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Assessment of NIH Minority Research and Training Programs: Phase 3
Final Comments from PARIs
Final comments include the following: “Outreach and recruitment to science needs to start in K-12, ” and “I think maybe getting undergraduate educators together with graduate educators and even high school educators looking at the whole process, you know, could be very helpful, very rewarding.” “The lack of adequate preparation at minority-serving institutions is problematic for generating a competitive applicant pool.” Finally, “I hope that NIH … keeps these programs running. They clearly serve a purpose and [fill] a huge need. This program has really impacted our school.”
Minority respondents to our survey who participated in graduate-level NIH training programs were predominantly female across all of the programs sampled. This parallels what was observed among minority undergraduate respondents, yet it diverges from what was observed among minority postdoctoral and junior faculty respondents who were predominantly male. The reason for the demographic shift at higher career stages is unknown and worthy of further study. The majority of graduate-level respondents across programs and without regard to minority status reported that a parent or sibling had earned a graduate degree. Thus, individuals who become graduate trainees, regardless of minority status, tend to come from families with a history of high educational attainment.
With regard to trainee outcomes, almost one-half of R25 Bridges to the Doctorate respondents successfully completed a master’s degree, and one-tenth had earned a Ph.D. One-quarter left the program without a degree. Among F31 NRSA fellows and T32 trainees, a majority were successful in obtaining their Ph.D. Further, slightly more than one-half of the graduate respondents reported being a senior author on one or more published research papers after obtaining their Ph.D. In addition, about one-half report successfully obtaining one or more research grants post-Ph.D. These data are consistent with the committee’s impression that the sample of survey respondents who could be located was biased toward more successful NIH trainees. This tells us little about the majority of graduate-level trainees who could not be located using commercial credit card databases and a U.S. Postal service database, and it does raise questions as to why such individuals do not appear to be participating in today’s credit economy.
Responses from F31 NRSA fellows and R03 dissertation award recipients indicate a high-level of satisfaction with their experiences in the training programs, although minority respondents in nontargeted training programs were least likely to report feeling familiar or close to their research groups and colleagues. The T32 NRSA Institutional Training Grant trainees frequently noted the difficult job prospects they faced after completion of their training program. When trainees were asked to report the best feature of the training programs in which they participated, financial support was cited most frequently. When asked if there was anything else they wished to tell NIH, the