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Assessment of NIH Minority Research and Training Programs: Phase 3
and one’s family, community development) and research goals. Such a policy should be responsive to society’s workforce needs in their broadest sense, with an understanding that contributions to society derive from all parts of the career stage pipeline.
NIH should commit to the continued funding of minority-targeted research training programs. Although the committee cannot substantiate this recommendation in quantitative terms for reasons described throughout this report, it does so in qualitative terms, using survey data that were collected from trainees and program administrators who are the programs’ primary informants. The following reasons underlie this recommendation:
These programs have added many minorities to our science workforce.
The elimination of these programs would likely diminish the number of new minority scientists entering the scientific workforce.
The trainees interviewed indicate overwhelmingly that these programs benefited them. These programs provided research experiences, financial support, and mentoring that were critical to their career success.
Mentoring is a critical part of the career development of all scientists and is particularly important for minority trainees. Trainee survey data suggest that the diversity of mentors is greater in the minority-targeted programs than in the nontargeted programs. Atkinson et al,59 found that when rating mentoring relationships, both mentors and mentees rated their relationships more positively when they were matched for race or ethnicity.
The committee recognizes two distinct and valid approaches to the development of minority research trainees. The training policy of the NIH institutes and centers in conducting these programs should emphasize the development of trainees who have already demonstrated promise in the sciences, so that they can overcome the barriers to becoming productive investigators. Two examples of minority training programs that emphasize talent harvesting include the National Institute of Mental Health Career Opportunities in Research Training and Education (COR) and the Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) Undergraduate Student Training in Academic Research (U*STAR) programs. The NIH training policy should also emphasize the development of other trainees—those without demonstrated science promise—in order to add to the pipeline of trainees interested in pursuing science careers. An example of a minority training program that emphasizes growing talent is the Bridges to the Baccalaureate program.
The implementation of this training policy should also consider the following. NIH should more vigorously monitor the use of racial or ethnic eligibility criteria for these programs. Survey data from trainees and program administrators indicate that non-underrepresented minorities are participating in minority-targeted training programs.
D. Atkinson, H. Neville, and A. Casas. 1991. The mentorship of ethnic minorities in professional psychology. Professional Psychology Research and Practice 22(4):336-338.