5
Postdoctoral Training Opportunities: Postdoctorate Fellows and Junior Faculty

The postdoctoral position in the United States was started by Johns Hopkins University in 1876. That year, Johns Hopkins offered 20 postdoctoral traineeships out of a pool of 152 applicants. In 1919, the Rockefeller Foundation donated $500,000.00 for the support of a fellowship program; in 1922, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Rockefeller-endowed General Education Board pledged $500,000 for postdoctoral traineeships in the medical sciences; and in 1923, the Biological Sciences received $325,000 from the Foundation.51

By 1979, it was estimated that there were more than 10,000 postdoctoral trainees in science and engineering in United States universities. As the value of postdoctoral training increased, the number of postdoctoral trainees at institutions throughout the United States also increased. By 2001, the number of science and engineering postdoctoral trainees had increased to nearly 22,000 and the number in the biological sciences had increased to over 12,000.52

Despite the growth in the number of postdoctoral trainees, minorities remain underrepresented in postdoctoral positions in science and engineering in general and in the biological sciences in particular. In 2001, less than 7 percent of science and engineering postdocs were underrepresented minorities; within the biological sciences, only 6 percent of postdocs were underrepresented minorities. One major factor that impacts the number of minority postdocs is the equally low number of doctoral degrees granted to underrepresented minorities. For example, in the 2003 academic year, out of 5,492 U.S. citizen doctoral recipients in the life sciences, only 190 were African American, 213 were Hispanic, and 17 were Native American.53

The postdoctoral experience in the United States has been the subject of studies designed to assess the success, or lack thereof, of postdoctoral programs. It has been

51  

National Research Council. 1981. Postdoctoral Appointments and Disappointments. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.

52  

National Science Foundation, 2001 Survey of Doctorate Recipients.

53  

National Opinion Research Center. 2005. Doctorate Recipients form Untied States Universities: Summary Report 2003. Chicago, Ill.: NORC.



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Assessment of NIH Minority Research and Training Programs: Phase 3 5 Postdoctoral Training Opportunities: Postdoctorate Fellows and Junior Faculty The postdoctoral position in the United States was started by Johns Hopkins University in 1876. That year, Johns Hopkins offered 20 postdoctoral traineeships out of a pool of 152 applicants. In 1919, the Rockefeller Foundation donated $500,000.00 for the support of a fellowship program; in 1922, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Rockefeller-endowed General Education Board pledged $500,000 for postdoctoral traineeships in the medical sciences; and in 1923, the Biological Sciences received $325,000 from the Foundation.51 By 1979, it was estimated that there were more than 10,000 postdoctoral trainees in science and engineering in United States universities. As the value of postdoctoral training increased, the number of postdoctoral trainees at institutions throughout the United States also increased. By 2001, the number of science and engineering postdoctoral trainees had increased to nearly 22,000 and the number in the biological sciences had increased to over 12,000.52 Despite the growth in the number of postdoctoral trainees, minorities remain underrepresented in postdoctoral positions in science and engineering in general and in the biological sciences in particular. In 2001, less than 7 percent of science and engineering postdocs were underrepresented minorities; within the biological sciences, only 6 percent of postdocs were underrepresented minorities. One major factor that impacts the number of minority postdocs is the equally low number of doctoral degrees granted to underrepresented minorities. For example, in the 2003 academic year, out of 5,492 U.S. citizen doctoral recipients in the life sciences, only 190 were African American, 213 were Hispanic, and 17 were Native American.53 The postdoctoral experience in the United States has been the subject of studies designed to assess the success, or lack thereof, of postdoctoral programs. It has been 51   National Research Council. 1981. Postdoctoral Appointments and Disappointments. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. 52   National Science Foundation, 2001 Survey of Doctorate Recipients. 53   National Opinion Research Center. 2005. Doctorate Recipients form Untied States Universities: Summary Report 2003. Chicago, Ill.: NORC.

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Assessment of NIH Minority Research and Training Programs: Phase 3 clear for sometime that postdoctoral trainees are valuable resources to the institutions and senior faculty who employ them, but their status is often ambiguous. On some campuses, postdocs are viewed as students, even though they do not take classes and are not working toward a degree. On other campuses, they are viewed as employees, but they are not provided employee benefits such as medical coverage, holiday leave, and maternity leave. Nor are they provided other protections afforded to employees by law, such as the Family Medical Leave Act or whistleblower protection. Postdocs are not represented by labor unions either. When medical and other benefits are provided to postdocs, there is no regulatory oversight or guidance to ensure that these benefits are applied consistently. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has a role in this situation. Postdocs on NIH training grants have one set of benefits, while those on NIH research grants have another. According to one program administrator, “The health benefits available from my institution, if one is on a research grant, are vastly better than what the government makes possible through a training grant. Family leave is vastly better if you are on a research grant than if you are on a training grant. When NIH institutes hire postdocs, they get full government benefits, whereas those who are supported on training grants, which are supposedly equivalent positions, are not treated anywhere near as well.” Further, there are no standards or benchmarks of achievement for postdoctoral training as there are in the medical or legal professions, for example. The lack of achievement standards leaves postdocs vulnerable to abuse by mentors, who have a vested interest in keeping their labs fully staffed for indeterminate amounts of time. Prolonged postdoctoral training is interpreted by some potential employers as an indicator that the individual is not productive. Underrepresented minorities face additional difficulties. Being the only minority in a lab, research group, or department is an isolating experience. Minority individuals may feel that they are under a microscope or that they are carrying the burden of an entire race of people. Because so few minority mentors and role models exist at the faculty level, some minority trainees report that they endure the “imposter syndrome,” that is, a lingering feeling that they do not deserve their professional status or achievements. Such manifestations of lowered self-esteem have the potential to subvert minority trainees’ desires to “aim high” professionally. Even mentors may project lower achievement standards onto their minority trainees. This and other expressions of ignorance or bias by mentors have the potential to sour mentor-mentee relationships, erode trust, and create social and professional distance. For those minority trainees who are unique within their families by virtue of their educational attainment, there is added stress. Lesser-educated family members may criticize the postdoc for “not getting a real job” or for their inability to shoulder family burdens proportionally, such as caring for a disabled or elder family member or child.

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Assessment of NIH Minority Research and Training Programs: Phase 3 Postgraduate Programs for Underrepresented Minorities (T32) NRSA Minority Institutional Research Training Program The Ruth L. Kirchstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) program for minorities provides postdoctoral support through T32 institutional training grants. Trainees supported on these grants have already received a Ph.D., D.V.M., D.D.S., M.D., or comparable doctoral degree from an accredited domestic or foreign institution. (Faculty members are not eligible for support using this grant mechanism.) Research training at the postdoctoral level emphasizes specialized training in the biological, behavioral, or clinical sciences. These grants are a desirable mechanism for postdoctoral training of physicians and other health professionals who may have extensive clinical training but limited research experience. For such individuals, the training may be a part of a research degree program. In all cases, postdoctoral trainees should agree to engage in at least two years of research, research training, or comparable activities beginning at the time of appointment. Funding is for up to two years. (T35) NRSA Short-Term Institutional Training Grants The Ruth L. Kirchstein NRSA program for minorities provides short-term postdoctoral training support in biological, behavioral, and clinical sciences through T35 institutional training grants. Many of the NIH institutes and centers use this grant mechanism to support intensive, short-term research training experiences for students in health professional schools during the summer. In addition, these grants can be used to support other types of postdoctoral training in focused, often emerging, scientific areas relevant to the mission of the funding NIH institute or center. Postdoctoral trainees must have received, as of the beginning date of the appointment, a Ph.D., M.D., or comparable doctoral degree from an accredited domestic or foreign institution. (K01) Mentored Research Scientist Development Awards K01 Mentored Research Scientist Development Awards provide support for an intensive, supervised career development experience in one of the biological, behavioral, or clinical sciences leading to research independence. Candidates for this award must have a research or health professional doctorate and be senior postdoctoral trainees or junior faculty members at the time of application. In addition, the candidate must be able to demonstrate the need for three to five years of additional supervised research, as well as the capacity and/or the potential for highly productive independent research. The proposed career development experience must be in a research area new to the applicant and/or one in which an additional supervised research experience will substantially add to the research capabilities of the applicant. The award provides funding support for graduate students who conduct research under supervision by the K01 awardee. Finally,

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Assessment of NIH Minority Research and Training Programs: Phase 3 the candidate must provide a plan for achieving research independence by the end of the award period. (K08) Mentored Clinical Scientist Development Awards K08 Mentored Clinical Scientist Development Awards support the development of outstanding clinician research scientists. This mechanism provides specialized study for individuals with a health professional doctoral degree committed to a career in laboratory or field-based research. Candidates must have the potential to develop into independent investigators. The K08 supports three to five years of supervised research experience that may integrate didactic studies with laboratory or clinically based research. The proposed research must have intrinsic importance as well as serve as a suitable vehicle for learning the methodology, theories, and conceptualizations necessary for a well-trained independent researcher. Because of the focus on progression to independence, the prospective candidate should propose a period of study and development consistent with previous training and his or her career development needs. For example, a candidate with limited experience in a given field of research may find that the most efficient means of attaining independence is a phased developmental program lasting for five years that includes a designated period of didactic training and supervised research experience. A candidate with substantial previous research experience may require a shorter award period to facilitate the transition to independence. Focus of the Assessment Information on these programs was gathered and assessed through the following steps: The committee reviewed key documents related to the programs such as program announcements and institute web sites. No previous program evaluations were evident and available. Trainees and junior faculty previously supported on these research-training awards were interviewed by the NIH-approved contractor using a computer-assisted telephone interview (CATI) protocol. These interviews were about 30 minutes in length and utilized both structured response and open-ended questions. Information was collected through formal interviews with program administrators at recipient institutions (PARIs). These interviews were conducted by the NIH data contractor over the telephone. They were open-ended and used an ethnographic interviewing style. There are no PARI interviews for the K01 or K08 awards, because they are awarded to individual investigators rather than institutions, as with institutional training grants.

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Assessment of NIH Minority Research and Training Programs: Phase 3 Previous Program Evaluations Conducted by NIH The committee identified no previous program evaluations for the support mechanisms addressed within this chapter. Trainee Interview Data The NIH data contractor identified a total of 1,901 postdoctoral trainees and junior faculty who met the requirements for the CATI survey. Potential respondents were selected so that one-half were underrepresented minorities and one-half were nonminorities. For each targeted program included in the study, two untargeted comparison groups were defined using similar parameters, such as awarding institute and time frame of the awards. Nearly 80 percent (n = 1,514) of the potential respondents came from the T32 institutional training award pool. This was expected because the T32 mechanism is the largest of the mechanisms that met the committee’s selection criteria. All of the 71 junior faculty trainees held K01 Career Development awards. The NIH data contractor was able to obtain contact information for 736, or 39 percent, of the 1,901 eligible postdoctoral and junior faculty trainees. Of these, 8 trainees failed the screener (wrong person), 12 failed to complete the interview, and 66 refused to complete the interview. From the 728 eligible (736 in sample minus 8 who failed screener) postdoctoral and junior faculty trainees, the NIH contractor was able to obtain 328 completed interviews, of which 285 were with postdoctoral trainees and 43 were with junior faculty. Finally, the committee believes that data from these interviews may not reflect the responses that would have been obtained had the respondents been more representative of the larger universe of program participants. Nevertheless, the data are instructive in a general way and are described in this report qualitatively. For example, respondent data are reported using a variety of nonspecific phrases such as “nearly all reported,” “a majority of respondents said,” “a minority of respondents said,” “more likely,” and “less likely.” Such phrases should not be equated with statistical significance. Trainee Interviews From one perspective, all persons—both postdoctoral trainees and junior faculty—engaged in these programs are successes. All program participants have received a doctoral degree in a scientific or clinical area. All program participants have successfully competed for the award. When the committee surveyed postdocs who received NIH funding, it found that nearly all program recipients stressed the importance of the award as a mechanism that enabled them to engage in independent research. In addition, the awardees said that the award allowed them to focus on and ultimately decide upon their particular career subspecialty. For many, the award hastened their mastery of

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Assessment of NIH Minority Research and Training Programs: Phase 3 new skills and techniques. One awardee stated, “I intended to go into academic medicine and the training grant allowed me to work in a research lab, which helped me understand how basic research and clinical practice interrelate.” Another trainee stated, “It gave me time to accurately develop a line of research that I have been pursuing ever since; it allowed me to get an academic job.” Finally, one respondent stated, “It taught me both technical skills, as well as the importance of healthy criticism. It introduced me to new areas of thought, as well as expanding my networking, both within my field of expertise and beyond it.” Characteristics of Postdoctorate Trainees The majority of postdoctoral trainees interviewed were funded through the T32 Minority Institutional Research Training Program (see Table 5-1). Most postdoctoral respondents learned about the T32 postdoctoral programs through multiple sources, especially from colleagues, graduate advisers, or departmental staff. Trainees conducted research in laboratories with a median of five persons, although a few laboratories were quite large (up to 90 persons). However, the number of minorities working in the laboratories was small. One-fourth of the labs of all postdoctoral respondents contained no minorities; about a third had one minority; a small number had four or more minorities. For most of the trainees, the Ph.D. was the only doctorate they earned; considerably fewer had M.D.s; and very few had M.D.-Ph.D.s. During their postdoctoral training, trainees had multiple career goals. Almost all trainees cited teaching as a career goal; other important goals included biological research, clinical research, and medicine. Nearly all respondents stated that their participation in the program had an influence on both their education and their careers. At the time of the interview, nearly all of the postdoctoral respondents were employed. Most were working in academic positions; a smaller percentage was employed in industry; and a few were working in government or nonprofit organizations or were doing something else. For those in academia, about one-half were at medical schools. More than half obtained academic positions following the completion of their postdoctoral program, and a quarter sought additional postdoctoral training. At the time of interview, only a few postdoctoral respondents were still working in the program about which they were interviewed.

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Assessment of NIH Minority Research and Training Programs: Phase 3 TABLE 5-1 Postdoctoral Trainees and Junior Faculty by Program, Race/Ethnicity in the Universe and Sample, and Race/Ethnicity as Self-Identified in Interviews Type Title Categories No. of Trainees No. Interviewed Universe Sample Total URM Non-URM Targeted (T-32) NRSA Institutional Training Grant URM 166 166 38 12 26a Non-Targeted (T-32) NRSA Institutional Training Grant URM 698 698 93 75 18b Non-URM 7,679 325 54 0 54 Unknown 5,433 325 43 3 40 Total 13,810 1,348 190 78 112 Targeted (T-35) Short-Term Institutional Training Grant URM 26 26 4 2 2c Non-Targeted (T-35) Short-Term Institutional Training Grant URM 8 8 1 0 1 Non-URM 23 23 1 0 1 Unknown 20 20 5 0 5 Total 51 51 7 0 7 Targeted (K-01) Mentored Scientist Development Awards (Postdoctoral) URM 17 17 0 0 0 Non-Targeted (K-01) Mentored Scientist Development Awards (Postdoctoral) URM 10 10 2 2 0 Non-URM 13 13 24 0 24 Unknown 13 13 1 0 1 Total 36 36 27 2 25 Targeted (K-08) Mentored Clinical Scientist Development Awards URM 21e 21 8 5 3f Non-Targeted (K-08) Mentored Clinical Scientist Development Awards URM 11 11 4 4 0 Non-URM 154 140 5 0 5 Unknown 14 14 2 0 2 Total 179 165 11 4 7 Targeted (K-01) Mentored Scientist Development Awards (Junior Faculty) URM 17 17 10 7 3g Non-Targeted (K-01) Mentored Scientist Development Awards (Junior Faculty) URM 11 11 5 5 0 Non-URM 36 36 24 1h 23 Unknown 7 7 4 3 1 Total 54 54 33 9 24

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Assessment of NIH Minority Research and Training Programs: Phase 3 All All Programs URM 985 985 165 112 53 Non-URM 7,905 537 108 1 107 Unknown 5,487 379 55 6 49 TOTAL 14,377 1,901 328 119 209 NOTE: URM = underrepresented minority. For the universe and sample, under-represented minorities are defined as African American, Hispanic American, Native American, or Alaskan Native. For purposes of defining the universe and the sample, it was assumed that all participants in targeted programs were underrepresented minorities. Among those interviewed, the number of URMs also includes individuals who self-identified as Pacific Islanders and the number of non-URMs includes those who self-identified as Asian or White in the interview process. The footnotes below indicate in the “Interviewed” column the number of individuals by race/ethnicity that were indicated as URMs in the universe and sample, but self-identified as non-URM in the interview process. Non-URM = white or Asian. The footnotes below indicate in the “Interviewed” column the number of individuals by race/ethnicity that were indicated as URMs in the universe and sample, but self-identified as non-URM in the interview process. Unknown = For large fractions of the trainees in the universe and trainees selected for the sample, their race/ethnicity was unknown (i.e., not recorded in NIH datasets). Their race/ethnicity was later resolved in the interview process as noted in the “Interviewed” column. a Among the 38 targeted T-32 trainees interviewed, eight self-identified as Asian and 18 self-identified as white. For analytical purposes, the 18 white trainees were re-classified as nonminorities in the nontargeted program. b Among the 93 URM trainees in the nontargeted T-32 program who were interviewed, 18 self-identified as white. c Among the 4 targeted T-35 trainees interviewed, two self-identified as white. For analytical purposes, the two white trainees were re-classified as nonminorities in the nontargeted program. d The 1 URM in the nontargeted T-35 program who was interviewed, self-identified as white e The universe for the K-08 Mentored Clinical Scientist Development (targeted) program is estimated. f Among the 8 targeted K-08 recipients interviewed, three self-identified as Asian. g Among the 10 targeted K-01 junior faculty interviewed, two self-identified as Asian and one as white. For analytical purposes, the one white awardee was re-classified as a nonminority in the nontargeted program. h Among the 24 non-URM in the nontargeted K01 junior faculty program who were interviewed, one self-identified as African-American. Most trainees were married or in long-term relationships, although minority trainees were somewhat more likely to be so than nonminority trainees and trainees in targeted programs were more likely to have dependent children. The spouses of these married trainees were highly supportive of their education. In addition, almost all of the parents of trainees supported their education. This is not unexpected because the families of origin of all trainees themselves were, in general, well educated. Trainees were asked if their parents or siblings had baccalaureate or graduate degrees. Nearly all postdoctoral respondents indicated that their parents or siblings had a baccalaureate degree, and a

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Assessment of NIH Minority Research and Training Programs: Phase 3 majority of postdoctoral respondents indicated that their parents or siblings had a graduate degree. Of the postdoctoral trainees interviewed, 103 were underrepresented minorities, but only 19 of these were funded through targeted programs (note that 11 persons funded through targeted programs were not underrepresented minorities). One-half of the minority postdoctoral respondents in targeted programs indicated that English was their primary language, compared to three-fourths of minorities in untargeted programs and nearly all nonminorities. Slightly more than one-half of all postdoctoral respondents were male. Relative to undergraduate and graduate survey respondents, postdoctoral respondents demonstrated markedly reduced variability among their survey responses. This is interesting, because in terms of gender, minority undergraduate and graduate survey respondents were mostly female, whereas minority postdoctoral respondents were mostly male. Furthermore, the loss of females at this stage of the pipeline is also seen among nonminority females (see Appendix E). The shift in gender distribution suggests that a selection process has occurred, one that may relate to the reduced variability observed among postdoctoral respondents, in general Put another way, expressions of diversity diminish from the population as one ascends the career stage ladder. Thus, one indicator of future research success among trainees may be the extent to which each conforms to research community participant characteristics and norms. Despite the many similarities among those who achieve postdoctoral trainee status, three issues stand out for minority trainees that may address the differences in achievement between minority and nonminority postdoctoral trainees. First is the fact that a large fraction of minority trainees reported that they did not have a mentor. This is highly unusual. Second is that more than one-half of the minority postdoctoral respondents felt that their race affected their training experience in some way. Third, minority postdoctoral trainees were more likely to report that the next step taken in their career path was to obtain another postdoctoral assignment. In contrast, nonminorities were more likely to report that the next step in their career path was attainment of an academic position. These intriguing differences may warrant further study by NIH. Postdoctorates Receiving (T32) Training Awards Nearly all postdoctoral respondents received outside funding at some point during their postdoctoral years. The most frequently cited funding sources were fellowships, grants, family support, savings, or a job. One-quarter of postdoctoral respondents received outside funding—funding beyond that provided directly by the program—while they were supported by the T32 training grant. The most frequently mentioned outside funding sources were a job, savings, or teaching assistantship.

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Assessment of NIH Minority Research and Training Programs: Phase 3 Additionally, program participants stressed the financial rewards of the award. However roughly equal proportions thought the award amount was either too small or very good. When asked about the best features of the training program, respondents said: “Of course getting paid. It was very versatile in that you could choose a field that interested you”; “Not only were you paid, but you were paid to do something you enjoyed”; and “It provided financial support for people to engage in research without distractions and provided opportunity to be mentored by a scientist.” A physician scientist stated, “It provided a salary so that I could spend time in the laboratory free of clinical duties.” On the other hand, some program participants were disappointed in the level of funding. They stated: “It would be nice if there was more money”; “The amount of the award could be better correlated with the cost of living in the area in which it was granted”; and “I think the salary was pretty low if I remember correctly.” For the remainder of this chapter, the term mentor will be used to describe the person who guided the trainee’s research, whether that role was mentor or principal investigator (PI). More than half of the trainees who reported having had a mentor said that the PI of their lab was their mentor. For trainees in nontargeted programs, nearly all reported that their mentors or PIs were nonminorities. Minority trainees in targeted training programs were more likely than others to report having a mentor who was also a minority. This may be explained by the fact that targeted T32 awards are often awarded to minority-serving institutions (MSIs), which tend to have greater numbers of minority faculty than non-MSI institutions. Very few postdoctoral respondents reported having a female mentor or PI. Nearly all postdoctoral respondents who reported having a mentor considered their mentor good to work with and supportive of their research. Many of the awardees stressed the importance of their mentor. One respondent described his or her mentor as follows: “She taught me how to do research and worked closely with me. She was also a role model.” Mentors were also described as “very supportive. I found him also to be very bright and intelligent. I had a lot of respect for him. And he was willing to show that type of relationship with all the people in his lab.” When asked what the most outstanding attributes of the mentor were, one awardee responded, “As a role model, the contributions he made to the scientific community, the intellectual stimulation that he brought, the quality of life that he led as a PI.” Most characterized their mentor or PI as active in the scientific community. Less than one-half of the postdoctoral respondents reported having received positive career guidance from their mentor or PI. About one-half of the postdoctoral respondents considered their mentor helpful in obtaining funding. Most postdoctoral respondents had frequent contact with their mentor or PI and discussed their research with the others in the lab. However, the social distance between the mentor and respondent was familiar or close for only one-half of the trainees. The social distance between others in the lab and

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Assessment of NIH Minority Research and Training Programs: Phase 3 the trainee was familiar or close for two-thirds of the trainees, but trainees were less likely to be familiar or close to other colleagues. Only one-half of the postdoctoral respondents who reported having a mentor believed that their mentor had a strong influence on their career and fewer believed the same for others in the lab. However, among those who reported having a mentor, most remained in contact with their mentors, laboratory group, and colleagues for five or more years. Other Training Programs for Postdoctoral Trainees Interview data were obtained from a small number of postdoctoral trainees from three additional funding mechanisms. These include the (T35) Short-Term Institutional Training Grant, the (K08) Mentored Clinical Scientist Development Awards, and the (K01) Mentored Research Scientist Development Award. The numbers of persons included in this group of training programs is too small to analyze by program type and the programs are too disparate to commingle for analysis. There were 11 minority trainee interviews from all three programs combined. Nevertheless, examination of the interview data leads to some interesting generalizations about participants in the three different programs. Participants in the T35 programs tend to be medical students or physicians who are using the program as an opportunity to get some specialized training in a technique or procedure, generally during a summer quarter. Consequently, the fellows do not establish the same types of relationships with PIs and colleagues in their labs as T32 postdoctoral trainees do. Nor is the experience directly linked to career goals and expectations; rather, it serves as one of many stepping stones in their career pathways. Postdoctoral respondents who are awarded the K01 Mentored Research Scientist Development Awards responded similarly to their junior faculty counterparts, with one obvious exception: they viewed a faculty position as the important next step in their career paths. Finally, the K08 Mentored Clinical Scientists Development Award is dedicated to providing research opportunities for persons with clinical backgrounds. Nevertheless, most of the trainees interviewed held the Ph.D. as their only doctorate and a much smaller percentage held some sort of clinical degree. Their career goals focused on teaching, clinical research, biological research, and behavioral research. Most sought academic appointments as the next step in their career paths. The career development awards were important because they gave the recipient the experience of supervising staff and conducting independent research with the safety net of a mentor. When asked to assess the impact of the mentor, one respondent replied, “He enabled me to develop needed skills for my research and guided me into independent

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Assessment of NIH Minority Research and Training Programs: Phase 3 research.” Another recipient responded, “[the mentor] made it possible for me to become a faculty member and helped me to continue to become independent investigator.” One awardee described the impact of the award, “It put me on steep trajectory on an independent research career. It formed the basis for clinical research later in my career.” The importance for career development was stressed by a respondent who stated, “The award gave me the opportunity for protected time and research support. It allowed me to obtain independent R01 funding and to be promoted.” Another respondent stated that the award “gave me a chance to really launch an independent research career.” Finally, one award recipient described the award thusly, “The K01 was the most important thing in my career at a difficult time.” Characteristics of Junior Faculty Forty-three interviews were conducted with junior faculty who were awarded a K01 Mentored Research Scientist Development Award. Most of the awardees had Ph.D.s; just a few of the postdoctoral faculty had M.D.-Ph.D.s or M.D.s. The primary function of the award is to give the awardee an opportunity to conduct independent research while at the same time receiving guidance from a mentor. Awardee after awardee stressed the importance of gaining independence, securing protected time, and the ability to define a new research agenda. For example: “It put me on track to be an independent investigator on a steep trajectory”; “It provided me five years of protected time to develop an independent research career”; or “It helped me to launch my lab. It allowed me to get other funding as a principal investigator.” As was the case for T32 postdoctoral trainees, there was considerable homogeneity among the responses of K01 faculty awardees. All K01 faculty respondents had a mentor and nearly all the mentors were white males. Mentors encouraged the respondents’ research; were good to work with; were active in the scientific community; and gave good career advice. The K01 faculty respondents met with their mentors regularly, at least once a month, but slightly less than one-half reported feeling familiar or close to their mentors. About one-half of all the K01 faculty respondents believed that their mentor had some or a great deal of influence on their career, although all of the minority-targeted K01 faculty felt this way. The K01 faculty respondents received feedback on their research from their mentors and other colleagues. Nearly all discussed their research with other colleagues at least two to three times per month. Nearly all of the K01 faculty respondents were married during the time of the award and most had families; however, minority-targeted junior faculty were more likely to have children than nontargeted awardees. English was the primary language for most of the K01 faculty respondents, but a small number of minority respondents reported that English was their second language. Similar to the T32 postdoctoral trainees, K01 faculty respondents had exceptionally well-educated families of origin. Nearly all of the K01 faculty respondents had parents or siblings with baccalaureate degrees and most had

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Assessment of NIH Minority Research and Training Programs: Phase 3 parents or siblings with graduate degrees. Parents and spouses of K01 faculty respondents were supportive of their chosen career path. With one exception, all of the awardees were working at the time of the interview and nearly all were working in academia—primarily in medical schools. Their career goals, as a group, focused on biological research, allied health professions, and clinical research. The most frequently cited expectations from (K01) awardees included, in rank order: getting tenure, getting grants, setting their research agenda, publishing research results, and increasing the size of their lab. A little more than one-half of the (K01) faculty respondents had supplementary sources of income at the time of the award; these sources included other grants, employment, savings, family support, and fellowships. Interviews with PARIs about the (T32) NRSA Institutional Training Grant Two PARIs were interviewed about the (T32) NRSA Institutional Training Grants they administer. Each is a PI on the grant. Recruitment into the Program The T32 Institutional training programs actively recruit predoctoral and postdoctoral trainees and graduate students. According to the program administrators interviewed for this study, the recruiting efforts of the training programs vary according to the nature of the host institution. The committee obtained interviews with representatives of two training programs that were concerned principally with identifying and recruiting postdoctoral trainees. In one institution, a university, most candidates are identified and recruited internally based on their research track record. However, some effort is made to recruit from outside, especially when trying to identify qualified minority candidates. The ideal recruit has great intellectual potential but not necessarily outstanding accomplishments or prior research experience. According to one program administrator, interest and commitment are the best predictors of success in the program. Another institution is an academic medical center with a National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) program in hematology. The program supports about 40 scientists, of which 8 or 9 are minority M.D.s or Ph.D.s. The program actively tries to recruit minority candidates, but the number of inquiries is small, possibly because hematology is not an area of interest to minority postdoctoral trainees or physicians, compared to other fields.

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Assessment of NIH Minority Research and Training Programs: Phase 3 Experience with the Program For each program, admission is highly selective; therefore, trainees whether minority or not, tend to be successful in their research efforts. One program administrator explained that one of the most important factors that impacts trainee success is the fit between the trainee and the lab—an issue of community. Every once in a while there is a mismatch whereby the lab does not serve the needs of the trainee. In these cases the program administrator talks at length with the PI of the lab. Sometimes this intervention remedies the problem. In a few cases, however, the best solution is to relocate the postdoctoral fellow into a new lab. One program administrator said, “Our professors are smarter than our students—that’s not the case at Harvard where the students are as smart as or smarter than the professors. We have a different type of student.” Consequently, the program works hard to create mentoring environments; thus, trainees have multiple mentors and multiple committees so that they have the opportunity to get advice from different levels. Conclusion One of the hallmarks of postgraduate research training is the striking homogeneity observed among its participants who tend to come from highly-educated families that are supportive of the participants’ chosen career paths. These data reflect the programs’ overall failure to train minorities from more modest backgrounds. Postdoctoral training awards and career development awards serve as important, even essential, mechanisms that enable recipients to successfully bridge the world of graduate school and that of a professor. The training awards were important for four reasons. First, they offered the opportunity to engage in independent research. Second, for many of the recipients, the awards enabled them to work with a mentor or principal investigator who guided their research. Third, the awards placed the recipients in laboratories that enhanced networking with other scientists. Fourth, for some postdocs the awards led directly to faculty positions. The career development awards provided advanced mentoring opportunities for awardees and helped senior postdoctoral trainees and junior faculty members make the critical transition to research independence.