as the establishment standardized metrics by which to evaluate and/or measure success of these programs. These metrics should acknowledge stage of training since performance/outcome measures will be different depending on stage of training (e.g., successful outcomes for programs aimed at providing summer research experiences for high school students will be different than those at the predoctoral or postdoctoral stages of their career). Furthermore, program success should be assessed based on the original purposes and objectives of a program, activity, initiative, etc rather than according to posthoc objectives, targets and or goals. Development and implementation of logic models might be a useful tool. Evaluation and Accountability. Currently there is no uniform tracking database or tracking system currently in use across NIH ICs and Centers to track training participants. This lack of outcome information represents a major barrier to the effective evaluation and modification of NIH training programs aimed at increasing diversity. We urge a major commitment to the development and maintenance of a universal training tracking system with designated program evaluation experts to assess and report on these programs to IC leadership on a regular basis. Such tracking systems would result in better measurement of training program participant progress and career paths, as well as more consistent trainee data within and across programs and ICs. Examples of tracking systems currently being utilized are the NINDS Training Tracking System (TTS) as well as CareerTrac, an innovative global trainee tracking and evaluation system used by Fogarty International Center and NIEHS. Transition Points - We urge the working group to consider the importance of transition points within the training continuum as a means to help 'plug the leaks' for diverse populations in the biomedical workforce pipeline. For example, early educational/training opportunities should be an important focus, as decisions regarding viable (and non-viable) career choices are made well before entering graduate school. Examples of innovative past and present NIH educational programs include the NIH Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) Program (PAR-10-206) and the former NHLBI Minority K-12 Initiative for Teachers and Students (MKITS) program. It is programs such as these that will hopefully continue to encourage students from underrepresented backgrounds to pursue their interests and hopefully advanced studies in this area. Attention should also be given to later transition points for individuals transitioning to independence. For example, training mechanisms such as K awards, etc should provide release time (also called 'protected time') for junior faculty/early stage investigators to allow them to concentrate on developing their research programs and preparing and submitting external funding applications, as well as other activities that will allow them to establish themselves as independent investigators. Question 2. Key issues to address regarding training We urge the development of additional appropriate training, career development, and/or mentoring mechanisms that complement the programs in the current NIH research support system. These mechanisms should be established to repair "leaking points" where biomedical researchers from underrepresented populations mostly drop out of the research career path. Such points of greatest attrition or drop outs in research career path include transition from the K-award to R01 grant and renewal of the first R01 grant. Furthermore, mechanisms such as the K02 (Independent Scientist Award) and other similar mechanisms should be opened up for independent scientists and mid-career investigators in other areas in biomedical research and across all NIHI/Cs. Standardized Program Navigation. Institutional climates can be improved by devoting attention and resources to biomedical research career path pipelines. Program navigation and next-steps for training and career development programs should be developed. This can be accomplished by replicating and/or adopting current successful training and career development philosophies or establishing innovative, new programs aimed at assisting trainees throughout the different stages of their career (e.g., from college to graduate school and from the postdoctoral level to faculty transition points). These programs can serve as model paradigms for increasing the number of competitive biomedical researchers across the research continuum. An example of an innovative program is the NCI Continuing Umbrella of Research Experiences (CURE) of NCI's Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities and the UMBC Meyerhoff Scholars Program. The approach for both programs reinforces the standard training pipeline, sealing its leaks by providing its trainees with ongoing support of its trainees through the various stages of their career, ongoing assessment and expansion of its training and career development mechanisms, emphasizing mentorship, peer review training and more. Question 3. Please comment on any specific ways you believe these or other issues would or should affect NIH policies or processes. The SPRF Training Subcommittee identifies the following specific recommendations for NIH policies, processes and outreach efforts relating to training: Standardization of Training Programs - Efforts to increase diversity throughout NIH have been widely divergent. Current NIH training programs are developed and administered independently by each of its 27 Institutes and Centers. We urge the development of a 'trans-IC' diversity training initiative that would build collaborative research training partnerships across NIH ICs, especially those aimed at increasing diversity. This type of collaborative, purposefully coordinated framework would result in greater standardization of NIH training programs in general, and also maximize the impact of training programs. Enforcing a training standard - We urge NIH to require potential PIs to include a recruitment and retention plan with their grant applications, which should be considered as a part of the overall review criteria for the grant. Such plans (https://grants.nih.gov/training/faq_diversity.htm#865) are tied to institutional awards, but not individual award programs. Enforcement and oversight of this plan may be difficult and challenging to enforce, however, NIH should evaluate programs (e.g., T32 and R25) that do require such plans so that they can be applied to all mechanisms where training is a component. Furthermore, we urge NIH to develop training modules (e.g., webinars, etc) for PIs. These webinars should include best practices, examples of successful training elements, etc. High Level Accountability - IC directors should be major champions for an inclusive scientific workforce and be held accountable for maintaining a continuity of effort to obtain the objectives of increasing the diversity of the NIH workforce and the extramural community it supports. NIH Homepage - NIH should also consider the development of a statement regarding its commitment to training and enhancement of the biomedical workforce on its website (e.g., on the funding pages). NIH should also actively promote its commitment to increasing diversity within the biomedical workforce by including a diversity statement on its homepage. It should make information regarding training programs for diverse populations easier to find and navigate on the NIH webpage.
02/24/2012 at 12:41:06 PM Organization Michigan State University East Lansing, MI All the areas outlined in the NOT-OD-12-031identified by the Working Group are important to implementing diversity in the biomedical Research workforce. My personal experience of over forty years in biomedical/health research and education indicates that an effective environment to facilitate entry into graduate programs is one of the most critical steps followed by an effective mentorship. A strong well planned program could effectively cultivate diversity in the biomedical research workforce.

Entry into graduate programs: 1- effective environment 2- effective mentorship

pipeline programs:

Developing an inclusive training environment requires cooperation of educational institutions at many levels, starting at the K-12 level through higher education and within health care organizations. Developing pipeline programs is critical. The pipeline programs should be designed to provide adequate academic training and mentoring for the students from elementary/high school through biomedical and health/medical schools. The Program and support should be continuous. The following issues are important to consider:

1- Provide innovative, interactive, and supportive programs that engage students (K-12, undergraduate) and health professionals, to inspire a passion for health-related professions as a career. o Access to and presence of adequate/quality academic preparation. ? Math and science enrichment and after-school tutoring programs. ? Faculty participation and teacher support- A team work. ? Curricula, consultation, and technical assistance. o Role of mentorship. o Role models. o Incentive for mentors/faculty/teacher participation. Recognition of their participation by their institutions. 2- Create partnership with schools, enterprises, community organizations, and health professional organizations to address training and educational needs. 3- Recruitment and retention strategies for students.

4- Financial support; adequate and continuous financial support for the programs and the students in the pipeline.

1- NIH must provide incentive for mentors/faculty/teacher participation: In many academic institutions, success and promotion/tenure of faculty members is mainly based on factors such as grant awards and publications. Therefore many faculty are not willing to give their time to mentoring and teaching undergraduate students. An incentive for the faculty's time and participation is vital, and should seriously be considered.

2- Adequate financial support is critical for the students. In my own experience - I have had students who were working in my research laboratory during the day and working in restaurants at night or during weekends. Their response to my question why they would rather work at a restaurant and not on their research were that they were making more money as a waiter than working in the lab and that they needed the money to live on. I strongly believe that we must value student's work in research projects and health related jobs. Continuous financial support should be provided to serious students to assure their retention and success in health related professions. A financial support should be in the form of stipends for the hours the students work on projects. This incentive will value the student's time and work, and make them feel that their effort is worthy. Further, students will learn things that are meaningful while building their career paths in health related professions.

Date: February 22, 2012 Re: Response to RFI (Request for Information): Input into the Deliberations of the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director Working Group on Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce All the areas outlined in the NOT-OD-12-031identified by the Working Group are important to implementing diversity in the biomedical Research workforce. My personal experience of over forty years in biomedical/health research and education indicates that an effective environment to facilitate entry into graduate programs is one of the most critical steps followed by an effective mentorship. A strong well planned program could effectively cultivate diversity in the biomedical research workforce. Developing an inclusive training environment requires cooperation of educational institutions at many levels, starting at the K-12 level through higher education and within health care organizations. Developing pipeline programs is critical. The pipeline programs should be designed to provide adequate academic training and mentoring for the students from elementary/high school through biomedical and health/medical schools. The Program and support should be continuous. The following issues are important to consider: 1- Provide innovative, interactive, and supportive programs that engage students (K-12, undergraduate) and health professionals, to inspire a passion for health-related professions as a career. o Access to and presence of adequate/quality academic preparation. - Math and science enrichment and after-school tutoring programs. - Faculty participation and teacher support- A team work. - Curricula, consultation, and technical assistance. o Role of mentorship. o Role models. o *Incentive for mentors/faculty/teacher participation. - *Recognition of their participation by their institutions. 2- Create partnership with schools, enterprises, community organizations, and health professional organizations to address training and educational needs. 3- Recruitment and retention strategies for students. 4- **Financial support; adequate and continuous financial support for the programs and the students in the pipeline. * In many academic institutions, success and promotion/tenure of faculty members is mainly based on factors such as grant awards and publications. Therefore many faculty are not willing to give their time to mentoring and teaching undergraduate students. An incentive for the faculty's time and participation is vital, and should seriously be considered. **Adequate financial support is critical for the students. In my own experience - I have had students who were working in my research laboratory during the day and working in restaurants at night or during weekends. Their response to my question why they would rather work at a restaurant and not on their research were that they were making more money as a waiter than working in the lab and that they needed the money to live on. I strongly believe that we must value student's work in research projects and health related jobs. Continuous financial support should be provided to serious students to assure their retention and success in health related professions. A financial support should be in the form of stipends for the hours the students work on projects. This incentive will value the student's time and work, and make them feel that their effort is worthy. Further, students will learn things that are meaningful while building their career paths in health related professions.
02/24/2012 at 12:43:16 PM Organization Collaborative for Enhancing Diversity in Science/Consortium of Social Science Associations Washington Mentoring underrepresented minorities should be integral to any initiative or program designed to enhance diversity in the sciences. Organizations should emphasize the importance of mentoring and promote and facilitate mentoring of students and junior scientists by their senior colleagues. Special mentoring efforts should be made for minority scholars.

Reward faculty for time spent on mentoring and encourage the provision of grants that offer protected time for mentoring activities.

Demonstrate the importance of mentoring by showcasing the successes of mentored minority scientists and identify a pool of mentors and mentees who can promote the value of mentoring .

Build an infrastructure to support long-term mentoring relationships and develop a mechanism to evaluate the sustainability of these relationships.

Collaborate to develop resources and programs to help mentors and mentees understand goals and expectations.

Collaborate to develop definitions of program success and program evaluation metrics and to collect empirical data on program outcomes.

Improve Evaluation of Diversity Program Outcomes

Federal agencies, professional associations and scientific societies should work together to develop a comprehensive data collection and evaluation system to monitor the success of diversity programs. This information should be collected and shared across organizations and with the public to identify trends, best practices, and areas that need improvement to enhance diversity.

Work with professional association and scientific societies to collect and critically review research and best practices on diversity programs that can be evaluated and generalized across disciplines. These data could be used to generate a typology of programs according to goals and career stage. This information should be continually updated and made publicly available by various means (e .g ., Internet, journal articles, critical reviews).

Work with professional associations and scientific societies to better inform data collection strategies and to integrate datasets, when possible.

Enhance federal longitudinal data collection strategies for underrepresented minority issues, as well as for including financial support for program evaluation.

Collaborate with professional associations and scientific societies, and university departments to collect data on minority scientists and diversity programs. Ideally, organizations will work with different departments at the same institution to achieve critical mass across disciplines and to increase awareness of what is being done on the issue and what has proven successful

  On behalf of the Collaborative for Enhancing Diversity in Science (CEDS)[i], I am writing to bring to your attention the summary of the proceedings of a leadership retreat of professional associations and scientific societies: Enhancing Diversity in Science: A Leadership Retreat on the Role of Professional Associations and Scientific Societies . This important meeting was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), with additional funding from the National Science Foundation. CEDS believes that the retreat was a successful first step of collaboration among the disciplines of science and their federal partners to increase diversity across of the various fields of science that are critical to maintaining the United States' status as the world's science leader. The goal of the Retreat was to spawn collaboration among associations, societies, federal agencies, and private foundations. We strongly believe that collaboration is essential to enhancing recruitment and retention of underrepresented minorities in science. The retreat was subsequently followed by a Congressional briefing sponsored by CEDS and cosponsored by 60 diverse organizations < http://www.cossa.org/diversity/march_12_invitation.pdf> to discuss the necessity and accompanying challenges of increasing the diversity of America's scientific workforce . The consensus that emerged from the retreat, and illustrated by support from the diverse and various disciplines for the Congressional briefing, is that enhancing the diversity of the scientific workforce is a shared aspiration. This cannot be accomplished, however, through a single or simple step divorced from institutions' and organizations' overall work and missions. We will achieve success when the commitment is infused into all aspects of an organization and at all levels of leadership. Most importantly, diversity must be understood as involving not merely a certain number of students, faculty members or workers, but as an essential element of science and of growing a field or discipline. This commitment must be demonstrated by specific actions by organizations, working both individually and in concert. Using their influence, resources, and expertise, America's professional associations and scientific societies can move the issue forward on many fronts including but not limited to: (1) inspiring broader collaboration across associations, university leadership, federal, state, and regional government stakeholders, foundations and researchers and (2) solidifying a commitment to shared metrics and an adherence to uniform data collection. A critical recommendation of the leadership retreat was the need to establish a common standard for tracking demographic data and measuring the process and outcomes of diversity-enhancing programs. CEDS is holding a second workshop on May 24, 2012, designed to advance such system-wide progress. The workshop is being made possible by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Science Foundation, and the William T. Grant Foundation. Its aim is to begin to develop a comprehensive research methodology, data collection infrastructure, and reporting plan that allow stakeholders to efficiently identify, monitor, and eventually help reshape the STEM pipeline's demographic composition as that of the general population changes over time. Standardized data, methodology, and reporting, along with the underlying institutional structure, are vital to the development and implementation that might alleviate mismatching demographics between STEM disciplines and the general population. Such standards are not enforceable; however, their voluntary adoption by an increasing percentage of stakeholders would contribute to their escalating effectiveness over time. Attached is a copy of the proceedings from the leadership retreat with accompanying recommendation. CEDS strongly agree that recognizing that a collective leadership around enhancing diversity in the sciences is urgently needed. We wanted you to be aware of CEDS and again, we look forward to continuing to work with NIH to achieve diversity in the scientific enterprise. Attachment #2: PDF copy of Enhancing Diversity in Science: A Leadership Retreat on the Role of Professional Associations and Scientific Societies, A Summary Report, published by the Consortium of Social Science Associations in 2008. Attachment #3: PDF could not copy - flyer advertising a 2009 Congressional briefing entitled "Building A Diverse Scientific Workforce: Collaboration for a Competitive and Healthy Nation"
02/24/2012 at 01:16:14 PM Organization Society for the Psychological Study of Ethnic Minority Issues (Division 45 of the American Psychological Association) Washington, DC Please see the attached letter for a discussion of critical issues. Please see the attached letter for priorities. Please see the attached letter for specific recommendations. The Society for the Psychological Study of Ethnic Minority Issues (Division 45 of the American Psychological Association) is the major representative body for psychologists who conduct research on ethnic minority concerns and who apply psychological knowledge and techniques to ethnic minority issues. The mission of Division 45 is to advance psychology as a science and to promote public welfare through research, to apply research findings toward addressing ethnic minority issues, and to encourage professional relationships among psychologists with these interests. On behalf of the hundreds of members and affiliates of Division 45, we would like to thank you for the opportunity to provide input to the recommendations that the Working Group will be developing to increase the diversity of the biomedical research workforce. Based on the prior assessment, research, and experience of Division 45 and the APA Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs, we were not surprised by the evidence of racial disparities in NIH rewards published in the August 2011 edition of Science. These data showed that R01 applications from Black or African American applicants between 2000 and 2006 did significantly worse than those applications from White applicants, even after controlling for observable characteristics. We believe it likely that African American researchers encounter at best, incredibly difficult, and at worst insurmountable obstacles in becoming independent investigators, the mark of 'true' biomedical investigators in the research enterprise. With African Americans representing just 1% of all biomedical researchers, it is disconcerting that the review process may penalize those African American individuals who remain committed to pursuing an NIH research career. For some time, Division 45 members (many of whom have served as investigators on NIH supported grants) have been extremely concerned with racial disparities in NIH funding, as well as the objectivity and fairness of review of grant applications, in particular for applications from Black or African American investigators. The evidence provided in the Ginther et al. (2011) publication reflects the need for quick action and strong leadership within NIH to address disparities in funding and a deep commitment to addressing the problem at it's core. Psychologists, along with our biomedical workforce colleagues, have demonstrated ability to design and implement programs that effectively recruit, retain, and train people of color for successful careers in biomedical research. Psychologists have demonstrated the effectiveness of programs for improving analytical skills, developing scientific literacy, and enhancing problem-solving strategies among diverse students. Psychological science plays a unique and comprehensive role in improving the educational processes involved in preparing students for STEM careers, as well as a scientifically informed citizenry. Psychology plays an important role in enhancing the diversity of biomedical and behavioral science both directly, through the contributions of diverse psychologists to scientific and technological innovation, and indirectly, through the field's contributions to education of students from diverse backgrounds in biomedical and behavioral science and technology. Behavioral scientists have had and continue to have a significant impact on addressing health related problems and training future cadres of investigators from all scientific disciplines. For example, psychologists who work in medical centers train not only other psychologists but also train social workers, medical students, and nursing students among others. Therefore psychologists have a unique and critical contribution to solving the problem outlined in Ginther et al. (2011). Although the Ginther et al. (2011) article showed that African American investigators are the most negatively affected by the NIH review, Division 45 recommends that the Working Group continue to carefully evaluate possible funding discrepancies among Latino, Asian, Native American, and Alaska Native applicants and to prioritize solutions that include investigators from all racial and ethnic minority groups. Many of the structural concerns and recommendations that are listed below are relevant to all researchers of color. It is with this background that we offer the following recommendations for change in NIH policies or processes. Since the RFI requested that respondents describe which issues are most important for the Working Group to address and why, we have listed our recommendations in order of priority. 1. Increase NIH investment in ethnic minority research training Over the past decade, NIH has significantly reduced or eliminated funding for training of ethnic minorities for biomedical research careers. For example, funding for the APA Minority Fellowship Research Training Program was cut in 2010, and the Career Opportunities in Research (COR) program was significantly defunded over the last several years. However, data collected and summarized in reports issued from both NSF and NIH indicate that these training programs are critical in order to enrich and strengthen the pipeline of successful researchers. Division 45 recommends that the Working Group seek ways to continue to fund these programs, which have proven success, to broaden their scope and participation, and to incorporate rigorous and targeted evaluation to demonstrate their impact. 2. Increase NIH investment in scientific questions focused on ethnic minority populations Despite NIH policy that all human research studies include racial and ethnic minority participants, a restricted number of research studies have sufficient sample sizes of ethnic minorities to empirically test questions about racial differences in outcomes. To properly investigate racial disparities and to develop a full science that reflects the entire population, we need researchers who are intrinsically interested in ethnic populations. That often entails more grants designed to test ethnic samples. Many researchers use ethnic samples as "throw away" samples because while they don't exclude minorities from participation, their numbers are often too small to analyze and report. Furthermore, it is much more difficult and takes longer to gain the trust and willingness to participate in research among racial and ethnic minority communities, and this may not be taken into account in the review. Therefore, Division 45 recommends cross-institute increases in the proportion of RFAs targeted at ethnic minority populations and that the unique challenges to recruit minority populations be taken into account within those funding mechanisms. 3. Assess funding outcomes after the first grant The RFI suggests that respondents consider the appropriate transition points where NIH's training, career development and research grant programs could most effectively cultivate diversity in the biomedical and behavioral research workforce. Division 45 members recommend that the Working Group determine whether the major racial disparity in NIH funding occurs after applicants receive their first grant. The problem may not be isolated to the front end of the pipeline where we so often focus training efforts. After the first award, African American investigators do not seem to receive additional awards to develop and sustain an ongoing program of research. If mid-career and senior investigators are not funded, this has devastating implications for the training of the next generation of scientists. Therefore, Division 45 recommends that NIH conduct a full assessment of the types and number of awards that are granted to African American investigators after they receive their first grant. For example, how many African American investigators have had multiple R01s or large Center or Training grants? Simply supporting new investigators is not sufficient to grow, develop and sustain the pool of NIH-funded African American investigators. 4. Intervention at Earlier Educational Transition Points The earliest career transition point named in the RFI is entry into graduate degree programs. However, Division 45 recommends that the Working Group consider support of comprehensive research training efforts that focus on preparing ethnic minority undergraduate students for educational transition, and to extend such efforts to high schools. Extension of research training to high school and college students, as demonstrated by several prior efforts such as the APA/NIGMS Project (American Psychological Association, Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs, 2011), not only significantly increases the number of racial and ethnic minority undergraduates who go on to pursue doctorates in biomedical and behavioral areas, but also improve research training for ALL of its students. These types of programs show that the critical period for racial and ethnic minority students are the high school and early undergraduate education years, rather than entry to graduate school. These programs can create commitment and change in academic cultures so that they are capable of engaging minority students effectively in research training, training that will increase their competitiveness as they advance along their academic research career. Additional details of the APA/NIGMS Project can be found here: http://www.apa.org/pi/oema/programs/recruitment/summary-minority-research.pdf 5. Thorough examination of implicit and explicit bias in review The Working Group has stated their interest in examining and testing further the possibility that racial bias can explain the disparities in funding among African American applicants. Division 45 would like to offer our assistance to the Working Group in this work, as the expertise of several of our members includes conducting studies to determine the influence of racial, ethnic, biases on decision making, as well as design of interventions to address unconscious bias. Although review is designed to blind reviewers to the race and ethnicity of applicants, the study authors and the Working Group acknowledge that reviewers might assume the applicant's race based on their name or biographical details. We want to encourage the Working Group to consider the correlation between applicant race and topic of study, and the possibility that an applicant's racial background could be inferred from the application's topic, aims, or population to be examined. While this might be most relevant for studies within epidemiology, clinical medicine, and the social and behavioral sciences, it is often the case that researchers of color will investigate issues and concerns of greater relevance to diverse communities regardless of discipline. It is possible that consideration of the correlation of applicant race and the scoring of applications across scoring categories will offer insight into possible sources of bias among reviewers. In addition, it is likely that bias exists toward researchers of color compared to their white counterparts even when the population of interest is people of color or the research is focused on racial health disparities. In other words, white researchers likely receive more favorable reviews for their research in these topical areas than their racially diverse (in particular Black) counterparts. Not only is it possible that reviewers exhibit systematic anti- racial/ethnic minority bias, they also might also exhibit systematic pro-white bias, due to the fact that in many cases, white reviewers rate applications of professional colleagues known to them more favorably. The possibility of pro-white ('old boy/old girl' network) bias also is worthy of investigation. Division 45 would like to encourage the Working Group to use the data analyzed by Ginther et al. (2011), as well as future data, to break down results by institute or funding program. Even if the numbers are small, this process may help to uncover underlying causes, including potential bias, of the disparity in application success. 6. Recognize the unique needs of research training programs for minorities Increasing the number of research training for racial and ethnic minority students is not enough - we must also tailor research programs to recognize the unique differences that occur in the career paths of minority scientists. We have already discussed the need to focus on an earlier key intervention stage, recognizing that the critical transition stages for racial and ethnic minority students occur in high school and college. Additional considerations are as follows: a) Structured institutional partnerships with independent consultants Division 45 recommends that research training programs include regional partnerships between major research universities, a predominantly minority 2-year institutions, and predominantly minority 4-year institutions, facilitated by independent consultants. The APA/NIMGS Project (American Psychological Association, Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs, 2011) demonstrated that this structure significantly increased the number of students who were exposed to intensive research mentorship, increased students involvement with publications thus raising their competitiveness for educational/research progression, showed evidence of success in the number of minority students at 2-year community colleges and 4-year institutions who went on advanced to pursue graduate degrees. b) Recognition of Diversity Among Institutions Division 45 recommends that research training programs extend funding to collaborating community colleges and tribal institutions to enable them to reduce teaching loads for project leaders, hire project support staff, and purchase necessary equipment, resource materials, and services needed for biomedical research. c) Creative Incentives for Mentorship Division 45 recommends that the Working Group consider creative ways to encourage faculty to provide high quality, effective mentorship to young racial and ethnic minority scientists. These incentives may include funding for release time, reduced instructional responsibilities, access to student assistants, or partial summer salary. 7. Addressing the Leaky Pipeline for Diverse Junior Investigators There has been a significant decline in the number of ethnic minority psychologists who indicated they were engaged in postdoctoral study. In fact, between 1997 and 2001, the number of new ethnic minority recipients of doctoral degrees in psychology who were or had engaged in postdoctoral study declined 26.1% (56.3% decline for African Americans), compared to a 26.3 increase among new White doctoral degree recipients during the same time period (American Psychological Association, Research Office, 1997 & 2001). If such decline is ongoing, this will have serious implications for the diversity of both the biomedical research workforce as well as the diversity of the biomedical professoriate. Also, a recent NIH study showed that 50% of ethnic minority postdoctoral trainees in T32 training programs reported having no mentor at all, a trend that was not replicated with nonminority T32 postdoctoral trainees (National Research Council of the National Academies, 2005). This is a red flag to which NIH must pay attention, especially in the context of the scarce numbers of minority trainees at this relatively advanced career stage, and because the quality of the postdoc experience is a major stepping-stone to NIH funding (American Psychological Association, Commission on Ethnic Minority Recruitment, Retention and Training in Psychology Task Force and Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs, 2008). It is recommended that the Working Group consider the multiple and highly intertwined manners in which seasoned researchers are discouraged from maintaining careers in NIH funded biomedical research. The (2011) et al. article speaks to the lack of support for Black investigators even after they have persevered through the inordinately difficult terrain of obtaining proper training for a biomedical research career. Therefore, there is a need to study the career trajectories of all NIH trainees and grantees to determine any racial/ethnic differences in career trajectories and grantsmanship, and the causes of such differences. This is multifaceted problem as follows: a) Once researchers complete training, the next step is typically an invitation to participate on the research teams of NIH funded senior investigators. Unfortunately because there are so few federally funded investigators of color, new diverse researchers often find it difficult to become research team members. This is highly problematic precisely because the team-based approach to research has been established as a hallmark toward the development of an independent research career (hence a partial reason for the institution of the K-award mechanism - to teach team based research and to provide research mentoring). b) Second, without professional research team membership, researchers of color are at a disadvantage to their white counterparts who can list multiple federally funded team memberships (and the resulting publications) on their biosketches. In today's climate, diverse investigators must maintain independent funding to remain academically competitive with white and other peers. The extraordinary barriers facing Black and other academics in NIH funding impacts white peers perceptions of these investigators' abilities and potential to remain in biomedical research. In other words, the diminished opportunities to obtain independent funding that African American investigators face is rarely if ever seen as a flaw in the system, rather it is a flaw attributed to the diverse investigators themselves (i.e. not enough publications and not enough prior federal grant support). c) Finally, the cumulative effect of these "speed bumps" significantly impedes junior researchers of color in the academic promotion and review process (i.e. no independent funding = no promotion and tenure) therein reinforcing the limited numbers of senior academic researchers of color and therein reinforcing a system that places diverse investigators at a significant disadvantage throughout the career life-course. 8. Accountability over the long term Division 45 recommends that all aspects of the NIH response to racial disparities in funding include investment in evaluation of program specific goals, and that the systemic effect of each intervention on racial disparities of NIH funding be thoroughly evaluated. Division 45 also recommends that the authority of the National Institute for Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) be expanded to aggressively address racial disparities in grant funding and that funding be increased to NIMHD to lead, evaluate, and coordinate racial and ethnic minority and health disparity research and training. Further, we urge that consideration be given to encouraging the increased involvement of psychologists as evaluators and reviewers of minority research training programs. 9. Diversity and bias within NIH, CSR, and among reviewers Division 45 also recommends that an evaluation of the diversity of internal hierarchy of NIH Program staff and leadership, as well as an assessment of potential overt and unconscious racial bias in their activities (i.e. recommendations on pursuing funding; ideas regarding the types of studies considered viable by NIH study sections; who is invited to serve on review committees by Scientific Review Officers, etc.). Although implicit or unconscious bias is important, Division 45 recommends that in order to accelerate change, the Advisory Group thoroughly examine explicit bias, and develop ways to reduce explicit bias, among staff and within the institution. Other recommendations regarding the internal functioning of NIH and CSR are as follows: The low number of ethnic minority NIH reviewers is often ascribed to the low numbers of such persons who meet reviewer criteria. Studies are needed to test the assumptions that there are disproportionately fewer ethnic minority scientists who are qualified to serve as reviewers as compared to Whites. Division 45 recommends that NIH it examine whether ethnic minority researchers are substantively involved in defining/modifying research areas of priority interest to NIH. Finally, we believe that the institutes utilizing taxpayer dollars bear a greater responsibility to ensure that the research mission reflects the needs of the people. Shifting focus away from societal factors to purely biological factors (as has been the case with multiple institutes) reinforces a biased perspective toward the amelioration of health problems and contradicts a strong body of research that clearly demonstrates that biological and environmental factors impact health. Many ethnic minority researchers have not obtained prior NIH funding, but may have obtained funding from other federal or non-federal sources in order to support their research careers. Division 45 recommends that the Advisory Council explore whether consider recruiting as reviewers expert researchers who have effectively been left out of the research enterprise at NIH altogether. Division 45 recommends that CSR evaluate the implications of inclusion of junior/early career ethnic minority researchers on study sections. While this may add diversity to study sections, there are potential disadvantages: o Young investigators must develop the strength to correct or disagree with senior researcher colleagues whom they may be depending upon to offer unbiased judgments of their tenure or promotion reviews in the future. o Seasoned researchers may not respond well to the efforts of young African American investigators to educate them about issues of race and culture when the young investigators themselves are in a "power-down" position. o Young investigators may not find the time to write their own NIH applications if they are called into service to serve as "cultural experts" for panels that often have few African Americans or other people of color in study section roles. We thank the Working Group for their consideration of these recommendations, and hope that you will contact us to partner with you on this important work. We are confident that together, we can support African American and researchers of all races, in realizing equal opportunity to pursue federally funded research to benefit all Americans. REFERENCES American Psychological Association, Commission on Ethnic Minority Recruitment, Retention and Training in Psychology Task Force (CEMRRAT2) and Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs. (2008). A portrait of success and challenge: Progress Report --1997- 2005. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs. American Psychological Association, Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs. (2011). Developing Minority Biomedical Research Talent in Psychology: A Collaborative and Systemic Approach for Strengthening Institutional Capacity for Recruitment, Retention, Training, and Research - the APA/NIGMS Project, 1996 - 2009. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs. American Psychological Association, Research Office. (1997, 2001). Doctorate Employment Survey, 1997 & 2001. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Ginther DK, Shaffer WT, Schnell J, Massimore B, Liu F, Haak LL, Kington R. (2011). Race, Ethnicity and NIH Research Awards. Science. 333:1015-1019. National Research Council of the National Academies. (2005). Assessment of NIH Minority Research & Training Programs, Phase 3. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
02/24/2012 at 01:16:19 PM Organization Universidad Central del Caribe Bayamon, PR This has been a historical issue, when prejudice on racial, ethnic, income, affiliation to specialized group and research environment, become important determinants, conscious or unconsciously, in scientific reviews. In many occasions, members of review panels have expressed their concern of existing bias related to the above mention factors. NIH has improved the results of the review process by establishing research programs directed to equally treat racial and ethical minorities. However, little efforts have been done in studying strategies to minimize the organization or affiliation of reviewers to groups belonging to specialized fields that control what seems to be the latest findings in their science. This can also applied to "research environment". In occasion, stress is exerted on "whom you know, what is your infrastructure capacity or to which institution you are associated. From the above statement, it can be said that this is the more important issues to address. I believe that ACD should intensify efforts to continue developing research infrastructural capacity at promising institutions in disadvantage. Reviewers' scores should give high relevance to collaborations and partnerships between high and low stream institutions. Similarly, external mentoring should be a requirement and highly graded. This above issue done conscious or unconsciously, have affected in the past the enthusiasm of excellent researchers in submitting research applications as well of manuscripts for publication in major peer-journals. New policies and procedures, such anonymous measures are needed to maintain the prestige of NIH.  
02/24/2012 at 01:58:51 PM Self     All of the transition points in the biomedical research workforce pipeline are important. It is my impression that entry of minorities into graduate degree programs has increased. In some cases students encounter difficulties with mentorship, but this is true for all students regardless of race. However, minorities often do not know how to negotiate such challenges and lack the social networks in the immediate environment that could assist them. The latter applies also to the transition from graduate degree to the post-doctoral fellowship. Having a clear understanding of the trainees' career goals and what needs to be accomplished during the post-doctoral period would be helpful in regards to making the best choices with regards to the laboratory/mentor that is chosen. The trainee needs to understand that they must discuss their overall goals with the mentor and determine whether that mentor is willing to help them and possibly be an advocate for later transitions.

With the increasing challenge of winning NIH grants, many departments within institutions have established internal grant review committees. All faculty should be able to utilize such resources to get concrete feedback on their grant proposals. In addition many departments assign a senior faculty member as an advisor to a junior faculty member. This also provides an avenue to get feedback as well as a resource to bounce ideas, ask questions, and become knowledgeable about the departmental culture.

I think the major problem has been the lack of mentors who are willing to review grants from minorities line-by-line. Throughout my training I often observed that majority post-doctoral fellows moved to the next step because they were seemingly the "teacher's pet" and the mentor worked closely with the fellow to write the grant. Often the mentor would allow the trainee to be a co-investigator or the mentor might take a secondary role. It took many years before I was able to meet a mentor that was willing to review my grant line-by-line. I do recall feeling like a square peg trying to fit into a small hole. I tried hard to warp myself to fit in and this definitely impacted my self-confidence. I do think conscious and unconscious factors contributed to this situation. We also have to consider that many PIs are from outside the country and unfamiliar with minority populations in the USA. Fortunately, I have always been a very determined person and knew I could one day be successful-as I defined it. I think mentors who can understand the cultural background of the trainees they interact with will have the ability to embrace the differences they bring to the research enterprise and focus on their strengths while being frank and honest about their weaknesses. Mutual respect is the key.

From my experiences I have come to realize that not every principal investigator has the skills or desire to be an advocate. Some see their role in training, but do not feel any compulsion to help the post-doctoral fellow move to the next level. It is not that they want to prevent the fellow from advancing, it's just that they likely came up in a time when no one helped them and funding was abundant.

The institutional environment is also critical. Directors of departments have to buy into the idea that diversity is important and needed. I think this has happened at many institutions including my own particularly with the realization of the changing demographics of the USA in the years to come. My environment is positive, supportive and high standards are being maintained. No diminishing of the standards and requirements for promotion and tenure has been made. Again, clear, honest feedback and mutual respect are required to make this work.

The AAMC provides excellent minority faculty development workshops and opportunities for networking that provides social support. I attended the workshop last year and met faculty members from many top universities and medical centers in the country. During a session on the "Imposter Syndrome" a faculty member broke down as she shared with us that while she was at the workshop, her office had been moved. So although the numbers of minorities in faculty positions at medical schools has increased, many are in environments that are still somewhat hostile and isolating. It is easy to understand that it will be difficult for this individual to find supportive mentors to help with grant writing. Hence, expanding such workshops for all areas related to the NIH would be very useful.  
02/24/2012 at 02:03:23 PM Organization The Endocrine Society Chevy Chase, MD The Endocrine Society has identified disproportionate grant funding and underrepresentation/attrition in the workforce pipeline as the two critical issues on which NIH may wish to focus its efforts. Lack of consistency in policies and procedures designed to address these issues across NIH Institutes, and low investigator awareness of the existing policies and resources, compound the difficulties in promoting a diverse workforce. (See attachment for details.) See attachment. See attachment. February 24, 2012 Advisory Committee to the NIH Director Working Group on Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce RE: NOT-OD-12-031 Dear Working Group Co-chairs and Members: The Endocrine Society thanks you for the opportunity to provide input into how NIH might enhance diversity at various career stages in the biomedical research workforce. Founded in 1916, The Endocrine Society is the world's oldest, largest and most active organization devoted to research on hormones and the clinical practice of endocrinology. Today, The Endocrine Society's membership consists of more than 15,000 scientists, physicians, educators, nurses and students in more than 100 countries. Society members represent all basic, applied and clinical interests in endocrinology. The Society is committed to increasing diversity in the endocrine workforce and offers numerous programs and incentives to trainees, established investigators, and physicians who are members of underrepresented groups. These efforts are complemented by the Society's increased focus on health disparities in Endocrinology in relation to both research and delivery of care. The Society supports NIH's efforts to examine its programs and communications with the goal of increasing career opportunities for underrepresented minorities, persons with disabilities, and persons from disadvantaged backgrounds. The comparatively lower funding success of these groups is likely to reflect the cumulative effect of a number of small disadvantages rather than blatant bias on the part of the reviewers or the agency. While heartening, this perspective introduces a level of complexity in addressing the myriad issues that contribute to the end result. The RFI identifies a number of areas in which NIH may take action to improve the participation of underrepresented groups in biomedical research careers. The Endocrine Society has identified disproportionate grant funding and underrepresentation/attrition in the workforce pipeline as the two critical issues on which NIH may wish to focus its efforts. Lack of consistency in policies and procedures designed to address these issues across NIH Institutes, and low investigator awareness of the existing policies and resources compound the difficulties in promoting a diverse workforce. The Society recommends strategies and tactics and outlines potential policy changes that NIH might consider in the development of new programs or in revisions to existing programs. Biomedical Research Workforce Pipeline The Endocrine Society supports NIH in its quest to increase the number and quality of programs aimed at enhancing diversity in the workforce. While new policies can and should be considered, the agency already has a number of important programs in place. Nonetheless, the Society has three areas of concern regarding current programs: low awareness among investigators, cumbersome user-interfaces, and a lengthy timeline for NIH review. Support for underrepresented minority mentoring provides an example of the difficulties investigators face. Awareness of supplements for mentoring minority students is extremely low among investigators. Furthermore, the minority mentoring supplement systems currently in place are not user-friendly, with varying application processes and timelines among NIH Institutes creating additional confusion and limiting the utility of these programs. Lastly, turnaround times for investigators seeking supplemental funds is anywhere from three to 10 months, with long delays resulting in a potential loss of interest or motivation by promising minority trainees. To address this issue, the Society recommends centralization and standardization of NIH mechanisms for minority student support-to include standards, application processes, and timelines that are consistent across Institutes and Centers. In a standardized system, the application process should be streamlined and aligned with the academic year to increase retention of qualified students. NIH should develop similar mechanisms aimed at involving students with disabilities and those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Transition points, mentorship, and professional societies NIH should consider providing mentorship support at all points in the career of the biomedical scientist, extending to entry points earlier than those outlined in the RFI and including the tenuous step of receiving a first competitive R01 renewal or equivalent grant. NIH should also encourage and provide opportunities for established minority physicians to participate in clinical research. We provide some programmatic suggestions below, recognizing that some Institutes might already have such programs in place. In that case, we would encourage other Institutes to incorporate similar programs, and we re-emphasize the importance of enhanced communication from NIH to investigators about the availability of these opportunities. K-12 mentorship: Experienced mentors need to become involved early in the academic process to maximize the recruitment of promising underrepresented students to biomedical research career trajectories. Before entering into a graduate degree program, an undergraduate or high school student must develop an interest in a research career and must tailor their academic programs accordingly. Involvement by those already somewhat advanced in this career path would help students to understand the academic requirements of biomedical graduate programs, and mentorship by established investigators would help further define the career requirements and demands for long-term success. An example of a program that operates on these premises lies in the National Science Foundation's GK-12 program, in which graduate students serve as mentors in K-12 classrooms (often in urban settings with high ratios of underrepresented and underprivileged students) to encourage the students to consider careers in research. This type of approach has triple value-it improves the science learning of all students in the classroom; it inspires science careers in minority children; and it better trains the graduate students in communication and societal awareness. NIH may consider adopting a similar approach, as those who receive early mentoring (even undergraduate or before) by experienced investigators have an increased chance for a successful trajectory in research careers.1 Junior faculty/early career mentorship: Many junior investigators receive mentorship while writing their first R01 application. Past experience suggests that these investigators still require mentoring when writing their first competitive renewal applications. "Grantsmanship" is a critical component of success in a biomedical research career, one that is not typically practiced until relatively late in the training process. Thus, the availability of a program of extended mentorship in grant writing would improve any young investigator's chances of mastering this learned and vitally important skill. One way NIH might encourage extended mentorship programs is by including a review criterion to evaluate the existence and effectiveness of such programs at universities/institutions under the "environment" category. Another possible approach would be to develop programs on grant-writing and submission/re-submission for minority K awardees, minority supplement trainees, and R award applicants whose applications were scored but not funded. Another potential direction would be to develop a U01-type mechanism for minority-serving university investigators to collaborate with co-investigator(s) from major research institutions that receive high levels of NIH funding. Under such an agreement, the investigators would share resources and would have access to additional mentorship from the partner institution that would benefit not only the PIs at the minority-serving institution but their trainees as well. Role of professional societies: Professional societies should work to identify promising candidates as early as possible in their careers and should establish programs to help these individuals navigate their professional development. Many societies already offer such programs. As an example, The Endocrine Society maintains a diverse portfolio of training and career development activities for underrepresented groups, including student outreach and professional development programs, mentoring and networking activities, and comprehensive summer research training programs. The Society also offers a robust portfolio of awards that supports the continued education and career development of all trainees. In addition, the Society continues to support Women in Endocrinology, an independent organization dedicated to providing women scientists a platform for professional growth. The Endocrine Society's efforts to support the career growth of students from underrepresented groups are funded in part by NIH through a Minority Access to Research Careers T36 grant. However, NIH could further help professional societies by developing additional mechanisms aimed at funding professional societies' programs for underrepresented groups. One example of such a funding mechanism might be to facilitate mentoring of minority trainees by minority mentors. The most effective mentor may live and work at a site distant from the mentee-fostering such relationships may entail travel support for face-to-face meetings to devote time to grantsmanship or other critical elements of a biomedical research career. Any such program should also include support and resources for the minority mentors, whose participation in the program would require significant effort for mentoring a number of distant trainees in addition to those in their own laboratories. An added benefit of NIH-sponsored programs of this type would be the ability to track the success of trainees who participate in the programs. NIH messaging NIH communicates with prospective grantees through a number of channels-its website, program announcements, requests for applications-and with current grantees through these and other means, including grant-specific communications from program officers and others. However, many of these messages-particularly those sent to NIH-funded investigators-do not reach the audiences who would most benefit from having the information. NIH should find ways to enhance effective communication of its minority-serving programs, such as grant supplements, to minority-serving institutions. Such targeted communications strategies would increase awareness among prospective mentors and promising trainees from underrepresented groups. All messages about opportunities for underrepresented groups should be accompanied by NIH's thorough descriptions of groups in need of special recruitment and retention so that investigators have a clear understanding of NIH's definitions. Factors in the Review Process The Endocrine Society shares the NIH's concern that investigators from underrepresented minority groups seem to be funded at a lower rate than their peers. However, it is unclear whether this represents an actual bias in the peer-review system or is the result of some other, independent factors. Nonetheless, it is clear that the goal of equal funding rates among all demographic groups of investigators has not been reached. We therefore suggest some approaches that may help NIH as it works toward this goal. We support the Early Career Reviewer program as a mechanism to increase success, and we are encouraged by the prospect that NIH will develop additional programs and resources to the same end. The success of this and other programs will lie in the communication efforts undertaken to promote them, and we urge the NIH to utilize all its communications vehicles to inform the community of standing and new opportunities. Research on the NIH Peer Review system Basic social science research into the operation of the peer review process-including ethnographic research-should be conducted to determine potential sources of bias within the system itself. Without this information, the NIH's efforts-no matter how well intentioned-may not effectively address any real problems that might exist in the review of applications from investigators in underrepresented minority groups. The potential role of institutional affiliation, academic pedigree, and various conscious and unconscious factors on review outcomes Despite the lack of evidence for bias based on race/ethnicity, disability, or background, there exists in the peer-review process a potential for inherent, but unintended biases based on current academic environment and academic pedigree. In fact, the current ranking system necessitates an evaluation of the investigator and the environment, which disproportionately negatively affects individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds who are unlikely to have been able to attain a prestigious education, and members of minority groups who may be affiliated with less well-funded institutions, perhaps minority-serving institutions. A less favorable assessment of these factors may also result in unconscious discrimination toward the merit of the scientific ideas in an application. To alleviate some of this potential negative influence, NIH should consider a two-step review process wherein the first step is a review of the scientific merit and approach while blinded to information about the investigator and institution, which would be revealed in the second step only for those applications making it past the first. In this way, the investigator and institution would come into play only after the reviewers have determined that the science itself is worth pursuing. This would ensure that the science of a proposal was judged on its merits alone. As a second step, institutional capabilities and investigator-specific information such as academic background and publication record could be assessed. At this step, some preference could be given in the case of under-represented minority investigators and the institutions in which they may work, perhaps similar to the preference given to early stage investigators. As an example, the Department of Defense employs anonymized reviews for certain funding mechanisms under its Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program. NIH may wish to examine the specifics of this program and determine whether it results in more balanced funding outcomes. Finally, the Society wishes to emphasize that data from the Ginther et. al. study indicate that the NIH-imposed limit of only one resubmission of an unsuccessful grant application has a disproportionate effect on blacks and Hispanics. The Endocrine Society continues to encourage NIH to reconsider this policy, which has a number of unintended consequences on new and established investigators alike. These are but a few specific ideas for the Working Group to consider during its deliberations. The Endocrine Society stands ready to support the NIH in any way possible as NIH examines the issue of diversity and proposes solutions to the impediments encountered by scientists from underrepresented groups. If we can be of assistance in any way, please contact [contact information redacted]. 1Kosoko-Lasaki O, Sonnino RE, Voytko ML. Mentoring for women and underrepresented minority faculty and students: experience at two institutions of higher education. J Natl Med Assoc2006;98:1449-1459
02/24/2012 at 02:36:02 PM Self     1. Recognize the enormous positive impact that the diversity requirements for T32 programs has had on the composition of the population undergoing biomedical research training. The impact is now crossing over into programs not supported by a T32. But as the data gathered by Roger Chalkley show, the T32s are the driving force for change. 2. There is, I believe, anecdotal data suggesting that PREPs are also a positive force but as yet there is no research on this subject. 1. For T32s and PREPs NIH could help by using its vast database to allow us to better track trainees. 2. PREP awards require each grantee to evaluate program elements. This is wasteful as it creates multiple evaluation tools with small samples. It would be better if NIH facilitated the creation of a single overarching evaluation tool. 1. T32 applicants are required to track and report undergraduate grade point averages and GRE scores. The data from Vanderbilt show that these data do not aid in predicting the success of applicants. Data from UPENN are consistent with this conclusion. Therefore, the collection of these data and their use by reviewers distorts the student recruitment process, to the detriment of efforts to diversify. NIH should remove these tables from the application forms. 2. At present few institutions train faculty members to be great mentors or great T32 directors. It would be useful if each Institute held an annual meeting for directors or would be applicants. The purpose of this meeting would be to facilitate the exchange of "best practices". The annual diversity meeting the GMS holds is an example of a successful meeting of this type. Unfortunately, few T32 directors attend. Under present conditions most applicants for T32s learn about best practices from the reviews of their applications. This is an expensive and wasteful practice.  
02/24/2012 at 02:40:59 PM Organization Coalition of Urban Serving Universities Washington, DC Please see attached recommendations Please see attached recommendations Please see attached recommendations The Coalition of Urban Serving Universities (USU) is pleased to convey our input to the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director Working Group on Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce. Attached is collective feedback from USU member institutions, including actions that NIH can take to diversify the biomedical research workforce. The USU Coalition is a president-led network of public, urban-based research universities dedicated to improving urban health and reducing disparities, strengthening urban economies, and developing a capable, diverse workforce for the 21st century. USU partners with the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (AÛ°PÛ°LÛ°U) to oversee our joint Office of Urban Initiatives. Public urban-based research universities are a major supplier of the nation's health and biomedical workforce, educating over three million students annually and producing one third of the nation's doctorates. To respond to the NIH Request for Information, USU requested feedback from members regarding their efforts to diversify the biomedical research workforce, including: 1) programs supporting high-ability, under-represented minority students to pursue doctoral studies leading to successful biomedical research careers; 2) factors that either contribute to, or inhibit, success of these programs; and 3) the role of mentoring. Twenty-three institutions provided program data and feedback on what is most effective, as well as what is still needed. The attached comments focus on one area we believe is particularly important - efforts to identify high ability under-represented minority students early and nurture them throughout their education and early career as biomedical scientists and leaders. Part I: Survey Findings NIH Workforce Diversity Programs: USU Participation, Impact, and Factors for Success USU Institutions participate broadly in NIH programs and show positive impact. NIH is a primary source of funding for member institutions committed to improving participation and success of under-represented students in STEM, health, and biomedical research careers. USU institutions report positive outcomes, both for program participants and for a broader population of under-represented students through the changes that occur within the institution as a result of the programs. USU institutions identified several factors as "most important" for program effectiveness (also as barriers when not present) including: 1) availability of high quality mentoring; 2) leadership commitment and faculty "buy in;" and 3) adequate staffing support and infrastructure. All respondents emphasized the importance of mentoring as a prerequisite for program effectiveness; many regarded it as the single most important determinant to advance the academic careers of under-represented students and junior faculty in biomedical research. The ability to provide high-quality, consistent mentoring continues to challenge institutions, even for those with extensive research training programs. Multiple, well-document reasons underscore why this challenge continues. USU institutions have implemented the following strategies to address these limitations and improve mentoring: - developing learning communities to reduce dependence on one person for mentoring; this includes peer mentors (e.g. through a multi-cultural scientist association), graduate students, staff advisors, and a research team approach; - centralizing program administration in order to streamline staffing and coordinate programs, which reduces the burden on PIs and enables them to focus on trainees; - developing tracking tools/strategies to follow-up with students and assess their experience and progress; - offering faculty training on mentorship of under-represented students. Part II. Recommendations USU campuses have implemented several innovative approaches to achieve our common priority of diversifying the STEM and biomedical workforce. The following are some ideas that might be useful to NIH. Execute a national public awareness campaign that highlights the appeal of becoming a biomedical scientist and the importance of diversity in the research workforce. Several institutions suggested NIH could increase publicity regarding their workforce diversity programs, including profiles of successful and diverse graduates. The positive attention may help to combat the cynicism regarding a career in biomedical research that leads many high-ability undergraduate students to choose other options. Implement mechanisms, including a pilot national program, to identify students with the ability, maturity, and inclination to commit to an educational path at an earlier stage. USU believes that much more can be done by universities to identify, incentivize and nurture talented minority youth to succeed in biomedical research careers and most agree that these students can be identified much earlier. One approach would be to develop a national program through NIH, "Future Biomedical Scientists and Leaders." The program could be modeled, in part, after the successful MD/PhD programs funded through NIH NIGMS. Selected participants would enroll on a scholarship out of high school for a combined degree program culminating in the doctorate. The program would enable more intensive training earlier for highly qualified students who are ready to excel, involve both local and national components and aim to prepare diverse clinical and translational researchers in a broad range of disciplines. Some ideas for program components are detailed on the following page. Engage university presidents, provosts, and research leaders in leading efforts nationally and on their campuses to create a more diverse biomedical workforce. The success of many efforts hinges on leadership's commitment to diversity and on more systemic initiatives. Institutional leaders play a pivotal role establishing an environment that is conducive for mentoring and the success of under-represented students and junior faculty. Associations like USU and APLU can be key resources in working with NIH to foster greater awareness and implementation of best practices. Presidential leadership and institutional commitment is an essential precondition for these programs to be effective. "Future Biomedical Scientists and Leaders" PROGRAM COMPONENTS FOR CONSIDERATION Based on the data collected from the USU institutions on what is working in the field and what is still needed, some or all of the following components may be considered as part of a national program considered by NIH to cultivate high ability URM students. - Funding demonstration sites within a national network to support students in a combined or accelerated BS-PhD educational programs. Participating students would receive scholarships and stipends. The scholarships would provide an important incentive, particularly for students with financial restraints and concerns about the investment required for an extended educational commitment. - Developing a network of institutions as demonstration sites for a program based on leadership commitment, research capacity, and mission to advance the careers of under-represented minorities in biomedical research. If the program includes a combined degree, research capacity may also be demonstrated via partnerships with other institutions. In some cases, such partnerships (for example with minority serving institutions who are not high research institutions) would have additional benefit for the institutions and impact on a broader range of students. Participating programs would benefit from being part of the larger network, where leaders could exchange and bring back educational innovations and best practices. - Leveraging of existing programs by (federal or otherwise) demonstration sites to ensure that students have continuous activities in their home institution. - Cultivating a national pool of "master mentors" who are successful NIH researchers. The national mentors program would enable selected scientist mentors to be appropriately matched with students who have already committed and are academically ready to excel. Mentoring experiences and relationships would be longitudinal and appropriate along the educational continuum, and include both in-person and e-mentoring. The mentoring network could be supported by central administrative infrastructure, and continuously assessed for purpose effectiveness. The national mentors pool would not replace but rather supplement local mentoring relationships. - Convening a national community of peers. The cohort of students could convene periodically with a set of activities and experiences designed to foster broad exposure, leadership, and understanding of ethics, policies, and issues impacting biomedical research. These comments are respectfully submitted on behalf of the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities. For further information, please contact [contact information redacted]. Appendix Coalition of Urban Serving Universities Members 2012 Arizona State University California State University, East Bay California State University, Fresno California State University, Fullerton California State University, Long Beach San Francisco State University San Jose State University Cleveland State University Florida International University Georgia State University Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis Morgan State University The Ohio State University Portland State University The State University of New York System (6 Member Schools) Stony Brook University SUNY at Albany SUNY at Buffalo SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry SUNY Health Science Center at Brooklyn SUNY Health Science Center at Syracuse Temple University Tennessee State University University of Akron University of Central Florida University of Cincinnati University of Colorado Denver University of Houston University of Illinois at Chicago University of Louisville University of Massachusetts - Boston University of Memphis University of Minnesota University of Missouri - Kansas City University of New Mexico University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee University of Washington, Tacoma Virginia Commonwealth University Wayne State University Wichita State University
02/24/2012 at 02:49:53 PM Organization University of California Systemwide Office of the President Oakland CA See attached pdf comment letter    

Dear Dr. Tuckson and Dr. Ruffin:
On behalf of the University of California’s (UC) 10-campus system, we are pleased to provide input into the deliberations of the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director Working Group on Diversity in the Future Biomedical Research Workforce. UC appreciates the Working Group’s effort to gather input to help inform the development of recommendations to present to the Advisory Committee and the NIH Director on actions the NIH can take to increase the diversity of the biomedical research workforce.
The University of California views the entry of students into graduate education as the key point to address in the effort to increase diversity in the biomedical workforce, because all of the other ‘pipeline’ issues are downstream of this step. There is no analogue of the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship program that is currently sponsored by the NIH. This NSF program has been successful in enhancing diversity one student at a time. It may be worthwhile to study whether the training grant culture of NIH has been as successful in diversifying the talent pool as the student-by-student fellowship program of the NSF.
We are grateful to Working Group for undertaking the task of addressing the challenge of achieving diversity in the future biomedical research workforce and for your consideration of the University of California’s input.
Jeffrey Hall
Director, Research Policy Development

02/24/2012 at 02:59:33 PM Self     Summer research programs for college students have substantially increased the number of URM students who enter and succeed in PhD programs at Johns Hopkins University. This is a MAJOR impact on the 'entry' stage of PhD pipeline, that costs very little.

Thus, we STRONGLY support continued NIH funding for the Leadership Alliance, which funds about ~20% of our summer students, and related grants.

Our PREP (post-baccalaureate research education program) is independently and substantially increasing the number of URM students who enter and succeed in PhD programs at Johns Hopkins University, and at top universities nationwide.

The PREP is having a MAJOR impact on the 'entry' stage of PhD pipeline.

We sincerely hope NIH funding for ALL POSTDOCTORAL RESEARCH, and ALL INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATORS, keeps pace with this influx of URM students into the PhD pipeline. Current PhD students and postdocs may be overly-aware of present funding challenges. Our ability to attract and retain both URM and non-URM researchers will require 'collective confidence' that progressing to postdoctoral training, and seeking independent research and faculty positions, is still a GOOD idea. In our experience, two NIH-funded programs that promote 'Entry into graduate degree programs' are proving highly effective at cultivating diversity in the biomedical research workforce: (1) NIH-funded Leadership Alliance, which in past years supported up to ~20% of the students in our Summer Internship Program (SIP), which provides URM and other college students with ten weeks of summer research experience in a Johns Hopkins lab (see below). (2) NIH-funded Post-baccalaureate Research training Program (PREP). These programs have complementary roles. Both are substantially increasing the number of minorities underrepresented in science (URMs) who matriculate into and successfully complete PhD programs, both at Johns Hopkins and nationwide. Summer Internship Program (SIP) From 1995 to 2011, the SIP has provided summer research experience for 812 undergraduates nationwide. During the past five summers (2006 to 2011) a full 76% of SIP students were URMs. Our SIP program is DEEPLY INCLUSIVE, since most other SIP students were first-generation college, from low/moderate income families or attend colleges that lack research opportunities. One of our non-URM students was a student with a disability recruited through the AAAS/Entrypoint Program. This summer we will provide summer research experience to at least three students with disabilities. In 2011 we had funds to offer summer research experience to only 84 out of 1005 applicants. We would like to do more, since this program is proving so effective in increasing our PhD student Diversity. Since 1995, 31 former SIP students (an average of 2 per year), nearly all URMs, returned to matriculate in JHU graduate programs or in one case, for postdoctoral training. Our SIP program also benefits institutions nationwide. Our survey in 2004 tracked 140 of the 192 students who did SIP research in JHU School of Medicine labs. Thirty-five were still undergrads, and 105 had graduated. Of these, 84 (80%) pursued post-graduate education- 13 at Johns Hopkins and 92 at other institutions. Our experience suggests that URM college students who do summer research early and often (students love this program, and many seek to experience a different university each summer) become increasingly excited, proficient, knowledgeable and confident about basic biomedical research, and are therefore more likely to successfully enter and complete PhD programs nationwide. Our SIP program is funded by a patchwork of sources each year, including the NIH-funded Leadership Alliance, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, American Society for Microbiology, and other colleges and universities (UMBC Meyerhoff Program; Wagner College, University of Delaware, University of Texas Brownsville). Funding this summer is exacerbated by the absence of slots usually funded by the Leadership Alliance. Consistent (ideally enhanced) NIH funding for the nationwide Leadership Alliance would have a major positive impact on this program, which is successfully recruiting nationally competitive URM students to successful PhD careers. The PREP program Our NIH-funded PREP program has significantly increased URM matriculation in PhD and MD/PhD programs at Johns Hopkins and other top universities. Since 2001, of the 16 past PREP scholars who entered PhD programs, nine (56%) did so at Johns Hopkins and seven (44%) entered other top institutions (Yale, Cornell, U Penn, Rensselaer; three at Washington University). Since scholars are free to pursue their research interests and apply to PhD programs nationwide, this 56% rate of recruitment to Hopkins PhD programs is a welcome and substantial contribution to Diversity at our institution. Our PREP program began in 2001. Several years were required to gain experience and build momentum. We are finally beginning to reap the long-term benefits of 'feeding' the "entry stage" of the PhD pipeline, as more and more talented and excited young URM scientists from our PREP program do PhD research [table could not be copied], and consider their next step in this many-channeled 'pipeline'. In our opinion, Leadership Alliance-supported summer research programs for college students nationwide, and the PREP program to provide college graduates with research experience and mentoring towards matriculation into PhD programs, are the two most effective 'entry-stage' Diversity pipeline programs ever established by NIH. We sincerely hope that NIH funding for ALL POSTDOCTORAL RESEARCH, and ALL INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATORS, keeps pace with this influx of URM scientists. Current PhD students and postdocs may be overly-aware of present funding challenges. Our ability to attract and retain both URM and non-URM researchers will require 'collective confidence' that progressing to postdoctoral training, and seeking independent research and faculty positions, is still a GOOD idea.
02/24/2012 at 03:17:31 PM Organization Committee for the Advancing Institutional Transformation for Minority Women in Academia Washington, DC A. The need to disaggregate data on the biomedical workforce by the basis of race/ethnicity, gender, disability, institution type and/or field.

i. Issue: While an increasing number of studies examine the extent of women and minority involvement at various stages of academia (from undergraduate programs to tenured faculty positions), there is a dearth of studies that disaggregate this data to examine the breakdown between race/ethnicity, gender, disability, institution type and/or field.

ii. Impact: The reported data regarding the trends in minority researchers in the workforce is critical in influencing the recommendations or policies proposed to address the issue of increasing diversity in the biomedical workforce. If nuances exist in the data and are hidden due to the aggregation of multiple populations, then the correct policies cannot be put forth to address the issue.

The NSF ADVANCE program is an example of the complications that may arise with aggregated data. The ADVANCE grants were given to individual institutions to develop systemic approaches to increase the representation of women faculty and their progression in academic scientific careers through creating institutional transformations at institutions of higher learning. It was believed that programs implemented to address gender inequality in higher education would be effective in reaching women across all other diverse populations (e.g., race, ethnicity, and disability). The ADVANCE program is highly regarded as a model program for effectively and significantly creating institutional change for Caucasian women in STEM departments, however it has not currently achieved the same goals with regard to underrepresented minority women.

This singular example illustrates the consequences of assuming that data from one gender or race/ethnicity group can be applied across many other cross-sections within these populations and demonstrates the need for data disaggregation to understand any potential nuances in the data. When the data is disaggregated, areas in need of further research and investigation can be better isolated to identify any differences. This more complete dataset can then be used to create more effective policies with an increased likelihood of successfully achieving the stated goals. This will also lead to better utilization of resources which is increasingly important in times of budgetary challenges.

B. The need for a systematic and effective strategy for reporting data from small sample sizes.

i. Issue: One barrier to reporting disaggregated data for minorities in the biomedical workforce is the small sample size of some of the data points, resulting in suppression and/or aggregration of the data by the reporting federal agencies. Using data from small sample size datasets is a concern for various reasons including the loss of confidentiality in survey participants and issues with statistical significance with low sample numbers.

ii. Impact: While there are legitimate concerns with the reporting of data from small sample size datasets, the resulting suppression of potentially critical data points severely limits the ability for that data to have an impact on future policies that could target these underrepresented groups. It is imperative that any aggregation of data is done in such a way as to retain disciplinary differences among biomedical fields as well as racial, ethnic, and gender data. The rationale and need for demographic data increases in importance when gathering data on many of the critical transitions in biomedical career paths (e.g., graduate school to post-doctoral appointment).

C. The need for institutional support for professional development and mentoring for diverse faculty members.

i. Issue: Effective professional development is consistently cited as a necessity for successful advancement of all scientists entering academia; however it has been cited to be of particular importance for women and underrepresented minorities. Recent data demonstrates that women are not equally represented in graduate degree programs within the top 10% in their field . In addition, many underrepresented minorities obtain their PhDs from minority serving institutions, which may or may not have the same level of resources as the larger research intensive (RI) universities. These same scientists must compete for grant funding and faculty positions with scientists from research intensive programs, where individuals may have received more professional development and training throughout the course of their education. A key factor in effective professional development is the formation of successful mentorship relationships. A 2010 National Research Council report found that female assistant professors in all six fields surveyed (including biology and chemistry) with no mentors had a 68 percent probability of having grant funding compared to 93 percent of female assistant professors with mentors. However, mentorship of junior faculty members is not often used as a criterion for assessing senior faculty. Therefore, the current reward structure does not encourage individuals from investing their time into building these types of relationships, even if the individual faculty member understands their importance for junior faculty.

ii. Impact: Effective professional development can be critical to the success of junior faculty members progressing to tenured positions. This development can range from understanding how to negotiate conditions of employment (e.g., degree and type of committee work; number of student advisees; and laboratory space and equipment) to having access to information about institutional expectations and how to advance in their institutions. Mentorship can play a role in facilitating this professional development.

The aforementioned ADVANCE program is a successful example of the impact that can be accomplished when efforts are made to emphasize leadership development for faculty members. The program has resulted in a boost in women's representation in STEM faculty departments in the institutions where it has been implemented. While each institution is different, a major component in the success of many of the initiatives is the strengthening of leadership development and mentorship. Therefore, models exist that demonstrate how to improve professional development for women and underrepresented minorities and there is great potential that successful implementation of these models directed toward minority women may help to reverse their low numbers in the academia.

D. The need to help facilitate the advancement from assistant professor to tenured professor.

i. Issue: An overall review of the data indicates that an increasing number of minority women are entering doctoral programs and an increasing number of them are graduating from these programs, even though the percentage of minority women in graduate school is much less than the general population. Additionally, it appears that African-American women have a higher likelihood of obtaining assistant professor positions at universities than either Caucasian women or African-American men , . Yet, the number of African-American women in tenured-faculty positions is lower than for either of these two populations. This drop between the percentage of minority women assistant professors and their percentage as tenured faculty members indicates a serious loss of women at this critical career transition point.

ii. Impact: The loss of minority women junior faculty members before reaching tenure has a twofold impact on the future of the academic workforce. The first impact is the obvious loss of the minority women from the faculty of their respective institutions. Studies have shown that the lack of diversity within academia can affect multiple aspects of the institution including the strength of the decisions made within the departments, course content, teaching methods, ideas presented and a general lack of role models for an increasingly diverse student body. The secondary impact is that it creates a major deterrent for female minority graduate students and post-doctoral researchers in realizing their ambitions of becoming tenured faculty. This discouragement may lead to higher levels of students dropping out of graduate school or greater numbers of researchers pursing non-academic career paths.

E. The need for continued research on the NIH Peer Review system to determine appropriate methods or interventions to identify bias and redress any found. i. Issue: It was recently reported that African-American researchers were less likely than any other race to be funded for research proposals submitted to the NIH, even when factors of educational background, training, previous research awards, publication record and employer characteristics were taken into consideration .

iii. Impact: The study by Ginther et al. (2011) demonstrated an inherent bias in the funding mechanisms. Such bias systematically places African-American researchers at a disadvantage to contribute to the body of work in their chosen fields and to advance their careers. This could be a major contributing factor in the low numbers of minority tenured faculty members and high attrition rate among faculty members at RI universities. When diverse faculty members are lost, the institution suffers from a lack of diversity and this can lead to the effect that has on the decisions made by the university, as well as the student body.

The reasons that minority women are underrepresented in the academy are varied and linked to many of the different transition points between pursuing an undergraduate degree to becoming a tenured faculty member. However, we believe that the significant loss of minority women from the path from assistant professorship to tenured faculty member is one of the most critical pathway points for the NIH Working Group to address.

As stated above, the problem with the number of minority women in academic positions is not only in the number of minority women who begin on the path to become a tenured professor. In fact, the interest in becoming a tenured faculty member, and its initial likelihood, seems to be greater among minority women compared to many other populations. Therefore, the intellectual ability, desire and potential for this underrepresented group to increase in number clearly exist, as long as proper mechanisms are in place to facilitate these transitions. Once the factors of these data trends are confirmed and identified, with the appropriate policies implemented, this transition point seems have the most potential for impacting in a relative short-term the goal of increasing minority female members of the academic workforce.

While significant challenges may exist in increasing the number of minority women in the biomedical workforce, there is also great potential for increasing their participation. We propose seven areas where we believe that the NIH can have significant impact based on the comments above:

Reassess NIH's policies on data collection and any aggregation that can impact important knowledge and information on underrepresented populations and their career progression in NIH's intramural and extramural programs. Review the current NIH policies regarding the release of such data so that a balance is maintained between privacy and providing valuable insight for programmatic efforts for underrepresented populations in the biomedical workforce; Prioritize the assessment of current criteria for NIH training grants and related activities to include more explicit measurements and an articulation of expectations on how faculty engage in mentorship and outreach in these grants and programs. Ensure that such programs and efforts include explicit mechanisms to reach underrepresented populations; Provide support, funding and incentives for professional development targeted to underrepresented populations including minority women faculty members at all types of institutions; Expand and broaden the reach of NIH funding by implementing targeted partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) and Tribal Colleges. Data indicates that these institutions have significantly higher populations of underrepresented faculty (including minority women) and partnerships with these institutions should increase and broaden their access to grants and participation in research; Examine the effectiveness of NIH training programs for minorities and potential reasons for any differential impact in the programs' effectiveness for minorities and other underrepresented groups; Examine and reassess the NIH grant review process to identify potential areas of bias; and Increase transparency of the NIH funding process, which includes publically reporting the success rates for research project grants and the participation in training programs by race/ethnicity, gender, and disability.

The Committee for the Advancing Institutional Transformation for Minority Women in Academia Conference at the National Academies is pleased about the opportunity to respond to the Request for Information (RFI) regarding increasing the diversity of the biomedical workforce. The Committee for Women in Science, Engineering and Medicine at the National Academies is currently organizing a National Science Foundation (NSF) funded, two-day public workshop to review existing research on education and academic career patterns for minority women in science, engineering and medicine in June 2012. This workshop, entitled "Advancing Institutional Transformation for Minority Women in Academia", will specifically address model practices that recruit, retain and advance women of color in the academy. It has been shown that, despite gains in the number of women and minority men in tenured faculty positions in academia and increasing percentages of minority women in graduate programs, the numbers of minority women in tenured faculty positions remains low. The Committee commends the efforts of the NIH Advisory Committee to solicit comments specifically addressing the need for diversity in the biomedical research workforce and would like to ensure that the specific needs of minority women in academia are addressed in this response. The focus of the conference is on career paths from post-doctoral positions to tenured faculty positions, thus our comments in this RFI will be limited to the academic workforce and the relevant transition points. However, we acknowledge that entry into undergraduate and graduate degree programs and retention within these programs are critical transition points that also need sufficient attention to ultimately address more fully the issue of diversity in the biomedical workforce. Comment 1: For any of the areas identified above and any other specific areas you believe are worthy of consideration by the working group, please identify the critical issues(s) and impact(s) on institutions, scientists, or both. A. The need to disaggregate data on the biomedical workforce by the basis of race/ethnicity, gender, disability, institution type and/or field. i. Issue: While an increasing number of studies examine the extent of women and minority involvement at various stages of academia (from undergraduate programs to tenured faculty positions), there is a dearth of studies that disaggregate this data to examine the breakdown between race/ethnicity, gender, disability, institution type and/or field. ii. Impact: The reported data regarding the trends in minority researchers in the workforce is critical in influencing the recommendations or policies proposed to address the issue of increasing diversity in the biomedical workforce. If nuances exist in the data and are hidden due to the aggregation of multiple populations, then the correct policies cannot be put forth to address the issue. The NSF ADVANCE program is an example of the complications that may arise with aggregated data. The ADVANCE grants were given to individual institutions to develop systemic approaches to increase the representation of women faculty and their progression in academic scientific careers through creating institutional transformations at institutions of higher learning. It was believed that programs implemented to address gender inequality in higher education would be effective in reaching women across all other diverse populations (e.g., race, ethnicity, and disability). The ADVANCE program is highly regarded as a model program for effectively and significantly creating institutional change for Caucasian women in STEM departments, however it has not currently achieved the same goals with regard to underrepresented minority women. This singular example illustrates the consequences of assuming that data from one gender or race/ethnicity group can be applied across many other cross-sections within these populations and demonstrates the need for data disaggregation to understand any potential nuances in the data. When the data is disaggregated, areas in need of further research and investigation can be better isolated to identify any differences. This more complete dataset can then be used to create more effective policies with an increased likelihood of successfully achieving the stated goals. This will also lead to better utilization of resources which is increasingly important in times of budgetary challenges. B. The need for a systematic and effective strategy for reporting data from small sample sizes. i. Issue: One barrier to reporting disaggregated data for minorities in the biomedical workforce is the small sample size of some of the data points, resulting in suppression and/or aggregration of the data by the reporting federal agencies. Using data from small sample size datasets is a concern for various reasons including the loss of confidentiality in survey participants and issues with statistical significance with low sample numbers. ii. Impact: While there are legitimate concerns with the reporting of data from small sample size datasets, the resulting suppression of potentially critical data points severely limits the ability for that data to have an impact on future policies that could target these underrepresented groups. It is imperative that any aggregation of data is done in such a way as to retain disciplinary differences among biomedical fields as well as racial, ethnic, and gender data. The rationale and need for demographic data increases in importance when gathering data on many of the critical transitions in biomedical career paths (e.g., graduate school to post-doctoral appointment). C. The need for institutional support for professional development and mentoring for diverse faculty members. i. Issue: Effective professional development is consistently cited as a necessity for successful advancement of all scientists entering academia; however it has been cited to be of particular importance for women and underrepresented minorities. Recent data demonstrates that women are not equally represented in graduate degree programs within the top 10% in their field . In addition, many underrepresented minorities obtain their PhDs from minority serving institutions, which may or may not have the same level of resources as the larger research intensive (RI) universities. These same scientists must compete for grant funding and faculty positions with scientists from research intensive programs, where individuals may have received more professional development and training throughout the course of their education. A key factor in effective professional development is the formation of successful mentorship relationships. A 2010 National Research Council report found that female assistant professors in all six fields surveyed (including biology and chemistry) with no mentors had a 68 percent probability of having grant funding compared to 93 percent of female assistant professors with mentors. However, mentorship of junior faculty members is not often used as a criterion for assessing senior faculty. Therefore, the current reward structure does not encourage individuals from investing their time into building these types of relationships, even if the individual faculty member understands their importance for junior faculty. ii. Impact: Effective professional development can be critical to the success of junior faculty members progressing to tenured positions. This development can range from understanding how to negotiate conditions of employment (e.g., degree and type of committee work; number of student advisees; and laboratory space and equipment) to having access to information about institutional expectations and how to advance in their institutions. Mentorship can play a role in facilitating this professional development. The aforementioned ADVANCE program is a successful example of the impact that can be accomplished when efforts are made to emphasize leadership development for faculty members. The program has resulted in a boost in women's representation in STEM faculty departments in the institutions where it has been implemented. While each institution is different, a major component in the success of many of the initiatives is the strengthening of leadership development and mentorship. Therefore, models exist that demonstrate how to improve professional development for women and underrepresented minorities and there is great potential that successful implementation of these models directed toward minority women may help to reverse their low numbers in the academia. D. The need to help facilitate the advancement from assistant professor to tenured professor. i. Issue: An overall review of the data indicates that an increasing number of minority women are entering doctoral programs and an increasing number of them are graduating from these programs, even though the percentage of minority women in graduate school is much less than the general population. Additionally, it appears that African-American women have a higher likelihood of obtaining assistant professor positions at universities than either Caucasian women or African-American men , . Yet, the number of African-American women in tenured-faculty positions is lower than for either of these two populations. This drop between the percentage of minority women assistant professors and their percentage as tenured faculty members indicates a serious loss of women at this critical career transition point. ii. Impact: The loss of minority women junior faculty members before reaching tenure has a twofold impact on the future of the academic workforce. The first impact is the obvious loss of the minority women from the faculty of their respective institutions. Studies have shown that the lack of diversity within academia can affect multiple aspects of the institution including the strength of the decisions made within the departments, course content, teaching methods, ideas presented and a general lack of role models for an increasingly diverse student body. The secondary impact is that it creates a major deterrent for female minority graduate students and post-doctoral researchers in realizing their ambitions of becoming tenured faculty. This discouragement may lead to higher levels of students dropping out of graduate school or greater numbers of researchers pursing non-academic career paths. E. The need for continued research on the NIH Peer Review system to determine appropriate methods or interventions to identify bias and redress any found. i. Issue: It was recently reported that African-American researchers were less likely than any other race to be funded for research proposals submitted to the NIH, even when factors of educational background, training, previous research awards, publication record and employer characteristics were taken into consideration . iii. Impact: The study by Ginther et al. (2011) demonstrated an inherent bias in the funding mechanisms. Such bias systematically places African-American researchers at a disadvantage to contribute to the body of work in their chosen fields and to advance their careers. This could be a major contributing factor in the low numbers of minority tenured faculty members and high attrition rate among faculty members at RI universities. When diverse faculty members are lost, the institution suffers from a lack of diversity and this can lead to the effect that has on the decisions made by the university, as well as the student body. Comment 2: Please identify and explain which of the issues you identified are, in your opinion, the most important for the working group to address and why. The reasons that minority women are underrepresented in the academy are varied and linked to many of the different transition points between pursuing an undergraduate degree to becoming a tenured faculty member. However, we believe that the significant loss of minority women from the path from assistant professorship to tenured faculty member is one of the most critical pathway points for the NIH Working Group to address. As stated above, the problem with the number of minority women in academic positions is not only in the number of minority women who begin on the path to become a tenured professor. In fact, the interest in becoming a tenured faculty member, and its initial likelihood, seems to be greater among minority women compared to many other populations. Therefore, the intellectual ability, desire and potential for this underrepresented group to increase in number clearly exist, as long as proper mechanisms are in place to facilitate these transitions. Once the factors of these data trends are confirmed and identified, with the appropriate policies implemented, this transition point seems have the most potential for impacting in a relative short-term the goal of increasing minority female members of the academic workforce. Comment 3: Please comment on any specific ways you believe these or other issues would or should affect NIH policies or processes. While significant challenges may exist in increasing the number of minority women in the biomedical workforce, there is also great potential for increasing their participation. We propose seven areas where we believe that the NIH can have significant impact based on the comments above: Reassess NIH's policies on data collection and any aggregation that can impact important knowledge and information on underrepresented populations and their career progression in NIH's intramural and extramural programs. Review the current NIH policies regarding the release of such data so that a balance is maintained between privacy and providing valuable insight for programmatic efforts for underrepresented populations in the biomedical workforce; Prioritize the assessment of current criteria for NIH training grants and related activities to include more explicit measurements and an articulation of expectations on how faculty engage in mentorship and outreach in these grants and programs. Ensure that such programs and efforts include explicit mechanisms to reach underrepresented populations; Provide support, funding and incentives for professional development targeted to underrepresented populations including minority women faculty members at all types of institutions; Expand and broaden the reach of NIH funding by implementing targeted partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) and Tribal Colleges. Data indicates that these institutions have significantly higher populations of underrepresented faculty (including minority women) and partnerships with these institutions should increase and broaden their access to grants and participation in research; Examine the effectiveness of NIH training programs for minorities and potential reasons for any differential impact in the programs' effectiveness for minorities and other underrepresented groups; Examine and reassess the NIH grant review process to identify potential areas of bias; and Increase transparency of the NIH funding process, which includes publically reporting the success rates for research project grants and the participation in training programs by race/ethnicity, gender, and disability.
02/24/2012 at 03:28:03 PM Organization American Society of Clinical Oncology Alexandria, VA Please see attached letter. Please see attached letter. Please see attached letter Text of attachment same as that of comment boxes.
02/24/2012 at 03:46:28 PM Organization American Psychological Association Washington, DC February 24, 2012

Advisory Committee to the Director Working Group on Diversity in Biomedical Research Workforce National Institutes of Health 1 Center Drive Bethesda, MD 20892

Dear Members of the Working Group:

On behalf of the American Psychological Association (APA), I am writing in response to the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) Request for Information: Input into the Deliberations of the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director Working Group on Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce (NOT-OD-12-031), published in the Federal Register on January 10th. We appreciate NIH's decision to solicit information, perspectives, and recommendations from the field to address the underrepresentation of racial/ethnic minority and other disadvantaged scientists in NIH funding. We look forward to working with NIH as it moves forward with adopting and implementing the recommendations received.

As the world's largest association of psychologists, with 154,000 members and affiliates, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession, and as a means of promoting health, education, and human welfare. We are committed to diversity within our own discipline, and to ensuring that racial and ethnic minority scientists, those with disabilities, and other traditionally underrepresented groups from all disciplines can establish successful research careers and fully participate in the research enterprise for the benefit of our nation's health and economy. Given the importance of this issue to the psychological science community, you may also receive comments from individual psychologists, as well as membership-led program divisions of APA.

The Science article, "Race, Ethnicity and Research Awards " (Ginther et al.), established that black investigators are significantly less likely to receive NIH RO1 awards than investigators from other racial groups. It is important to thoroughly examine the factors contributing to this disparity in funding success. Based on experiences shared by our members and in the literature, we recommend close analyses of and changes in the peer review process, the process by which funding decisions are made, and training/mentoring and support programs for underrepresented investigators across the pipeline and at critical career decision points.

The Peer Review Process

APA recommends a thorough scientific examination of the role of potential bias in the peer review process. Various forms of bias - unconscious, implicit, and explicit - should be assessed, and interventions aimed at reducing bias should be developed and tested. These possible biases should be examined in how they form perceptions and ratings of the individual investigator as influenced by such factors as his/her institutional home, mentors, and previous training, and interactions of these variables where indicated.

Based on the results of the Science report, we recommend that NIH also reexamine two aspects of current NIH review procedures: 1) the practice of placing large numbers of grant applications in the "unscored" category-this may cause review groups to overlook valuable research proposals and deprive applicants of sufficient feedback; and 2) the lack of consistent policy to guide program officials on whether and how to encourage unsuccessful applicants to submit revised applications-this may result in some applicants not being clearly informed that a revision is welcome and consequently deciding not to continue to seek funding.

We also recommend that the pool of reviewers be expanded to include members of underrepresented groups. Factors such as whether the reviewer has had previous NIH funding (a criterion less likely to have been experienced by racial/ethnic minority investigators as revealed by the Ginther et al. study) and level of current academic appointment should be evaluated in terms of its possible bias in selection of committee members and impact on the quality of the review. Scientists from underrepresented groups who have records of publication and of funding from federal and non-federal sources other than NIH can be recruited. More junior scientists can also be recruited, although we recognize that care must be taken that their spending time as reviewers does not negatively affect their own research and career progress. We also suggest that this assumption of negative career impact be more closely examined and addressed. We recommend that efforts be made to bring underrepresented scientists in as full review group members and not as ad hoc, special reviewers. These positions often do not promote group cohesiveness and belonging. We recommend that training be offered to reviewers on how to be an effective, active participant in review where they may be seen or view themselves as a "minority" member. Training should be given to all review group members on how to carefully listen to and consider all views.

Funding Decisions

We recommend that the process by which funding decisions are made at the institute level be fully examined as it affects black and other underrepresented scientists. We further recommend that some consideration be given to underrepresented scientists proposing critical minority health and health disparities research.

APA recommends that the Working Group and other NIH offices continue to carefully evaluate possible funding discrepancies among all traditionally underrepresented groups, including Latino, Asian, Native American, and Alaska Native and those with disabilities. Such analyses may help shed light on the reasons for the disparity experienced by black investigators as well as help to ensure that disparities do not arise for other groups.

Training and Mentoring Across the Research Career Pipeline

In response to the Working Group's request for comments about how NIH could most appropriately enhance the diversity of the biomedical research workforce, APA recommends that NIH expand the concept of the pipeline to include education transitions prior to graduate school as well as career transitions after initial RO1 award success. As the pipeline may start prior to entry into graduate degree programs, NIH should develop more refined outcome measures for interventions targeting undergraduate populations.

APA also recommends that NIH conduct a full assessment of the types and number of awards that are granted to black investigators after they receive their first grant, including having multiple R01 or large center or institutional training grants.

NIH should also assess the possible cumulative impact of limited opportunities for effective mentoring and early career opportunities that may disproportionately undermine the ability of underrepresented scientists to establish successful scientific careers.

We are concerned about the retention of black and other underrepresented scientists once they receive an NIH award. Programs or incentives to advance their progress from first-level awards such as K awards to RO1 awards are needed. Moreover, investigators with RO1 awards should be supported to maintain their support of NIH research over time.

We commend NIH's Office of Extramural Research for taking the initial steps to fund research projects aimed at discovering the factors contributing to the racial discrepancy in grant awards. It is critical that data about award success continue to be collected, analyzed, and disseminated and that the outcomes of any pilot projects or changes in the overall system be carefully assessed and fully reported.

We look forward to the recommendations of the Working Group and doing our part to assist in this important undertaking. Please contact me if we can be of assistance.

Sincerely,

Norman B. Anderson, Ph.D. Chief Executive Officer

    The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) agrees that two critical issues identified by the Committee are important to include when developing recommendations: (1) The role of mentorship in the training and success of biomedical researchers throughout their careers and (2) the influence of role models whose qualities and characteristics can positively affect the training and success of underrepresented biomedical researchers through their careers. While making up nearly 25 percent of the United States' population, underrepresented populations comprise less than 10 percent of the United States' scientific workforce.iA supportive community that includes interaction with faculty and mentors coupled with early recruitment and enrichment strategies, such as supplementary instruction and undergraduate research opportunities have been shown to increase the proportion of students from underrepresented populations who complete college as science majors.ii Underrepresentation of women and minorities in the field of medicine and research is due in large part to a lack of exposure. For this reason, it is important to reach underrepresented populations early in their decision-making process in order to prepare them for a career in biomedical research. In order to encourage underrepresented minorities to pursue a career in biomedical research, mentoring and role models are needed to increase exposure to the field at the pre-college and college level. ASCO established the Health Disparities Advisory Group in 2003. The agenda of the Advisory Group includes addressing workforce diversity, particularly increasing the diversity of the clinical oncology workforce as a requisite to improving access to cancer care for the underserved. A main focus of the Advisory Group over the last several years has been the development and implementation of the Diversity in Oncology Initiative (DOI), a comprehensive award program designed to facilitate the recruitment and retention of individuals from populations underrepresented in medicine to cancer careers. Through funding from Susan G. Komen for the Cure, nearly $825,000 has been awarded to program participants on the medical school, residency and post-fellow levels. To further understand the needs of those who are underrepresented in medicine, ASCO held focus groups and administered surveys to medical students and residents. The results revealed that there is a need for mentoring, financial support, and research opportunities. We learned that initial interests in oncology often start as early as high school and early exposure is an important factor in medical students pursuing oncology. In addition, respondents agreed that the presence of a mentor in a medical student's life is important in influencing his or her future course of study. In response to our needs assessment, ASCO is in the process of establishing a mentoring program targeting medical students who are from underrepresented populations. Developing relationships between professional societies, institutions, and individuals to develop mentoring programs is of upmost importance and ASCO would welcome such an opportunity.
02/24/2012 at 03:49:04 PM Organization American Physiological Society Bethesda, MD See attached RFI response See attached RFI response See attached RFI response The American Physiological Society (APS) appreciates the opportunity to respond to the National Institutes of Health's January 10, 2012 "Request for Information" (RFI) regarding Input into the Deliberations of the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director Working Group on Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce (NOT-OD-12-031) The APS is a not-for-profit scholarly association founded in 1887 to promote the advancement of physiology. Today the APS has nearly 11,000 members who are scientists involved in physiological research and the teaching of physiology at colleges, universities, and medical schools and in industry, government, and independent research institutions. The APS publishes peer reviewed journals; sponsors scientific meetings and conferences; and provides professional development opportunities for its members as well as educational and mentoring programs to identify, encourage, and train future physiologists. For its efforts in the latter areas, the APS was awarded the 2003 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring. This response was prepared by the Porter Physiology Development Committee of the American Physiological Society (APS) with input from the Education Office. It represents the committee members' experience as underrepresented minority (URM) scientists, scientists working to broaden participation, and the office's experience providing programs to serve the needs of women, underrepresented minorities, persons with disabilities, and individuals with disadvantaged backgrounds (collectively, "underrepresented minorities" or URMs). 1. Biomedical Research Workforce Pipeline: What are the appropriate transition points where NIH's training, career development and research grant programs could most effectively cultivate diversity in the biomedical research workforce? Information and intervention are needed at each transitional step along the career path. The objective should be to provide URMs both preparation and support for highly competitive research careers. Graduate students in particular need to understand the competitive nature of the field and start building the skills they will need to compete successfully at each stage, e.g., writing papers, applying for grants, communication skills, etc. Preparation should help students to be more competitive and to anticipate the competition. The percentage of minorities holding tenure positions is small so it is important for them to be both proactive and effective mentors themselves. Entry into graduate degree programs Early on in their training, graduate students should be informed of the requirements they will need to satisfy before obtaining their degree and also what they will have to do to succeed in a career in academia, industry, or government. One way to accomplish this would be to pair URM students with a student already experiencing success in the program so they can get a peer's perspective on what to expect. Transition from graduate degree to post-doctoral fellowships A major drop-off in minority participation in science careers occurs during the transition from graduate degree to post-doctoral fellowship because students become discouraged or disenchanted during this critical juncture. It is important to create an environment where the minority post-doctoral fellow can become successful. This includes making sure that fellows have tools and projects so they can "hit the ground running." One specific way to facilitate the transition from trainee to independent principal investigator is to expose them to the process of writing manuscripts and grants and to coach them in these critical skills. Coaching can take the form of setting timelines for goals such as writing/submitting manuscripts and grants. The mentor should provide the post-doc with an honest assessment after the first year of his/her progress towards becoming an independent principal investigator. Fellows also need information about administering a grant and setting up a laboratory as an independent investigator. Other useful skills include how to write various kinds of cover letters, how to develop a research and/or teaching philosophy, and how to interview for an independent scientific position using mock interviews. Special attention should be given to the process of negotiating start-up money, laboratory space, teaching requirements and release time. The APS has developed several successful Professional Skills Training courses that are designed to provide this kind of training but additional courses are needed. Appointment from a post-doctoral position to the first independent scientific position Every post-doctoral fellow needs to be able to determine whether a prospective independent scientific position fits his/her skill set. Institutions should be prepared to provide details on the skills needed for success at their institution. Mentors and scientific societies should provide information on the breadth of careers possible after post-doctoral training. In summary, provide all of the information for the minority scientist to make the best informed decision. Award of the first independent research grant from NIH or equivalent in industry Although it is a critical step, receiving an NIH research grant does not guarantee future success. Newlyindependent investigators still need mentoring from an established investigator for the management of the URM's research program and management of the grants administrative requirements. NIH might consider a mentored research program to help insure the success of URM investigators. At a minimum, NIH should support an active network of URM's to promote mentoring of new investigators by established investigators. The NIDDK Network of Minority Research Investigators (NMRI) is an example that could be expanded and empowered. Award of tenure in an academic position, at the NIH, or the equivalent in an industrial setting Again, the critical aspect is effective mentoring of the URM, clarity of the requirements for tenure, and equity in the review of accomplishments. URMs should have opportunities to be considered for tenure and be held to the same tenure standards as non-URM faculty. However, they must also receive appropriate mentoring to develop their qualifications for tenure. What is the role of mentorship in the training and success of biomedical researchers throughout their careers? Good mentoring is important for all students, but it is critical for URMs. It is important to identify effective mentoring techniques and make this a requirement for NIH funded training programs. It should be recognized that success will be limited unless this is also incorporated into the reward system within academic institutions. Steps such as these will benefit not only the members of particular URM groups as it will improve the quality of training and mentoring for all students. With respect to URMs, it has long been the hope that as the number of minority tenured professors increases, minority students would see more role models and find more mentors and therefore choose a career in biomedical research. However, it is difficult to ensure the presence of role models for every category of URM in every institution. Instead, the goal should be encourage both minority and majority faculty to serve as mentors. For example, Principal Investigators who request minority supplements should be required to provide specific training plans on how they will help URM scientists achieve independence and, ultimately, provide appropriate evidence of success. Principal Investigators on training grants or who have previously received minority supplements should provide evidence of their track-record of training/educating URM candidates. Institutional Mentoring Programs are essential for junior faculty and associate professors as they strive to move their research programs forward, seek funding, and receive national recognition. However, these programs must be evaluated regularly for their effectiveness, using both formative and summative measures. They must also provide training for mentors to assure that they will be effective. Mentoring is also needed to support the continued professional development of URM faculty as they move through to promotion to the rank of full professor. What is needed and what would support this effort are training programs at individual institutions and within the institution, college or department. NIH could support such programs - in the same or similar manner as NSF does through the ADVANCE program for STEM fields. Programs would facilitate the training of senior faculty on how to be an effective mentor as an individual or as part of a team. In addition, training should be provided to junior faculty and associate professors on how to be a receptive mentee and how to overcome the fear of asking for help from a mentor or senior faculty. URM junior faculty and URM associate professors should also receive training on how to be better peer-mentors to each other. The mentoring program might also help a URM scientist to overcome the big cultural 'taboo' of self promotion. Training programs at large national meetings, e.g., Experimental Biology or Neuroscience, are beneficial, but having good mentors at one's home institution remains critical. Development of relationships between professional societies, institutions, and individuals to develop mentoring programs - Individual mentoring (one-on-one) is the most effective form of mentoring. However, professional societies can facilitate the individual mentoring by helping to establish a network for introducing URM scientists to colleagues. Professional societies and academic institutions can establish workshops to assist the URMs to learn about grantsmanship and peer review. Creation and expansion of institutional mentoring programs - Institutions should develop mentoring programs that encourage URMs to meet and discuss their experiences in the department and/or institution and encourage faculty to provide recommendations on how to respond to various situations the URMs might experience. Mentoring of applicants and preparation of applications prior to submission - Institutions should provide an internal grant review committee for URM scientists prior to grant submissions. This is a key component that is too often ignored or requires too much of a time commitment for the mentor. However, by setting a time-line, one can anticipate the submission of applications and adequately prepare for assisting the URM with their application. What is the influence of role models whose qualities and characteristics can positively affect the training and success of underrepresented biomedical researchers through their careers? - It is critical for the role model to demonstrate a willingness to support the candidate and provide advice from their personal experiences. The candidate should not rely on a single mentor in their career but should draw on the expertise of the many who are interested in the advancement of their career. What is the role of NIH messaging in encouraging underrepresented researchers to apply for NIH fellowships and grants? - NIH messaging is important and critical for the encouragement of URMs to apply for fellowships and awards. It is also important to provide information about the success of programs designed to increase URM participation in order to encourage additional submissions. What is the role of institutional infrastructure support and climate as a factor in the success of underrepresented researchers? - The success of minority and majority researchers is dependent upon the support provided by their institutions and the provision of institutional support to enable the candidate to succeed. 2. Factors in the Review Process: The review process should be scrutinized to determine why there are differences in outcomes. Is it due to inadequate preparation of applicants or bias in the review process? If the problem is the application, then something must be done to improve applicants' skills, e.g., through additional training and mentoring, such as participating in a mock review session to see what good and bad proposals look like and how they are evaluated. However, if the problem is in the review process, then acceptable ways to address sources of potential bias must be found. The review process evaluates both the idea and the capacity of the applicant to carry out the project. To the extent that personal connections are all that is needed, improved networking represents a simple solution. However, there are limits to networking as a solution because some personal connections are negative rather than positive, and some people are uncomfortable with people from backgrounds that differ from their own. It is not clear what can be done to fix the application process since, even if certain elements were removed from the biosketch, other parts of the application would convey the same information. APS appreciates the opportunity to submit these comments and the Society stands ready to work in partnership with the NIH to enhance the diversity of the biomedical research workforce.
02/24/2012 at 04:04:25 PM Self     Columbia University has made great strides in attracting, recruiting, and retaining talented women and men from groups traditionally underrepresented in American higher education. Our commitment to diversity is guided by the firm belief that diversity is critical to academic excellence. Different perspectives, experiences and values enrich the content and direction of our research and scholarship.

Schools at Columbia University have generated diversity plans with specific and measurable goals to enhance their faculty and pipeline diversity, as well as 3-year strategies to achieve these goals. Columbia's approach to enhancing faculty and pipeline diversity weaves diversity into core functioning of the Schools; recognizes variability across Schools and Departments in diversity of faculty pipelines, especially with regard to women and underrepresented minorities; ensures all Schools and Departments have a role in supporting and enhancing diversity; embeds accountability for diversity at all levels of leadership throughout the institution.

Key elements of School plans include: increasing the ranks of tenured and tenure-track underrepresented minority faculty; increasing the ranks of female faculty, particularly those in the STEM sciences; utilizing postdoctoral programs to recruit applicants from underrepresented groups; comprehensive mentoring programs for junior faculty to support their career success; partnering on Bridge to Doctoral Pipeline Programs, via NIH, NSF, and foundation training grants, to assist undergraduates from underrepresented groups in successfully applying for and succeeding in doctoral programs.

The pipeline for researchers in the social sciences is relatively rich in terms of underrepresented minorities entering the field. In areas of basic science and biomedical sciences, the pipeline is very thin. NIH has an essential role to play in addressing these pipeline issues. It could support such activities as: Mentoring programs for junior faculty to support their career success. Formal mentoring programs have been shown to be especially valuable for increasing the career success of faculty members from traditionally underrepresented groups. Institutions that commit to mentoring benefit from increased productivity, decreased attrition, greater career success and satisfaction, and increased collaboration among faculty, and a more collegial environment.

Post-Doctoral Program and Bridge Programs. Students from underrepresented groups are more likely than other students to take post-baccalaureate classes or to pursue a master's degree prior to applying to Ph.D. programs in the biomedical sciences. These students typically obtain this additional preparation at a different institution from that at which they earned their Bachelor's degrees, and tend to move to yet another institution for doctoral study; these moves are often made with little or no mentorship. Therefore, the creation of structured post-baccalaureate opportunities is critically important to ensure the successful transition of these students into Ph.D. programs, and thereby broadening the participation of those from historically underrepresented groups in the biomedical sciences.

NIH's continued investment in enhancing the diversity throughout the stages of research careers is critical. It is also essential that NIH continue to support programs that address pipeline challenges and support for researchers at early stages of their career. These include "bridge" programs at critical transition points such as entry into graduate and doctoral programs, as well as post-doctoral programs that create pathways into research careers.  
02/24/2012 at 04:27:29 PM Self     transition points- this represents older thinking. Focus on the development of talent before and up to the transition points, notice the disparities in outcomes that lead to fewer being competitive for the next stage of development. Training is about development of talent, not simply selection and certainly not just inexpensive labor. Ask if there are disparities in outcomes of graduate students and postocs at NIH,by gender, race/ethnicity. Then ask the same of grantees. The scale of the problem is such that it cannot be solved by targetted programs alone. There cannot be real training and minority training. All institutions involved in training, and especially those with T32 grants, need to contribute to the solution(s)and commit to a meaningful improvement. Consider what the research tells us. For example, research says that minorities are as or more interested in a science career than non-minorities. Therefore programs designed to increase interest may not be needed. Research has identified factors that increase persistance. Research is deepening understanding of what promotes self efficacy. This research should inform practice.

Avoid the mediocrity of best practices. Science, and training in the sciences, is about innovation and building on the success of others.

Evaluation of training needs to be more sophisticated and not simply tracking of participants. Review of training programs should examine their development of talent, the value added. Review of training programs should examine institutional improvement in outcomes over time (not simply the outcomes of handful of supported trainees). Training Programs should articulate specific intended outcomes and Evaluation should examine near real-time indicators of aquisition and use of skills knowledge and abilities that the training is designed to impart. The near-term indicators ought to correlate with longer term outcomes, such as becoming a successful researcher, but that may require further research. These changes would benefit all trainees; but could have an even greater benefit for underrepresented groups.  
02/24/2012 at 04:32:29 PM Organization Florida Interntional University Miami, Florida My comments regarding efforts to increase the diversity of the biomedical research workforce focuses on three areas: 1) NIH's efforts to increase the proportion underrepresented minorities achieving first independent research grant, and 2) early pipeline development and mentorship, and 3) the role of institutional infrastructure on success of underrepresented researchers.

NIH's efforts to increase the proportion underrepresented minorities achieving first independent research grant: As a scientist and Vice President for Research at Florida International University and a scientist who has received NIH funding, I (Andres Gil) am pleased to submit comments to NIH on behalf of Florida International University, the largest Hispanic Serving University in the nation with a strong record of training individuals in science, technology, energy and math. I myself serve on the Advisory Committee for NIAAA. One of the areas that has been of concern to the community has been the possible biases within the NIH Peer Review system. Certainly, there is always room for improvement in such a system, but the focus on the biases of the review process is unlikely to produce significant improvements on the funding of underrepresented minorities. What is most important is to provide more opportunities for biomedical scientists from underrepresented minorities to participate in the peer review process early in their careers. Thus, I applaud the new efforts to have such groups as ad hoc reviewers. I do not believe the problem is solely review bias. Rather, the problem is more likely to be lack of opportunities to be "acculturated" into the peer review process by being a participant. Such acculturation can be accomplished in a number of ways but mentoring is exceedingly important. In terms of review process bias, I believe that the recent changes (shorter applications, 'bulleted' feedback) are likely to make it more difficult for young investigators to be funded for the first time, regardless of gender or ethnicity.

Early pipeline development and mentorship: Early pipeline development and mentorship are the keys to addressing diversification of the biomedical workforce, not just in terms of NIH-funded researchers; but also in terms of increasing the participation of underrepresented minorities across all biomedical fields. Such efforts need to focus on providing exposure to the possibilities of biomedical fields prior to college; perhaps beginning at the stage of the freshman year of high school. One way to do this would be funds for NIH-funded investigators to accept high school interns from underrepresented groups for summer internships. NIH may wish to consider examining the successful components of programs across the institutes as well as those at agencies such as NSF. The role of institutional infrastructure on success of underrepresented researchers: NIH should create programs for that provide early career research support for underrepresented minorities within Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), rather than funding any researcher in MSIs (the old SCORE program from NIGMS - now SC). Supporting the individual minority investigator is more likely to have a positive impact. There should also be some expectation that the supported investigator will mentor students from underrepresented groups and that institutional infrastructure support will be provided. Text of attachment same as that of comment boxes.
02/24/2012 at 04:36:40 PM Organization American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Rockville, MD see attached response see attached response see attached response The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology is a nonprofit organization representing over 12,000 research scientists. ASBMB has a long time commitment to increasing the participation and success of minorities in biochemistry and molecular biology, particularly through the work of its Minority Affairs Committee. ASBMB understands that the American research enterprise cannot flourish if its work force does not reflect the diverse values, interests and culture of our nation's population. Data from the 2008 U.S. Census indicate that underrepresented minorities (URM)1 comprise 28% of the U.S. population but represent only 9% of the science and engineering work force2. Minorities who do enter the S&E work force face significant challenges throughout the career pipeline. Underutilizing the talent and potential of minority individuals or over-burdening those minority investigators who have entered the research work force ultimately will compromise the success of the entire research enterprise. Even with the broad range of programs and resources available to URM students and investigators, there are still considerable obstacles facing URMs in the biomedical research work force today. While studies have shown that black Ph.D.s are as likely to obtain faculty positions or gain tenure as white Ph.D.s3, the August 2011 Science study, showing that black researchers were 10 percentage points less likely to receive NIH funding than white researchers4, was widely regarded not only as surprising but also highly disturbing. ASBMB is strongly supportive of the efforts of the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director and the NIH community at large to address the issue of diversity in the biomedical work force. ASBMB emphatically agrees with efforts to identify and eradicate conscious or unconscious biases in the peer-review process that may play a role in the disparity in successful funding of minority researchers. ASBMB also enthusiastically supports actions that strive to address the cause of the disparity even outside of peer review. ASBMB thanks the NIH for engaging the extramural community in this discussion and presents the following recommendations: Intramural (1) The NIH should create and manage a centralized database of resources for minority researchers and students. The NIH should capitalize on its unique position in the biomedical research enterprise to become the preeminent resource center for minority researchers and students. While each I/C at the NIH has specific programs to provide minority scientists with resources, it is difficult for individuals to access the full potential of all of these resources because they are located and managed by different I/Cs. We recommend that the NIH create and maintain a centralized resource center for minority scientists that would include pertinent information from all the I/Cs. While the first step would be to centralize the different programs within NIH, we would hope that this platform eventually could be expanded to include minority resources from the extramural community as well. Creating a "one-stop shop" where minority scientists could easily access information on scholarships, training programs and mentoring/networking groups would be exceptionally valuable to the minority research community. a) Play a primary role in publicizing minority resources to all levels of the biomedical research pipeline. The NIH should capitalize on its position as the leading resource for the biomedical research community to disseminate information and resources for minority students and investigators. ASBMB recommends focusing on three entities for distributing information about minority resources: 1) minority-serving institutions and professional organizations, 2) biomedical professional societies, specifically FASEB and its individual constituent societies and 3) university administrators and faculty members. b) Optimize and expand programming that provides minority students and postdocs with research experience. An excellent way to introduce minority students to the biomedical research enterprise is through programs that give them hands-on laboratory experience. These programs not only expose minority students to the research enterprise but also can help provide them with role models in their respective fields and help create a greater network within the research community, two critical elements to increase minority retention within the biomedical research pipeline. The NIH has an extensive portfolio of programs aimed at increasing the participation and success of minority students and researchers. Programs such as RISE, SCORE, ABRCMS and IRACDA all strive to expose and engage minority students and researchers in the biomedical research community. While the NIH has made considerable efforts in minority programming, there is very little data on the successes or shortcomings of these programs. ASBMB recommends that the NIH do an in-depth review of existing programs for minority students and researchers in order to accurately determine the strengths and weaknesses of these programs. Once the NIH has identified which programs or elements of programs are the most successful, they should be used as models for increased programming. c) Support and provide increased programming for young investigators, that emphasizes grant-writing skills. One of the most important skills a postdoc or junior faculty member must develop in order to establish and maintain a successful lab is that of grantsmanship. Unfortunately, the current biomedical training model includes little to no training in essential "non-bench" skills such as grant writing, lab management, and budgeting. Additionally, the existing NIH peer-review process gives researchers very little feedback as to why their grants were not funded. Often minority researchers and junior investigators have even less exposure to and mentoring in these skills, which could play a role in their disparity in funding success. To address these issues, ASBMB recommends that NIH make a considerable and concerted effort to provide postdocs and junior investigators with programming that will help develop their non-bench skills, with a particular emphasis on grant writing and review. These programs/workshops should provide adequate time for an in-depth review of mock grants and for feedback on how they could be improved. ASBMB also recommends that the NIH partner with universities that receive NIH funding, particularly those with high numbers of minority individuals, to provide training in these skills. Only by leveraging the resources at the university level, where a majority of the NIH-funded research is conducted, can we hope to improve training opportunities for the future biomedical research work force. d) Identify and provide new opportunities to expose young investigators to the peerreview process. Serving on an RO1 study section provides researchers with invaluable insight into the grant-review process. However, investigators already must be funded to participate in these study sections. Since minority investigators are funded a lower rates, they have even more limited opportunities to learn more about the grant-review process through study section participation. ASBMB recommends that the NIH identify and implement new ways to give postdocs and junior investigators exposure to the grant review process. Greater exposure to the grant-review process would be particularly valuable for minority students and researchers. (2) The NIH should continue research efforts to identify the cause of the difference in NIH funding success rates for URM researchers. While the Ginther et. al. study5 presented several suggestions as to the cause of the disparity in the funding success rates of black researchers, it was unable to specifically identify the cause. ASBMB recommends continued investigation of this question to determine the cause(s). The possibility of racial biases, whether conscious or unconscious, in the peer-review process is particularly disturbing to the research community. To address this issue, ASBMB recommends performing additional case studies in which grants are reviewed multiple times, one in which the identifying information is included and one in which various pieces of identifying information are removed, to ascertain if racial biases are playing a role. ASBMB strongly believes that to eliminate the disparity in funding success rates of minority researchers, we must first understand the cause. Extramural (1) Professional societies are strongly encouraged to foster mentor-mentee relationships that can reach across institutions. Mentor-mentee relationships in the research community are widely considered one of the most valuable assets a researcher or student can have. However, for minority students and researchers, these relationships can be difficult to foster or even establish because of the disproportionally low numbers of URMs at universities and research institutions. For example, data from 2006 showed 16.5% of students graduating with a B.S. degree in biology were URMs, but only 3.8% of faculty members at the top 50 biology departments were URMs6. Because an individual university may have few minority researchers, ASBMB recommends that professional societies provide opportunities to develop mentoring relationships beyond a single research institution. Some possible suggestions include creating "virtual networks" in which minority researchers can connect with other URM individuals online. Societies are also encouraged to host special sessions for URM students and researchers at national meetings so URMs can connect at these events and then utilize those relationships throughout their career. 1 URM denotes black, Hispanic or American Indian/Alaska Native individuals. 2 National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics. 2011. Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering. 3 D.J. Nelson & C.N. Brammer, 2010. A National Analysis of Minorities in Science and Engineering Faculties at Research Universities. 4 D.K. Ginther et al., 2011. Race, Ethnicity, and NIH Research Awards. 5 D.K. Ginther et al., 2011. Race, Ethnicity, and NIH Research Awards. 6 D.J. Nelson & C.N. Brammer, 2010. A National Analysis of Minorities in Science and Engineering Faculties at Research Universities.
02/24/2012 at 04:53:51 PM Organization Academic Pediatric Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Pediatric Society, Association of Medical School Department Chairs, Society for Pediatric Research various See attachment. See attachment. See attachment. As organizations that represent academic pediatricians who are dedicated to improving the health and well-being of children by promoting pediatric research and access to quality pediatric medical care, we appreciate the opportunity to offer comments to the Advisory Committee to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Working Group on Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce. As pediatricians, we are very aware of the growing diversity of the United States population. The US Census Bureau projects that 45% of American children will belong to a racial or ethnic minority group by 2020, and pediatricians are on the 'front lines' of this demographic transition. We need to draw from all our youth to encourage the most talented to enter careers in science and medicine. We applaud the NIH's effort to study carefully the relationship of race, ethnicity, and NIH research awards and make the results publicly available. We fully support the effort to identify the factors that contribute to the lower number of research awards given to African American researchers, and to develop strategies to eliminate racial/ethnic disparities. We recognize that the NIH has undertaken a variety of programs to promote diversity and that there are many mechanisms to support minority investigators. We agree with the approach outlined within the 2013 NIH budget request to undertake an evaluation of current training programs to identify the best approaches to supporting minority investigators. We hope that you will retain successful programs, such as the diversity supplement mechanism, which offers mentorship from R01-funded investigators and the National Institute of Mental Health's (NIMH) African American Mental Health Research Scientist Grant Workshop. As you continue your efforts to promote diversity, we ask that you consider the following factors: 1) Physician Scientists. We strongly encourage the NIH to consider the important role that US physician scientists play within the research community. While we understand that there are methodological considerations for the initial analysis of race, ethnicity, and research awards, we would like to encourage you to focus on physician researchers in the group of research awardees. Physician scientists provide clinical insights for basic science and translational research that are important for advancing patient care and medicine. Issues unique to physician scientists, such as large educational debt and the need to choose between careers in clinical care and research, make it challenging to pursue a research career, and succeed in research. We especially encourage you to solicit feedback from young minority investigators who have recently applied or are anticipating applying for NIH funding. This group of investigators may provide insight into the barriers that are unique to minority investigators or of disproportionate importance. It is possible, for example, that minority investigators have a greater service burden at their institutions because there are relatively few minority investigators in the US, and these competing service demands may adversely impact the research productivity of minority researchers. 2) Mentorship and Professional Societies. We strongly encourage the NIH to foster linkages with medical societies and professional organizations to develop partnership strategies to encourage diversity. Pediatric professional societies have existing opportunity structures that can help provide recognition, networking, and mentorship to young investigators as they build their careers. The Academic Pediatric Association's New Century Scholars Program and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program are examples of existing approaches that focus on providing mentorship to minority investigators. Professional societies may also be able to play an important role in promoting federal resources for young scientists. 3) General Pipeline of Physicians and Scientists. We also strongly encourage the NIH to maintain its commitment to the broader issues of increasing diversity in the scientific and medical workforce through activities such as the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) educational programs for youth beginning in the earliest years of their education. While the disparity in research awards is clearly of great concern, the paucity of African-American, Hispanic, Native- American, and Alaskan-native scientists is of equal or greater concern. We support your efforts to continue providing funding for programs aimed at developing math and science skills among minority youth from the earliest years of their education. We also support efforts (e.g., mentoring programs, funding opportunities) to encourage minority college students to participate in research programs that provide exposure and experience beginning in high school and college; to enter medicine, including in programs that combine MD with PhD, engineering and/or technology; to encourage minority medical students to develop research interests; to encourage minority residents to pursue research fellowships; and to encourage minority fellows to build academic research careers. We appreciate the opportunity to offer our comments and recommendations concerning the diversity of scientific workforce and the Academic Pediatric Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Pediatric Society, Association of Medical School Department Chairs, and Society for Pediatric Research stand ready to assist NIH in considering ways that professional organizations can help to mentor future scientists from diverse backgrounds. Sincerely, Academic Pediatric Association American Academy of Pediatrics American Pediatric Society Association of Medical School Department Chairs Society for Pediatric Research
02/24/2012 at 04:58:58 PM Organization Minority Interest Group of NIDA CTN nationwide see attachment see attachment see attachment The Minority Interest Group of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) National Drug Abuse Treatment Clinical Trials Network (CTN) is pleased to submit this response to NOT-OD-12-031 requesting recommendations to enhance diversity throughout the various research career stages, particularly with regard to underrepresented minorities, persons with disabilities, and persons from disadvantaged backgrounds. The CTN is a large organization comprising collaborations among academic medical centers and community treatment programs (http://www.nida.nih.gov/CTN/). A key component of the CTN is to train investigators across the entire career spectrum, from undergraduate students to senior investigators. The purpose of the Minority Interest Group of the CTN is to ensure appropriate representation and opportunity for racial/ethnic minority participation in clinical research, both for patients in the trials and for investigators and clinicians in the workforce. Accordingly, our response concerns the representation of racial/ethnic minorities in the future biomedical research workforce. Our comments address four of the broad areas identified by the Working Group. These areas are: (1) The appropriate transition points where NIH's training, career development and research grant programs could most effectively cultivate diversity in the biomedical research workforce (2) The role of mentorship in the training and success of biomedical researchers throughout their careers (3) The role of institutional infrastructure support and climate as a factor in the success of underrepresented researchers and (4) The potential role of institutional affiliation, academic pedigree, and various conscious and unconscious factors on review outcomes. Our comments on each area are listed below: The Appropriate Transition Points where NIH's Training, Career Development and Research Grant Programs could most effectively Cultivate Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce Our comments address two areas identified by the Working Group in this category: (a) the entry into graduate degree programs and (b) the appointment from a post-doctoral position to the first independent scientific position. Entry into Graduate Degree Programs We encourage the NIH to continue and even increase the number of minority supplement awards available to attract undergraduate and graduate students to enter research careers. We believe the R25 mechanisms may be useful for creating summer research programs for pre-doctoral candidates. In addition, we encourage the NIH to explore the possibility of partnering with other minority training programs such as the McNair Scholars Program (http://www2.ed.gov/programs/triomcnair/index.html) and a new federal program in the Education Department to strengthen minority participation in STEM-related fields (http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/education-department-awards-nearly-29-million-colleges-and-universities-strength). Appointment from a Post-Doctoral Position to the First Independent Scientific Position We wish to address two issues facing professionals at this career stage. First, we are concerned that the length of postdoctoral training, which is usually two years, may be insufficient to enable potential researchers to become independent investigators. This issue may be even more relevant for ethnic minorities who may not have had the same access to supportive mentoring prior to this stage. We propose more flexibility in postdoctoral training from two to perhaps as many as three or more years. An extended research training experience will allow early stage investigators to gain sufficient experience in effective grant writing, develop a sound research agenda, and build professional networks. Second, we are concerned that economic pressures may disproportionately inhibit racial/ethnic minority researchers from seeking postdoctoral training. Many racial/ethnic minorities may be so overly burdened with repaying educational loans that they feel pressure to take faculty positions at teaching universities, which in many cases offer a higher salary than the base NIH post-doctoral salary. To make postdoctoral training programs more attractive, we recommend increasing the base salaries of NIH postdoctoral training programs. In addition, we recommend expanding the NIH Loan Repayment Program to increase the number of awards given to racial/ethnic minority scientists. We also recommend dedicating more K99 scientist development awards to racial/ethnic minority investigators. The Role of Mentorship in the Training and Success of Biomedical Researchers throughout their Careers Our comments address two areas in this category: (a) The Development of Relationships among Professional Societies, Institutions, and Individuals to Develop Mentoring Programs and (b) the Creation and Expansion of Institutional Mentoring Programs. Development of Relationships between Professional Societies, Institutions, and Individuals to Develop Mentoring Programs We recommend that the NIH offer collaborative funding awards [e.g. with the Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research (AHRQ) or Practice-Based Research Networks (PBRNs)] to increase minority representation in existing networks of clinicians already involved in research. Training in research design, manuscript publication, and other areas of research will increase the participation of racial/ethnic minority clinicians and accelerate the translation of research into evidence-based practice, thus also potentially reaching more minority communities and contributing to reducing health disparities. We also recommend that the NIH support joint collaborations between institutions with current Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) and other established structures (such as the CTN), and provide mechanisms to facilitate such collaborations in an effort to augment training activities and maximize resources. Creation and Expansion of Institutional Mentoring Programs We recommend that the NIH take advantage of structures established within current research networks, such as the CTN, to create mentored research opportunities specifically for racial/ethnic minority investigators. For example, during the ARRA years, the CTN network was able to provide funding through the existing U10 grants to support junior to mid-career level investigators that showed some promise, despite funding limitations (funding was limited to one year). NIH should consider funding a "minority scholars program" within these networks using the existing structure of senior investigators as mentors for a period of 3-5 years depending on the level of training needed. The Role of Institutional Infrastructure Support and Climate as a Factor in the Success of Underrepresented Researchers The heavier teaching loads at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other undergraduate institutions where underrepresented faculty are disproportionately located may be incompatible with participating in NIH training opportunities. We recommend that the NIH review the job descriptions at such institutions and develop mechanisms (e.g., full time summer experiences over multiple summers) to enable those faculty to participate in NIH training opportunities. The Potential Role of Institutional Affiliation, Academic Pedigree, and Various Conscious and Unconscious Factors on Review Outcomes Our comment in this category focuses on the research to identify bias in the NIH Peer Review System. Research on the NIH Peer Review System to Determine Appropriate Methods or Interventions to Identify and if necessary Redress Bias, including Efforts to Anonymize Applications or Test the Effects of Unconscious Bias Training on Outcomes We recommend that the Working Group expand its conceptualization of bias to consider several additional issues that may affect the ability of ethnic minorities to compete successfully for research grants. First, less research is published on ethnic minorities. For that reason, those studying ethnic minority issues may find it more difficult to establish that their research builds on an extensive body of work. Second, grant reviewers as well as editorial boards frequently expect those conducting research on ethnic minorities to utilize comparison designs to identify differences between ethnic minorities and mainstream populations. Yet, many ethnic minority research researchers who do not favor such designs argue that the use of comparison designs changes the research question to ethnic differences rather than the original intent to study psychological issues within a specific ethnic group Moreover, ethnic differences are frequently difficult to interpret because the differences may be due to other factors (measurement nonequivalence, ethnicity may be a proxy for SES, etc.). A number of racial/ethnic minority researchers within and outside the CTN have discussed the limitations of traditional research methods for studying racial/ethnic minorities (Burlew, Weekes, Montgomery et al., 2011; Hall, 2001; Sue & Sue, 2003). Thank you for this opportunity to respond to this Notice. References Burlew, A.K., Weekes, J., Montgomery, L., Feaster, D., Robbins, M., Rosa, C., Ruglass, L., Venner, K., & Wu, L. (2011). Conducting Research with Ethnic Minorities: Methodological Lessons from the NIDA Clinical Trials Networks. American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse. 37 (5)324-332. Hall, G. (2001). Psychotherapy research with ethnic minorities: Empirical, ethical, and conceptual issues. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 69, 502−510. Sue, S & Sue, L. (2003). Ethnic Research is Good Science in G. Bernal, J. Trimble, A.K. Burlew and F. Leong (eds). Handbook of Racial and Ethnic Minority Psychology.
02/24/2012 at 05:05:32 PM Organization The University of Louisville, School of Medicine Graduate Council Louisville, KY First, on behalf of the University of Louisville School of Medicine's Graduate Council and the School's Black Biomedical Graduate Student Organization, I'd like to thank the NIH for both their past efforts at enhancing diversity and their current effort to address the racial disparity in success rates on R01 grant applications. I can tell you that the efforts are much appreciated. Diversity enhances the University, the School, and the biomedical research enterprise as a whole by providing different world views. Competing for NIH R01s is one of the measures of professional success in academic research used in promotion and tenure decisions. Thus it helps to define makeup of the academic medical research community. The disparity in R01 success rates for Black scientists documented by Ginther et al. clearly impacts diversity by helping to define who gets tenure. The disparity is likely due to one of two things: 1) outright bias in the grant review process; or 2) a deficiency in our selection and or training of Black scientists. Although possible, it seems unlikely that the large disparity seen in R01 funding success for Black applicants is due to frank and outright bias. Nevertheless, NIH should examine whether there is even a hint of bias in the review process. It seems more likely that the low success rate is due to faults in training programs, and it is most important to examine this admittedly complex issue. It is worth noting that the study by Ginther et al used a cohort of R01 grant applicants from 2000-2006 who were probably trained in the 1990s. Biomedical science training programs have changed. However, this does not diminish the need to reexamine what we do, how we do it, and what measures are likely to be most successful in alleviating the disparity. Equally important is determining what metrics to use in evaluating success at various levels in the training pipeline. For most biomedical training programs the goal is and has always been to have the equivalent numbers of minority students in training, as there are in the population. This has been difficult to attain because students from disadvantaged backgrounds are often less likely to succeed educationally and be eligible to apply to a graduate program. Without enhancing early education it will be difficult to attain numbers of trainees equal to the number of minorities in the population. This problem may be outside the realm of NIH to address directly. However, one way to increase the applicant pool is to have more positive visibility in minority communities. Scientists need to be more engaged in enhancing this visibility. To achieve this NIH could require or incentivize community engagement for students and mentors receiving minority funding. Such engagement could come in the form of training minority high school students in the lab, or participating in minority-based science fairs for example. There are some well developed programs that promote this kind of outreach. NIH should be able to identify which of these programs are most useful and support them more fully. We should also carefully examine factors that led past successful African-American students to choose their careers. A careful data-driven analysis of this may provide clues to what incentives work and don't work. We also need to examine what survival skills are needed to be successful in competing for limited NIH dollars, and how we assure that African -American students have access to training in these skills. Once we identify what they are, NIH minority funding should require that students receive ample training and that there are intermediate measurable outcomes used to assess its effectiveness. Incentives for training minority students shouldn't just focus on increasing numbers, but more on enhancing training to ultimately make trainees more successful in competing for R01 funding should they choose an academic career. There is significant discussion among academics and administrators about how well standardized tests predict future success. There are also studies suggesting that standardized tests are culturally biased. Many academics have anecdotal or limited data suggesting that GRE scores are poor predictors of success when using graduation as the endpoint. The ETS has just modified the GRE test and scoring metrics. This may make it difficult to examine issues related to bias in the new GRE in the near term. However, until there is sufficient data to argue that the new test is a good predictor of success, we should consider deemphasizing it as an evaluation tool, particularly in reviewing institutional or individual training grants. Furthermore, a longitudinal study of the utility of standardized tests in predicting ultimate success (as measured by R01sucess for example), should be considered.  
02/24/2012 at 05:20:46 PM Organization NIA-funded Resource Centers for Minority Aging Research (RCMAR) Los Angeles, CA Please refer to the attached letter from the NIA-funded RCMARs to the NIH Director Working Group on Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce, which includes a response to this comment. Please refer to the attached letter from the NIA-funded RCMARs to the NIH Director Working Group on Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce, which includes a response to this comment. Please refer to the attached letter from the NIA-funded RCMARs to the NIH Director Working Group on Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce, which includes a response to this comment. The current directors of the National Institute on Aging funded Resource Centers for Minority Aging Research (RCMAR) welcome this opportunity to provide information to the NIH Working Group in Diversity in Biomedical Research. The RCMAR directors care deeply about this critically important topic and applaud the NIH for its leadership in addressing diversity issues. The RCMAR program began in 1997 with the mission of developing minority faculty to conduct behavioral and clinical research that ultimately will contribute to the evidence base needed to reduce health disparities for older adults from under-represented minority groups in the US. This program is now completing its third, five-year cycle of funding. During the 15 years of its existence, the six RCMAR sites have provided pilot awards and a multi-year mentoring program to 231 scholars. RCMAR's have successfully advanced the academic careers of approximately 90 percent of the minority faculty who have been funded by this program. Leading this highly successful program has provided the RCMAR directors and our senior faculty with a wealth of experience in mentoring and developing minority faculty. RCMAR alumni include many minority faculty who are leaders in academic medical centers and in government. These individuals include: Dr. Kimberlydawn Wisdom, current Vice President of Community Health Education and Wellness, Henry Ford Health System, and Michigan's First Surgeon General; Dr. Yvette Roubideaux (Rosebud Sioux), current Director of the U.S. Indian Health Service, Department of Health and Human Services; Dr. Margaret Moss (Mandan/Arikara/Hidatsa), Chief of Staff (former), House Select Committee on Aging; Dr. Sharon Youmans, current Associate Dean for Diversity, Associate Professor of Clinical Pharmacy, Vice Chair for Educational Affairs, UCSF School of Pharmacy; Dr. Arleen F. Brown, Associate Professor of Medicine and Director of the UCLA CTSI Community Engagement Core; Dr. Shadi Martin, Associate Professor of Social Work, United Arab Emirates University and the University of Alabama; Dr. Stephanie Garrett, Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, Morehouse School of Medicine; and Dr. Quyen Ngo-Metzger, Chief, Data Branch, Bureau of Primary Health Care, Office of Quality and Data, Department of Health and Human Services, Health Services and Resources Administration. Below, we provide input in the areas identified by the working group most relevant to the postdoctoral fellows and entry-level faculty who are funded as scholars and pilot investigators through the RCMAR program. We also identify several critical areas that warrant additional consideration. Our response mirrors the areas highlighted in your statement. Biomedical Research Workforce Pipeline: Little evidence suggests specific transition points more than others along the developmental continuum at which investments in career preparation and research more effectively cultivate diversity. Our collective experience suggests that rather than focusing on one or two steps in this process, coordinated support along the full spectrum is more likely to increase diversity in the workforce. For this reason, we strongly encourage developing and expanding an array of programs that support minority scholars ranging from introductory efforts at the high-school and undergraduate level, moving to increasingly more intensive training at graduate, post-doctoral, and post-residency stages. The current biomedical research workforce pipeline is a leaky conduit. Absence of support at any point during the development of a career leads to fewer individuals advancing to the next phase. In our experience, a key element of success for junior faculty is protected research time. Ideally these include securing diversity supplements and career-development awards for minority scholars at the time of initial faculty appointment. Without protected research time at levels on a par with non-minority peers, minority faculty are unlikely to be able to successfully compete for the needed future extramural research support and to contribute to our scientific knowledge base at levels that would be expected for successful promotion. We recommend that the NIH develop programs that give a point advantage to the highest quality proposals from minority investigators who are applying in either the K or R series. Setting explicit goals for the proportion of applications funded led by minority investigators is another approach to consider. Adding representation of tenured minority faculty on study sections also is highly desirable. Given the findings in the Ginther report, we strongly encourage the NIH to fund research on the NIH Peer Review system to determine appropriate methods or interventions to identify and, if necessary, redress bias, including efforts to make applications anonymous or test the effects of unconscious bias on outcomes. 3 The role of mentorship in the training and success of biomedical researchers throughout their careers: Intensive, multi-year mentoring is needed especially during the time when an individual assumes her/his first faculty appointment. Tailored programs are critical to providing these investigators' specific skills that include, but are not limited to, grant writing, scientific writing skills, the development and use of rigorous state-of-the-art research methods, the development of the leadership skills needed to direct multidisciplinary teams of collaborators and scientists, negotiation skills and, in particular for behavioral scientists who conduct community based intervention research, skills in community engagement and partnered research methods. Multi-year mentoring is also critical for professional socialization. We advocate continued use and expansion of center mechanisms as a structure to prepare minority faculty. Institutional training grants, while helpful, provide minimal faculty support to underwrite the labor-intensive mentoring required to equip these young scientists with the requisite skills. The center mechanism also allows for engaging diverse, multidisciplinary teams of mid-level and senior faculty needed to teach across the broad skill set required for success of entrylevel minority faculty. This structure promotes a highly desirable and not easily duplicated learning environment best suited to faculty development practices. We encourage the NIH to recognize that mentoring young investigators is labor- and time-intensive and that expanding existing individual and center mechanisms (K24, P30, and P60), coupled with developing potentially new programs, will permit more faculty to devote time to advancing the careers of promising minority trainees in the biomedical sciences. In summary, the RCMAR program specifically targets minority scholars who are in postdoctoral/post-residency research training programs or who have been recently appointed as faculty. Therefore, we have extensive, direct experience in assisting entry-level scientists to develop successful research careers. Successful minority faculty research development requires regular and high-quality mentoring. P series or other center mechanisms are particularly well suited to supporting such training and mentoring: both enable the assemblage of a critical mass of senior faculty who can effectively and efficiently work with entry-level faculty in their specific areas of expertise. Institutional mentoring programs can play an important role in supporting and developing minority faculty, but many of these programs are not specifically connected to mentoring in the context of specific research. The RCMAR program has found that collaborating closely with mentees on specific research projects provides a tangible framework for teaching needed skills and often generates peer-reviewed publications and the preliminary data that enables scholars to successfully compete for R-level funding. For these reasons, we encourage the working group to endorse ways to support and expand institutional programs that incorporate research project-based learning, rather than abstract, stand-alone instruction. Obtaining federal grant support is highly competitive. We cannot emphasize enough how critical it is to provide high-level training in the preparation of research grants. In our collective experience, grant writing skills and the strategic selection of RFAs and PAs to which to respond are critical skills and a primary focus of the training provided by many RCMARs. Leveraging of CTSA support at our respective institutions also has enhanced the infrastructure availability to minority faculty in many of our centers. The working group also asks for commentary about the importance of role models. We strongly emphasize the importance of role models in providing a prototype for minority faculty. Access to individuals already successful in academia positively affects the training and success of underrepresented biomedical researchers throughout their careers. Virtually all RCMARs encourage our past pilot awardees to remain connected to center faculty at least until completing the tenure process. Many of our faculty are connected to the centers for years and continue to participate in progress sessions, methods seminars, and scientific writing retreats. This multi-year relationship with mid-level and senior faculty who exemplify the types of scientists entry-level faculty hope to emulate provides a critical structure for continued learning and support, and a secure venue for guidance. In addition to the needed mentoring and skills development, minority faculty face challenges from higheducational debt, social isolation in their home departments and, to varying degrees, institutional racism. The best means for combating educational debt is continuing, even expanding, the Loan Repayment Program. Social isolation is a very real obstacle to addressing the current dearth of mid-level and senior minority faculty. 4 An important benefit of the RCMAR program is that the funded minority faculty, locally and as part of the national initiative, have created a community to support and advance their careers through peer mentoring and collaboration. A hidden benefit of NIH centers such as RCMAR and Project EXPORT is their ability to combat the professional and social isolation that minority and women faculty report as a major threat to their success in traditional academic settings. The NIH is encouraged to continue to support and expand the resources through the center mechanism to create these "islands of critical mass" in settings plagued by the severe underrepresentation of minority faculty. One of the most effective ways to change the climate at our institutions is to advance the careers of large numbers of minority faculty who then assume leadership roles.
02/24/2012 at 05:31:53 PM Self     The critical issue is the unfair hiring and promotion practices that occur in academic institutions. Institutions that receive federal and state funding are allowed, without any opposition, to either not hire top minority candidates at the assistant professor levels and/or not promote well deserving minority candidates to the associate professor, full professor and leadership positions. Minority clinician scientists who have achieved a level academic success (that is at least equal to their majority counterparts) are routinely paid less and/or denied/delayed promotion. They are devalued and in some regards abused by the superiors while the institution turns a blinded-eye and/or blame the minority for the situation. I and several of my peers have been expected to achieve levels that are superior to our majority peers to only receive less compensation (salary and support). When I complained to the senior leadership of my institution, I was told that the leadership valued my contributions and they did not want me to leave but their intervention in the situation was slow and inadequate. I myself despite having more NIH funding and publications then some full professor at my institution had my promotion to associate professor delayed for a year by my chairman (without justification) because he refused to move my application forward. The institution, like many other institutions did not intervene until they feared that I was going to bring forward legal action. Why am I fighting to receive what others are receiving freely. My friends who were also academically successful have left academic medicine for private practice. This is a loss to the scientific community and the nation's healthcare system. Many of them were trained by the NCI or received funding from the NCI and the DOD. The society did not receive a return on their investment, because these rising stars were run out of academics by the institutions that we (the society) are relying on (funding) to end healthcare disparities and to resolve the workforce diversity problem. Cancer center directors when asked about minority scientist or diversity, they are allowed to give the simple excuse of "we cannot find any qualified applicants" or they talk about the one or may be two that are on staff who have been able to survive at their negative institutional culture. They are allowed to pass off this excuse while knowing that there are minority scientists who cannot find academic jobs and who are looking to move up the ranks that they could hire, develop and promote if they only had the will to do so. They also have minority scientist come and go from their institution without any questions asked by outsiders. Our current process of trying to produce more minority scientist will never result in the development of a critical mass because we are hemorrhaging on the other end. This is just like giving multiple blood transfusions and medications to maintain someone blood pressure while they continue to bleed a liter of blood per hour from a known injury to a great vessel. In general this will lead to the death of the patient long before it will result in clotting off of the vessel without surgical intervention. We must intervene and stop the hemorrhage if we are going to survive.

I believe that many of the programs that identify and develop minority talent are and can be successful and they should be supported and the number of participants should be increased. However, there must be fairness in the hiring, firing and promotion of minorities in the workplace of academic centers or this talent will leave academics (or not go into at all) as the many others have before them. To create a system of fairness, deny funding (core grants, center grants and large funding) to institutions who fail to create a fair workplace.

     
02/24/2012 at 05:38:40 PM Self     My response to this request for information is based on personal experience as a female African American biomedical researcher supported by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute since early in my academic career.

One area not included in the Working Group deliberations is a lack of diversity in MD, MD/PhD trained investigators (physician-scientist). Underrepresented residents often complete pediatric and internal medicine subspecialty fellowships. There may be opportunity to train a cadre of physician-scientists through NIH support of extended fellowships and/or public health training to increase the pool of underrepresented investigators performing biomedical/translational research. Programs to provide intensive training, faculty mentoring and collaboration with PhD researcher would enhance the probability of success.

Specific responses to the deliberations of the Working Group to increase the diversity of the biomedical research workforce are below.

Biomedical Research Workforce Pipeline

I. The appropriate transition points where NIH's training, career development and research grant programs could cultivate diversity in the biomedical research workforce.

Response: Entry into graduate degree programs, and transition from graduate degree to post-doctoral fellowships are critical transition points. To improve recruitment and retention of underrepresented scientists, an increase in the diversity of faculty mentors will be critical to achieving these goals. The more challenging interventions purposed in the pipeline are 1) appointment from a post-doctoral position to the first independent scientific (faculty) position, and 2) award of the first independent research grant from NIH. The transition from postdoc to a faculty position is very difficult for PhD trained investigators in the competitive funding environment that currently exists for instructor/assistant professor tenure tract positions. Most universities require a K award, K99/R00 or R01 funding of new hires which is very difficult to achieve without focused mentoring during postdoctoral training. It would be interesting to collect the statistics of the PI with multiple R01 grants and their effort to identify underrepresented PhD postdoc to be supported by diversity supplements. Is there a way to encourage PIs with a long history of R01 funding to support underrepresented graduate, and post-doctoral trainees and junior faculty? These are difficult concepts to implement into practice but is illustrates the challenges of leveling the playing ground in biomedical research.

To aid young scientists secure the first independent R01 grant the NIH instituted the early stage investigator consideration which has significantly increased the number of awards. Has the number of underrepresented investigator receiving R01 grants increased? What can be done to close the gap? I serve as director of a Program to Increase Diversity Among Individuals Engaged in Research (PRIDE) funded by NHLBI to train underrepresented, disadvantaged and disabled junior faculty how to obtain independent grant funding and to learn functional and applied genomics bench research skills. The program has proven to be successful at achieving these goals however postdoctoral fellows are not allowed to participate where mentoring and grant-writing techniques would be invaluable to help them compete for funding and secure faculty positions. The focus of the program could be broadened or replicated for postdoctoral fellows.

II. The role of mentorship in the training and success of biomedical researchers throughout their careers

Response: Relationships between professional societies, institutions, and individuals to establish mentoring programs and mentoring applicants prior to submission would make a significant impact. We have observed a significant increase in funding of mentees trained in the NHLBI-sponsored SIPID and PRIDE programs with intensive mentoring and grant-writing training.

III. The influence of role models whose qualities and characteristics can positively affect the training and success of underrepresented biomedical researchers through their careers

Response: A second area for consideration to increase diversity is to expand the number of underrepresented biomedical research faculty at middle to senior academic levels to serve as role models to recruit and impact the pipeline at all levels. There are very limited role models and in the current funding climate it will be difficult for physician-scientists to conduct biomedical research without NIH salary support. The list of possible interventions did not included ways to support/expand underrepresented faculty mentors. Maybe consideration can be given to establishing an NIH Director's Award focused on increasing diversity.

IV. The role of NIH messaging in encouraging underrepresented researchers to apply for NIH fellowships and grants

Response: excellent ideas; at less well-organized universities faculty are not made aware of grant funding opportunities in a timely manner. However this will require a system to identify potential underrepresented trainees and faculty. The NIH might work with universities to encourage underrepresented trainees and faculty to join a "diversity listserv" dedicated to this effort.

V. The potential role of institutional affiliation, academic pedigree, and various conscious and unconscious factors on review outcomes

Response: Exploration of the possible influences of racial, ethnic, gender, affinity, or other biases. It is difficult to quantify the influence of racial and gender on grant scores and ultimately funding decision. A more challenging question is how these biases can be corrected? Maybe it is not a matter of intentionally giving underrepresented investigators lower scores, rather inflating the scores of investigators with the "track record" of funding and leaders in the field and/or affinity. On study sections I have observed biosketches where investigators are identified as PI on up to six R01 grants. This is not to say that these prolific investigators are not leaders in the field, but if diversity is to occur in the limited funding environment then NIH might consideration increasing the number of grants funded or capping the maximum number of R01 grants a single investigator can hold at any given time. This would allow a greater pool of diverse investigators to become R01 funded investigators.

VI. Research on the NIH Peer Review system to determine appropriate methods or interventions to identify and if necessary redress bias, including efforts to anonymize applications or test the effects of unconscious bias training on outcomes.

Response: Yes! I have witnessed very biased grant reviews during my service on study section over the years. However, this was not as common when serving on special emphasis panels. While ultimately the investigators and environment/resources will need to be taken into account in the final overall impact score, but if a system could be developed to make anonymous the research strategy/science review might be reasonable. Maybe a two-part, impact score with the anonymized research strategy score carrying the greater weight. The NIH should state explicitly in the review packages as a matter of policy that racial/gender/affinity bias during the grant review process will not be tolerated and reiterated during instructions at the beginning of each study section by the SRO and chairperson. This might help serve to encourage reviewers to conduct a more objective review. However, ultimately it required a concerted effort on the part of each grant reviewer to make a positive impact on this problem that continues to work again establishing a diverse biomedical workforce in the US.

The following issues are most important for the working group to address:

1. Transition from postdoc to faculty positions. A program modeled after the NHLBI-PRIDE program could be easily implemented.

2. Increasing/maintaining underrepresented faculty mentors because this is the most effective way to increase diversity in the work force. A Director Diversity Award would aid this effort.

3. Completing a study to determine the role of race/gender and affinity in the review process. This issue continues to be a factor that require direct and aggressive measure to overcome.

1. Required PIs with multiple R01 grants to identify and train underrepresented graduate, and post-doctoral trainees and junior faculty?

2. To aid PhD postdoc to transition into faculty positions support a PRIDE program for postdoc fellows.

3. Consideration establishing an NIH Director's Award focused on increasing diversity in mid and senior level faculty.

3. Establish an NIH "diversity listserv" and work with universities to encourage underrepresented trainees and faculty to join to receive funding opportunity announcements.

4. Consider limited the number of R01 grants that a single investigator can hold at one time.

5. Consider a two-part, impact score: 1) an anonymized research strategy score submitted by the reviewer before knowing who identity of the PI (greater weight) and 2) the investigator/environment/resources score (lesser weight).

6. The development of an explicit diversity statement included in the review packages as a matter of policy that racial/gender/affinity bias during the grant review process will not be tolerated and reiterated during instructions at the beginning of each study section by the SRO and chairperson.

 
02/24/2012 at 05:52:41 PM Organization Science and Engineering Alliance, Inc. (SEA) Washington, DC In my opinion, the role of institutional infrastructure support and climate as a factor in the success of underrepresented researchers is the most important issue to address. This is because until this matter is addressed, the goal of achieving a successfully enhanced workforce diversification, by including underutilized minorities throughout various research career stages, cannot be met nor sustained for the future improvement of the nation's health. The issue identified under Comment 1 is coupled to inadequate funding going to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and other small minority-serving institutions (MSIs). This lack of funding results in a weakened research infrastructure and the inability of qualified researchers working at these institutions to engage in meaningful competitive research. Based on historical fact, my point will be explained further.

In 1957, A. Hunter Dupree published "Science in the Federal Government: A History of Policies and Activities to 1940." This landmark study traced the development of the policies and activities of the U.S. government in science from the establishment of the federal Constitution to 1940. A detailed examination of Dupree's work reveals that beginning with the Constitutional Convention in 1787 the framers of the Constitution understood how important science would be to the growth and development of the young nation. Equally, they also understood that the federal government would not be able to produce all of the scientific research that would be needed to advance the quality of life for the people. While the call to "establish a national university" was rejected, both sides of the policy debate agreed, "universities and learned societies were in fact internal improvements." The universities became a reality when land-grant colleges and universities were established by each state to receive the benefits of "perpetual federal support" articulated and mandated by the Morrill Act of 1862. The mission and funding to the 1862 land-grant colleges and universities was significantly expanded by another federal funding mechanism called the Hatch Act of 1887, with the outreach mission of these well-funded institutions further expanded by federal support through yet another federal funding stream called the Smith-Lever Act of 1914. With such funding sources from the federal government, a steady stream of non land-grant majority institutions both public and private became recipients from the federal research enterprise as the young nation's network of universities expanded. With policies in place that transcended what was originally envisioned, this strong and perpetual source of funding from the federal government enabled many of these institutions to build research infrastructures that continue to survive and thrive today. Today, 55 years from the time when Dupree's work was published, these majority colleges and universities are classed as "Tier 1" acknowledging them as established, prestigious, research extensive institutions based on their long history of research productivity.

It is against the backdrop of Dupree's work that the following comments are submitted regarding "The role of institutional infrastructure support and climate as factors in the success of underrepresented researchers." Many of the majority institutions that are today classed as "Tier 1" institutions, continue to benefit significantly from access to a steady and sustained flow of federal support in the form of Federal R&D. The single critical issue facing institutions in the U.S. that serve a high population of minority students, especially those designated as HBCUs, is a "severe lack of financial resources." Founded during and immediately after slavery was officially abolished in 1865, these institutions' lack of financial support problem has existed from the beginning of the establishing of the United States and the problem continues today. The institutional infrastructure cannot become what it needs to become without adequate financial resources. The question is often discussed in workshops, conferences and seminars of "what do HBCUs need to do to become competitive with majority institutions in competing for Federal R&D support?" The answer is that they need: (1) a steady and sustained pool of financial resources to help build their research infrastructures and (2) time. Its important to note that the Tier 1 institutions have received steady and sustained federal support for nearly 150 years.

Since all components of a research enterprise are synergistically coupled, it follows that the cloud of mediocrity and unfulfilled dreams and aspirations of the researchers and their students working in these environments reflects the problem of inadequate financial resources. Until the nation's policymakers address the inequities of funding in this area of education, every generation coming in the future will continue to respond to Request for Information (RFI) on a subject that already has become dejá vu. Simply comparing the language in the Morrill Act of 1862 and the "afterthought" language in the Morrill Act of 1890 that came nearly 30 years after slavery clearly reveals that the 1890 institutions serving underutilized members of society were destined to struggle from the time of their inception because of inadequate federal support to the two sets of institutions. If the nation cannot fix the unequal funding that exists among private institutions of higher learning it certainly can do so among the 1890 institutions by "ensuring 'adequate perpetual funding' of these institutions as is the case for the 1862 institutions." The term "adequate" will be thoroughly defined if what is presented here is taken seriously by leaders in the federal government with the power and influence to orchestrate the change proposed in this response.

With proper funding, underutilized individuals working in underutilized institutions that are located in underutilized regions making monumental strides in serving underutilized students could add to the competitiveness of the U.S. For example, eliminating the funding disparities between Maryland's 1890 land-grant institution (Morgan State University) and Maryland's 1862 land-grant institution (University of Maryland at College Park) would benefit the economy of the Washington Metropolitan region and the nation as a whole. At the least, providing sustained federal support to both institutions has the potential of increasing the talent pool needed for the technical workforce. The same would be true for under-financed institutions in other regions like the ones in the regions referred to as EPSCoR (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research) states. Over time, addressing these disparities is certain to lead to positive impacts on the productivity in every sector of the nation and in other regions around the globe.

Despite the prevalence of programs aimed at broadening the participation of minorities in scientific initiatives at the federal level, throughout the past three decades many HBCUs have remained woefully underrepresented and underutilized. This is not due to a lack of interest or capability of the scientists and researchers at these institutions, but more so a lack of capacity that is linked to lack of adequate financial resources. Employing a multilayered approach focused on harnessing the collective capabilities of four HBCUs (i.e., the sum is greater than the individual parts), the Science and Engineering Alliance, Inc. (SEA) was formed in 1990 with the explicit goal of helping these schools increase their capacity to participate in Federal R&D projects leading to improved research infrastructures and expanded funding.

After 21 years serving in this capacity, SEA now serves the broader HBCU research community and Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs). Similar to the four original SEA HBCUs, many of these institutions possess demonstrated "pockets of technical strengths," but lack the focused attention and resources needed to help them navigate the path towards engagement.

A specific way the issue of funding to HBCUs can be addressed is by engaging the services and expertise of SEA to assist NIH in its goal to increase R&D support to these institutions. Attachment 1 provides more details about the SEA program and its impact on broadening participation to include underutilized individuals, institutions and regions in federal R&D programs.

SEA: A Unique Resource for the Nation® "Helping America Remain Globally Competitive in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)" "If the Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) and other Federal opportunities had not been broken down and translated into clear and concise technical language by Science and Engineering Alliance, Inc. (SEA), our institutions would not have been able to participate in the collaboration. We are aware of the array of technical strengths at our institutions, but due to the high teaching load of our faculty, following-up outside the classroom with our students based on their many needs, coupled with limited financial resources and weak research infrastructure, we often are constrained by time and not in a position to respond to Federal opportunities. The services provided by SEA strengthens the ability of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and positions them to add to the technical discussions within the federal sector" - Dr. Willie F. Trotty, Vice President, Research and Development and Dean of the Graduate School, Prairie View A&M University. Despite the prevalence of programs aimed at broadening the participation of minorities in scientific initiatives at the federal level, throughout the past three decades many HBCUs have remained woefully underrepresented and underutilized. This is not due to a lack of capability of the scientists and researchers at these institutions, but more so a lack of capacity. Employing a multilayered approach focused on harnessing the collective capabilities of four HBCUs, the SEA was formed in 1990 with the explicit goal of helping these schools increase their capacity to participate in Federal R&D funding. These four institutions, Alabama A&M University, Jackson State University, Prairie View A&M University, and Southern University and A&M College, have since experienced significant increases in federally funded research projects. By strategically partnering these HBCUs with opportunities at renowned research institutions such as Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and agencies such as the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), SEA has achieved, and in many cases exceeded, its goal of creating access and opening doors of opportunity for underutilized individuals, institutions and regions that historically do not participate in federally funded research at the rates comparable to others. By demonstrating that the "sum is greater than the individual parts," SEA has and continues to exist as a conduit for enhancing the presence and impact of HBCUs in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields. After 21 years serving in this capacity, SEA emerges as an entity uniquely positioned to now serve the broader HBCU research community. Similar to the four original SEA HBCUs, many of these institutions possess demonstrated technical strengths, but lack the focused attention needed to help them navigate the path towards engagement. To that end, SEA is already functioning in this new role by applying its expertise to engagement of HBCUs in the NSFs newest long-term research program, the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) project. Awarded grants from the NSF since 2005, SEA to date is facilitating 15 HBCUs participation in NEON. According to data from the NSF/SRS Survey of Federal Support to Universities, Colleges and Nonprofit Institutions, from 1990 to 2009 the cumulative combined Federal R&D to the four SEA institutions has totaled $1,011,446,000. One of the SEA schools ranks second behind Howard University in Federal R&D to HBCUs and all SEA institutions rank in the top 10 of HBCUs receiving Federal R&D. NIH research activities to the SEA schools reported in the NIH Research Portfolio Online Report Tools (RePORT), is on the next page. The most recent NIH data for the schools goes from 1992 - 2007. To compare apples to apples, the two snapshots from the NIH Research Portfolio Online Report Tools (RePORT) reflect trend funding to the SEA schools (i.e., three 1890 Land-Grant and one non Land-Grant) and some majority institutions in the SEA region (three 1862 Land-Grants, i.e., Auburn University, AL, Louisiana State University, LA, Texas A&M University, TX and one non Land-Grant, i.e., Southern Mississippi University, MS). The data shows that over the 15-years captured, the combined NIH research activity to the SEA schools total $113 M compared to a combined total of $394 M to the majority schools over the same time period. It should be noted that much of the combined funding to the SEA schools was not for research activities, but went to the Jackson Heart Study (nearly $18 M) that was lead by Jackson State University. These funds are categorized in the NIH RePORT System as Public Health Outreach, with another $10.5 M identified as Training Grants and another nearly $700 K identified as Fellowships and Other Awards. Therefore, the actual Research Grant funds from NIH to the SEA schools total about $95 M. On the other hand, "Construction Funds" provided to the majority institutions are not included in the total, which would have brought the combined total to these institutions in excess of $400 M, more than four times the amount awarded to the SEA schools for research. SEA is prepared to employ its services to the broader HBCU research community, to other small minority-serving institutions (MSIs) and to Federal agencies desiring to increase their R&D support to these institutions.
02/24/2012 at 06:11:20 PM Organization National Postdoctoral Association Washington, DC Please see the attachment for the full response, which includes an introduction and references and is organized by topic rather than comment. We have also inserted all of the references at the end of comment 3.

This response focuses on three over-arching themes of relevance to diversity in the biomedical workforce: (I) Transition Into and Out of the Postdoctoral Fellowship; (II) Mentorship; and (III) Diversity in the Peer Review process.

I. TRANSITION INTO AND OUT OF THE POSTDOCTORAL POSITION

The NIH has identified transition points "where NIH's training, career development and research grant programs could most effectively cultivate diversity in the biomedical research workforce." Two of these points are especially crucial in regard to maintaining and increasing diversity in the workforce during the postdoctoral experience:

- Transition from a doctoral graduate degree to postdoctoral training

- Appointment from a postdoctoral position to the first independent research position.

In regard to these transition points, the biomedical community perhaps best understands the issues surrounding the advancement of women. In 2006, the National Academies of Science published a report "To Recruit and Advance: Women Students and Faculty in U.S. Science and Engineering" that focused on women in the STEM disciplines. The study revealed the following challenges that face female postdocs:

- Postdocs receive insufficient advising and mentoring during the graduate program.

- Postdocs had negative experiences during their graduate careers.

- There may be bias against female postdoctoral candidates.

A 2007 report showed that, although a majority of both men and women biomedical postdocs feel their professional preparation is adequate, women are less confident they will obtain a PI position and tenure [2]. More recent reports found that postdoc women are more likely than postdoc men to opt against the academic or principal investigator (PI) path [3].

It should be noted that, while the literature is sparse in the context of other postdoctoral diversity constituencies (e.g., postdocs with disabilities and postdocs from disadvantaged backgrounds), anecdotal evidence suggests that these challenges translate to these other contexts. We concur with these points and offer the following observations, based on the NPA's interactions with postdocs. Many graduate students conduct their search for a postdoc from a short-term rather than long-term point of view. In the competitive life sciences especially, anxious graduate students tend to take the first offer for postdoctoral experience that they receive, without considering the ramifications to their long-term success as researchers. For many, landing in an appropriate postdoc position is often a matter of chance, rather than of understanding their options and making a thoughtful choice. This situation is compounded by the lack of knowledge of the various career options available and a method for determining which option would best fit their long-term life and career goals. The NPA finds that postdocs from all groups are often encouraged by their advisors to pursue academic positions to the exclusion of all other career options.

Especially in the postdoctorate, new scientists often suffer from a lack of support in regard to career advancement. They depend upon their advisor/supervisor almost exclusively for direction, which often provides them a very limited view of their career options in the biomedical world. These issues may be intensified for graduate students and postdocs from diverse groups, who often are more isolated from their peers and institutional communities - and the knowledge they might provide - than graduate students and postdocs from majority populations. The NPA's participation in several "Preparing Future Faculty" institutes for graduate students from underrepresented groups has revealed that:

- These students have not been told about the competitive reality of academic job market.

- They have not received information about the many career options that would allow them to contribute to biomedical research outside of academic tenure-track positions.

- They have not received guidance to think in terms of whether a postdoc position will benefit them in the long-term but rather think in terms of how quickly they can obtain a position after completing their Ph.D. degree.

- They rarely take into consideration their "fit" with a potential mentor's training style or an institution's environment. The priority instead is to secure a funded position to avoid unemployment after defending a Ph.D. thesis.

In short, postdocs from under-represented minorities, even more than their counterparts from majority populations, have not been given the guidance that they need to effectively interview the advisor/institution. Without understanding their options, the chances are low that the minority postdocs' training experiences will be optimally productive, leading to less-competitive applications for future academic positions, other jobs in the research enterprise, or even jobs outside of scientific research.

If the postdoc experience does not work out well, achieving an independent scientific position will be more difficult, especially if the postdoc has been unable to publish satisfactorily or has not been provided viable networking contacts during this period. In the instance of these two aforementioned transition points, the entry into the postdoc stage has a huge impact on transitioning into an independent research position.

II. MENTORSHIP

While the NPA stresses the importance of the postdoc being proactive in their mentoring relationships, the fact is that the PI's supervision and mentoring (or lack of same) can make the difference between success and failure for the vulnerable postdoc and even more so with regard to underrepresented minorities, persons with disabilities, and persons from disadvantaged backgrounds. The NPA's interactions with postdocs suggest that the majority of new biomedical scientists begin their postdocs with high hopes that their PIs' connections and expertise will help them to acquire that elusive tenure-track position. To compound this situation, PIs more often than not perpetuate the cultural norm that the ultimate goal for an independent researcher is academic tenure. There are several possible reasons for this break with reality on the part of both postdocs and PIs, but the most likely reason, aside from traditional expectations for a successful scientific career, is that neither party truly understands that there are no longer enough T/TT academic positions to go around, given the increase in the number of postdocs.

In today's environment, it would be preferable for PIs to encourage postdocs to consider all of their career options. Yet, in reality, most PIs only understand and advocate for the academic career track. Even so, at the minimum, PIs should provide networking contacts and encourage postdocs to (1) consider all of their career options; (2) find other mentors as needed who can guide them in those options; and (3) pursue professional development opportunities. PIs should support and consider postdoc offices as a resource, rather than as another layer of bureaucracy.

The minimum, however, while representing more guidance than many postdocs receive, may not be enough. Mentorship comes in many forms - some of which can be influenced directly or indirectly through the NIH's funding mechanisms. While those mechanisms for reporting and accountability are focused on below, we will also take this opportunity to highlight two other aspects of mentorship and the role that NIH can play as an information provider in these arenas.

The NPA has identified six critical issues:

1. Role models for mentorship. One of the major challenges identified by trainees from diverse backgrounds is a shared sense that they have no role models or "trailblazers" to look to for advice, encouragement or support as they make their way through the biomedical career pipeline. For certain constituencies within the diversity rubric, this challenge is significantly greater than it is for others - the number of disabled biomedical scientists, for example, has never been reported, but anecdotal evidence suggests that it is very small.

2. Training and resources for mentorship. Another challenge is reflected in the widespread lack of training for mentors on diversity-focused issues and challenges. While many institutions have diversity training programs offered through their human resources and/or equity offices, these programs are not specific to mentorship in the biomedical sciences.

3. Communication in mentorship. Based on the NPA's interactions with postdocs, one of the reasons that the mentorship experience of most postdocs is less than optimal is related to a lack of effective communication between the postdoc and PI. These issues are compounded for postdocs from diverse backgrounds, as an additional layer of challenge. The ability of the PI to understand the background and experiences of the postdoc often comes into play.

For example: - The PI holds a tremendous amount of power over a postdoctoral researcher and the tone and quality of his/her supervision can make the difference between success and failure for the vulnerable postdoc. The NPA's interactions with biomedical and behavioral postdocs, as well as some survey results [10], suggest that there remains a vast communication gap between most PIs and the postdocs they fund. PIs are often overwhelmed with seeking funding and struggle to find the time to provide career guidance to the postdocs.

- Many postdocs do not receive formal performance evaluations, let alone have regular meetings with their PIs (see responses to the Sigma Xi Postdoc Survey, "Your Advisor" section, http://www.sigmaxi.org/postdoc/all/your_advisor_short.html).

- Postdocs and faculty/PIs have different ideas of a successful postdoc experience [11].

4. Evaluation of postdocs. Effective mentors/supervisors will provide evaluations to postdocs. Many postdocs express concern that they seldom or never receive formal evaluations. Nearly half the institutions that responded to the COSEPUP survey required "no official performance reviews of any type" [12]. Only 17 percent required them, and 13 percent reported that "Documented progress reviews are performed by the respective adviser at his/her discretion." The situation may have approved somewhat over the past decade: In a 2011 survey conducted by the NPA, 54% of the 74 institutions that responded regarding postdoc employment practices reported that their institutions require that postdocs receive an annual performance evaluation/review [13].

5. Postdoc exit surveys. Some institutions conduct postdoc exit surveys, but the practice is not yet widespread. In the 2011 NPA survey, fewer than half of the responding institutions reported that they required exit interviews for postdocs [14]. Knowledge about a postdoc's training experiences while funded through the NIH is invaluable on both the institutional and national level in regard to improving the retention of diverse groups in the biomedical workforce. Such surveys provide the opportunity to gather information on the mentoring provided by the PI; the career development that took place; and future career plans for the postdoc. Such collected information would assist in developing new policies that would encourage exceptional mentoring and training and ensure the diversity of the future biomedical workforce.

6. The need for mentorship plans. Encouraging institutions to establish processes for evaluation of postdocs and postdoc exit surveys is only part of the solution. Without the cooperation of the PI, these efforts alone would not ensure more effective mentoring. Unfortunately, the research advisor often focuses solely on research, and many lack time and/or inclination to engage in mentoring. Additionally, the 100% time and effort reporting requirements on research grants discourages not only the postdoc from pursuing professional development opportunities but also makes the PIs wary of devoting too much time to providing such guidance. NIH support for developing mentoring plans would encourage the advisor in fulfilling her or his responsibility for guiding, challenging, and championing their postdocs. The development and implementation of mentoring plans for underrepresented minorities, persons with disabilities, and persons from disadvantaged backgrounds will greatly influence their productivity and advancement.

Because they can have a powerful and enduring effect on the careers of postdocs, a thoughtful mentoring plan should not only be outlined but followed and evaluated. Further, there must be institutional and individual accountability regarding these mentoring plans. The NIH is in an excellent position to implement measures of accountability through its grant awarding system. The NPA has identified potential accountability/evaluation criteria and would be happy to share them upon request.

III. DIVERSITY IN THE PEER REVIEW PROCESS

The NPA recognizes the efforts of the NIH in developing an equal field of opportunities in the review process, as well as the ways in which the enhancements to peer review since 2008 have impacted the perception of fairness for all participants.

The NPA recognizes that the review process and panel participation plays a direct role in the successful transition from postdoc to PI for those from underrepresented groups. As noted in the RFI, Ginther et al. in 2011 reported that black grant applicants were significantly less likely to receive research funding than were white applicants in the period of 2000-2006 [14]. In the past, a similar discussion was raised in the case of women. Perceptions of the productivity of women and men in academia (Wenneras et al. 1997; Ridgeway 1997; Perna 2001; and Williams 2004) had resulted in women's performances being subjected to both more scrutiny and higher standards than the performances of comparable men [15].

Evoking not only the intrinsic value of diversity but also the need to level the playing field and overcome biases in order to bring out the best work makes the pro-diversity arguments valid. Critics of affirmative action today find it easy to pit meritocracy against diversity, arguing that some "get in by merit", while others do so "by quota". The case of peer review suggests another perspective, one where considerations of quality and diversity are combined to identify potential awardees. As Lamont suggested (2009) the "Awards are made to applicants who shine in both dimensions, even if in varying proportions; thus, I argue that merit and diversity often act as complementary criteria, rather than as alternative standards of evaluation" [16].

I. TRANSITION INTO AND OUT OF THE POSTDOCTORAL POSITION

The NPA believes that the working group must address the issue of disseminating information about and providing guidance on long-term career advancement in biomedical research to undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdocs from diverse groups. In particular, attention needs to be paid to the underserved postdoctoral career stage. We note that even a recent academy report on minorities in STEM [4] did not address the needs of postdoctoral scholars. Instead the report chose to make recommendations about the beginning of the minority training pipeline from K-12 up through entry into graduate work. While the early stages of the pipeline are important, if the NIH Working Group wants to address R01 grant success, then the needs of postdocs must not be ignored.

II. MENTORSHIP

The most important issue for the NIH to address is its role in encouraging and facilitating effective mentoring of diverse groups by PIs and providing resources for institutions and PIs to make this mentoring a reality.

III. DIVERSITY IN THE PEER REVIEW PROCESS

The NPA has identified four critical issues:

1. Panel diversity and representation in terms of disciplinary, institutional, and regional diversity as well as ethnicity, gender and disability. The study of the humanities peer review system by Michèle Lamont (2009) indicates that disciplinary, institutional, and regional diversity can matter even more than ethnicity or gender within the panel discussion. NIH program officers take organizational guidelines seriously; in putting together funding panels, they factor in potential members' interdisciplinary orientations. Even so, questions rise about the bias that each member carries and how it influences the panel review outcome. The diversity at the table can help mitigate the "impact of group influence" on the panel review outcomes.

2. Impact of "group influence" on panel review outcomes. Are panelists considering diversity as a criterion for their decision? What is their definition of diversity? In the world of the funding panel, diversity takes many forms. In the case of humanities panels (Lamont, 2009), "panelists favor an expansive definition of diversity that does not privilege race or gender, and that aims to promote diversity within academia because it is perceived as an intrinsic good, leading to a richer academic experience for all and to a broader production of talent for society as a hole. Panelists do consider the racial and gender diversity of the awardees, but they also weigh their geographical location, the types of institutions where they teach (public,/private, elite/non elite, college/research universities), and the range of disciplines they hail from. Which kind of diversity is privileged from case to case is an object of negotiation among panel members." Lamont shows that around 34% of the interviewers mention institutional diversity and disciplinary diversity as criteria of evaluation, compared to only about 15% who mention ethno-racial or gender diversity for their decisions.

Concerns for representation and efficacy (being truthful to the organizational mission) are factored into argument in favor of diversity, but diversity should also be valued as a component of excellence and as a means of redressing past injustices, leveling the playing field, and shaping the academic pipeline. The challenge lies in guiding the group influence so that institutional and disciplinary diversity does not overshadow ethno-racial, gender, or disability diversity in the decision-making process.

3. Implicit bias. Attribution biases are frequent; these occur when "people tend to attribute the behavior of members of their in-group to stable causes, while they attribute the behavior of out-groups to situational causes: "he's brilliant, but she got lucky" (Lammont 2004, 2000) [17]. Social categorization and same group (in-group) biases that lead to attribution biases are part of normal cognition, and they occur regardless of people's conscious feeling toward other groups (Reskin 2000) [18]. The implications are that the performance of a minority group can be subjected to both more scrutiny and higher standards than the performances of a non-minority group.

The Center for Scientific Review (CSR) needs to consider if diversity can act as an additive, rather than as an alternative, standard of evaluation. In that case, panelists would be concerned with the characteristics of proposals and applicants that may push a very good but not perfect project or candidate over the proverbial bar. This situation of a very good but not perfect project or candidate is usually where implicit bias and group influence exert the major control. It is relevant to mention that critics of affirmative action believe that factoring in diversity poses challenges related to fairness, but considering diversity as an additive rather than alternative may resolve that issue.

4. Training of a diverse group of future panelists, focused on minority and disability postdocs Those who benefit from diversity considerations may have had to overcome additional hurdles and stigmas, based on their institutional affiliation class, race, or nativity, to join the pool of candidates. Issues of self-efficacy and stereotype treat have greatly influenced their performance and the path taken. Claude Steele (2010) suggests intervention to bridge the performance gaps by generating a critical mass, fostering intergroup conversations, and helping to develop the individuals [19].

I. TRANSITION INTO AND OUT OF THE POSTDOCTORAL POSITION

Dr. Alberto Roca, founder and editor of MinorityPostdoc.org, has proposed [5] that federal resources be refocused on the following:

- Research scholarship to understand the career preparation and outcomes of current minority postdocs. Diversity research which only studies current tenure track faculty is of limited use for identifying barriers that prevent entry into the professoriate.

- Professional development training to prepare postdocs for the demands of academic careers. The NIH should establish (or adopt) core competencies that will be necessary for the success of the future biomedical research that include "soft skills." The NPA Core Competencies document [6] serves as a model for the other competencies that postdocs need to develop outside of the technical skills that are currently emphasized in research projects. Furthermore, the NIH should provide diversity-specific training supplements that could be used by institutions to adapt NIH-recommended competencies or the NPA competencies and develop discipline-specific core competencies for use in training the trainers," and developing workshops and other resources.

- Proactive recruiting to help minority postdocs find jobs in any area that uses their scholarly training. A priority is tenure-track faculty careers if NIH wants broaden the participation of underrepresented populations applying for R01 grants.

The NPA supports these recommendations and would also recommend that the NIH:

- Re-evaluate its training programs in light of needed "soft skills" and especially in regard to support for students and postdocs from diverse groups and in regard to the training that it requires funded institutions to provide to these postdocs.

- Require mentoring plans on its research grants that have a component targeted towards retaining these diverse scientists in the future biomedical workforce (this point is detailed further below). Please see the section on mentoring for more on this topic.

- Develop workshops and hold conferences dedicated to career advancement skills and knowledge for postdocs from diverse groups and provide travel awards to these postdocs to attend these workshops/conferences. We applaud the efforts of: NIGMS on its Workshop for Postdocs Transitioning to Independent Positions [7]; and the HHMI/BWF Making the Right Moves workshop training manual [8].

- The NIH should provide centrally produced career development activities, designed to be inclusive of postdocs from diverse backgrounds, in order to support local efforts. The NIH does not necessarily have to "reinvent the wheel" but could build upon or expand the dissemination of the resources that have been developed by the NIH Office of Intramural Research, the NPA, and other groups.

- Provide professional development training and career counseling that encompasses all career options in biomedical research, in academia, industry, non-profits, etc. Such training was a recommendation (#4.6) of a relevant NAS report on transitions [9].

- Develop interventions designed to increase the number of faculty from underrepresented groups in Tier I research institutions. For example, the NIH should consider establishing a program that would assist postdocs from diverse groups to advance to faculty positions at Tier 1 institutions, similar to the K99/R00 Pathway to Independence program but including elements that are likely to increase retention of these postdocs.

II. MENTORSHIP

The National Postdoctoral Association recommends that the NIH:

- As previously noted, require mentoring plans on its research grants that have a component targeted towards retaining these diverse scientists in the future biomedical and also require the evaluation of these plans. Such requirements would support the NIH-NSF definition of the postdoc.

- The NIH should also develop a formal plan or policy to ensure that mentoring plans are being implemented as proposed or evaluated for their effectiveness. This process could include some or all of the following suggestions: 1. The NIH could include accountability/evaluation criteria for mentorship programs and diversity training on each new grant application or grant renewal. Please note: Consideration should be given to new and young investigators who may not have a track record in mentoring postdoctoral fellows. Institutions would have responsibility to ensure that effective mentoring and professional development that recognizes and support diverse career options is being provided by both the institutions and the mentors. 2. The NIH could require that brief evaluations of the postdoc's progress and the success of the mentoring relationship are conducted annually, in addition to the research progress reports. Regular evaluations will hold the PI accountable for the implementation of the mentorship plan and the postdoc accountable for his or her own development and help to identify weaknesses or promising practices. The responses can provide the NIH insights that may be useful in future policy and practice development around mentoring plans, as well as future individual funding decisions. 3. The NIH should consider implementing a 360o feedback system from trainees directly to the NIH with a particular focus on underrepresented minorities, persons with disabilities, and persons from disadvantaged backgrounds.

- Consider providing incentives for PIs to recruit and retain postdocs from diverse backgrounds, as well as for a PI to complete diversity training offered by his or her home institution (most institutions now offer such programs through their central administration human resources and/or equity offices; some even offer them as part of their new faculty/staff orientation programs). Such training can greatly aid a PI in learning about diversity issues, communicating effectively with postdocs from diverse backgrounds, and in successfully mentoring such postdocs.

- Develop appropriate webinar training modules on diversity in the biomedical workforce for faculty mentors, in collaboration with appropriate partner organizations. These modules could count toward the accountability requirements for PIs in receiving and renewing training and research grant funding that are discussed below. The NIH is in a unique position to offer training webinars on this topic to complement the programs offered at individual institutions. Additionally, a number of organizations have already developed databases of mentorship and funding resources applicable to trainees from diverse backgrounds (for example, see the diversity resources on the NPA Web site at http://www.nationalpostdoc.org/diversity-issues). The NIH should work with these organizations to make these resources available to PIs who are mentoring postdocs from diverse backgrounds, as part of communications associated with funding announcements or direct communications with PIs.

- Provide incentives for institutions to establish and maintain postdoc offices trained and equipped to address diversity issues, through including that information as part of the review process for grants supporting postdocs. The NIH could work with the NPA, the AAMC, and other groups to establish a definition with minimum qualifications for "postdoc office" and ask about the postdoc office during the grant application process (e.g., Does your institution have a postdoc office? Will a portion of your indirect costs support that office?).

- Continue to engage volunteer "role-model" biomedical scientists whose profiles can be displayed on an appropriate section of the NIH's Web site, as it has already done with the Women of Color Research Network at http://www.wocrn.nih.gov/. This work could be done in partnership with appropriate collaborating organizations and institutions, and the volunteers could consist of faculty both internal to and external to the NIH itself.

- Support informal mentorship and networking opportunities - with their peers, and also with "role-model" scientists from diverse backgrounds who have gone through the career pipeline previously. Such opportunities would be tremendously beneficial to these young scientists and would provide a level of mentorship that a graduate supervisor or postdoctoral mentor typically cannot provide.

- Encourage the use of the following mentoring tools in the training of postdocs from all groups: the individual development plan and the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Compact Between Postdoctoral Appointees and Their Mentors.

III. DIVERSITY IN THE PEER REVIEW PROCESS

The National Postdoctoral Association recommends that the NIH:

- Begin consideration of diversity as a characteristic that gives additive value rather than alternative value in the evaluation.

- Review any organizational guidelines for panel assembly in regards to disability, gender, ethnicity, institutional, and regional diversity to determine if those guidelines should be revised to mitigate group influence and implicit bias.

- Consider establishing a process for continual self-evaluation and a system of accountability to redirect the cognitive tendencies of "group influence" in the peer review panels.

- Consider including diversity criteria in the guidelines to panelists and/or applicants, to promote understanding of the NIH definition of diversity and to clarify NIH expectations for review of proposals.

- Provide diversity training for peer review panels.

- Establish mechanisms for increasing the participation of minority and disability postdocs in programs that help prepare future review panelists for NIH peer review system.

REFERENCES

[1] Sigma Xi (2005). Doctors without orders: Highlights of the Sigma Xi Postdoc Survey. Special Supplement to American Scientist.

[2] Martinez E.D., Botos J., Dohoney K.M., Geiman T.M., Kolla S.S., Olivera A., Qiu Y., Rayasam G.V., Stavreva D.A. & Cohen-Fix O. (2007). EMBO reports 8 (11), 977

[3] Goulden, M., Frasch, K., and Mason, M.A. and the Center for American Progress. (2009). Staying Competitive: Patching America's Leaky Pipeline in the Sciences. Berkeley Center on Health, Economic & Family Security. http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2009/11/women_and_sciences.html (accessed March 2010); Ley, T.J. & Hamilton, B.H. (2008). Science, 322: 1472; and Mason, M.A. & Goulden, M. (2002). Academe, 88(6): 21

For more information and resources on gender and diversity, please visit NPA ADVANCE at http://www.nationalpostdoc.org/programs-resources/npa-advance.

[4] National Academies of Science. (2011). Expanding underrepresented minority participation: America's science and technology talent at the crossroads. Washington DC: National Academies Press.

[5] A.I. Roca. (2012). "Redirecting National Attention to the Needs of Underrepresented Postdocs." DiverseScholar 3:4 http://www.minoritypostdoc.org/view/2012-3-4-roca-NIHdiversity.html

[6] http://www.nationalpostdoc.org/publications/competencies

[7] http://nigmsworkshop.org

[8] http://www.hhmi.org/resources/labmanagement/

[9] National Academies of Science. (2005). Bridges to independence: Fostering the independence of new investigators in biomedical research. Washington DC: National Academies Press.

[10] Bonetta, L. (2010, August 27). "The postdoc experience: Taking a long term view." Science Careers Magazine. Retrieved from http://sciencecareers.sciencemag.org/career_magazine/previous_issues/articles/2011_08_26/science.opms.r1100106.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (COSEPUP). (1997). Adviser, teacher, role model, friend: On being a mentor to students in science and engineering. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

[13] National Postdoctoral Association. (2011). "National Postdoctoral Association Institutional Survey on Postdoctoral Compensation, Benefits, and Professional Development Opportunities Preliminary Report: Highlights." To be released.

[14] Ginther, Donna K., Schaffer, Walter T., Schnell, Joshua, Masimore, Beth, Liu, Faye, Haak, Laurel L., and Kington, Raynard. (2011). "Race, Ethnicity, and NIH Research Awards." Science 333: 1015-1019.

[15] Wenneras, Christine, and Agnes Wold. 1997 "Nepotism and Sexism in Peer Review." Nature 387:341-343; Ridgeway, Cecilia. (1997). "Interaction and the Conservation of Gender Inequality: Considering Employment." American Sociological Review 62(2):218-235; Perna, Laura W. (2001). "Sex and Race Differences in Faculty Tenure and Promotion." Research in Higher Education 42(5):541-567; and Williams, Joan. (2004). "Hitting the Maternal Wall." Academe 90 (6): 16-20.

[16] Lamont, Michele. (2009). How professors think: Inside the curious world of academic judgment. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

[17] Lamont, Michele. (2004). "Recruiting, Promoting, and Retaining Women Academics: Lessons from the Literature." Report prepared for the Committee on the Status of Women, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge; Lamont, Michelle. (2000). The dignity of working men: Morality and the boundaries of race, class, and immigration. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

[18] Reskin, Barbara F. (2000). "The proximate Causes of employment Discrimination." Contemporary Sociology 29(2):319-328.

[19] Steele, Claude M. (2010). Whistling Vivaldi: And other clues to how stereotypes affect us. New York, W.W. Norton & Company.

The National Postdoctoral Association (NPA) is a member-driven organization that provides a unique, national voice for postdoctoral scholars. Since 2003, we have taken on the ambitious agenda to enhance the quality of the postdoctoral experience in the U.S. We have assumed a leadership role in addressing the many issues confronting the postdoctoral community, including the promotion of a diverse research workforce. The NPA seeks to promote diversity and ensure equal opportunity and inclusion for all persons in the membership, leadership and activities of the National Postdoctoral Association regardless of race, ethnicity, sex, disability, country of origin, field of research, socio-economic status, religion, age, marital status, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Introduction To date, one of the most important steps in improving the postdoc experience was the adoption of a definition of "postdoc" by the NIH and NSF in 2007: ...an individual who has received a doctoral degree (or equivalent) and is engaged in a temporary and defined period of mentored advanced training to enhance the professional skills and research independence needed to pursue his or her chosen career path. (https://grants.nih.gov/training/Reed_Letter.pdf) This definition clarified that the postdoc was to be provided mentored advanced training-and should not be treated as a "cheap" extra hand in the lab or field. It set new standards for the relationship between principle investigator (PI) and postdoc. The definition, correctly, does not refer specifically to individuals from any single group or constituency, as it is intended to apply to all postdocs. It should be noted, however, that the requirements for mentored advanced training and for the relationship between the PI and the postdoc can be distinct in the context of the burgeoning diversity of the biomedical workforce. Specifically, approaches toward mentorship and communication that may be applicable to a postdoc from a majority population may be ineffective for postdocs from minority backgrounds. In this submission, we discuss the importance and application of this definition with respect to postdocs in the biomedical workforce career pipeline who come from minority backgrounds. Definition of Diversity In our response to the Request for Information on diversity in the biomedical workforce, we note that many policies and practices that are applicable to one constituency under the rubric of "diversity" (e.g., members of minority ethnicities/races) are also applicable to other constituencies (e.g., persons with disabilities or persons from disadvantaged backgrounds), as per the NIH Diversity FAQ found at https://grants.nih.gov/training/faq_diversity.htm#865. The postdoctoral community is not very diverse. The 2005 Sigma Xi survey found that only 4 percent of postdocs identified themselves as Black/African American and only 4 percent identified themselves as Hispanic/Latino [1]. According to the 2012 National Science Board Science and Engineering Indicators, in 2008, only 8.3% of the postdocs employed in academia were minorities (black, Hispanics, and American Indian/Alaska Natives) [Table 5.9]. The lack of minority postdocs has a direct impact on the number of minority applicants and grantees for NIH grant funding and the low number of minority faculty in academia. This response focuses on three over-arching themes of relevance to diversity in the biomedical workforce: (I) Transition Into and Out of the Postdoctoral Fellowship; (II) Mentorship; and (III) Diversity in the Peer Review process. I. Transition Into and Out of the Postdoctoral Position The NIH has identified transition points "where NIH's training, career development and research grant programs could most effectively cultivate diversity in the biomedical research workforce." Two of these points are especially crucial in regard to maintaining and increasing diversity in the workforce during the postdoctoral experience: Transition from a doctoral graduate degree to postdoctoral training Appointment from a postdoctoral position to the first independent research position. Comment 1: Critical Issues and Impact In regard to these transition points, the biomedical community perhaps best understands the issues surrounding the advancement of women. In 2006, the National Academies of Science published a report "To Recruit and Advance: Women Students and Faculty in U.S. Science and Engineering" that focused on women in the STEM disciplines. The study revealed the following challenges that face female postdocs: Postdocs receive insufficient advising and mentoring during the graduate program. Postdocs had negative experiences during their graduate careers. There may be bias against female postdoctoral candidates. A 2007 report showed that, although a majority of both men and women biomedical postdocs feel their professional preparation is adequate, women are less confident they will obtain a PI position and tenure [2]. More recent reports found that postdoc women are more likely than postdoc men to opt against the academic or principal investigator (PI) path [3]. It should be noted that, while the literature is sparse in the context of other postdoctoral diversity constituencies (e.g., postdocs with disabilities and postdocs from disadvantaged backgrounds), anecdotal evidence suggests that these challenges translate to these other contexts. We concur with these points and offer the following observations, based on the NPA's interactions with postdocs. Many graduate students conduct their search for a postdoc from a short-term rather than long-term point of view. In the competitive life sciences especially, anxious graduate students tend to take the first offer for postdoctoral experience that they receive, without considering the ramifications to their long-term success as researchers. For many, landing in an appropriate postdoc position is often a matter of chance, rather than of understanding their options and making a thoughtful choice. This situation is compounded by the lack of knowledge of the various career options available and a method for determining which option would best fit their long-term life and career goals. The NPA finds that postdocs from all groups are often encouraged by their advisors to pursue academic positions to the exclusion of all other career options. Especially in the postdoctorate, new scientists often suffer from a lack of support in regard to career advancement. They depend upon their advisor/supervisor almost exclusively for direction, which often provides them a very limited view of their career options in the biomedical world. These issues may be intensified for graduate students and postdocs from diverse groups, who often are more isolated from their peers and institutional communities - and the knowledge they might provide - than graduate students and postdocs from majority populations. The NPA's participation in several "Preparing Future Faculty" institutes for graduate students from underrepresented groups has revealed that: These students have not been told about the competitive reality of academic job market. They have not received information about the many career options that would allow them to contribute to biomedical research outside of academic tenure-track positions. They have not received guidance to think in terms of whether a postdoc position will benefit them in the long-term but rather think in terms of how quickly they can obtain a position after completing their Ph.D. degree. They rarely take into consideration their "fit" with a potential mentor's training style or an institution's environment. The priority instead is to secure a funded position to avoid unemployment after defending a Ph.D. thesis. In short, postdocs from under-represented minorities, even more than their counterparts from majority populations, have not been given the guidance that they need to effectively interview the advisor/institution. Without understanding their options, the chances are low that the minority postdocs' training experiences will be optimally productive, leading to less-competitive applications for future academic positions, other jobs in the research enterprise, or even jobs outside of scientific research. If the postdoc experience does not work out well, achieving an independent scientific position will be more difficult, especially if the postdoc has been unable to publish satisfactorily or has not been provided viable networking contacts during this period. In the instance of these two aforementioned transition points, the entry into the postdoc stage has a huge impact on transitioning into an independent research position. Comment 2: Most Important Issues for the Working Group to Address The NPA believes that the working group must address the issue of disseminating information about and providing guidance on long-term career advancement in biomedical research to undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdocs from diverse groups. In particular, attention needs to be paid to the underserved postdoctoral career stage. We note that even a recent academy report on minorities in STEM [4] did not address the needs of postdoctoral scholars. Instead the report chose to make recommendations about the beginning of the minority training pipeline from K-12 up through entry into graduate work. While the early stages of the pipeline are important, if the NIH Working Group wants to address R01 grant success, then the needs of postdocs must not be ignored. Comment 3: Possible Interventions Dr. Alberto Roca, founder and editor of MinorityPostdoc.org, has proposed [5] that federal resources be refocused on the following: Research scholarship to understand the career preparation and outcomes of current minority postdocs. Diversity research which only studies current tenure track faculty is of limited use for identifying barriers that prevent entry into the professoriate. Professional development training to prepare postdocs for the demands of academic careers. The NIH should establish (or adopt) core competencies that will be necessary for the success of the future biomedical research that include "soft skills." The NPA Core Competencies document [6] serves as a model for the other competencies that postdocs need to develop outside of the technical skills that are currently emphasized in research projects. o Furthermore, the NIH should provide diversity-specific training supplements that could be used by institutions to adapt NIH-recommended competencies or the NPA competencies and develop discipline-specific core competencies for use in training the trainers," and developing workshops and other resources. Proactive recruiting to help minority postdocs find jobs in any area that uses their scholarly training. A priority is tenure-track faculty careers if NIH wants broaden the participation of underrepresented populations applying for R01 grants. The NPA supports these recommendations and would also recommend that the NIH: Re-evaluate its training programs in light of needed "soft skills" and especially in regard to support for students and postdocs from diverse groups and in regard to the training that it requires funded institutions to provide to these postdocs. Require mentoring plans on its research grants that have a component targeted towards retaining these diverse scientists in the future biomedical workforce (this point is detailed further below). Please see the section on mentoring for more on this topic. Develop workshops and hold conferences dedicated to career advancement skills and knowledge for postdocs from diverse groups and provide travel awards to these postdocs to attend these workshops/conferences. We applaud the efforts of: NIGMS on its Workshop for Postdocs Transitioning to Independent Positions [7]; and the HHMI/BWF Making the Right Moves workshop training manual [8]. The NIH should provide centrally produced career development activities, designed to be inclusive of postdocs from diverse backgrounds, in order to support local efforts. The NIH does not necessarily have to "reinvent the wheel" but could build upon or expand the dissemination of the resources that have been developed by the NIH Office of Intramural Research, the NPA, and other groups. Provide professional development training and career counseling that encompasses all career options in biomedical research, in academia, industry, non-profits, etc. Such training was a recommendation (#4.6) of a relevant NAS report on transitions [9]. Develop interventions designed to increase the number of faculty from underrepresented groups in Tier I research institutions. For example, the NIH should consider establishing a program that would assist postdocs from diverse groups to advance to faculty positions at Tier 1 institutions, similar to the K99/R00 Pathway to Independence program but including elements that are likely to increase retention of these postdocs. II. Mentorship While the NPA stresses the importance of the postdoc being proactive in their mentoring relationships, the fact is that the PI's supervision and mentoring (or lack of same) can make the difference between success and failure for the vulnerable postdoc and even more so with regard to underrepresented minorities, persons with disabilities, and persons from disadvantaged backgrounds. The NPA's interactions with postdocs suggest that the majority of new biomedical scientists begin their postdocs with high hopes that their PIs' connections and expertise will help them to acquire that elusive tenure-track position. To compound this situation, PIs more often than not perpetuate the cultural norm that the ultimate goal for an independent researcher is academic tenure. There are several possible reasons for this break with reality on the part of both postdocs and PIs, but the most likely reason, aside from traditional expectations for a successful scientific career, is that neither party truly understands that there are no longer enough T/TT academic positions to go around, given the increase in the number of postdocs. In today's environment, it would be preferable for PIs to encourage postdocs to consider all of their career options. Yet, in reality, most PIs only understand and advocate for the academic career track. Even so, at the minimum, PIs should provide networking contacts and encourage postdocs to (1) consider all of their career options; (2) find other mentors as needed who can guide them in those options; and (3) pursue professional development opportunities. PIs should support and consider postdoc offices as a resource, rather than as another layer of bureaucracy. The minimum, however, while representing more guidance than many postdocs receive, may not be enough. Mentorship comes in many forms - some of which can be influenced directly or indirectly through the NIH's funding mechanisms. While those mechanisms for reporting and accountability are focused on below, we will also take this opportunity to highlight two other aspects of mentorship and the role that NIH can play as an information provider in these arenas. Comment 1: Critical Issues and Impact The NPA has identified six critical issues: 1. Role models for mentorship. One of the major challenges identified by trainees from diverse backgrounds is a shared sense that they have no role models or "trailblazers" to look to for advice, encouragement or support as they make their way through the biomedical career pipeline. For certain constituencies within the diversity rubric, this challenge is significantly greater than it is for others - the number of disabled biomedical scientists, for example, has never been reported, but anecdotal evidence suggests that it is very small. 2. Training and resources for mentorship. Another challenge is reflected in the widespread lack of training for mentors on diversity-focused issues and challenges. While many institutions have diversity training programs offered through their human resources and/or equity offices, these programs are not specific to mentorship in the biomedical sciences. 3. Communication in mentorship. Based on the NPA's interactions with postdocs, one of the reasons that the mentorship experience of most postdocs is less than optimal is related to a lack of effective communication between the postdoc and PI. These issues are compounded for postdocs from diverse backgrounds, as an additional layer of challenge. The ability of the PI to understand the background and experiences of the postdoc often comes into play. For example: The PI holds a tremendous amount of power over a postdoctoral researcher and the tone and quality of his/her supervision can make the difference between success and failure for the vulnerable postdoc. The NPA's interactions with biomedical and behavioral postdocs, as well as some survey results [10], suggest that there remains a vast communication gap between most PIs and the postdocs they fund. PIs are often overwhelmed with seeking funding and struggle to find the time to provide career guidance to the postdocs. Many postdocs do not receive formal performance evaluations, let alone have regular meetings with their PIs (see responses to the Sigma Xi Postdoc Survey, "Your Advisor" section, http://www.sigmaxi.org/postdoc/all/your_advisor_short.html). Postdocs and faculty/PIs have different ideas of a successful postdoc experience [11]. 4. Evaluation of postdocs. Effective mentors/supervisors will provide evaluations to postdocs. Many postdocs express concern that they seldom or never receive formal evaluations. Nearly half the institutions that responded to the COSEPUP survey required "no official performance reviews of any type" [12]. Only 17 percent required them, and 13 percent reported that "Documented progress reviews are performed by the respective adviser at his/her discretion." The situation may have approved somewhat over the past decade: In a 2011 survey conducted by the NPA, 54% of the 74 institutions that responded regarding postdoc employment practices reported that their institutions require that postdocs receive an annual performance evaluation/review [13]. 5. Postdoc exit surveys. Some institutions conduct postdoc exit surveys, but the practice is not yet widespread. In the 2011 NPA survey, fewer than half of the responding institutions reported that they required exit interviews for postdocs [14]. Knowledge about a postdoc's training experiences while funded through the NIH is invaluable on both the institutional and national level in regard to improving the retention of diverse groups in the biomedical workforce. Such surveys provide the opportunity to gather information on the mentoring provided by the PI; the career development that took place; and future career plans for the postdoc. Such collected information would assist in developing new policies that would encourage exceptional mentoring and training and ensure the diversity of the future biomedical workforce. 6. The need for mentorship plans. Encouraging institutions to establish processes for evaluation of postdocs and postdoc exit surveys is only part of the solution. Without the cooperation of the PI, these efforts alone would not ensure more effective mentoring. Unfortunately, the research advisor often focuses solely on research, and many lack time and/or inclination to engage in mentoring. Additionally, the 100% time and effort reporting requirements on research grants discourages not only the postdoc from pursuing professional development opportunities but also makes the PIs wary of devoting too much time to providing such guidance. NIH support for developing mentoring plans would encourage the advisor in fulfilling her or his responsibility for guiding, challenging, and championing their postdocs. The development and implementation of mentoring plans for underrepresented minorities, persons with disabilities, and persons from disadvantaged backgrounds will greatly influence their productivity and advancement. Because they can have a powerful and enduring effect on the careers of postdocs, a thoughtful mentoring plan should not only be outlined but followed and evaluated. Further, there must be institutional and individual accountability regarding these mentoring plans. The NIH is in an excellent position to implement measures of accountability through its grant awarding system. The NPA has identified potential accountability/evaluation criteria and would be happy to share them upon request. Comment 2: Most Important Issues for the Working Group to Address The most important issue for the NIH to address is its role in encouraging and facilitating effective mentoring of diverse groups by PIs and providing resources for institutions and PIs to make this mentoring a reality. Comment 3: Possible Interventions The National Postdoctoral Association recommends that the NIH: As previously noted, require mentoring plans on its research grants that have a component targeted towards retaining these diverse scientists in the future biomedical and also require the evaluation of these plans. Such requirements would support the NIH-NSF definition of the postdoc. o The NIH should also develop a formal plan or policy to ensure that mentoring plans are being implemented as proposed or evaluated for their effectiveness. This process could include some or all of the following suggestions. - The NIH could include accountability/evaluation criteria for mentorship programs and diversity training on each new grant application or grant renewal. Please note: Consideration should be given to new and young investigators who may not have a track record in mentoring postdoctoral fellows. Institutions would have responsibility to ensure that effective mentoring and professional development that recognizes and support diverse career options is being provided by both the institutions and the mentors. - The NIH could require that brief evaluations of the postdoc's progress and the success of the mentoring relationship are conducted annually, in addition to the research progress reports. Regular evaluations will hold the PI accountable for the implementation of the mentorship plan and the postdoc accountable for his or her own development and help to identify weaknesses or promising practices. The responses can provide the NIH insights that may be useful in future policy and practice development around mentoring plans, as well as future individual funding decisions. - The NIH should consider implementing a 360o feedback system from trainees directly to the NIH with a particular focus on underrepresented minorities, persons with disabilities, and persons from disadvantaged backgrounds. Consider providing incentives for PIs to recruit and retain postdocs from diverse backgrounds, as well as for a PI to complete diversity training offered by his or her home institution (most institutions now offer such programs through their central administration human resources and/or equity offices; some even offer them as part of their new faculty/staff orientation programs). Such training can greatly aid a PI in learning about diversity issues, communicating effectively with postdocs from diverse backgrounds, and in successfully mentoring such postdocs. Develop appropriate webinar training modules on diversity in the biomedical workforce for faculty mentors, in collaboration with appropriate partner organizations. These modules could count toward the accountability requirements for PIs in receiving and renewing training and research grant funding that are discussed below. o The NIH is in a unique position to offer training webinars on this topic to complement the programs offered at individual institutions. Additionally, a number of organizations have already developed databases of mentorship and funding resources applicable to trainees from diverse backgrounds (for example, see the diversity resources on the NPA Web site at http://www.nationalpostdoc.org/diversity-issues). The NIH should work with these organizations to make these resources available to PIs who are mentoring postdocs from diverse backgrounds, as part of communications associated with funding announcements or direct communications with PIs. Provide incentives for institutions to establish and maintain postdoc offices trained and equipped to address diversity issues, through including that information as part of the review process for grants supporting postdocs. The NIH could work with the NPA, the AAMC, and other groups to establish a definition with minimum qualifications for "postdoc office" and ask about the postdoc office during the grant application process (e.g., Does your institution have a postdoc office? Will a portion of your indirect costs support that office?). Continue to engage volunteer "role-model" biomedical scientists whose profiles can be displayed on an appropriate section of the NIH's Web site, as it has already done with the Women of Color Research Network at http://www.wocrn.nih.gov/. This work could be done in partnership with appropriate collaborating organizations and institutions, and the volunteers could consist of faculty both internal to and external to the NIH itself. Support informal mentorship and networking opportunities - with their peers, and also with "rolemodel" scientists from diverse backgrounds who have gone through the career pipeline previously. Such opportunities would be tremendously beneficial to these young scientists and would provide a level of mentorship that a graduate supervisor or postdoctoral mentor typically cannot provide. Encourage the use of the following mentoring tools in the training of postdocs from all groups: the individual development plan and the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Compact Between Postdoctoral Appointees and Their Mentors.
02/24/2012 at 07:04:00 PM Self     Many resources have been spent on the beginning of the Ph.D. training pipeline. In my opinion, the focus has been on encouraging K-12 and undergraduate students to pursue STEM education (especially to enter graduate school). By comparison, there are few interventions directed at the career needs of current advanced Ph.D. graduate students and postdocs.

See attached statement: Roca-NIH-Diversity-120224.pdf as well as online article: A.I. Roca (2012) Redirecting National Attention to the Needs of Underrepresented Postdocs. DiverseScholar 3:4 http://www.minoritypostdoc.org/view/2012-3-4-roca-NIHdiversity.html

If the NIH Working Group wants to address R01 grant success in the short-term, then training postdocs in grant writing and tenure-track preparation is a more efficient approach than supporting student-centric activities.

See attached statement: Roca-NIH-Diversity-120224.pdf as well as online article: A.I. Roca (2012) Redirecting National Attention to the Needs of Underrepresented Postdocs. DiverseScholar 3:4 http://www.minoritypostdoc.org/view/2012-3-4-roca-NIHdiversity.html

I propose that federal resources be re-focused on the following: 1) Research scholarship to understand the career preparation and outcomes of current minority postdocs. Diversity research which only studies tenure track faculty is of limited use for identifying barriers that prevent entry into the professoriate. 2) Professional development training to prepare postdocs for the demands of academic careers. The NPA Core Competencies (8) document serves as a model for the other competencies that postdocs need to develop outside of the technical skills that are currently emphasized in research projects. My own goal is on developing a postdoc's writing skills for peer-reviewed publications, fellowships, and grants. 3) Proactive recruiting to help these postdocs find employment in any career that uses their scholarly training. Of course, a priority is tenure-track faculty appointments if NIH wants to broaden the participation of underrepresented populations applying for R01 grants.

See attached statement: Roca-NIH-Diversity-120224.pdf as well as online article: A.I. Roca (2012) Redirecting National Attention to the Needs of Underrepresented Postdocs. DiverseScholar 3:4 http://www.minoritypostdoc.org/view/2012-3-4-roca-NIHdiversity.html

 
02/24/2012 at 07:15:45 PM Self     1. Content of Training and Mentoring: two most critical areas. There is a lack of standards, metrics, sufficient benchmarking studies, incentives or support from institutions or NIH to support the informal learning that goes on by postdocs outside of the labs. There are not accreditation standards that consider postdocs when evaluating institutions. Likewise, very few funding agencies take a serious look at the learning and professional development commitments made by the institutions or the PIs towards their trainees; no measurable outcomes, nor longitudinal research that evaluates the activities that take place. As a result, professional development and the quality of mentoring becomes an individually-driven ad hoc activity that relies on the readiness and interest of the trainee, and the willingness of the PIs and the institutions to be supportive. A more formal approach to both the content and the nature of the mentoring relationship can go a long way in creating a positive impact on the trainee scientists and, in the long term, on the institutions.

2. Our national policy with respect to visas is problematic and hinder the recruitment and retention of diverse workforce that is international. A fast-track permanent resident process for individuals who contribute to the diversity of our workforce can help retain many of our own graduates in the US and in academia and research. Currently, the J1 program hardly matches the 5-year average that it takes scientist with a PhD to get his or her first faculty job. Many of those foreign scientists contribute to the diversity of our campuses and research labs.

3. NIH and other similar agencies fund the science. There are hardly mechanisms available for institutions or non-faculty members of institutions to seek support for programmatic activities, such as competency-building programs, partnerships, and professional and academic support services that support trainees, notwithstanding those required through training grants. Such programs and services are essential to the quality of the training experience, yet are not deemed worthy of funding commitments. Where institutions rely on NIH funds to support their training programs, it becomes hard for the institutions to provide larger professional training umbrella for their trainees in this model of soft money support. The impact of this will be on scientists and institutions.

4. Policy reform regarding the status of postdoc fellowship recipients is necessary with the IRS. This is a technical issue, but has led NRSA and other (the best) of our upcoming scientific researchers to fall off the institutional radars when it comes to benefits and proper affiliation, let along eligibility to receive retirement and social security benefits. Currently, the system is one of reverse incentives; penalizing the most successful of scientists by forcing them into the least favorable of circumstances. This needs major reform that will impact the scientists and the institutions.

1. Status of fellows-- because it is a legal matter that binds the institutions in the extent to which they are able to provide benefits and support, and it affects the tax status of those fellows as well. It will correct a system that effectively penalizes the most successful and promising scientists.

2. Grants to support professional development and services at the institutions without being attached to a specific training grant. This is essential to improving the quality of the training experience for all trainees at a given institution, resulting in a broad impact, and will foster institutional cultures that provide avenues for professional development opportunities outside of the constraints of a particular lab or PI.

- NIH would need to take a more firm position with respect to setting standards of training (metrics) that would apply to institutions and to individual PIs with respect to mentoring. This is essential to gain the necessary respect for Mentoring as key in the training experience.

- NIH should allow non-US citizens to receive the full-funding opportunities, at the graduate and graduate levels. Requirements, other than the citizenship of the individual trainees, can be sufficient proxies-- such as the citizenship of the PI or the location of the institution!

- NIH needs to engage with USCIS positively to reform the Exchange Scholar program to meet the US national needs at the present time.

- Likewise, NIH needs to engage with the IRS and Congress towards reforming the tax code which affects institutions and fellows when it comes to eligibility for health benefits, retirement and taxability (social security).

 
02/24/2012 at 07:59:28 PM Organization Yale School of Medicine Minority Faculty Organization for Retention and Expansion New Haven, CT The Minority Faculty Organization for Retention and Expansion at the Yale School of Medicine would like to comment specifically on factors that may detract from the success of Black/African-American faculty from research-intensive universities. These are resource-rich environments that over the past few decades have primarily focused on efforts to recruit Black/African-American faculty. However, due to factors related to the institutional climate, Black/African-American faculty at these institutions often don't feel a sense of belonging --or inclusion - which can detract from their success in obtaining funding and achieving promotion and tenure.

Thus, we feel strongly that "structural diversity" (i.e. having Blacks/African-Americans on the faculty of research-intensive institutions faculty) is not enough. Inclusion is key.

It is our observation that Black/African-American junior faculty are often excluded from informal networks and working groups within their institution that could foster their development into independent scholars. Often this is due to the fact that they are hired because they are strong candidates and the institution is interested in diversifying, but the Black/African-American junior faculty person is hired into a research area where there is little or inadequate senior mentoring (e.g. junior Black/African-American lung cancer disparities researcher hired at an institution where the senior faculty members conducting research on lung cancer do not value disparities research). OR they are hired into a research area where there could potentially be adequate mentoring but they do not receive it due to 1) competition for resources among other junior faculty; 2) perceived dissimilarity based on race/ethnicity (some research suggests that individuals are more likely to mentor those they see as "similar" to them); or 3) few incentives on the part of the senior faculty at research-intensive universities to mentor junior scholars.

A lack of inclusion in formal/informal networks outside of their home institutions may play a role in the review process for Black/African-American faculty. There is a "human factor" in study sections, where individuals may note that "New Investigator X trained with Senior Investigator Y, and because Y does great research, we know X is probably great". Even if they are currently employed by research-intensive universities, if Black/African-American researchers are less likely to be trained by the most prominent researchers in the field, or less likely to be included in networks that make them "known" to members of NIH Study Sections, they may be adversely impacted during the review process, simply because they do not belong to the most prestigious networks.

Inclusion - both within and outside of the potential applicant's institution.

Exclusion from mentorship and sponsorship at their home institutions can have a direct impact on the quality of R01-level grant submissions by Black/African-American faculty. Having R01-funded senior colleagues and collaborators carefully read and provide constructive criticism on an applicant's proposal (particularly in the current funding climate) is critical to its success. Similarly, mentorship is important in the review of the summary statements and subsequent R01 application resubmission.

A lack of inclusion in formal and informal working groups at their home institutions may also limit opportunities to serve as a Co-Investigator on colleagues' grants, which could limit opportunities for scientific collaboration, opportunities to serve as a dual-PI, opportunities for additional publications, etc...

Both within and outside of their institutions, Black/African-American faculty are often not included as primary or co- investigators in large-scale population based or community cohort studies, many of which are conducted on Black/African-American populations. This has implications for the career of the Black/African-American faculty person (opportunities for funding, collaboration, publications, etc...) as well as the research that is being conducted - including the hypotheses that are tested and the conclusions that are drawn based on the findings.

In order to enhance mentoring of Black/African-American and other underrepresented faculty at research-intensive universities, NIH could create "mentoring" awards to provide protected time to midcareer or senior faculty who are willing to devote time to mentoring junior faculty from these groups. This would be similar to the K24 mechanism for midcareer researchers that provides protected time for midcareer clinical researchers to mentor junior clinical scientists.

In population and/or community-based studies, the inclusion of investigators from the "target" population in the study (e.g. Latino, Black/African-American, etc...) should be part of the review criteria. Similar to NIH mandates for inclusion of research participants from diverse backgrounds, applicants should also make an effort to identify and include investigators from the populations that they are studying or justify why they are unable to. This would include improving the representation underrepresented investigators receiving funding from large-scale NIH-funded cohort studies (the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, the Insulin Resistance Atherosclerosis Study (IRAS), the National Children's Study, etc..).

 
02/24/2012 at 09:28:44 PM Self     While all of the issues outlined in the RFI are important and interrelated in explaining the observed disparities I believe that the NIH should fund research to better understand what factors support success in the increasingly diverse scientific workforce. Pipeline issues are a striking component and we know that there is evidence to show that early research experience is important in building the willingness and ability to persist as a researcher. However, little is known about the types and amount of research experience necessary to provide long-term benefits and process by which of these experiences can lead to success. Mentoring is another key factor that is critical for success in a research career. Yet most evidence supporting the key aspects of effective mentoring is limited.   1. PIs who are funded to direct research training programs should be required to show that that they recruit AND retain a diverse grant. In effect, they need to show that they have effectively (and equally) mentored minorities. 2. NIH should do a trial of blinding the reviewers with respect to the institution of the applicants and other methods to minimize bias. 3. Funding initiatives should be developed to request proposals to study factors that promote success among minority scientists.  
02/24/2012 at 09:54:24 PM Self     The efforts of the Advisory Committee to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Working Group on Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce are important to the physical wellbeing of the population and economic competitiveness of the nation. In 2005, the National Academies report Rising Above the Gathering Storm explained that investments must be made to strengthen the pipeline of students interested in and prepared for careers in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields in order to best position the United States to compete well in the future global economic arena. The report specifically recommended that particular attention be paid to increasing the participation of students in groups that are underrepresented in STEM education, training, and employment. The report led to eventual passage of the America COMPETES Act in 2007 and its reauthorization in 2010. The original America COMPETES Act authorized a broad range of activities to be carried out by federal research agencies. Many of the activities were geared towards enhancing the STEM pipeline and the participation of students from underrepresented groups. However, the NIH was noticeably left out of the legislation. The August 2011 Science article "Race, Ethnicity, and NIH Research Awards" makes clear that significant work exists in order to diversify the biomedical research workforce. The International and American Associations for Dental Research (IADR/AADR) urge the NIH to take steps to increase diversity in all areas within the biomedical research community. More specifically, we call on NIH to: (1.) increase efforts to engage and interest students from underrepresented backgrounds in the health sciences at an early age thereby strengthening the pipeline; (2.) foster partnerships between leading medical/dental/health sciences institutions and historically minority serving institutions (MSIs) as well as K-12 schools with high concentrations of students from underrepresented groups; and (3.) support the development of both regional and online resources to assist in the research training and development of clinically-focused faculty. Strengthening the Pipeline- The NIH must enhance efforts to engage students as early as high school to generate interest in science and broaden understanding of career options, particularly in environments where knowledge of research career choices may be limited. Too often, students who do pursue medicine or dentistry opt for a career as a practitioner without giving much - if any - thought to engaging in the research that underlies practice. As an example of a useful effort, the National Institute of General Medical Sciences used to have a program to encourage high school students to get involved in a summer research experience. Within the dental and craniofacial research community, an effective way to attract members of underrepresented populations are the T35 summer short-term research training grants to dental schools. The task of getting student interested in biomedical research needs to be combined with mentoring opportunities to bolster retention. According to a Center for Institutional Data Exchange and Analysis study in 2000, only 24% of underrepresented racial minorities who pursue a college science major graduate within six years. Fostering Partnerships- Partnerships between leading health sciences research organizations and MSIs/K-12 schools in urban and rural areas are critical to strengthening the biomedical research workforce pipeline and increasing diversity. As an example, the Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED) is working with several other Ohio universities and private foundations to increase diversity in the future biomedical research workforce. The NEOMED Education for Service program is focused in Cleveland and introduces students from diverse and lower socioeconomic backgrounds to careers in biomedical sciences. The program offers mentoring and counseling from middle school through graduate/professional school. Promising students are identified with the help of local communities and healthcare providers and a subset of the students who progress through the program are guaranteed admission to NEOMED. NEOMED is also partnering with Central State University, a Historically Black College and University in Ohio, to provide research internships in NIH funded laboratories on the NEOMED campus. The NEOMED commitment to diversity and utilization of partnerships is already seen across the country, but the scale of these efforts could certainly be increased with increased engagement by NIH. The International and American Associations for Dental Research applaud NIH for undertaking this critical effort. As the population of individuals from underrepresented groups increases, the U.S. cannot afford to wait on initiatives that seek to diversify the research workforce. We ask that the Working Group continue to engage the entire biomedical research community as it develops proposals to enhance existing programs and create new ones. Fostering Partnerships- Partnerships between leading health sciences research organizations and MSIs/K-12 schools in urban and rural areas are critical to strengthening the biomedical research workforce pipeline and increasing diversity. As an example, the Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED) is working with several other Ohio universities and private foundations to increase diversity in the future biomedical research workforce. The NEOMED Education for Service program is focused in Cleveland and introduces students from diverse and lower socioeconomic backgrounds to careers in biomedical sciences. The program offers mentoring and counseling from middle school through graduate/professional school. Promising students are identified with the help of local communities and healthcare providers and a subset of the students who progress through the program are guaranteed admission to NEOMED. NEOMED is also partnering with Central State University, a Historically Black College and University in Ohio, to provide research internships in NIH funded laboratories on the NEOMED campus. The NEOMED commitment to diversity and utilization of partnerships is already seen across the country, but the scale of these efforts could certainly be increased with increased engagement by NIH.    
02/24/2012 at 10:42:37 PM Organization Bridge Clinical Research Oakland CA Lack of diversity in study section and with study section chairs Minority researchers have less visibility into the review process as their natural networks are not made aware of the nuances of the review process Mandate (not just guidance) that ethnicy of study sections match the US population (US Census)  
02/24/2012 at 11:23:54 PM Organization Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University New York, NY Projecting into the future, it is clear that underrepresented minority students will be an increasing proportion of the students enrolled in the nation's schools. Moreover, there is ample reason to fear that their preparation in mathematics will make it almost impossible for all but a very few of them to get the preparation they need for the undergraduate science courses. It is beyond the capabilities of the NIH to invest in improving science and mathematics education in the nation's public schools, but there are efforts that can be implemented that will improve the flow of the current pool of Black and Hispanic undergraduate science students into the biomedical research workforce. We would propose that interventions targeted at key points in the educational pipeline will help increase the likelihood that students who are already enrolled in mathematics and science courses will continue to pursue careers in science, medicine and public health. There are numerous programs that have demonstrated success in their efforts to achieve these goals, and it is imperative that we continue to build on their successes. -The most efficient and cost effective strategy for expanding the pool of underrepresented minority students in the biomedical research pipeline is to expand the number of programs that have demonstrated success in improving the math/science competencies of participating students. - Conducting rigorous evaluation studies of current HHS -supported programs to increase the diversity in the biomedical workforce must also become a priority - The number of grants to support "pipeline" programs should be increased, as demand far exceeds capacity - Grants should provide full tuition support for trainees - Allowable costs for training grants should include salary support for training program directors, other faculty with significant involvement or responsibility for coursework, student support and oversight, and coordinators/staff members who are critical for running these programs. Efforts to increase racial/ethnic diversity in the biomedical research workforce depend strongly on efforts to increase diversity in higher education institutions in the United States. Significantly, diversity initiatives appear to have achieved some success. Data from the National Center for Education Statistics indicate that college attendance rates for underrepresented minority students (UMS), particularly Blacks and Hispanics, have improved dramatically since 1980. In 2008 approximately 32 percent of all Blacks between the ages of 18-24 were enrolled in colleges or universities as compared with 20 percent in 1980. Similarly, 26 percent of all Hispanics in this age group were enrolled in these institutions that year compared with 16 percent in 1980. While this represents substantial progress, college-going rates for these groups lagged significantly behind those of Whites, 44 percent of whom were in colleges or universities in 2008, a proportion that is up from 28 percent in 1980. In 1987 a report to the US Congress Office of Technology Assessment entitled, Images of Science: Factors Affecting the Choice of Science as a Career [Fullilove, RE, 1987, http://www.fas.org/ota/reports/8813.pdf] suggested that the most important factor in the education of future scientists was whether or not students continued their mathematics education in high school after freshman algebra. Students must, it was noted, take geometry, pre-calculus [trigonometry], and calculus in order to be prepared for college-level science courses. Minority students were least likely to make this all important transition. Significantly, the most important "leak" in the pipeline occurred in the sophomore year when the vast majority of Black and Hispanic students failed to move beyond algebra courses. Have things improved in the 25 years since that report was published? An examination of achievement levels in mathematics and for US elementary and secondary students is chilling. According to the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress, our best and most representative barometer of academic achievement in the United States, Black, Hispanic, and Native American students are far behind White and Asian American students at every grade level assessed. In 2009,about 39 percent of 4th- graders scored at or above the Proficient level. Asians/Pacific Islanders (60 percent) had the highest percentage of 4th-graders scoring at or above Proficient, followed by White students (51 percent). Both of these groups had higher percentages of students scoring at this level than did Hispanics (22 percent) and American Indian/Alaska Natives (21 percent) students. Blacks had the lowest percentage of 4th-grade students scoring at or above the Proficient level (16 percent) of all groups. [Status and Trends in the Education of Racial and Ethnic Groups, National Center for Education Statistics, 2010, page 60 @http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2010/2010015.pdf] While 8 percent of 4th grade White students were at advanced levels of achievement in mathematics, only 1 percent of Black 4th graders, 1 percent of Hispanic 4th graders, and 2 percent of Native American 4th graders were at this level. Assuming that the students who are most likely to progress to doctoral degree levels of achievement are those who show a high level of promise early in their school careers, these numbers are horrifying. Worse, data from the 2005 NAEP for 12th grade achievement in mathematics indicate that while 3 percent of White and 6 percent of Asian American students were at advanced levels of achievement, the proportions of Black and Hispanic students at this level nationwide were too small to be estimated. Projecting into the future, it is clear that underrepresented minority students will be an increasing proportion of the students enrolled in the nation's schools. Moreover, there is ample reason to fear that their preparation in mathematics will make it almost impossible for all but a very few of them to get the preparation they need for the undergraduate science courses. It is beyond the capabilities of the NIH to invest in improving science and mathematics education in the nation's public schools, but there are efforts that can be implemented that will improve the flow of the current pool of Black and Hispanic undergraduate science students into the biomedical research workforce. We would propose that interventions targeted at key points in the educational pipeline will help increase the likelihood that students who are already enrolled in mathematics and science courses will continue to pursue careers in science, medicine and public health. There are numerous programs that have demonstrated success in their efforts to achieve these goals, and it is imperative that we continue to build on their successes. A 2009 report from the US Department of Health and Human Services, Pipeline Programs to Improve Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Health Professions: An Inventory of Federal Programs, Assessment of Evaluation Approaches, and Critical Review of the Research Literature echoes this sentiment. In an exhaustive review of published evaluations of pipeline programs, the authors note that numerous successful strategies exist for boosting the academic performance of minority students and increasing the likelihood that they will succeed in STEM careers. One of these, The Mathematics Workshop Program at the University California, Berkeley was of particular significance. An article published in 1991 in the Journal of Negro Education, Mathematics Achievement amongst African American Undergraduates at the University of California, Berkeley: An Evaluation of the Mathematics Workshop Program (Fullilove and Treisman, 1991), receives prominent notice in the HHS report [http://www.jstor.org/pss/2295577]. In their evaluation of the MWP, the authors demonstrate that over a six-year period, Black students consistently outperformed White and Asian American students in Berkeley's rigorous first-year calculus courses. Students in the program had also graduated at rates comparable to White and Asian students and achieved records of academic success in and out of the classroom. In his current work at the University of Texas, Austin, Treisman continues to assert the need to support and sustain programs that promote and encourage success. Innovators such as Treisman have demonstrated that we possess the ability to design effective programs. When these interventions are freed from the struggle to maintain their funding, they do very well indeed. Significantly, the HHS report identifies a large number of successful efforts to push minority students through the pipeline for careers in the science and technology workforce. A significant number of them are HHS funded, but they note " There is room for more coordination and information sharing across agencies and programs. Agencies appear to operate their pipeline programs in relative silos, with little opportunities for coordinating interventions across agencies or developing a learning community among agencies to share best practices and other insights from each agency's pipeline programs."{Pipeline Programs to Improve Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Health Professions: An Inventory of Federal Programs, Assessment of Evaluation Approaches, and Critical Review of the Research Literature, page ii} A number of conclusions are warranted at this point: The most efficient and cost effective strategy for expanding the pool of underrepresented minority students in the biomedical research pipeline is to expand the number of programs that have demonstrated success in improving the math/science competencies of participating students. A number of program models - including the Mathematics Workshop Model pioneered by Treisman - have received rigorous evaluations and have demonstrated their capacity to succeed. There is no need to continue to "reinvent the wheel" when we have a collection of programs and program design strategies that work. HHS already funds a number of these programs and it has even conducted its own evaluation of promising approaches for improving the race/ethnic diversity of the biomedical research pipeline. Heeding the recommendations of its report Pipeline Programs to Improve Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Health Professions to share best practices and create a more coordinated approach to funding and supporting these programs makes sense. Conducting rigorous evaluation studies of current HHS -supported programs to increase the diversity in the biomedical workforce must also become a priority. Many programs have been in operation for a number of years and would provide HHS with important data about what works and what should be done to improve on their achievements. Here at Columbia University, we have created a number of programs, most notably the BEST Diversity Program in biostatistics that "seeks to expand and diversify the behavioral and biomedical sciences' workforce by introducing undergraduates from under-represented populations to research in the areas of biostatistics and cardiovascular and pulmonary disease." These and other initiatives have the potential to significantly expand our knowledge base about creating and implementing such programs. Additionally, we would suggest that: The number of grants to support "pipeline" programs should be increased, as demand far exceeds capacity. For example, the BEST pipeline program for undergraduates received more than 70 applications for 14 slots this summer, for a 5:1 ratio of demand to availability. Increasing the number of slots per grant would also be helpful in this regard. Training grants should provide full tuition support for trainees; this is often a major barrier to participation on training grants among competitive and highly qualified applicants, especially those from underserved communities and those with limited financial resources. Allowable costs for training grants should include salary support for training program directors, other faculty with significant involvement or responsibility for coursework, student support and oversight, and coordinators/staff members who are critical for running these programs. Direct student support is invaluable for increasing the likelihood of student success, as indicated by the research described above. As a nation do not lack the technology to improve the academic achievement in mathematics and science of underrepresented minority students. There is little question that we can dramatically improve the diversity of the biomedical research workforce by building on these models. What is less certain is whether as a nation we have the will to get it done.
02/24/2012 at 11:31:21 PM Self     Please review the information in the attached file Please review the information in the attached file Please review the information in the attached file 1. The lack of diversity and the need for diversity in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) disciplines has been reported in the literature. Substantial amount of financial funds have been investigated by both governmental and private agencies to address the lack of diversity and the need for diversity in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) disciplines. Numerous reports describe the increasing population of under-represented groups. Therefore, if the U.S. plans to continue to lead the world in the STEM disciplines, it must train its own workforce which includes those individuals whose diversity is identified as coming from under-represented groups. Considering the future projected shortage of scientists and engineers, it will be extremely important to take steps to ensure that all students as well as high ability students, particularly students from underrepresented groups, persist to graduation (Landgraf, 2003; PCCP, 21010). 2. The issue of diversity in the biomedical sciences is very intricately complex and integrated, especially as related to under-represented groups. Each sub-group has its own specific issue which impact decision to pursue undergraduate and graduate studies in the biomedical and related STEM disciplines. This is especially true for Black African Americans. I personally appreciated the efforts of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) efforts to reach out to others in an attempt to try to identify, discuss and offer possible solutions to these concerns. 3. In my opinion, the issues concerning the number of under-represented minority groups who submit and receive RO1 grants is closely integrated with the number of under-represented minorities, especially Black African Americans, within the biomedical related disciplines. This number is also intricately integrated with the number of individuals who are pursuing undergraduate and graduate studies in these areas. Although I am unaware of any literature that addresses this fact, I am sure that the ratio of the number of the white majority biomedical and STEM doctoral recipients who may have not submitted grants applications (for a variety of reasons) to the number of white majority doctoral recipients that do submit grants is far greater than the ratio which may be associated with under-represented minority doctoral recipients. Therefore, in addition to identify concerns related to the low number of minority grant applicants submitted and low number which may be approved for funding, ultimately the pipeline issues and all related parameters that affect matriculation through undergraduate studies, graduate studies and employment within academia and related areas have to be addressed. The following information presents some of my differential perspectives on these intricately and complex related issues. 4. Perspective #1: The Chilly Graduate Academic Environment Still Exists (and in some instances, this also applies to undergraduate institutions). I have kept in contact with several former students who are currently in graduate school studying for the masters and/or doctoral degree. From time to time, they have called me to discuss various issues that have experienced during their respective graduate studies. These conversations have confirmed to me that the various schisms, isms and other barriers continue to exist for minorities, especially those minorities identified as Black African Americans. The Kiri Davis Doll study lends support to this assumption. (Huckaby, 2008) 5. I recently asked one student, who is in the last phase of completing the requirements for the doctoral degree in a biomedical discipline, the following question. Realizing the hostility, the variety of schisms, isms and other barriers that minority students, (especially Black African American) continue to face in the graduate school environment (as well as in the reality of employment), why should I, especially as a Black African American female who has experienced these behaviors on many levels, continue to encourage students to enroll in graduate school to study for a masters or doctoral degree in the biomedical sciences? The response: I should continue to encourage all undergraduate students, especially those from under-represented groups so that they and others can see, that in there are individuals that look like them in the biomedical science professions; and that a doctoral degree in the sciences is something that they too can also do; and that it is a goal that can be achieved! 6. Perspective #2: Lack of Awareness of Career Diversity Within the Biomedical Sciences. Why are students not aware or knowledgeable of other careers within the biomedical sciences other than the health professions? One reason is the public's concept of Biology, and related disciplines, equates to a career within the medical profession. For many individuals, especially those from under-represented groups, the primary reason many undergraduate students decide to major in Biology (or related discipline) is to prepare for a career in the medical profession. Many students express the desire to become a physician, dentist, pharmacist, nurse or more recently, a physician assistant or physical therapist. Many, within this same group of undergraduate students, are not even aware of other allied health professions within the medical profession. I personally have heard well-known and respected community leaders (i.e. governmental officials or school principals) to make the following comment: "What else can one do with a Biology degree other than medicine?" 7. Unawareness of career options within the biomedical science profession, combined with the complexities associated with some of the true underlying reasons most student desire to become a physician, contribute the small number of science undergraduates that continue their educational pursuit in masters and/or doctoral programs. A review of the biography of Dr. Kenneth Olden, the Founding and Acting Dean of the School of Public Health at the City University of New York (Hunter College), will give some insight into choices made by many students, especially those from under-represented groups. Dr. Olden, the first African American director of an institute within the NIH (1991 - 2005) - the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS); and was also concurrently the director of the National toxicology Program (Profile, 2004). 8. Dr. Olden, as with many undergraduate students, entered college to prepare for medical school. It was a research internship, as a senior in college, that changed his original career goal of becoming a physician to that of become a scientist. This experience resulted in him deciding to attend graduate school instead of medical school (BSCP, 2004). Dr. Olden's experience during this earlier internship gives insight into at least six (6) important things: (1) It is apparent that, at that time, he had one or more persons who took time with him which thereby ignited his interest in biomedical research; and/or (2) he was so interested and excited in the project that he decided that this was something he wanted to do regardless as to whatever obstacles he may encounter. (3) These individuals, who did not look like him, were both role models and mentors to him (BSCP, 2004). (4) It also reveals his quiet yet distinctive character, strength and integrity in overcoming all levels of obstacles and injustices which has led to the eminent distinguished reputation he has earned today. Dr. Olden matriculated through his undergraduate and graduate training experiences during the major highlights of the civil rights movement. Without a doubt, his ability to maintain grace and agility under pressure - becoming a Master Fencer, is something that he learned from his family and community (Brown, 2004). This is ability may be somewhat lacking, for a variety of reasons, in today's millennial undergraduate students. (5) His undergraduate experience also substantiates the financial investments of NIH, the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Education (DOE) and other governmental and private agencies in such program for under-represented minorities groups. (6) Although, exposure is important, no one really knows or understands what it is that stimulates an interest in science that inspires one to want to learn, to want know and to want to understand more about a respective scientific discipline. 9. Although Dr. Olden indicated that he has not regretted his decision, he commented that his choice to pursue graduate school instead of medical school was a great disappointment to his family as well as community (BSCP, 2004). The hidden message in this statement suggests that many undergraduate minority students in the biomedical (and other STEM disciplines) represent the hopes and dreams of their families and/or their communities. These minority students, consciously and/or unconsciously, aspire to become the ultimate role model who is respected, has status and prestige for their respective ethnicity and race (Tyler, 2000). Therefore, if a minority undergraduate student is studying science, it is usually engineering or medicine. The importance and relevance of any other scientific discipline is not readily understood nor appreciated (BSCP, 2004). 10. Thus, many undergraduate students, especially minority students, aspire to become those science professionals they see most often who are usually viewed as models of respect, prestige, status and/or financial success - practicing physicians, nurse, dentists, pharmacists; and more recently, crime science investigators or forensic scientists. Years of conversations with students has provided anecdotal evidence for these assumptions. Therefore, unless, an undergraduate student has a relative and/or a neighbor and/or a family friend who is a professional in the biomedical sciences or related sciences, exposure to such professionals is almost invisible. 11. The practice of science, especially as related to the biomedical sciences, is virtually invisible to most of the public, whereas physician careers, nurse, pharmacists, dentists are clearly visible. Beginning at an early age, students become aware of the physician as a science career choice. Later, they eventually learn about the dentist, the pharmacist or the nurse through personal experiences themselves and/or with relatives and/or friends who have been ill or hospitalized. The television industry further perpetuates these careers through shows such as "House," Grey's Anatomy, "Emergency" and other related shows. Consequently, many students interested in biology and/or chemistry are unconsciously programmed and indoctrinated from an early age that these are the only science careers for one interested in studying major in the biomedical sciences. The recent rise in undergraduate students' interest in forensic science as a major can be directly tied to the CSI series on the TV strongly supports this theory. 12. Rarely are shows and/or movies presented that reflect the actual practice of science. As a general rule, such presentations often show the negative side and results of the practice of the biomedical sciences (i.e. "Walking Dead, "Legion", "Sabre Tooth", "Jurassic Park," "Twelve Monkeys" and many others) and/or only the sociological/psychological impact. Even the movie "Medicine Man" shows very little sciences, mostly presents Sean Connery tracking through the forest and his interactions with the local natives. The same can be said for movies such as "The Serpent and the Rainbow," "Lorenzo's Oil," "Outbreak" and "Dragon Fly." Primarily the medical, sociological and psychological aspects are presented during the movies. Very little of the actual practice of science for the development of Lorenzo's oil or for laboratory evaluation of the disease status is shown. This is even true for the Star Trek series. 13. Therefore these views lead to Perspective #3 - the lack of identifiable role models and mentors -someone that looks like me. The literature strongly suggests that an ethnical/racial identifiable role model/mentor has a major impact on recruitment and retention of students within the sciences (Karunanayake and Nauta, 2004; Price, 2010). However, a scientific role model and/or mentor does not have to be ethnically or racially identifiable; only someone who is willing to invest the time and energy required and necessary to get know, to understand and to encourage a student (Gibbons, 1993; Lee, 1999). However, the presence of identifiable role models and mentors does increase the ability of students to imagine themselves continuing and succeeding in the respective discipline (Wormley, 2003; Tanner and Allen, 2007). Representative role models also contribute greatly to enabling students to "see" and to develop the self confidence that they can also achieve a similar goal. This is especially true for the majority of historically under-represented minority groups (Rask and Bailey, 2002; Slaughter and Chubin, 2003, Land of Plenty, 2000; PPCUP, 2010). 14. The presence of role models and mentors increases the ability of students to imagine themselves continuing and succeeding in the respective discipline (Wormley, 2003; Tanner and Allen, 2007). Dr. Olden indicated that when he was in college he had never met any black scientists (BSCP, 2004) 15. Demographics within the United States are changing on many levels. Affirmative-action policies, whose focus initially was on improving America's domestic minority representation, have shifted to include cultural diversity with subsequent focus on the international representation of the world's different cultural and ethnic groups of people, especially within the STEM disciplines. International students and faculty have made and continue to make significant contributions in the Nation's higher education and economy. However, this emphasis has come as a major cost to correction of the under-representation of America's historically under-represented minority groups (Tapia, 2007). 16. This policy shift has undoubtedly contributed greatly to the increasing number of international faculty with the colleges and universities in the United States, especially among historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). This fact has led to Perspective #4 - Cultural Competence, which, unfortunately, has contributes to attrition of under-represented minorities from STEM disciplines including the biomedical sciences. Many minority STEM undergraduates have such experienced a variety of dissatisfactions and disappointments that they have chosen to switch from a respective scientific major to a non-science major not because they could not do the science, but because they could not identify with the community of science which did not look like them; and/or share relevant issues of concern. Those students who decide to remain as science majors are reported to have developed some type of personal mechanism to survive in spite of any perceive obstacles (Tanner and Allen, 2007; Tobias, 1990). However, once in graduate school, minority students may decide that to continue under such conditions may not be personally worthwhile as suggested by the following scenario: Martin Hernandez, Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Industrial Engineering, stood up to greet Angela Johnson when she entered his office. Angela was dropping out of graduate school. "Have a seat," Martin gestured to a chair across from his desk. "So, let's talk about why you're leaving the program. Frankly, I'm surprised to see you go." "Well," said Angela, with some hesitation. "To begin with, my advisor, Larry Hofstedt, told me that I would have to take lower-level courses because my college education at a historically black Institution was not up to par. I found out that none of the other students had to do this. I also had a series of very discouraging in-class experiences. I was hoping for rapport with the faculty, but none of my professors ever called on me or asked me to answer a question. "Did you raise your hand?" Martin asked. "I did, but they seemed surprised whenever I participated," replied Angela. "I was even accused of cheating once when I got an "A" on an exam. And my grades tended to be lower than average, even though I worked just as hard as my peers. Also, I was always left out of social events with the other students in the department. It's hard to be black around here, Professor Hernandez. It's very isolating." From: Case Studies in Inclusive Teaching in STEM. (Friedrich et al., 2007; Tanner and Allen, 2007). 17. The assumptions of academic under-preparedness in minority students is a major factor in the decision whether to remain in the STEM discipline in both undergraduate as well as graduate studies (Tanner and Allen, 2007). This underlying belief, combined with feelings of isolation and lack of emotional support, represents only a few of the barriers and obstacles that many minority students must face in graduate school. 18. Cultural competence is apparently very complex and is ultimately integrated with Perspective #5: Advisement and Perspective #6: Mentorship. Faculty, through advisement, nurturing and mentorship, must encourage and not discourage students in order to retain them in the STEM disciplines (Girves et al., 2005; Hurte, 2002). "Rather than weed out students and discourage students from science classes, we must encourage and inspire them (Cordova, 2000)." "This does not mean in any way courses should be made easy or watered down (Tobias, 1990)." However, effort should be made to enable students to rise to expectations. Faculty must also realize that advisement and mentorship, although related, are two different distinct efforts and are not the same thing. There is a reason for the "M" in mentoring and it is related strongly to the system of Othermothering (Hirt et al., 2008). Students must feel and know that they can challenge the inherent stereotype which others, for any number of reasons, may have. 19. "Faculty and institutions "must create an environment that provides for social and personal growth which will help the broadest range of students to become successful (Wormley, 2003; Tanner and Allen, 2007). Just as "colleges and universities take the whole person into account and consider all relevant qualities-not just grades and test scores when making assessment of students for admissions decisions (Smith et al., 2003)," the same should hold for students matriculating within the STEM disciplines. Hopefully, faculty and institutions would utilize strategies that address the needs of the majority of its student as well as its talented tenth. Perhaps another way of convening this idea was made by Spock in Star Trek IV: The Wrath of Kahn: "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few." 20. Perspective #7: Student's perceptions of future financial rewards relative to time period of study. The ratio of the years of training required for many master's or doctoral degrees in the sciences verse the ultimate future financial rewards is another consideration in the decision to pursue graduate studies in the sciences. Non-science majors of earn higher salaries with less stress associated. Therefore, some students who may have been undergraduate STEM majors and/or students who may have dropped out of graduate STEM programs decide to pursue graduate studies in non-STEM related disciplines (Bettinger, 2010). 21. Perspective #8 - Lecture/Laboratory Emphasis. Perhaps a hidden contributor to the decrease in graduate school student pipeline is the emphasis on lecture and laboratory credit. Substantial time and energy is invested in the laboratory component of different undergraduate science courses (three to four hours) as compared to course credit (one [1] hour usually). Students have to conduct the laboratory exercise, write a report and interpret findings accordingly on as many as eight to ten (or more) laboratory experiments. Yet in many institutions, more course credit is place on the lecture component which may only have four to six examinations (three [3] credit hours usually). To become a scientist, lecture and laboratory concepts, skills, techniques and knowledge must be integrated. Therefore, students may interpret the importance of laboratory training, skills, techniques and knowledge as less valuable and less important than subject content knowledge. Another consideration is that many laboratory activities may be "cookbook" methodologies; and students cannot see any real life relevance. Perhaps some thought should be given to the incorporation more laboratory activities to which students can more readily identify and see as relevant to the real world. 22. It is known that in mining, not all lumps of coal will have a jewel; and in gardening, in any bag of seeds - not all will germinate. Yet no one really knows exactly which lump of coal has the jewels or exactly which seeds will germinate. Consequently, no one really knows or fully understands what turns a student on within the biomedical/STEM disciplines (or for that matter . . . any discipline). 23. It's A Matter of Opinion (APPLIES TO ALL STUDENTS - BUT ESPECIALLY STEM STUDENTS) Some students are like wheelbarrow, they have to be pushed. Some are like canoes, they need to be paddled. Some are like kites, if you don't keep a string on them, they will fly away. Some are like kittens, they're more contented when petted. Some are like footballs, you can't tell which way they're going to bounce next. Some are like trailers, they have to be pulled. Some are like balloons, full of wind and likely to blow up unless handled carefully. - Author Unknown 24. This poem is especially relative to the millennial generation of undergraduate students. This poem also serves to remind me that many students are "late blooming flowers". These groups of students, who often may represent a significant population of the student body, have not yet realized their hidden potential for a variety of reasons. Therefore, in order to reach and teach these and other students, one must have some degree of understanding of the issues and concerns that may impact a student's academic progress. Therefore, faculty and other relevant personnel must become students. They must learn as much as possible about the different issues and concerns which impact students' respective academic learning process and progress. "To be a teacher in the right sense is to be a learner. I am not a teacher, only a fellow student". (Quote by Soren Kierkegaard). In other words, educational personnel exert all efforts to make the studying, the learning, the understanding and the practice of science so exciting and relevant that students will want to do science regardless of any and all perceived barriers and/or obstacles. 25. Perspective #8: Identification of Quantifiable and Measurable Variables. The lighting of the flame of discovery; and/or in some instances, to re-light the flame, is a deep heartfelt passion that can only be seen in the students' eyes by the professor. Consequently, the results of agencies financial investments in various academic enrichment efforts are often not seen until many years later. With granting agencies wishing to identify quantifiable means of measuring success of a project, this a major concern. This is especially true in those institutions which do not have the infrastructural support to conduct up student progress subsequent to the grant funding period. 26. Perspective #9. Is there a relationship between the number of under-represented minority students in the graduate school pipeline and the gradual shift of targeted programs such MARC-MBRS (and others) others to majority institutions?
02/24/2012 at 11:58:10 PM Organization AAAS Minority Education & Career Exposure Affinity Group Washington, DC Need to Clarify the Approach to Addressing Issues Identified in this RFI We feel that it may not be as effective to lump discussions on disparities in R01 funding together with those focused on the lack of diversity in the biomedical research workforce pipeline. While each issue is relevant to the other, they do not necessarily demonstrate a causal relationship. The Science article that prompted this RFI illustrates that substantial enhancements to the pipeline do not offset inherent bias in the review process. Therefore, improving aspects of the URM pipeline may not adequately address the shortcomings of the NIH grant review process, and vice-versa.

I. Regarding the disparities identified in R01 funding awarded to Black and White investigators, we offer the following input:

A. Maximize Current Training Opportunities a. The NIH and FDA offer cross-disciplinary intramural postdoctoral training opportunities in grant and protocol review, which benefit less than 2% of the U.S. postdoctoral community. Creation of similarly structured institutional training grants could accelerate the attainment of academic grant writing and review skillsets, particularly for pre- and post-doctoral URM scientists who are at a disadvantage when applying for independent funding. Successful implementation of extramural grant review training programs would require carefully directed integration and ongoing institutional partnerships with the NIH Center for Scientific Review to achieve targeted recruitment of qualified URMs to grant review study sections. b. The American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) Minority Affairs Committee Mentoring Program (http://www.ascb.org/index.php?option=com_content&;view=article&id=570&Itemid=6) seeks to encourage and assist newly independent URM investigators in the sciences. This program demonstrates an additional model for fostering increased success among URM grant applicants.

B. Peer Review Process a. Consider reinstituting programs such as the Center for Scientific Review (CSR) full-time internship in which biomedical and behavioral research scientists interested in pursuing careers in science administration received hands-on professional training under the mentorship of an experienced CSR Scientific Review Administrator (SRA) or Integrated Review Group (IRG) Chief (http://www.csr.nih.gov/Internship/home_textonly.htm). Candidates also participated in seminars and workshops, where they were encouraged to explore other career options. Such programs may attract URM investigators, and their engagement would likely help to diversify those recruited into the review process. b. The more recently established Early Career Reviewer (ECR) Program seeks to train and recruit a diverse pool of qualified scientists into the review process, including scientists from less research-intensive institutions (http://cms.csr.nih.gov/ReviewerResources/ECR.htm). It does not specifically target URM investigators, but will likely capture several more than the traditional recruitment strategies have yielded.

C. Assess the Sources and Influences of Bias on the Peer Review Process a. In many respects, the review process allows scientists to use science to be exclusive. The scientific value assigned to an NIH-reviewed grant is inevitably influenced by several non-scientific factors (institutional affiliation, academic pedigree, reviewers comfort with topic area, etc.) that are inherent to individual study section members. Lack of diversity within a study section creates a collective voice that is more comfortable assigning value to research topics, themes, institutions, and/or colleagues with whom they are familiar. This type of collective bias promotes silos that can disproportionately limit engagement with URM investigators, who typically embrace collectiveness and connectedness as a cultural value. This disconnect may also contribute to lower R01 resubmission rates among URM investigators, particularly when they are not affiliated with a research-intensive academic institution. b. Bias related to "invisible endorsement" exists in the review process. Reviewers may be familiar with and/or persuaded by a grant applicant's academic pedigree, mentors, or training institutions, and therefore, less likely to question the feasibility of the proposed studies. This results in a "halo effect" during the review process, in which grant applicants with familiar backgrounds are given the benefit of doubt over those with less recognized backgrounds. Again, this is more likely to occur with URM investigators because they are underrepresented at research-intensive academic institutions. c. Reviewers need to assess the legitimacy of their "risk tolerance" in assessing innovation. Diverse thinking must play a role, and is encouraged by a diverse set of fellow reviewers. A "science as usual," approach should not be the default for reviewers, because it may not be for many URM applicants. d. Subtle "markers" (such as institution, advisor, topic area, applicants name) may subconsciously fuel unfamiliarity and discomfort that can influence reviewers to negatively assess grant applicants. There is a need for studies similar to the National Science Foundation (NSF) "Big Pitch" experimental review panels project, which removed markers that feed into implicit bias in the merit review process. However, this would require longitudinal investigation, and is a slow fix. Therefore, a combination of short-term (active recruitment of more people of color into NIH study sections) and long-term approaches should be explored. e. Consider the possibility of establishing a two-tiered approach to grant review. The first pass would only allow for evaluation of the research idea, and other indicators would not be available. The second stage of review would involve a second panel that examines research environment, mentors, publications, etc. The NSF often does a first -phase merit review that is strictly conducted by mail. For the second phase, a panel is assembled, and receives input from the mail reviewers. In this model, program officers may be just as equipped to review at the second stage as a panel, since the merit review is already complete.

II. Regarding the need to increase diversity in the biomedical research workforce, we offer the following input:

A. Tease Apart Pipeline vs. Pathway Approaches a. It seems that the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director (ACD) Working Group (WG) on the Biomedical Workforce is currently identifying multiple pathways to success in biomedical sciences. The information gained from the work of the ACD Diversity WG should be utilized in this discussion. Therefore, it will be necessary for both groups to speak the same language. b. In previous times, the URM pipeline was the pathway to success for the URM trainee. Today, the pipeline for all scientists has evolved into several pathways, any of which a URM trainee may choose to follow successfully. However, there are more pitfalls for URMs, and perhaps focus should shift to defining programs better suited to meet these changes. c. A science career remains relatively ill-defined within URM families and communities. Therefore, academic advisors and undergraduate research training programs should provide URM students with greater clarity prior to the graduate school application process, such that the student can be more decisive upon entry into a graduate degree program. Graduate school should not be a "landing point," but should mark a definitive moment of transition from measured academic matriculation to professional career training in the sciences. This is more readily observed among medical students, but should be fostered among graduate school applicants as well. d. Consider examining existing data on the effectiveness of long-running NIH minority training programs in the context of the questions below. i. To what degree do these programs focus on training impactful minority scientists vs. simply increasing the number of minority scientists? ii. What should be considered as the indicators of impact? iii. What is considered success for NIH training grants? Is the goal of receiving R01 funding a sufficient measure for quantifying the impact of earning a PhD in the biomedical fields? iv. Do projections about future economic needs demonstrate a shortage of biomedical researchers or is the shortage actually in other STEM fields? v. Should some NIH training funds be shifted to support career staff scientists who chose not to pursue tenure-track positions?

B. Consider the Key Areas of Impact (once focused on pathways or pipelines) a. At the individual level i. Networks - Expands the trainee's exposure and contact with the greater scientific community. This helps to identify the most suitable institution, mentor, sponsor, etc. ii. Mentorship - Critical to the developing a trainee's core academic, research, and professional competencies iii. Sponsorship - Advocates for, and in some cases, escorts trainee to next level professionally

b. At the institutional level i. Messaging - URMs in science are often discussed separately from the majority, and this can subliminally translate a message of lesser value and/or undeserved favor. ii. Environments - Openly address the "chilly" research environments particularly prevalent at top-tier institutions. Though typically accepted as a reality of science culture, URM may become disenchanted and dissuaded from pursuing long-term research careers based on an unwelcoming environment. iii. Infrastructure - Encouraging and rewarding strong institutional investment in recruitment and retention of URM students and faculty. Institutions that provide tools for mentoring and can diversify their faculty will essentially redistribute the responsibility for training URMs beyond URM faculty, and vividly demonstrate the value of their URM students

In our response to Comment 1, we felt it best to separate the key issues identified in this RFI as 1) disparities in R01 funding awarded to Black and White investigators and 2) increased diversity in the biomedical research workforce. To that end, we will discuss the most important issue for the working group to address within each area.

I. Disparities in R01 funding awarded to Black and White investigators

We believe the foremost area upon which the working group should focus is in assessing the sources and influence of bias on the peer review process (see section I.C. in Comment 1). While delving into issues surrounding bias can be difficult, we don't believe it can be avoided if the goal is for NIH to implement effectual change in the peer review process as it pertains to URM investigators.

II. Increased diversity in the biomedical research workforce

In previous times, the URM pipeline was the pathway to success for the URM trainee. Today, the pipeline for all scientists has evolved into several pathways, any of which a URM trainee may choose to follow successfully (see section II.A. in Comment 1). A number of URM-focused training programs are in place that do not take in to account this shift and, as such, may be less effective. To that end, we feel that data on existing long-running NIH minority training programs should be examined in the context of the following questions.

1. To what degree do these programs focus on training impactful minority scientists vs. simply increasing the number of minority scientists? 2. What should be considered as the indicators of impact? 3. What is considered success for NIH training grants? Is the goal of receiving R01 funding a sufficient measure for quantifying the impact of earning a PhD in the biomedical fields? 4. Do projections about future economic needs demonstrate a shortage of biomedical researchers or is the shortage actually in other STEM fields? 5. Should some NIH training funds be shifted to support career staff scientists who chose not to pursue tenure-track positions?

In order for NIH to effectively address the issues outlined in Comments 1 and 2, the primary ways in which specific policies and/or processes would be impacted are listed below.

- Development of professional training programs focused on providing postdoctoral fellows with hands-on experience with the grant review process.

- Implementing structural changes to the grant review process.

- Re-structuring URM-focused training programs to better reflect emerging multiple pathways to careers in biomedical research.

 
02/24/2012 at 11:59:36 PM Organization Stanford, Office of Graduate Education Stanford, CA High Priority should be placed on supporting pipeline programs aimed at increasing the diversity biomedical research workforce. The NIH should focus on the further developing the following o Mentorship is essential to success at every transition point in the pipeline and developing mentoring programs that span professional societies, institutions, and individuals is important overall, but especially important to retaining underrepresented students in the STEM pipeline. Beyond Graduate Training Decrease the time to the independence restore the prestige to the title of postdoc. o Better messaging of opportunities is vital. NIH should consider making their websites easier to navigate and more consistent throughout the institutes. The potential role of institutional affiliation, academic pedigree, and various conscious and unconscious factors on review outcomes. Research on the NIH Peer Review system to determine appropriate methods or interventions to identify and if necessary redress bias, including efforts to anonymize applications or test the effects of unconscious bias training on outcomes. o Interventions such as anonymizing applications to test the effects of unconscious bias based on pedigree and affiliation will not only demonstrate the effects on training outcomes, but a also contribute a method by which graduate admissions can be changed to reduce bias as well. Since all processes that measure competency at each transition point in the biomedical workforce depends on a form of peer review (Admissions, publications, funding, faculty recruitment, tenure) this type of study could be transformational. o Postdocs are viewed as undervalued members of the scientific community. The path is long, the training is less defined, the compensation is low, and the academic job is not guaranteed. For students from diverse backgrounds, there is little incentive to stay in the STEM pipeline after graduate school due to these views. If the goal of a postdoc is become an independent scientist, then NIH must form a policy that distinguishes the postdoc as a "trainee" and not "cheap labor". Reestablishing the value of the postdoc is key to marketing it as a meaningful step toward a career as a scientist. o Decrease the time to independence by offering support for direct entry into the professoriate. The NIH needs to increase funding for programs that move talented graduate students directly into a path to independence and raising the level of prestige associated with a career in research. Additionally, programs like the IRACDA fellowship that provide a mentored research and teaching experience should be expanded and better advertised to underrepresented students. (See Messaging) o Underrepresented scientists often seek opportunities to utilize their training to address disparities in health and education. Thus, grants that support transdisciplinary research may increase the number of URM scientists that remain in the academic pipeline. If the NIH wanted to support exploration of the possible influences of racial, ethnic, gender, affinity, or other biases, a national funding mechanism or center could be established to support this kind of research and provide a clear entry into transdisciplinary research for scientists who want to use their training to improve society. The NIH should seek to do a better job of connecting the vast network of scientists it supports. Requiring a mentoring plan is an important first step but ensuring that those plans are being implemented consistently is most important. If all PIs, Postdocs, Graduate Students, Undergraduates, etc. funded by the NIH were required to serve mentors in some capacity and demonstrate this on a regular basis as part of a progress report or renewal, this would have a huge impact on institutional support for formal mentorship programs. Early Matriculation Programs: Underrepresented students who gain admissions to the PhD would benefit from arriving a quarter early. Participation in a formal program that provides a comprehensive introduction to graduate training and mentorship for underrepresented students would enhance their experience and may result in increased motivation to pursue an academic career. o Early Exposure to biomedical research as a career: Many underrepresented students are simply not aware of graduate degree programs in biomedical research; therefore expanding support for high school research programs that engage these young people in hypothesis-driven research projects is vital. Participation not only solidifies their interest in the STEM fields, it promotes retention in these fields by linking lecture-based learning to a laboratory experience, an element missing in many science programs. o Access to Research: Community colleges have a highly motivated and diverse student body. Making research more accessible to this pool of students will drastically increase the diversity of STEM undergraduates. Outside of NIH Scholars programs, community college students have very few opportunities to gain research experience. The NIH should reevaluate pipeline programs to ensure that there are clear links to institutions that will provide the training for the next step in the academic pathway. o Support for non-traditional pathways into graduate programs. Postbac programs are gaining traction in the diversity community. Many underrepresented scholars understand the need to dedicate time to a sustained research experience after finishing their undergraduate degree. Postbac programs should be expanded and offer more intensive mentorship on the development of a competitive graduate application. o Mentoring of applicants and preparation of applications prior to applying to graduate programs. Underrepresented students need to have more guidance on the graduate admissions process. They should have mentors at research institutions to provide feedback on application materials, insight into the admissions process, and preparation for rigorous interviews. One example of disconnect between preparatory programs and the admissions process is in aspects of MARC training. MARC students conduct research at the home institution and are encouraged to participate in summer research experiences at other institutions. Faculty have expressed concerns over the ability of students who jump from project to project to communicate depth during their graduate interview. The NIH should consider the graduate admissions process when shaping programs like MARC, to emphasize depth over quantity of research experiences. o Admissions and The Peer Review Process: Graduate admission is a form of the peer review process. The NIH can set a precedent for changing this process if they make significant efforts to lessen the impact of bias on the peer review process. (See Factors in the Review Process) o GRE relevance to doctoral training in biomedical research: The NIH (and NSF) should encourage the elimination of the GRE graduate training in the biomedical sciences. It is a flawed test that consistently leaves underrepresented students at competitive disadvantage during the admissions process. Biomedical Research Workforce Pipeline High Priority should be placed on supporting pipeline programs aimed at increasing the diversity biomedical research workforce. The NIH should focus on the further developing the following: o Early Exposure to biomedical research as a career: Many underrepresented students are simply not aware of graduate degree programs in biomedical research; therefore expanding support for high school research programs that engage these young people in hypothesis-driven research projects is vital. Participation not only solidifies their interest in the STEM fields, it promotes retention in these fields by linking lecture-based learning to a laboratory experience, an element missing in many science programs. o Access to Research: Community colleges have a highly motivated and diverse student body. Making research more accessible to this pool of students will drastically increase the diversity of STEM undergraduates. Outside of NIH Scholars programs, community college students have very few opportunities to gain research experience. The NIH should reevaluate pipeline programs to ensure that there are clear links to institutions that will provide the training for the next step in the academic pathway. o Support for non-traditional pathways into graduate programs. Postbac programs are gaining traction in the diversity community. Many underrepresented scholars understand the need to dedicate time to a sustained research experience after finishing their undergraduate degree. Postbac programs should be expanded and offer more intensive mentorship on the development of a competitive graduate application. o Mentoring of applicants and preparation of applications prior to applying to graduate programs. Underrepresented students need to have more guidance on the graduate admissions process. They should have mentors at research institutions to provide feedback on application materials, insight into the admissions process, and preparation for rigorous interviews. One example of disconnect between preparatory programs and the admissions process is in aspects of MARC training. MARC students conduct research at the home institution and are encouraged to participate in summer research experiences at other institutions. Faculty have expressed concerns over the ability of students who jump from project to project to communicate depth during their graduate interview. The NIH should consider the graduate admissions process when shaping programs like MARC, to emphasize depth over quantity of research experiences. o Admissions and The Peer Review Process: Graduate admission is a form of the peer review process. The NIH can set a precedent for changing this process if they make significant efforts to lessen the impact of bias on the peer review process. (See Factors in the Review Process) o GRE relevance to doctoral training in biomedical research: The NIH (and NSF) should encourage the elimination of the GRE graduate training in the biomedical sciences. It is a flawed test that consistently leaves underrepresented students at competitive disadvantage during the admissions process. Mentorship o Mentorship is essential to success at every transition point in the pipeline and developing mentoring programs that span professional societies, institutions, and individuals is important overall, but especially important to retaining underrepresented students in the STEM pipeline. - The NIH should seek to do a better job of connecting the vast network of scientists it supports. Requiring a mentoring plan is an important first step but ensuring that those plans are being implemented consistently is most important. If all PIs, Postdocs, Graduate Students, Undergraduates, etc. funded by the NIH were required to serve mentors in some capacity and demonstrate this on a regular basis as part of a progress report or renewal, this would have a huge impact on institutional support for formal mentorship programs. - Early Matriculation Programs: Underrepresented students who gain admissions to the PhD would benefit from arriving a quarter early. Participation in a formal program that provides a comprehensive introduction to graduate training and mentorship for underrepresented students would enhance their experience and may result in increased motivation to pursue an academic career. Beyond Graduate Training Transition from graduate degree to post-doctoral fellowships, Award of the first independent research grant from NIH or equivalent in industry, Appointment from a post-doctoral position to the first independent scientific position, and award of tenure. o Postdocs are viewed as undervalued members of the scientific community. The path is long, the training is less defined, the compensation is low, and the academic job is not guaranteed. For students from diverse backgrounds, there is little incentive to stay in the STEM pipeline after graduate school due to these views. If the goal of a postdoc is become an independent scientist, then NIH must form a policy that distinguishes the postdoc as a "trainee" and not "cheap labor". Reestablishing the value of the postdoc is key to marketing it as a meaningful step toward a career as a scientist. o Decrease the time to independence by offering support for direct entry into the professoriate. The NIH needs to increase funding for programs that move talented graduate students directly into a path to independence and raising the level of prestige associated with a career in research. Additionally, programs like the IRACDA fellowship that provide a mentored research and teaching experience should be expanded and better advertised to underrepresented students. (See Messaging) o Underrepresented scientists often seek opportunities to utilize their training to address disparities in health and education. Thus, grants that support transdisciplinary research may increase the number of URM scientists that remain in the academic pipeline. If the NIH wanted to support exploration of the possible influences of racial, ethnic, gender, affinity, or other biases, a national funding mechanism or center could be established to support this kind of research and provide a clear entry into transdisciplinary research for scientists who want to use their training to improve society. Messaging The role of NIH messaging in encouraging underrepresented researchers to apply for NIH fellowships and grants o NIH should consider making their websites easier to navigate and more consistent throughout the institutes. When announcing new funding mechanisms or training programs, more effort should be dedicated to advertising and marketing these opportunities to trainees. Consulting firms, for example, are constantly marketing themselves to students and are highly successful at recruiting the best and brightest. NIH could use some of these techniques to market themselves to students and reinvigorate interest in STEM academic career paths. o Mentorship at the application stage should also be emphasized and would increase the competitiveness of applications for first time funding. Establishing a social network at the institutional level that connects applicants for a given funding mechanism with a current holder would be highly valuable to the biomedical workforce and would be especially important to URM trainees seeking these opportunities. Factors in the Review Process The potential role of institutional affiliation, academic pedigree, and various conscious and unconscious factors on review outcomes. Research on the NIH Peer Review system to determine appropriate methods or interventions to identify and if necessary redress bias, including efforts to anonymize applications or test the effects of unconscious bias training on outcomes. o Interventions such as anonymizing applications to test the effects of unconscious bias based on pedigree and affiliation will not only demonstrate the effects on training outcomes, but a also contribute a method by which graduate admissions can be changed to reduce bias as well. Since all processes that measure competency at each transition point in the biomedical workforce depends on a form of peer review (Admissions, publications, funding, faculty recruitment, tenure) this type of study could be transformative.