all students and postdoctorates being trained in biomedical, health sciences, and behavioral research. Accordingly, all graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who are supported by the NIH on Research Program Grants (RPGs) should be required to incorporate certain additional “training grant-like” components into their regular academic training program. These should include RCR training, exposure to quantitative biology, and career guidance and advising (2–3).
The demographics of this country are changing, and underrepresented minorities (URMs) are approaching a majority of the citizenry. The NIH is committed to increasing the diversity of the health sciences workforce through many programs, such as the Minority Access to Research Careers and Minority Opportunities in Research programs in the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), and the number of URM students in biomedical graduate programs has increased from 2 percent in 1980 to 11 percent today. However, in 2009 minority representation was 2 percent for tenured and tenure-track medical school faculty in basic science—the same as in 1980—and was 4 percent for non-tenured or non-tenure track faculty. Graduate student and postdoctoral training programs that educate and train students who are funded by RPGs should be subject to the same expectations for diversity of trainees that are expected of training grants. Such programs should be required to provide assurance on R01 grant applications that efforts are being made to increase diversity, though they will likely have to be at an institutional level (2–4).
The K24 mentoring award has been successful in developing the careers of clinical scientists and should be expanded to the basic sciences. In addition, this mechanism could also be used to support diversity at the faculty level. The NIH should expand the K24 mentoring award mechanism to include the basic sciences and adapt the K24 mechanism to provide the opportunity for established mid-career faculty to mentor early-stage investigators in the basic sciences, including recipients of the the new R00 awards (Phase 2 of the Pathways to Independence Award-K99/ R00 Award). Additionally, the K24 award mechanisms for both basic and clinical mid-career faculty should be utilized to enhance institutional efforts to recruit and develop a diverse faculty. Specifically, the NIH should develop a new category of K24 awards targeted to enhance the success of early-stage basic and/or clinical investigators, or reserve a fraction of existing K24 awards for mid-career applicants whose mentees will include one or more URM faculty members (2–5).
Are NRSA awardees more successful and productive in their subsequent careers than others? Competitive initial and renewal applications for these programs contain an enormous amount of information, but no systemic approach has been developed to capture this information for rigorous, data-driven analysis. This problem will become all the more acute if trainees supported on R01 grants become a part of the overall database. The need for a modern data recording and management system is desperate, and such a system should be implemented without delay. The NIH should collect reliable data on all of the educational components that it supports in such a manner that this information can be stored in an easily accessible database format. Such data might consist of important components of the training grant tables, as well as retention and subsequent outcomes (2–6).
In the same vein, applications for training grant support require many detailed data tables, some of which are largely irrelevant to the proposal award process. The committee recommends that the data tables be reviewed and a determination made, in consultation with the awardee community, as to which are really essential for reviewing the proposal and which should be incorporated into the databases (2–7).
One aspect of training programs that has not been evaluated to date is how the value of the research training was perceived by the program director and the trainees themselves. This information should be collected by an anonymous survey, where the only identifier would be the particular institute or center at which the NIH trainee was supported. Specifically, a training evaluation questionnaire should be created so that all participants in the full range of NIH-funded training vehicles can provide a confidential, unbiased evaluation of the program in which they were trained. The intent of this recommendation is not to provide additional information for the competitive renewal of a particular program, but rather to allow the NIH to evaluate the merit of all of its training approaches broadly (2–8).
There should also be better communication between the NIH and the NRC during the periods when the NRSA program is not in review. Such coordination would enhance the information-gathering process and allow the committees at the start of the review to complete their work more rapidly and efficiently. Greater continuity would benefit subsequent NRC committees in crafting recommendations and in monitoring their implementation by the NIH. Accordingly, it is recommended that the appropriate office at the NIH involved in analyzing these recommendations should issue an annual report to the Director’s Advisory Committee on the status of review and implementation. After