6
Conclusions and Recommendations

There were two aspects of the Markey award that could account for differences between the Markey Scholars and comparison group members. One was the process used to select Markey Scholars. The other was the size, structure, and duration of the award itself. The committee could not differentiate the impacts of these two factors, but could evaluate the Markey Scholar award program generally. In doing so, the committee strongly concludes that the Markey Scholars program was successful.

Through a rigorous selection process, 113 Scholars were funded in seven cycles beginning in 1985 and continuing through 1991. Approximately 10 years after leaving the postdoctorate, these Scholars had made remarkable progress in their careers as research scientists. With only two exceptions, all Scholars had remained in biomedical research. Most of the Scholars had stayed as academic researchers in top-tier universities, and all had been tenured and promoted to associate or full professor. The Scholars who left academia for the biotechnology industry, research institutes, or NIH had equally responsible positions.

The Markey award, providing a generous stipend for up to seven years along with funding to establish a lab, enabled the Scholars to develop an independent research agenda, produce highly cited publications, and secure extramural funding. The data obtained for the committee’s outcome measures show that Scholars were highly productive as measured by both the number of scholarly articles they produced and the number of citations these articles received. Scholars were also highly successful in obtaining extramural funding from NIH. Scholars in academia were awarded an



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Evaluation of the Markey Scholars Program 6 Conclusions and Recommendations There were two aspects of the Markey award that could account for differences between the Markey Scholars and comparison group members. One was the process used to select Markey Scholars. The other was the size, structure, and duration of the award itself. The committee could not differentiate the impacts of these two factors, but could evaluate the Markey Scholar award program generally. In doing so, the committee strongly concludes that the Markey Scholars program was successful. Through a rigorous selection process, 113 Scholars were funded in seven cycles beginning in 1985 and continuing through 1991. Approximately 10 years after leaving the postdoctorate, these Scholars had made remarkable progress in their careers as research scientists. With only two exceptions, all Scholars had remained in biomedical research. Most of the Scholars had stayed as academic researchers in top-tier universities, and all had been tenured and promoted to associate or full professor. The Scholars who left academia for the biotechnology industry, research institutes, or NIH had equally responsible positions. The Markey award, providing a generous stipend for up to seven years along with funding to establish a lab, enabled the Scholars to develop an independent research agenda, produce highly cited publications, and secure extramural funding. The data obtained for the committee’s outcome measures show that Scholars were highly productive as measured by both the number of scholarly articles they produced and the number of citations these articles received. Scholars were also highly successful in obtaining extramural funding from NIH. Scholars in academia were awarded an

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Evaluation of the Markey Scholars Program average of 3.4 NIH grants during the 10-year interval that we surveyed or one grant every 3 years. More importantly, these Scholars received, on average, 2.0 R01 grants, or approximately one every 5 years. The committee also concludes that the process used by the Markey Trust to nominate, screen, and select Scholars was effective in identifying biomedical researchers who would be able to rapidly advance to independence. In fact, many of the Scholars already considered their research to be independent at the time of the award. The committee concludes that the annual Scholars Conference conducted by the Trust was an important component in the Scholars program. The Scholars Conference offered opportunities to network with other Scholars, members of the Scholar selection committee, and invited guests. In addition, it exposed Scholars to areas of biomedical science outside of their specialties. Finally, while it did not have the impact of the Scholars program, the Visiting Fellows program made an important contribution in advancing biomedical research and in technology transfer. Recommendation 1. Other funders, especially NIH, should consider creating awards that facilitate the transition from postdoctoral fellow to faculty status. The committee recognizes that the transition from postdoctoral fellow to faculty status can be stressful. Moreover, very few funding programs provide career transition awards, although there has been recognition of the need for such programs for several years. A few years ago, the NRC Committee on Dimensions, Causes, and Implications of Recent Trends in the Careers of Life Scientists (National Research Council, 1998) recommended: Because of its concern for optimizing the creativity of young scientists and broadening the variety of scientific problems under study in the life sciences the committee recommends that public and private funding agencies establish “career-transition” grants for senior postdoctoral fellows. The intent is to identify the highest-quality scientists while they are still postdoctoral fellows and give them financial independence to begin new scientific projects of their own design in anticipation of their obtaining fully independent positions. The recommendation is based on the experience of the Lucille P. Markey Charitable Trust’s Scholars in Biomedical Sciences Program. In 1999, the NIH made the first of the K22 Career Transition Awards, designed to support an individual postdoctoral fellow in the transition to

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Evaluation of the Markey Scholars Program a faculty position. In the same year, the NIH instituted the K23 Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award, for the development of the independent research scientist in the clinical area. Recently, the NRC Committee on Bridges to Independence (National Research Council, 2005), headed by Thomas R. Cech recommended: NIH should establish a program to promote the conduct of innovative research by scientists transitioning into their first independent positions. These research grants, to replace the collection of K22 awards, would provide sufficient funding and resources for promising scientists to initiate an independent research program and allow for increased risk-taking during the final phase of their mentored postdoctoral training and during the initial phase of their independent research effort. The program should make 200 grants annually of $500,000 each, payable over 5 years. This sentiment was echoed by the National Academies’ Committee on Prospering in the Global Economy of the 21st Century (NAS/NAE/IOM, 2005b), which recommended: The federal government should establish a program to provide 200 new research grants each year at $500,000 each, payable over 5 years, to support work of the outstanding early-career researchers. The grants would be funded by federal agencies (NIH, NSF, DOD, DOE, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration [NASA]) to underwrite new research opportunities at universities and government agencies. The committee strongly endorses these recommendations and commends the National Institutes of Health for developing the new Pathway to Independence awards (National Institutes of Health, 2006b) that will fund between 150 and 200 awards that will foster the early independence of new investigators. The Pathway to Independence award was made partially in response to the recommendations of the Bridges to Independence committee. Recommendation 2. Other funders of biomedical researchers should consider adopting the template developed by the Markey Trust. The Markey Scholars Award provided a template that can be used by philanthropic and governmental funders (especially the NIH) to identify and fund biomedical scientists at this important time in their careers. The committee recommends that any future funders of career transitions

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Evaluation of the Markey Scholars Program awards give careful consideration to this template since it can enable funders to (1) identify postdoctoral fellows who believe that they are independent or nearly independent in their research agenda, (2) provide funding not only for salaries but also for laboratory equipment, supplies, and staff, and (3) monitor awardees to ensure that they establish independent research careers in a timely manner. The committee urges funders to make certain that institutions making nominations ensure that female and minority nominees are fully included in all aspects of the nomination process. Moreover, the committee recommends that future funders incorporate annual meetings modeled after the Markey Scholars Conference to enable awardees to benefit from networking. Finally, both the Scholars and comparison group members offered several innovative suggestions for features that went beyond the Markey template and might enhance the funding of biomedical scientists. The committee recommends that any future funders consider these suggestions as part of the funding process. Recommendation 3. The committee recommends funding to foster the international exchange of biomedical scientists for research and training. The committee recommends that funders establish mechanisms to bring foreign biomedical scientists to laboratories in the United States for intensive research and training and to fund research and training opportunities for U.S. biomedical scientists abroad. The increasing globalization of science and engineering, especially biomedical science, was ably demonstrated by a 2005 report from the National Academies’ Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy report (NAS/NAE/IOM, 2005a). The report stated: The United States has benefited from the inflow of talented students and scholars. Migrants to the United States tend to be more educated than the average person in the sending country, and the proportion of highly educated people who emigrate is high. Many people believe that emigration of the technically skilled—“brain drain”—is detrimental to the country of origin. Some effects on the sending country described by scholars are higher domestic wages, lost economies of scale, reduction in specialized skills, and slower resource reallocation to learning-intensive sectors. Others argue that the migration of scholars benefits both sending and receiving countries, providing access to leading research and training not available in the home country and creating transnational bridges to cutting-edge research. In general, the concept of “brain drain” may be too simplistic inasmuch as it ignores many benefits of emigration, including remittances, international collaborations, the return of skilled

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Evaluation of the Markey Scholars Program scientists and engineers, diaspora-facilitated international business, and a general investment in skills caused by the prospect of emigration. Some researchers argue that, as the R&D enterprise becomes more global, “brain drain” should be recast as “brain circulation” and include the broader topics of the international circulation of thinkers, knowledge workers, and rights to knowledge. Such a discussion would include issues of local resources; many countries lack the educational and technical infrastructure to support advanced education, so aspiring scientists and engineers have little choice but to seek at least part of their training abroad, and in many instances such travel is encouraged by governments. Recommendation 4. Any funders of biomedical researchers should incorporate a prospective, data-driven monitoring and evaluation system as part of the program. The committee strongly believes that a data-driven, prospective evaluation should be fully integrated into any new funding initiative. The committee recommends that funders undertake (at least) annual monitoring of awardee activities for several years. Data generated from monitoring should be used to target appropriate candidates and tailor funding to meet changing needs. The committee notes that many philanthropic and public funders rigorously monitor and evaluate the outcomes of awardees and use these assessments to guide future funding strategies (National Research Council, 2006). Recommendation 5. The biotechnology industry and the government are making important contributions to the biomedical research agenda and should not be excluded from transitional funding mechanisms. The committee recognizes that the biotechnology industry and government are increasingly attractive destinations for biomedical researchers. It recommends that current and future funders of biomedical scientists continue support for those who transition to these destinations outside of academia. In conclusion, the committee believes that the Markey Scholars Awards program is a useful model for funding biomedical researchers that should be considered by other funders. The committee recognizes that 5 to 7 years of support at a critical time of development, with funding more flexible than at many other programs, has produced many successful scientists. The Burroughs Wellcome Fund has developed the Career Award

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Evaluation of the Markey Scholars Program Program in the Biomedical Sciences (CABS), which is modeled after the Markey Scholar Awards program (National Research Council, 2006). In addition, the American Heart Association’s Fellow-to-Faculty Award and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society Career Transition Fellowships fund this important time of career transition. The committee also endorses new programs, such as NIH’s Pioneer Award, that foster independent research agendas for biomedical scientists later in their careers.