4
Graduate Fellowships and Traineeship Programs

Graduate education and research training differs significantly from undergraduate education and research training. The undergraduate years are generally exploratory in nature, and the coursework is usually broad and inclusive of a variety of disciplines. A successful undergraduate education is designed to produce an intellectually “well-rounded” individual. Undergraduate research training is similarly forgiving. An earnest effort in the laboratory is expected of all undergraduate research trainees, but novel research findings are not a requirement for graduation.

Graduate education and research training, on the other hand, are extremely focused and specific. “Broadness” in the biomedical sciences may mean that psychology trainees also study neuroscience and evolutionary biochemistry, or that immunology trainees also study botany and statistics. Graduate-level training in the biomedical sciences does not often stray into nonscience disciplines. Graduate research training is similarly focused and demanding. Not only is one expected to spend countless hours in the laboratory or office, but novel research findings are a prerequisite to graduation with one’s Ph.D. degree.

Graduate training includes traditional learning through classes, seminars, and the like, but it also includes training for other skill sets, such as how to design definitive experiments, how to critically read published research literature, how to present one’s research findings to a scientific audience, how to write a research paper suitable for publication in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, how to write a competitive grant proposal, and how to collaborate successfully with others.

Graduate trainees also experience their own unique brand of stress. Many are financially strapped. Many teach undergraduates in addition to doing their own research. Some have young families to attend to. Long hours in the laboratory or office may stress partner relationships or lead to divorce. In many cases, graduate training has no set end point. It could take four to ten full-time years to earn a Ph.D. At some point, trainees must identify, propose, and defend a suitable dissertation topic and hope that, in the meantime, their work is not preempted by another research group. Importantly, mentors have extraordinary influence over the lives and futures of their graduate trainees. Power



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Assessment of NIH Minority Research and Training Programs: Phase 3 4 Graduate Fellowships and Traineeship Programs Graduate education and research training differs significantly from undergraduate education and research training. The undergraduate years are generally exploratory in nature, and the coursework is usually broad and inclusive of a variety of disciplines. A successful undergraduate education is designed to produce an intellectually “well-rounded” individual. Undergraduate research training is similarly forgiving. An earnest effort in the laboratory is expected of all undergraduate research trainees, but novel research findings are not a requirement for graduation. Graduate education and research training, on the other hand, are extremely focused and specific. “Broadness” in the biomedical sciences may mean that psychology trainees also study neuroscience and evolutionary biochemistry, or that immunology trainees also study botany and statistics. Graduate-level training in the biomedical sciences does not often stray into nonscience disciplines. Graduate research training is similarly focused and demanding. Not only is one expected to spend countless hours in the laboratory or office, but novel research findings are a prerequisite to graduation with one’s Ph.D. degree. Graduate training includes traditional learning through classes, seminars, and the like, but it also includes training for other skill sets, such as how to design definitive experiments, how to critically read published research literature, how to present one’s research findings to a scientific audience, how to write a research paper suitable for publication in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, how to write a competitive grant proposal, and how to collaborate successfully with others. Graduate trainees also experience their own unique brand of stress. Many are financially strapped. Many teach undergraduates in addition to doing their own research. Some have young families to attend to. Long hours in the laboratory or office may stress partner relationships or lead to divorce. In many cases, graduate training has no set end point. It could take four to ten full-time years to earn a Ph.D. At some point, trainees must identify, propose, and defend a suitable dissertation topic and hope that, in the meantime, their work is not preempted by another research group. Importantly, mentors have extraordinary influence over the lives and futures of their graduate trainees. Power

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Assessment of NIH Minority Research and Training Programs: Phase 3 struggles and disagreements are common among these long-lived training relationships. mentors usually have the final word on whether or not a trainee graduates at all. Some graduate-level underrepresented minority trainees experience additional challenges. Some may not have had sufficient undergraduate preparation to withstand the rigors of graduate-level coursework. In these cases, remedial training may be necessary in addition to everything else. Graduate training often entails moving to another city or state. Distance from family and community brings with it a whole host of problems. For example, as the gap in educational achievement between minority trainees and their family members grows, previously shared interests may diminish and finding common ground may become more difficult. Family members who do not understand why graduate training takes so long may be critical of minority trainees. Familiar family refrains include, “Why didn’t you go to medical school?” and “When are you going to graduate and get a job?” Some minority trainees are viewed by their own communities as having “sold out” or as being “too good for the rest of us” simply because they left the neighborhood or the reservation in pursuit of doctoral-level training. Such phenomena may also affect some nonminority trainees. On campus, minority trainees may experience further isolation.37 They have fewer peers with whom they share a common cultural background. Indeed, many learn not to discuss anything related to their cultural background because doing so may elicit ignorant and offensive remarks by nonminority lab mates, whether intended or not. Some faculty view minority trainees as inherently less-qualified than nonminority trainees. This negatively impacts minority trainee morale. Minority trainees have difficulty finding prospective relationship partners with whom they share a common background, simply because there are comparatively fewer minorities on campus. When minority trainees seek to become involved in minority scientific professional societies, they are sometimes discouraged or even prohibited from doing so by faculty mentors who do not value such organizations. Regardless of these challenges, some minority trainees do ultimately graduate with their Ph.D. and go on to become successful biomedical researchers and allied professionals. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has a critical role in training future generations of biomedical researchers. First, graduate training is an extension of the support NIH provides our nation’s scientists as they advance the forefront of biomedical knowledge. In other words, graduate trainees do much of the work funded by NIH research grants. Thus, they are integral to the NIH mission. Second, the costs associated with graduate-level training in the biomedical sciences far exceed those of other graduate or professional training programs, both because the training itself takes longer and because research supplies are particularly expensive. Third, as a condition of their fiscal relationship with NIH, many graduate trainees in the biomedical sciences are not permitted to take an outside job. They are, in essence, wedded to the laboratory bench or office until such time as they graduate. Thus, if graduate trainees were required to pay for even a 37   The statements in this paragraph reflect graduate trainee responses to open-ended survey questions.

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Assessment of NIH Minority Research and Training Programs: Phase 3 portion of their training, this would undoubtedly exclude some trainees from participation. Since scientific aptitude is a unique commodity in limited supply across the human population, it does not make sense to endorse policies that further limit the pool of scientific talent available for development. Graduate training in the biomedical sciences is difficult enough, and the prohibition on outside work ensures that trainees are contributing all they can to the research enterprise. Thus, it seems fair and reasonable that NIH continue to support our nation’s best graduate programs in the biomedical sciences, as well as requiring that trainees devote 100 percent effort to them. Graduate Programs for Underrepresented Minorities Increasing the number of qualified underrepresented minorities who can contribute meaningfully to the national research enterprise is a challenge on many different levels. The training pipeline between the undergraduate and graduate career stages is a metaphorical constriction that limits the number of individuals who may advance to the next step. The constriction is sustained, in part, by the high academic standards required for entry into graduate training programs. It is also sustained by a limit of scientific aptitude across the human population. Indeed, this is why so many foreigners are invited to train within our system. Given recent world events, fewer foreigners are coming to the United States to train, and this is impacting our research capacity on a national scale. Minority-targeted training programs are not an attempt to lower academic standards for entry into graduate training programs; rather, they are an attempt to increase the available supply of qualified underrepresented minority applicants to these programs. One way to increase supply is to support research training at minority-serving institutions. To this end, NIH supports a variety of capacity-building mechanisms that are intended to bolster the research infrastructure of minority-serving institutions. These capacity-building mechanisms provide for laboratory renovations, equipment costs, research supplies, and trainee support. Unfortunately, this study does not examine minority-serving institution capacity-building awards because electronic trainee data were unavailable to the study committee. (R25) Bridges to the Doctorate The R25 Bridges to the Doctorate program is administered by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) and supported by a cluster of NIH Institutes and Centers (ICs). It is designed to improve the preparation and increase the number of underrepresented minorities at master’s degree-awarding institutions who will continue on to doctoral programs in biomedical research at doctorate-granting institutions. “Many underrepresented minority students enter terminal master’s degree programs and have the potential to become independent research scientists,” according to the program announcement. “That potential may be developed by improving the skills they need to be

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Assessment of NIH Minority Research and Training Programs: Phase 3 successful research scientists and by providing challenging curricula, outstanding mentoring, active research experiences, guidance, advice, and financial support.” The R25 Bridges to the Doctorate awards are made to partnerships between master’s institutions and doctoral institutions, with the goal of providing a seamless transition between these institutions for underrepresented minority students in biomedical research. The master's institution must have a significant enrollment of underrepresented minority students. Further, the partnership may involve a consortium of several institutions or several institutions within a single state system. Collaborative agreements between the institutions involved in a particular grant are designed to fit local needs and meet local goals. As discussed in the 2002 Request for Application (RFA) for the program,38 institutions may include, but are not limited to, the following kinds of program elements: Establishing a mentoring program for master's students with faculty at the doctoral institution. Enhancing the curriculum of the master's institution. Enabling and encouraging students from either institution to take classes at the other institution. Offering academic counseling for master's students. Providing research opportunities for master's students at the doctoral institution or in private industrial laboratories (students may receive compensation for these activities). Strengthening the research capability of the master's institution (e.g., by fostering research collaborations among faculty and joint seminar programs). Since the R25 Bridges to the Doctorate program does not provide doctoral-level training support, partner institutions must specify how institutional support will be provided to students once they transfer to a Ph.D. program. (T32) NRSA Minority Institutional Research Training Program The Ruth L. Kirchstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) program for minorities provides predoctoral support through T32 institutional training grants. During the period covered by this retrospective study (1970-1999), two NIH institutes offered minority-targeted versions of the NRSA Institutional Training Grants program. Since 1984, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) has awarded Minority Institutional Research Training Grants to minority-serving institutions. The program provides training to graduate and health professional students enrolled at minority schools that have the potential to develop a meritorious program in cardiovascular, pulmonary, hematologic, or sleep disorders research. These individuals should be in the developmental stages of their career. The minority institution collaborates with a research center that has 38   National Institutes of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), National Institutes of Health. Initiative for Minority Students: Bridges to the Baccalaureate, Program Announcement (PAR-02-084). See http://grants2.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PAR-02-084.

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Assessment of NIH Minority Research and Training Programs: Phase 3 strong, well-established programs of research in these areas. The partnering institution opens its facilities to the minority individual and provides a mentor to work with the individual’s adviser at the minority institution. Since 1978, NIMH has employed the minority-targeted T32 grant mechanism. These awards are designed to provide training programs that significantly increase the number of underrepresented minority scientists trained to conduct research in mental health, mental illness, drug abuse, and neurological sciences. The programs do so by training future scientists with state-of-the-art research skills in cutting-edge science and a commitment to research in their chosen field. (T35) NRSA Short-Term Institutional Training Grants The Ruth L. Kirchstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) program for minorities provides predoctoral support through T35 institutional training grants. These awards support intensive, short-term research training experiences (usually during the summer) for students in health professional schools, and in the case of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), they are also used for undergraduate research training. NHLBI supports T35 Short-Term Research Training for underrepresented minority undergraduate and graduate students and for students in health professional schools to expose them to biomedical and behavioral research and career options in these fields. The proposed training must be in either basic or clinical aspects of the health-related science and should be of sufficient depth to enable the trainees, upon completion of the program, to have a thorough exposure to principles underlying the conduct of research. Awards are made to eligible institutions to develop or enhance research training opportunities specifically in cardiovascular, pulmonary, hematological, and sleep disorders research. NHLBI has utilized the T35 minority-targeted Short-Term Institutional Training Grant funding vehicle since 1990. (F31) NRSA Minority Institutional Research Training Program The Ruth L. Kirchstein NRSA program for minorities also provides predoctoral support through F31 individual predoctoral fellowships. During the period covered by this study (1970-1999), 17 of the 27 NIH institutes have utilized the NRSA F31 Predoctoral Fellowship Award for Minority Students. These awards provide up to five years of support for research training leading to a Ph.D., M.D.-Ph.D., or other professional degree combined with a Ph.D. in the biomedical or behavioral sciences. The intent of this fellowship program is to encourage students from underrepresented minority groups to seek graduate degrees and, thus, further the goal of increasing the number of minority scientists who are prepared to pursue careers in biomedical and behavioral research. The F31 fellowship provides an annual stipend, tuition, and fee allowance as well as an annual institutional allowance that may be used for travel to scientific meetings and for laboratory and other training expenses.

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Assessment of NIH Minority Research and Training Programs: Phase 3 (F31) MARC NRSA Predoctoral Fellowship Program The NIGMS awards F31 Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) predoctoral fellowships to outstanding graduates of the R25 MARC Undergraduate Student Training in Academic Research (U*STAR) program to help them pursue a graduate degree in the biomedical sciences. The F31 fellowships are individual NRSAs that provide up to five years of support. These awards provide an annual stipend, tuition and fees, and an allowance to the predoctoral fellow's sponsoring institution to help defray such trainee expenses as research supplies and equipment. Support is not available for individuals enrolled in medical or other professional schools unless they are enrolled in a combined-degree (e.g., M.D.-Ph.D., D.D.S.-Ph.D., or D.V.M.-Ph.D.) program. (R03) Minority Dissertation Research Grant The National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) have utilized this funding vehicle since 1991 and 1994, respectively. It provides R03 Minority Dissertation Research Grants to doctoral candidates from racial and ethnic groups that are underrepresented in the biomedical and behavioral sciences to pursue research careers in any area relevant to the supporting institute. Eligible doctoral candidates are minorities enrolled in accredited doctoral degree program in the behavioral, biomedical, or social science s and must have approval of the dissertation proposal by a named committee. The award provides support to the candidate to facilitate completion of the doctoral research and dissertation. Focus of the Assessment Information on these programs was gathered and assessed through the following steps: Key documents related to the programs were reviewed, including any previous evaluations that were conducted by NIH institutes and centers. Trainees previously supported by these graduate 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 telephone interviews were conducted by the NIH data contractor. The interviews were open-ended and administered in an ethnographic style.39 39   Ethnographic interviewing uses techniques from anthropology to collect concrete information from individuals in their context of use. Thus, rather than studying individuals per se, ethnography entails learning from them. This nuance has implications with regard to the kind of information that is collected.

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Assessment of NIH Minority Research and Training Programs: Phase 3 Previous Program Evaluations Conducted by NIH Evaluation of the (R25) Bridges to the Doctorate In 1999, NIGMS convened a working group to examine the current status of the two R25 Bridges programs (undergraduate and graduate) and to review and revise program goals for the future.40 As part of its work, this group reviewed data from NIGMS staff and found that, as of September 1999, NIGMS could assert some success with the R25 Bridges to the Doctorate program and urged the program to improve further. However, recent data show decreases in the rate of student success over time. Indicator: Transfer Rate In 1999, NIGMS reported that after five years, 57 percent of all R25 Bridges to the Doctorate program trainees had transferred to a doctoral program. The 1999 working group recommended an increase in the number and percentage of underrepresented minority students in R25 Bridges institutions who successfully transfer from master’s to doctoral programs by achieving a 90 percent transfer rate by 2005. However, in the most recent year (FY 2003) for which data are available, the percentage of trainees who were transferring had declined to just 30 percent. Indicator: Completion of the Ph.D. In 1999, NIGMS reported that of the R25 Bridges to the Doctorate trainees who transfer, 60 percent had obtained a Ph.D. or were seeking the advanced degree. The working group recommended an increase in the number and percentage of underrepresented minority students in R25 Bridges institutions who successfully complete the doctorate by achieving a completion rate of 70 percent of all students who transfer by 2005. 40   National Institute of General Medical Sciences and Office of Research on Minority Health, National Institutes of Health. Undated. Planning and Priorities of the Bridges to the Future Program. Bethesda, Md.: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. See http://nigms.nih.gov/news/reports/bridges.html.

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Assessment of NIH Minority Research and Training Programs: Phase 3 Evaluation of the (F31) MARC Predoctoral Fellowship Program Published by NIGMS in May 2000,41 this study was designed to assess the success of F31 MARC predoctoral fellows in establishing research careers and the types of research careers and research activities engaged in by these individuals. The data were drawn from existing NIH databases as well as from curricula vitae (CVs) provided by individuals supported as MARC predoctoral fellows. The study group population included all individuals with initial support under the F31 MARC Predoctoral Fellowship Program from 1981 to 1993. It is unlikely that individuals receiving initial support after 1993 would have had adequate time for completion of postdoctoral training and establishment of a research career. A total of 191 individuals were supported under this program during 1981-1993. The study population was stratified into three cohorts based on initial year of fellowship support: 1981-1985, 1986-1990, and 1991-1993. Overall, the results of this study show a favorable achievement pattern for former F31 MARC predoctoral fellows consistent over the three cohorts. Furthermore, the data presented in this study parallel results obtained in previous evaluations of NRSA trainees and fellows. The level of application for NIH grants and the number of publications by former F31 MARC predoctoral fellows are comparable to those of other NIH trainees and fellows. Moreover, even though these results should not be generalized because of the small sample size, they do suggest that the potential for individuals supported by F31 MARC predoctoral fellowships to pursue active careers in research is good. Summary data on the postgraduate training and career involvement in research for recipients of F31 MARC predoctoral fellowship support are displayed in Tables 4-1 and 4-2. Note that some individuals were unresponsive to NIGMS requests for their CVs; thus, the percentages may appear somewhat “off” because the tables do not resolve how many respondents with Ph.D.s actually submitted their CVs. As shown in Table 4-1, the completion rate of 63 percent for F31 MARC predoctoral fellows from 1981 to199042 compares favorably to the 69 percent completion rate for NRSA F31 predoctoral fellows and trainees from 1967 to 1975 documented in a 1984 study by the National Academy of Sciences.43 A more recent study of predoctoral trainees supported by NIH from 1980 to 1986 found a higher completion rate of 76 percent.44 41   National Institute of General Medical Sciences, National Institutes of Health. 2000. The Careers and Professional Activities of Former NIGMS Minority Access to Research Careers Predoctoral Fellows. Bethesda, Md.: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. See http://www.nigms.nih.gov/news/reports/marcstudy.html. 42   Ibid. 43   Coggeshall, P.E., and P. W. Brown. 1984. The Career Achievements of NIH Predoctoral Trainees ands Fellows. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. 44   Pion, G. M. 2001, The Early Career Progress of NRSA Predoctoral Trainees and Fellows. Bethesda, Md.: National Institutes of Health.

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Assessment of NIH Minority Research and Training Programs: Phase 3 TABLE 4-1 Postgraduate Training of F31 MARC Predoctoral Scholars, 1981-1993 Cohort Total No. of Fellows Completed Ph.D. (all fellows) Postdoctoral Training Support Received (respondents only) Research Support Received (respondents only) Number Percentage of Total Number Percentage of Ph.D.s Number Percentage of Ph.D.s 1981-1985 49 31 63 14 66 14 67 1986-1990 78 49 63 27 61 11 25 1991-1993 64 30 47 18 62 1 3 TABLE 4-2 Research Involvement of F31 MARC Predoctoral Fellows, 1981-1993 Cohort Total No. of Fellows Applied for NIH Grant (all fellows) Received NIH Grant (applicants only) Median Number of Articles (respondents only) Number Percentage of Ph.D.s Number Percentage of Applicants 1981-1985 49 11 35 5 45 7 1986-1990 78 10 20 9 90 5 1991-1993 64 n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. 4 NOTE: n.a. = data not available The average time lapse for completion of the Ph.D. degree by former F31 MARC predoctoral fellows was 7.3 years, slightly less time than comparable life sciences Ph.D. degrees as seen in a 1999 study sponsored by the National Science Foundation.45 The average lapsed time for completion of the M.D.-Ph.D. by F31 MARC predoctoral fellows was 7.7 years. The greatest percentage of F31 MARC predoctoral fellows obtained doctorates in biochemistry-chemistry, with the next largest discipline being physiology-biophysics.46 45   National Science Foundation, Division of Science Resources Statistics. 2002. Doctoral Scientists and Engineers: 1999 Profile (NSF 03-302). Arlington, Va.: National Science Foundation. 46   National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), National Institutes of Health. 1998. Careers and Professional Activities of Former NIGMS Minority Access to Research Careers Predoctoral Fellows. Bethesda, Md.: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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Assessment of NIH Minority Research and Training Programs: Phase 3 Of former F31 MARC predoctoral fellows with Ph.D. degrees, 63 percent received postdoctoral training, similar to graduates of the NIGMS Medical Scientist Training Program47 but lower than F31 NRSA predoctoral fellows and trainees (78 percent).48 As shown in Table 4-2, of the 127 F31 MARC predoctoral fellows supported between 1981 and 1990, 17 percent have applied for NIH grants. The success rate for the 21 individuals who did apply for NIH support was 67 percent. The majority of former F31 MARC predoctoral fellows are or have been employed in academia. The number employed by industry increased threefold from the 1981-1985 cohort to the 1986-1990 cohort and remained stable at approximately 25 percent for the 1991-1993 cohort. The percentage of former F31 MARC predoctoral fellows employed by the government was extremely small.49 Trainee Interview Data As shown in Table 4-3, NIH supported 16,480 graduate trainees in the study’s universe of targeted and nontargeted comparison programs between 1970 and 1999.50 The NIH-approved data contractor utilized for this study interviewed a total of 328 trainees who were supported by these programs during the time frame of the study. In the absence of NIH-wide electronic trainee tracking data, the NIH data contractor was not successful in its efforts to locate and interview trainees. Of the 2,464 graduate trainees in the sample, the contractor was able to obtain contact data on only 759 trainees, or 31 percent of the eligible trainees. This was the case despite its use of two commercial and proprietary credit card databases that together maintain credit card-related contact information for millions of Americans, and the query of the U.S. Postal Service address-forwarding database. There is, consequently, a high likelihood of sample bias among the trainee survey results. The committee believes that the external validity of the data is compromised and that this caveat should be considered when making inferences based on these data. 47   National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), National Institutes of Health. 1998. The Careers and Professional Activities of Graduates of the NIGMS Medical Scientist Training Program. Bethesda, Md.: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 48   National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), National Institutes of Health. 2000. Careers and Professional Activities of Former NIGMS Minority Access to Research Careers Predoctoral Fellows. Bethesda, Md.: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 49   Ibid. 50   Nontargeted comparison program parameters were matched as closely as possible to targeted program parameters. Thus, both categories of program derive from the same institutes and were administered during the same temporal window.

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Assessment of NIH Minority Research and Training Programs: Phase 3 TABLE 4-3 Graduate Fellows and Trainees 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 (R-25) Bridges to the Doctorate URM 300 200 23 22 1a Targeted (T-32) NRSA Institutional Training Grant URM 999 200 22 16 6b Nontargeted (T-32) NRSA Institutional Training Grant URM 492 330 28 27 1c Non-URM 3,948 290 46 0 46 Unknown 3,594 290 56 7 49 Total 8,034 910 130 34 96 Targeted Short-Term Institutional Training Grant (T-35) URM 2,646 200 19 15 4d Nontargeted (T-35) Short-Term Institutional Training Grant URM 300 300 28 25 3e Non-URM 1,725 150 25 0 25 Unknown 1,348 150 16 2 14 Total 3,373 600 69 27 42 Targeted (F-31) NRSA Predoctoral Fellowship and MARC Predoctoral Fellowship URM 126 126 19 10 9f Nontargeted (F-31) NRSA Predoctoral Fellowship URM 64 64 7 6 1g Non-URM 691 60 15 0 15 Unknown 203 60 12 1 11 Total 958 184 34 7 27 Targeted (F-34) Predoctoral Faculty Training Grant URM 10 10 0 0 0 Targeted (R-03) NIMH Dissertation Grant URM 34 34 12 11 1h All All Programs URM 4,971 1,464 158 132 26 Non-URM 6,364 500 86 0 86 Unknown 5,145 500 84 10 74 Total 16,480 2,464 328 142 186

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Assessment of NIH Minority Research and Training Programs: Phase 3 first-generation Vietnamese kid whose parents spent time on boats in the South China Sea. He was brilliant as all get-out. I could not get him any minority help.” Some PARIs advertise the availability of training grant slots by using the web or purchasing advertisements in minority trade magazines. Within the institution, one PARI described an announcement that was circulated to faculty with the invitation to nominate their best predoctoral student. According to one PARI, “The frustrating thing I have found over the years is we could recruit to our heart's content, but the young smart African Americans are much more interested in the professions for advanced training than they are in basic research.” This same PARI recommended, “Increase stipend levels to be competitive with professional training programs.” Another PARI argued for a more proactive outreach strategy, “We need to go to junior high schools and high schools and begin there. Since ours is a graduate program, we clearly need to do a better job in the undergraduate years to even announce the fact that there is [a discipline called] public health.” Criteria for Trainee Selection into the Program For predoctoral trainees, one PARI described a fairly traditional set of criteria, “They have to meet the criteria of the graduate training program that they are admitted to, and those criteria include a certain set of prerequisite courses that they need to have taken. Since biochemistry is typically a last year course at the undergraduate level, it means that they had to take organic and inorganic [chemistry]. They also need to have had at least a year of calculus. There isn't a GPA [grade point average] cutoff, but the higher the GPA, the happier we are. And similarly, there isn't a GRE [Graduate record Examination] cutoff, but the higher … [the scores] are, the happier we are. Probably, the most critical thing in the entry process is having letters from faculty at other institutions, or this institution, depending upon where they did their undergraduate work, that indicate that they have been exposed, in some fashion, to research, because, in my experience, that's a big predictor of success. They know what a Ph.D. program is all about when they apply.” Another PARI described a different set of criteria, “We're looking for bright people. I mean, we take people—in public health we have people that range in skills from basic laboratory biology all the way to geography and demography and social sciences, and everything in between. So, the training, discipline, and interests really don't matter, because we need everybody. We look for bright, creative, imaginative people. And if you give me somebody bright and creative, we'll work it out.” One more PARI stated, “We deal with a pretty good cut of intellectual quality. So it turns out, the most important factor is interest and dedication. It's not accomplishment. It's not prior research. It is interest and commitment. That's the most important predictor of success.” Trainee Experience in the Program

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Assessment of NIH Minority Research and Training Programs: Phase 3 In terms of the challenges faced by minority trainees, one PARI shared, “I've had a number of minority students over the years, and the general problem that I've seen over the years is [their lack of a] good earlier education. For example, one of the super bright students I'm working with now is working on her Ph.D., but she can't write. We're not talking about intelligence or energy or creativity; we’re talking about basic skills. I think a lot of the minority students are not getting a good basic education.” Another PARI said, “Getting a job after the program is the biggest challenge. We’ve had people come to us and say ‘I can't get a job. Can you find the funding for me for another year?’” One of the biggest challenges faced by trainees at another institution was described as follows: “My institution funnels all of the training grant stipends through the Financial Aid Office. They are paid in three installments, one at the beginning of each semester and one at the beginning of summer, rather than getting a monthly check. [Furthermore] Financial Aid people deny these students other forms of financial aid because they regard the training grant as a source of financial aid. And so the students who are on the training grant are at a disadvantage, compared to other students who are paid the same amount of money, but from a different source. And, when you give them their checks a month late, it creates hardship for them. I’ve written checks from my own bank account to cover these kids who don't get their paychecks on time because, you know, they have to pay the rent, they have to eat, regardless of whether the Financial Aid Office thinks it’s worth their time to pay them on time. So that's the biggest problem.” Mechanisms for keeping up on trainee progress are important to maintaining a high training standard and ensuring that trainees are on the right track. One PARI said, “We have different levels of feedback. Coursework is one. Formal candidate reviews is a second. Review by the mentor is third. There is little opportunity at these graduate levels for remediation. I think that we see people who fall off the ladder because they’re just not able to keep up and aren't given reinforcement of what skills sets are required and what the expectations are.” Another PARI said, “We’re part of a large medical school. I don’t know every candidate because there are hundreds and hundreds of graduate students and postdocs here. Sometimes a person will come to us and say, ‘This lab isn’t working out for me.’ We either give them advice about what to do, or if it looks like it’s a real serious problem, we talk to their preceptor. Our view is, first of all, it’s the right thing to do to try and help this person. But also, it isn't good for our training program if people are unhappy and unsuccessful.” Yet another PARI adds, “Graduate students interact with trainers on a daily basis. They submit reports twice yearly to the principal investigator. They meet with their committee at least twice a year. They attend weekly conferences designed specifically for the group of trainees on the training grant. Share a Trainee Success Story One PARI related, “We have a number of candidates from 15 to 20 years ago who completed their degree, went on to postdoctoral work, and from there went on to academic positions at various institutions across the country. [They] are now full professors. We also have candidates who have gone into the pharmaceutical industry.”

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Assessment of NIH Minority Research and Training Programs: Phase 3 Describe a Trainee Who Was Not Successful in the Program One PARI explained, “I'm working with a doctoral student now who's having trouble with writing. Her problem is that when you ask her a question, she thinks of 15 things that are important to put in the answer, and then she answers with all the 15 things. You can't do it that way. That's something you learn in grade 10. So, this has been a problem.” Another PARI added, “You do get some people without a good work ethic, and they aren't productive. If they're not productive at this stage of their career, they cannot get a job. We've had several of those.” Comments on Relationships of PARIs to NIH One PARI was asked to describe his or her interactions with NIH about the training program. “Basically, none. If the occasional financial question comes up, then I talk with the financial administrator, but I don't have a great deal of interaction with the program administrator.” Another PARI related, “Hardly ever. We've had this training program over 25 years. I know a fair amount about training grants and how to do them, what's expected. So if I had a problem, I wouldn't hesitate to call them and talk with them. You know, occasionally around renewal time, I may call them and talk to them to make sure that I'm on target and I do a good renewal. I've done these five or six times and they've always been funded. So I don't talk to them a lot because things seem to be going well.” In contrast, another PARI remarked, “They're my life blood, of course. When I wrote to the director's office recently for help with a small crisis, they were fabulous. I was really amazed at how terrific they were.” Ways to Improve the Administration of Training Programs “More money for administration!” argued one PARI. Another had a few suggestions for improving administration of these programs: “I would say one frustration that we have relates to the demography of who is coming to the United States. What we're seeing is an increasing number of people from Thailand or China or India, and they're really good. But they don't qualify for the training grant because under NRSA policies you've got to be a permanent resident or a citizen. When the act was written 30 years ago this probably made sense. There is a certain irony in that you can be on an NIH grant if you're not a citizen, but you can't be on any training grants. There are places right now where they can't even fill their training grants, because they don't have enough qualified applicants. I wish we had more flexibility and could pick the best people, and not the best people who have a green card or are American citizens.” According to one PARI, “I think most people will tell you that putting together the application for a training grant renewal is probably the least pleasant experience you'll ever have. People would rather have a root canal without anesthesia than put one of these grants together, because the documentation and requirements of what you have to present are just

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Assessment of NIH Minority Research and Training Programs: Phase 3 enormous. If there was some simplified process for applying and the grant wasn’t so complicated that would help a lot.” Also, “I guess there are two things I would say about the money part, which NIH ought to think about. One of them is when a graduate student goes to work in your lab the school charges the preceptor of the graduate student for the tuition. I think if you're really interested in training pre-docs NIH should help the preceptors by paying a larger fraction of that cost.” Then, “For grants where there's more clinical research, I think sometimes preceptors have a hard time being a good preceptor, because they're often earning their living seeing patients and the student sometimes doesn't get the amount of attention they deserve. I think the NIH in general is concerned about this, and they're starting to ease up on allowing funds for faculty to be part of packages for grants.” Another PARI said, “I think the whole class of training grants ought to be reviewed as career development efforts. What’s missing is a sense of national commitment amongst the successful awardees in promoting and developing. It's the opportunity and, I would argue, responsibility of the government, in the process of funding training activities, to promote training as a career development effort. What does a trainee get out of participating in NIH-sponsored training programs? The answer is a stipend. And it could be a whole lot more. The NIH could very cheaply offer a whole lot of added value such as career development, contacts, networking, access to specific NIH programs, invitations to come to NIH for conferences. NIH could take advantage of these future leaders and give them value added, but it fails to do so.” NIH Policies That Hinder Administration of the Programs “We need more money above the line. It's always been a problem. I mean, NIH basically said it is going to invest money in the fellow. Who could argue with that? But it does take institutional resources to keep a program going. And so, I admire the fact of putting the money where it counts, but NIH has gone too far.” Also, “It's clear that NIH’s intent is that a trainee be awarded for a minimum of a year. But there's a requirement that you can't reuse dollars if somebody doesn't complete their year. That's a waste for everybody. Changes happen in peoples’ lives. You can't even go on maternity leave. What sort of nuttiness is that?” Another PARI said, “The obligation, without any sort of advice or support or national coordinating effort, to follow candidates for 20 years is a burden on universities. This is a national issue. For all training grants, why isn’t there some effort to coordinate ‘tracking’ efforts nationally?” Program Evaluation PARIs were asked whether they engage in any program evaluation activities in relation to the T32 NRSA Institutional Training Grant. One PARI remarked, “We appointed a steering committee of fairly distinguished senior scientists in [the field]. They're like a board of trustees, and they give us advice. They look over who we're

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Assessment of NIH Minority Research and Training Programs: Phase 3 training. They go over the progress reports. They review our application when we do renewals.” As another PARI described it, “We have a steering committee that evaluates the program at least annually, and usually, they are involved in all appointments to the training grants. So they review all trainees on an annual basis prior to reappointment.” A number of PARIs stated that they view the five-year competitive renewal process as an evaluation of sorts. One PARI provided a bottom line, “To me what really counts is, have they gone out and achieved significant positions? If they’re in the research field, are they being productive?” (T35) Short-Term Institutional Training Grant Interviews Twelve PARIs were interviewed. All were either current or recent PIs of the programs. Some were founders and others began running the program within the last five years. History and Evolution of the Program All programs have been well established for ten years or more. Some T35 programs were started in response to a specific NIH RFA (Request for Proposals), and others evolved as a part of larger institutional efforts to recruit and train underrepresented minority (URM) students into research science, especially environmental health and toxicology. Programs Stated Goals All programs have the goal of attracting minority students to research science, and this goal has not changed over the years for any of the programs. Percentage of PARI Time Working on Program PARIs report that time spent working on the program is variable, depending on immediate program needs. Activities that require PARI time include setting up the program for the following summer, recruitment of students, review of student applications to the program, and conducting the program itself. One PARI said that asking what percentage of time he or she spends on running the program is a “nonsense question.” Another said, “The NIH says that I spend no time on the program…. At certain times of the year I spend 50 percent of my time.” Others gave generalized percentages ranging from less than 10 percent to 35 percent of their time.

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Assessment of NIH Minority Research and Training Programs: Phase 3 Advertisement and Recruitment A variety of methods are used to advertise the T35 NRSA Short-Term Institutional Training programs and recruit students to them. Some programs send minority faculty and students to nearby minority-serving institutions or other colleges to deliver a brief talk explaining the program and encouraging students to apply. Another institution is part of a consortium of schools that includes the Big Ten. Given its extensive connectivity with regional institutions, word of mouth has been sufficient advertisement for this T35 program, in particular. Yet another institution uses a top-down approach, and its T35 advertising and recruitment activities rely on the institution’s already comprehensive minority recruitment infrastructure. Still other institutions use a web site or booth at the annual MARC undergraduate conferences to advertise and recruit future applicants to their programs. Some PARIs remarked that female applicants both outnumber and outcompete male applicants. One institution is challenged to identify Hispanic and Native American applicants, given its geographic locale. Yet another institution is challenged to identify African-American applicants, given a different locale. Criteria for Trainee Selection into the Program Trainee selection criteria vary across the T35 Short-Term Institutional Training programs and institutions, in part because this funding vehicle may be utilized to support the training of undergraduate, graduate, or postdoctoral students. Some institutions accept students anywhere between their second year of college and the first few years of graduate school. Others accept only junior or senior undergraduates. One institution is academically traditional and accepts only those trainees whose GPA is 3.6 or better as long as the student has stellar letters of recommendation and comes from a high-caliber undergraduate school. Others have a lower GPA requirement but scrutinize each application for evidence of a research orientation, such as previous lab research experience or a well-written personal statement that explains the student’s curiosity for scientific research. In the words of one PARI, “I look for that spark, that genuine interest in research, as opposed to those that just thought it might be a good way to help their resume for medical school, which, really [is] the vast majority of the applicants.” Yet another PARI explains what he or she looks for when reviewing student applications, is “… a student [who has] a high energy level, intellectually curious, good work ethic….” Some institutions accept only applicants whose stated research interest is in the environmental health sciences. Another institution looks for students expressing an interest in clinical research, specifically public health and community medicine. Yet another institution focuses on “growing talent” as opposed to “harvesting” talent that is already apparent. This PARI explains, “I take a lot of students with borderline grades, … students who might well think they want to go to med school, but may simply not have the performance to get into medical school, and who may be open to looking for an alternative career.” Another PARI concurs, “I think there's a tendency to want to get the best numbers, but I think you miss the sort of middle group that is really a rich target for research careers.”

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Assessment of NIH Minority Research and Training Programs: Phase 3 Trainee Experience in the Program A few PARIs commented that students’ science and writing skills may be deficient. One PARI said, “Our program is academically challenging. The students who are not well prepared, … it was tough going. Our program is rigorous and we don't compromise. That was a challenge for some students.” Another says, “Sometimes we wind up with students who probably are not as well prepared as the bulk of the students. And so, we try to have a variety of special programs to help them deal with the academic material.” Another challenge facing students in the T35 short-term training programs is, as one PARI put it, “the vast difference between here and home.” Some PARIs said that students may be challenged by the drastic change in their living situation. Some institutions put students in dormitories; others house them off-campus in private student homes. One PARI believes that cultural issues are at play when T35 trainees come to the campus. He generalized by saying that African-American students can at times come across as aggressive, and Hispanic students may at times come across as passive. Nonminority persons in the labs in which these students work for the summer do not always know how to negotiate cultural norms different from their own. Trainee Success Stories PARIs offered many stories of students who succeeded in the T35 Short-Term Institutional Training program and then went on to graduate from Ph.D., M.D., or MD-Ph.D. programs. In some cases, the students were academically stellar to begin with. In other cases students were “rough around the edges” at the start of T35 short-term training, yet quite polished by the end of it. One PARI said, “the other kind of student that we consider a real success is the kind of student who comes in not really aware of what research really is, or the opportunities it provides, and then finds that they're really excited by research and that they really love doing it.” Yet another PARI said, “Typically in the first two or three weeks, I hear, ‘I don't understand my project. I don't know what we're doing … I just don't get it.’ But, invariably by the end of the summer and, I guarantee, 90 percent of the time—the students are able to give a very eloquent discussion of what they did during the research experience. And the quality of the posters they present is analogous to what I see when I go to scientific meetings. By the end of the summer, the kids know they've made the transition. The sense of empowerment that the students get is incredible.”

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Assessment of NIH Minority Research and Training Programs: Phase 3 Unsuccessful Trainees PARIs were asked to describe situations in which an individual trainee was not successful in the T35 Short-Term Institutional Training program. The reasons given for “failing the program” vary widely. Here are some representative quotes: “We have maybe one or two students drop out every other year, … because of [either] personal problems or health problems or family problems.” Also, “A student with a serious substance abuse problem who refused offers of help. He was dismissed from the program.” Then, “I'm not sure that someone does not succeed. I think what happens is that a student may realize that this is an endeavor that they don't wish to pursue any further.” In addition, “Occasionally we have a student who seems virtually abandoned by their lab and so we intervene and try to fix that. That's pretty rare, but that lab doesn't get called upon after that.” And, “Early on, we had some students that took advantage of the program. They felt getting in was all they needed to do. So, they didn't show up, or they didn't work very hard.” All PARIs agreed that diligent oversight of students’ progress is critical to facilitating trainee success in the program. Oversight in this regard includes regular meetings and interactions with both students and mentors. Comments on PARI Relationship to NIH Most PARIs reported low-frequency, albeit positive, contacts with NIH. Other than filing annual progress reports and a five-year competitive renewal, little interaction takes place between the institution and NIH. One PARI reported a strong relationship to NIH. Another PARI lamented the paperwork saying, “It's way too bureaucratic and way too much paperwork for what's involved, the amount of money, the amount of … I’m going to be honest with you because, they have just added another level of bureaucracy, another form this year, and it's so silly, for students who are here for ten to twelve weeks.” Another PARI reported, “I contacted NIH about the issue of these reverse discrimination lawsuits.” Ways to Improve the Administration of These Programs “More money for administrative support and funding for more social events for trainees.” “More flexibility operating the program. Less bureaucratic interference.” NIH Policies That Hinder Administration of the Program One PARI replied, “[There is] no administrative support on grants. Everything depends on the goodwill of a few.” Another PARI said, “NIH prohibits faculty from receiving salary support from these grants. Yet doing so would be an incentive for faculty to run these programs.” Yet another PARI said, “There is no salary support for me as the PI and minimal salary support for my assistant, who helps me administer the

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Assessment of NIH Minority Research and Training Programs: Phase 3 program.” Another said, “There’s no reward [for running these kinds of programs] other than a personal and internal award. In fact, by putting time into this program you penalize your career.” “Finally, [we need a better way to] reward people for throwing away their time on an altruistic activity that doesn’t pay.” Several PARIs reported that their institution allows nonminority students who are economically disadvantaged to participate in the programs. One PARI said, “I think NIH needs to address and offer some support to program directors about the issue of reverse discrimination. My feeling is that the NIH approach is, Well, you figure it out. Then they kind of bury their heads in the sand.” Another PARI comments that the funding cycle is off-kilter with the administration of a summer program, “It’s possible that I would have five students who have signed on to come here [in the summer], then all of a sudden I find out in April that the program hasn't been re-funded. There’s a bit of time discrepancy there.” Another PARI commented, “The overhead allowed is only 8 percent. Thus, it’s better to pursue other types of grants, as they offer more overhead.” Another PARI laments, “The [research] supply monies that are offered are about $125 per student per month. Those monies aren't enough to cover anything, to tell you the truth. I mean, you could burn that in a morning.” Yet another said that “[students] frequently request more socializing activities, but the NIH policies will not allow it.” Finally, “NIH requires you to describe a plan for minority recruiting, but it prohibits the consideration of results. They used to want to know what the outcome of your plan was. Did you manage to bring in minority students? Did they succeed and so forth? Now they don’t want you to do that. It seems nuts to me. That is the best measure of success!” Program Evaluation All PARIs said that there is an evaluation component to the program they administer, usually on an annual basis. The evaluation includes some form of input from students and mentors whether by survey or in-person interviews conducted by a third party. A few PARIs mentioned ongoing efforts to track student outcomes. As for results, one PARI said, “I think the major change [that resulted from this program] has been the growth in the minority population in the medical school, which I believe is the desired outcome of this effort.” Another said, “Whether these students [get a Ph.D.], whether they end up in environmental health. Even if they went on to medical school and so forth, we think that's okay. We still believe they benefited from the program and that will eventually be to everyone's benefit.” Another PARI remarked, “The numbers of minority applicants that have applied to the medical school and graduate school here have skyrocketed. And it's a result of this program.”

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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.” Conclusion 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

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Assessment of NIH Minority Research and Training Programs: Phase 3 most common response among this cohort was that stipend support needs to be increased. Mentoring was cited by all graduate trainees as a key feature of the programs, although there was consensus among trainees that mentoring is an area in need of improvement. This sentiment was particularly prevalent among R25 Bridges to the Doctorate trainees. Nineteen program administrators were interviewed regarding graduate-level training programs. All of those interviewed are associated with programs that are well established. When asked to comment on the challenges faced by minority trainees, the following themes figured prominently among program administrator responses: the lack of adequate academic preparation among minority trainees, the pervasiveness of financial hardship, frequent “culture shock” when transitioning to higher-caliber institutions, personal or family problems, and problems integrating or being accepted into one’s research group. In light of these problems, program administrators emphasized that outreach for these programs should begin during the K-12 years and that graduate trainee stipends should be increased so that trainees are not set up for failure. When asked about the criteria that are used to select trainees for entrance into various programs, administrators emphasized two modes of screening. The first applies traditional graduate school criteria such as high grades, excellent letters of recommendation, and a record of scientific accomplishment at the undergraduate level. The committee refers to this approach to trainee selection as harvesting talent. The second applies nontraditional selection criteria that emphasize a student’s potential, rather than past accomplishments. For example, some programs will accept minority trainees with borderline grades and limited undergraduate scientific achievements as long as the student demonstrates a sincere interest in pursuing biomedical research as a possible career path. The committee refers to this approach to trainee selection as growing talent. Most program administrators reported that a critical program element is oversight and monitoring of trainee progress, in order to catch problems before they become intractable for trainees and faculty alike. When asked how NIH could improve these programs, the following suggestions were offered: simplify the grant application process, provide greater local flexibility, increase the allowable budget for administrative support, compensate faculty for the time they spend mentoring trainees, provide more legal guidance on affirmative action policies, and finally, implement a trainee tracking system in order to better monitor trainee outcomes.