The Trust adopted several mechanisms to fund selected scholars early in their careers. The two most important were (1) the Scholar Awards in Biomedical Sciences, by which a total of 113 Markey Scholars were supported for up to three years of postdoctoral training followed by five years of support as a junior faculty with both salary and research funding provided, and (2 ) the United Kingdom and Australian Visiting Fellows Awards, which supported outstanding young scientists from the United Kingdom and Australia to spend two years as postdoctoral fellows at American research institutions.
Research Program Grants were awarded to enable established investigators to address important issues in the biomedical sciences by developing new approaches or expanding continuing approaches to the study of basic biomedical research questions—in short, providing flexible dollars for innovation and growth. In some instances, the awards permitted the development of new programs or the complete reorganization of existing programs. In other cases, the awards enhanced existing programs and research endeavors.
This report covers only the Research Program Grants program. The General Organizational Grants programs were assessed earlier and can be reviewed in Bridging the Bed-Bench Gap: Contributions of the Markey Trust, published by the National Academies Press. The committee will publish a report in 2006, giving its assessment of the Markey Scholars and Visiting Fellows program. This is the only Markey program that lends itself to a data-driven, prospective evaluation with a comparison group. Unfortunately, formal evaluation was not built into the planning for the heterogeneous awards that constitute the programs funded by the Markey Trust, the subject of this and the previous report. In the case of these two reports, the committee is well aware of the limitations that are intrinsic to rendering judgments based on information that could be collected by such activities as site visits and progress reports but believed that its expert judgment would be useful to other funders of scientific work.
The committee sought to understand whether the grants made to develop centers or programs resulted in program creation and development, program sustainability, research productivity, and faculty development, and positively integrated the funded program with the host institution. Unfortunately, the committee was not able to assess adequately the scientific quality or impact of the Research Program Grants on biomedical research or the impact of the program on the research centers and projects