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Meeting the Nation’s Needs for Biomedical and Behavioral Scientists: Summary of the 1993 Public Hearing APPENDIX D TESTIMONY STATEMENT BY IRWIN M. ARIAS, M.D. 1 Based upon a unique and productive experience of the past seven years, I submit the following commentary in response to your inquiry of March 3rd. Bridging the continuing rapid advances in basic biology with human disease is, in my view, the greatest challenge to biomedical research and offers the most promise in solving human disease. The gap has become logarithmic and, like a huge suspension bridge, requires many types of wire, struts, and cable. Most efforts to train biomedical scientists are traditionally directed toward physicians and M.D./Ph.D. graduates. Ph.D. graduates are not trained to appreciate pathobiology and, in most medical centers, it is difficult to recruit outstanding basic scientists into clinical departments primarily because, as one of my students succinctly stated, “You work for physicians and not with them.” Students graduating from basic science departments in medical schools should be important components of the bridge; however, this is infrequent. These students enter programs in medical schools because they wish to work on problems related to human disease. Invariably their academic program, research, and career choice are no different from what would have taken place had they been 100 miles away from a medical center. Approximately six years is spent in the shadow of a great medical center, but the student rarely knows what goes on there. More importantly, brilliant students know little about inflammation, fibrosis, necrosis, and other disease mechanisms. The students reflect the orientation of their mentors and, upon graduation, infrequently seek careers which primarily influence human health. As the number of physician-scientists declines, basic scientists who are sufficiently trained to demystify human pathobiology find exciting and productive careers in clinical departments. These departments have adjusted to changing times by solving academic problems which restrict basic scientists in such departments. In the past seven years, we have trained 63 predoctoral students, 22 postdoctoral fellows, and 6 Ph.D. faculty in the hands-on pathobiology of 20 major human diseases. Our students see patients, handle pathology, and are exposed to every major diagnostic and therapeutic facility in a modern hospital. The program is detailed in a New England Journal of Medicine article (for which we have received over 1200 reprint requests) (Arias, 1989). The Macey, Rockefeller, and Markey Foundations support this program which has graduated 22 students, 16 of whom work in biomedical science research. Our experience prompts the following suggestions: Training appropriations, plans, and programs should include demystifying disease for basic science students and fellows. Institutional solutions to time-honored problems of the Ph.D. in a clinical department should also be encouraged and supported. Summary Bridging basic science with medicine requires many components. The academic physician scientist is a critical player; however, Ph.D. students who demystify disease are major but neglected components. Programs which train basic scientists who can work 1 Testimony presented by J. Frederick Dice, Department of Physiology, Tufts University School of Medicine.
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Meeting the Nation’s Needs for Biomedical and Behavioral Scientists: Summary of the 1993 Public Hearing “with” rather than “for” physician scientists should be encouraged. At a time when basic science offers unparalleled opportunities to understand disease, it is remarkable that the goals of most graduate students are unfulfilled, and their talents are not directed to biomedical science. REFERENCES Arias, Irwin M. 1989 Training basic scientists to bridge the gap between basic science and its application to human disease . New England Journal of Medicine 321 : 972-974 . STATEMENT BY DAVID L. BRAUTIGAN Good morning. Ladies and gentlemen, I am here representing the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB), a non-profit, scientific, and educational organization with over 9,000 members. Currently I serve as the Chairman of the Human Resources Committee, the largest committee for ASBMB, which deals with education issues in general as well as particular problems faced by women and under-represented minorities. We are organized into three subcommittees focused on each of these areas. A majority of our members teach and conduct research at colleges and universities. Sustaining the quality of biomedical and behavioral research is a critical issue of great concern to us. I was a recipient of both predoctoral training grant support at Northwestern University and a post-doctoral NRSA award with Edmond Fischer, the 1992 Nobel Laureate, at the University of Washington, Seattle. I believe these mechanisms of support for those in training goes hand-in-hand with the government’s role in financing fundamental research in the life sciences. This combination of research and training support has considerable and continuing benefits to the health and welfare of the citizens of our country. Now I will respond, in turn, to the four questions posed by the committee. First, what is the most significant challenge we face today? It is the lack of funding available to support the scientists currently in the field who are capable of excellent research. A telling statistic is the declining success rate for research applications submitted to the National Institutes of Health. In 1991, the average NIH success rate was 29.3 percent. It is likely that less than 1 in five applicants for an NIH research grant will actually be funded this year. The impact on NRSA programs is obvious. The best and the brightest students see little incentive for them to take up life sciences research as a career. They suspect that after years of rigorous training, funding for research may be as scarce as it is today. Sadly, this decision is often made even before they gain enough exposure to research to become committed to it, as happened to most of us here today. Rather, many opt to enter some other career, such as the practice of medicine, where the likelihood of reward and recognition is greater. The number of quality students interested in research is small; we have to encourage them and provide them with opportunities. We need to sustain our training programs. As the large cadre of older life scientists in universities retire and life sciences-based industries continue to expand, the current surplus pool of life science researchers will evaporate. We have to remain aware that quality training programs take years to assemble and mature. These programs do not need to continue to grow in size, but they cannot survive if their support goes up-and-down in cycles. That brings me to question 2, about improvements in the National Research Service Awards program. Let me make 4 recommendations: First, do not expand, but do maintain most programs at their present levels. The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) has conducted a consensus conference on biomedical research funding, and recommends that the NRSA program support 14,020 training positions. As Professor Gerbi has pointed out, this number of students actually is a small fraction of total Ph.D. production, but represents our best programs, chosen by merit. Second, support measured and prudent growth in the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) which awards both M.D. and Ph.D. degrees after a rigorous course of study. This is recognized as the most successful NIH training program. The MSTP should be provided with funds to add 250 trainees over the next six years to bring the total number to 1,000 trainees. Third, increase stipends for all pre- and postdoctoral trainees. Current stipends are inadequate; awardees are supported below the poverty line and
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Meeting the Nation’s Needs for Biomedical and Behavioral Scientists: Summary of the 1993 Public Hearing require some supplementation to stipends to meet basic needs. Fourth. FASEB supports the creation of a predoctoral fellowship program, for individual predoctoral students, to eventually support about 1,000 fellows per year after five years. Such a program will allow the best students to train with the faculty of their choice, whether or not there is an institutional training grant. Question 3. What steps might be taken to improve the effectiveness of the NRSA program in recruiting women and minorities into scientific careers? Women. The number of women in the life sciences has increased dramatically in the last 20 years, from a few percent to more than a quarter of all life scientists. However, women in life sciences are faced with problems associated with career advancement such as the so called “glass ceiling. ” One suggestion for the NRSA would be to specifically encourage applications from women who have taken time off in early or mid-career to raise children. When women return to the laboratory after an absence for child-rearing (which can amount to years) they need some time to come “back to speed” on a research project of their own. Individual fellowship support for these women would be especially effective in providing them with opportunities. Underrepresented Minorities. African-Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans account for no more than a couple of percent of all Ph.D.s in the life sciences. These numbers have been constant for two decades, and show few signs of improving. Most under-represented minorities with a desire to work in life sciences are not entering Ph.D. programs, but instead are going to medical school. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) has reported that in 1991, 918 black Americans, 46 Native Americans, and 362 Hispanic Americans graduated from medical school (total 1326). By comparison only 6 black Americans received Ph.D.s in biochemistry in 1991, according to the National Science Foundation, and only 44 Ph.D.s were awarded to black Americans in all the biological sciences combined. Likewise, 10 Native Americans and 78 Hispanic Americans received a Ph.D. in the life sciences (total 132). So there were 10 M.D.s for every Ph.D. earned by members of these groups. My suggestion is to promote aggressively the Medical Scientist Training Program, especially to minority students in premedical programs. Many observers are concerned over the decline in the number of M.D./Ph.D. researchers, and FASEB has recommended that this program be expanded. Promoting the MSTP program to minority undergraduates would be a way to solve two problems at one time. Minority students could attain their medical degrees, but would also be trained to do research. One could also promote the MSTP to minority students after they have entered medical school, and this is an especially promising way to capture them for careers in research. Lastly, Question 4. What features of the NRSA training grant might be strengthened? I believe that concentration of NRSA recipients, especially postdoctorals, in a few laboratories is a problem. The selection process picks the best students from an elite group of programs and puts them in a few laboratories of the most readily recognized sponsors. These groups swell in size because salaries are provided. With this system postdoctoral trainees become concentrated in laboratories with many other postdocs, and they do not receive much attention and have limited interaction with faculty. There are, in fact, many top caliber laboratories that would be excellent training environments. I might go so far as to “cap” the number of postdoctorals awarded to any individual sponsor. You also asked whether “significant changes that have come about in employment opportunities for bioscientists in industry and other types of non-traditional research settings” have affected, or will affect, how students in the biosciences are trained. It is the view of ASBMB that the best training students can receive is broad-based. Students are attracted to interdisciplinary training programs in the life sciences, and I think we should encourage this. The ASBMB Educational Affairs Subcommittee conducted a national survey of both graduate schools and industry for information on what course work they like prospective students or employees to have taken at the undergraduate level. A solid background in general biochemistry and molecular biology is very much desired. Focused programs such as biotechnology can be obsolete before the degree is awarded and these are not considered the best investment. Overall, the research community supports the efforts of this Committee and we depend on you being effective as our representatives.
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Meeting the Nation’s Needs for Biomedical and Behavioral Scientists: Summary of the 1993 Public Hearing STATEMENT BY GAIL CASSELL, Ph.D. 2 We appreciate the opportunity for the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) to respond with some preliminary comments to the four questions, which you posed in your letter of March 2, concerning the future direction of the National Research Service Awards (NRSA) program. The ASM is the largest single life science society in the world with over 39,000 members. Many ASM members are investigators or trainees in the biomedical sciences. The ASM shares the goal of the NRSA program to help ensure that highly trained scientists are available in adequate numbers and in the appropriate research areas and fields to carry out the nation’s biomedical research agenda. In the short time available, we have consulted with members of ASM’s Public and Scientific Affairs Board (PSAB) and its Committees on Manpower Planning, Status of Minority Microbiologists, and Status of Women in Microbiology in an attempt to provide the following preliminary views on research training issues for your consideration. The ASM has testified previously before the NRC Committee on National Needs for Biomedical and Behavioral Research Personnel, and we very much appreciate the opportunity to address the Committee at its May 3 hearing. What is the most significant challenge we face today in the United States for maintaining an adequate supply of qualified scientists to sustain and advance health research? Increased attention to research training is required for the existing and emerging needs in health as well as in environmental and agricultural research, and to continue the preeminence of the U.S. academic/ industrial research enterprise as the foundation for national economic competitiveness. With a decade-long pipeline (from college student to beginning scientists), it is crucial that anticipated areas of future shortages be addressed now to ensure an adequate supply of American scientists to conduct scientific research in the next century. Our most significant challenge is to reliably predict training needs in specific areas of the biomedical sciences. To do this we must accurately determine the current number of trainees in different disciplines, as well as the number choosing different career paths, i.e. industry, academics, or health related professions. This information is not presently available. The ASM believes there should be an ongoing evaluation of areas in which training should be intensified and of approaches for NIH and other government funded research training programs to respond to evolving needs. The ASM is currently planning to conduct a survey to assess the needs and current status of training of personnel in the microbiological sciences, with particular emphasis on the needs of industry, academe, and clinical, including hospital, sources for trained microbiologists. We would like to determine where needs exist and whether current training programs are meeting these needs. We believe it is very important to collect data and conduct analyses of the needs of employers to ensure that NIH training programs are matched with existing needs of users, both in academe and industry. We believe that assessment of training needs must take into account opportunities in new and emerging research areas, actual job opportunities, and the effect of funding issues on young investigators and those interested in biomedical research careers. We are also interested in how the NRC studies will be linked to the NIH Strategic Plan. Recruitment of highly talented individuals to fill training needs in biomedical research will continue to be a major challenge. This will depend on competitive stipend levels for trainees as well as assurance of career opportunities. The ASM is very concerned about biomedical research funding issues and the impact of a steady state research training budget on the development of new investigators, particularly in areas where new research personnel needs are emerging, e.g. molecular biology and biotechnology. We are concerned about the negative effect of the current funding climate for biomedical research in the U.S. and the reduced funding rate as well as the number of RO1 grants as a signal of lack of career opportunities for young investigators and for students considering a career in the biomedical sciences. Relative to the research training areas of interest to you, we would also be interested in knowing whether you believe current employment opportunities have resulted in (or might be expected to result in) new research training strategies in the biosciences. What are 2 Co-authored with Kenneth Berns, M.D., Ph.D., John Ingraham, Ph.D., Ron Luftig, Ph.D., and Janet Shoemaker, American Society for Microbiology, and prepared at the request of John Ingraham, American Society for Microbiology.
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Meeting the Nation’s Needs for Biomedical and Behavioral Scientists: Summary of the 1993 Public Hearing the implications of those new strategies for the NRSA program? The microbiological sciences, which provide needed manpower for the biotechnology as well as pharmaceutical industries, are experiencing a need for well trained, highly qualified scientific personnel. For example, over the past several years there has been a decline of graduates with high quality training in microbial physiology. Training of microbial physiologists has been neglected by academic departments and, in some centers, has been almost entirely supplanted by molecular biology and genetics (R. Hinman, ASM News 5 8:62-63, 1992). This has resulted in a serious shortage of both Ph.D.s and postdoctoral trained to address physiological problems of the type essential to the successful development of fermentation processes. This shortage is felt especially acutely in the U.S. pharmaceutical industry, but it is also critical to industries seeking to utilize biotechnology for improving animal health care, agriculture, and environmental remediation. We have made great strides in mastering the use of recombinant DNA and other techniques for genetic manipulation to construct novel organisms, but the full potential for expression by these organisms can be realized only through optimization of physiological conditions. Molecular genetics is the beginning of the industrial process. A microbiologist now working in industry should have broad training that gives a thorough understanding of the microorganisms and their environment. Well-trained microbial physiologists have the tools to advance biotechnology. We place special emphasis on microbial physiology because it is critical to continued progress in the applications of biotechnology in medicine, the environment, and agriculture. Although we agree that there is need for biotechnology to make greater use of new and nontraditional organisms, the full potential of familiar microorganisms of proven value in biotechnology will not be realized until more is known of their physiology. Funding for research training in microbial physiology must be increased to strengthen the foundation on which future advances in biotechnology can be constructed. The ASM wholeheartedly concurs with the February 1992 FCCSET Committee report that training is critically needed in general microbiology and “that the disappearance of general microbiology departments from many American universities has not been compensated by the development of a modern equivalent. As a result, the study of diverse bacterial and other microbial populations is being hampered by a lack of adequately trained researchers.” There also has developed a need for individuals trained in environmental biotechnology. It is important to recognize that need exists for increased attention and support for training at the graduate and postgraduate levels in environmental microbiology and biotechnology. These areas combine traditional learning with recent developments in molecular biology and genetics. Based on data from the ASM Placement Activities report for 1991, there is an increasing need for employees trained in the environmental area, although the totals are not yet large. A few years ago there was no call for individuals trained in this area. Critical manpower needs in specific areas of microbiology that mainly impact biotechnology industries suggest to the ASM that more emphasis should be placed on establishment of training programs which would be jointly sponsored by academic institutions and industry. Such training programs could be directly industry related. What improvements might be made in the National Research Service Awards program to assure a continuing supply of skilled investigators in the biomedical and behavioral sciences in the coming years? Addressing stipend inequities should be a high priority for the NRSA research training program provided the total number of trainees is maintained at or near the target recommended by the NAS. In the absence of adequate stipends, we will not be able to recruit the best young scientists into the biomedical laboratories of the future. At the current time, NIH predoctoral stipends are at $8,800, which is considerably below the current cost of living. Furthermore, it is below the poverty level for an income of two which is presently $9,190. Predoctoral stipends should be increased into a range that is competitive with stipends paid by other federal agencies, e.g., most state university stipends start at $11,000 and NSF currently pays $14,000. Additionally, the NIH conducted a review of its biomedical research training programs in 1989 and concluded that major increases in postdoctoral stipends are warranted. This is particularly true for the first two postdoctoral years for physician trainees when NRSA stipends are considerably below housestaff salaries. It
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Meeting the Nation’s Needs for Biomedical and Behavioral Scientists: Summary of the 1993 Public Hearing becomes very difficult at this important period of training to entice a clinician into a research career when he or she would have to face a considerable reduction in compensation. To assure a continuing supply of skilled investigators in the coming years, more attention should be given to developing better approaches to identifying individuals with the best potential to become successful research scientists. In comparison to other professions (medicine, dentistry, law, etc.), few studies have been bundertaken to determine the best predictors for successful researchers so that this information can be incorporated into admission criteria to graduate school. Likewise, little hard data are available as to what constitutes the best methods of training successful investigators. What steps might be taken to improve the effectiveness of the NRSA program in recruiting women and minorities into scientific careers? The ASM’s Public and Scientific Affairs Board Committee on Manpower Planning conducted a survey during the 1987-88 academic year to document the demographics of microbiology students and faculty in the U.S. The survey addressed age, gender, race and ethnicity of microbiology trainees and faculties at all levels. It was sent to departments in institutions that offer degrees in microbiology. Of the 363 departments contacted, 125 (34% of the total) responded. However, these 125 institutions account for 72 percent of Ph.D.s in microbiology awarded in 1987. An article published in ASM-News in January 1990, based on the survey, points out that shortages can be anticipated in the future in the microbiological sciences and that minority representation in microbiology departments is very poor. Female representation among microbiology faculties was also shown to be poor, although female representation appears to be better at the lower professional and trainee levels. In answer to this question, we agree with and include the following specific comments from the response to this question developed by the ASM’s Committee on the Status of Minority Microbiologists, chaired by Dr. Gerald Stokes of George Washington University: The structural organization of the NRSA-sponsored minority predoctoral awards is overly restricted, underfunded, and fails to recognize the diversity of highly qualified minority applicants. The NRC should develop a coordinated effort to assist the funding of a greater number of qualified minority applicants than is currently being done. This load could be shared with other federal funding agencies or federally funded university training programs for award considerations. Students should be able to apply for NRSA support, with awards contingent upon being admitted to graduate school. The NRSA award criteria is heavily weighted towards student performance on standardized examinations. Some consideration should be given to the fact that minority student performance is consistently below national averages on such tests. The current process neglects to realize the diversity of personality traits which may factor into the production of a well-rounded academician or scientist. Competitive renewals for 732 NRSAs now must include detailed summaries of minority recruitment, not only at the level of the institution as a whole, but also at the departmental and individual mentor level. All the NIH institutes should rigorously review this information and enforce this requirement which should result in increased recruiting activities and, consequently, in increased numbers of minority trainees. Review criteria should also include efforts to increase retention of minority students. Special support services are needed to retain even the best minority students. The NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health has established a program to encourage women to return to science careers. The ASM’s Committee on the Status of Women in Microbiology, chaired by Dr. Anne Morris-Hooke, notes that although many women are entering the profession of microbiology, a number leave at the doctoral and postdoctoral levels. They suggest one approach to recruiting those who have left research careers for family or other reasons, is to target some NRSA funding directly to women who are trying to reenter science at the graduate level. Also the Committee on Women in Science and Engineering of the Office of Scientific and Engineering Personnel of the National Research Council recently published a report entitled “Women in Science and Engineering: Increasing Their Numbers in the 1990s,” in which the following recommendation was made: “Government subsidies or grants from private foundations for child care to undergraduate and graduate students and postdocs might also serve to recruit more women into scientific and engineering careers.” Consideration should be given to increasing the length of time allowable for support of females on NRSA awards when adequate time for maternity leave and the ability to receive training at a slower pace during the early phases
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Meeting the Nation’s Needs for Biomedical and Behavioral Scientists: Summary of the 1993 Public Hearing of child development are needed. A number of medical schools have increased the time from 4 to 6 years allowable for completion of undergraduate medical education. What features of the NRSA training grant might be strengthened to assure the maintenance of higher quality research training environments? The biggest problem with the research training environment today is related to underfunding of research and the fierce competition for scarce resources. Because the laboratory work of trainees is directly linked to external funding sources, there is more pressure for trainees to produce results at a faster rate and, in many cases, to publish prematurely. Mentors must spend less time in the laboratory directly supervising trainees and more of their time writing grant applications. This also results in less time spent on lecture preparation and fewer numbers of seminar and advanced courses being offered at most institutions. Additional funding is required not only for NRSA training awards but also for research project grants in order to attract and retain the best students and to ensure an excellent training environment. Stipend levels should be increased, and money should be added for laboratory training related expenses such as research supplies and equipment. This would protect trainees from interrupted funding of the mentor’s research program. NRSA training program environments could be improved if all components of training were more rigorously reviewed. In addition to numbers of students and trainee publications, criteria should be developed measuring the effectiveness of mentors. Not enough attention is being given to coursework or actual teaching of research skills. Minimal criteria should be established for NRSA training programs. Every trainee (pre- and postdoctoral) should be required to complete a course in experimental design and statistical analysis, grant writing, oral scientific communications, and public science policy. To give students a well-rounded education, they should also be exposed to grant accounting and management and a minimal amount of teaching experience. The ASM supports the NRSA requirement for training in the responsible conduct of research. We would like to point out that the ASM’s Academy of Microbiology is planning a series of colloquia to assist faculty in the development of specific curriculum content for teaching scientific integrity to students, with specific reference to developing information on two of the most challenging issues, conflict of interest and collaborative research. STATEMENT BY PHILLIP J. COZZI, M.D. Thank you for your interest in my opinions on health research. My salary is supported by an individual NRSA. In response to your specific questions: The most significant challenge in maintaining an adequate supply of qualified health researchers is enlisting top students and physicians in the face of financial disincentive and insecurity. I attended the University of Chicago Medical School, performed both internal medicine residency and chief medical residency at Northwestern University, and now I am a fellow in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the University of Chicago. I have enjoyed and participated in medical research at every stage of my education from college to the present. All of a sudden, however, life as a medical researcher is less attractive to me. This change is temporally and causally related to the birth of my second child. We have no savings, large debt and, as my family grows, ever-increasing financial responsibility. My wife is a stay-at-home mom; my monthly paycheck, six years after getting an M.D. degree, is $1843 and is entirely consumed each month. We live in a small apartment with no backyard in an industrial park in the western suburbs of Chicago. Although my wife and I were perfectly happy to live on a very tight budget, we want more for our kids. We hope to buy a house so that the kids can have a backyard and simply a place to be. With sheer optimism, maybe we can afford a house in 4 to 5 years. I love research but this ongoing financial deprivation may drive me out of academics. Aside from my concerns about the present, I am just as worried about the future. To keep an academic position at good universities today, independent funding is usually needed. If one loses their grant, they usually lose their position as well. I am reluctant to place my family’s financial security at risk.
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Meeting the Nation’s Needs for Biomedical and Behavioral Scientists: Summary of the 1993 Public Hearing Ideas for improving the NRSA program: a). pay better (vide supra); b). eliminate the payback period. This is simply a disincentive to applying; we want our options open. Also, it is unreasonable to expect us to commit our futures to medical research when funding for the vast majority of grant proposals is denied. To stay at the cutting edge of science, the United States needs the creativity of all of its citizens regardless of sex or race. Other than by making changes in society’s views on science and expanding educational opportunities early in training, minorities and women will have chosen other careers long prior to the point at which one applies for a NRSA. To assure maintenance of high quality research training environments, you might consider site checks and personal interviews with recipients. Opportunities exist in the private sector. Young investigators can get funding from pharmaceutical houses to continue work at universities, or they can become employees of pharmaceutical houses. The latter option is satisfactory from the financial perspective, but is unsatisfactory for several reasons. Firstly, investigators must follow an agenda designed to make marketable products. The profits from basic science are distant; industry is short-term profit oriented. Consequently, basic investigations may be ignored and investigator autonomy lost. Secondly, the option to practice clinical medicine may be limited to participation in drug trials. The relationship between pharmaceutical houses and universities is complex. We need each other. The pharmaceutical houses need the universities to provide basic science on which industry can capitalize. Academia needs industry for financial support. The opportunities for collaboration are boundless, yet unrealized. In identifying why academia and industry have collaborated poorly, changes may be made to improve the relationship and promote better health research. Possible explanations: 1) greed - each wants all the profit and recognition. 2) survival - different laboratories pursue parallel lines of research; one lab may be “scooped” by another and, therefore, be reluctant to share technologies and talent. What can be done? Talent, technology, and money can be shared with explicit agreements that resultant profits (long- or short-term) and recognition will be shared likewise. What are the implications of collaboration between industry and academics for the NRSA program? Pharmaceutical houses should consider providing similar awards with the proviso that profits from discovery will be shared. I do not favor the approach of funding research with charitable donations from industry because I doubt this will result in significant increases in cash-flow into academics beyond the present level. STATEMENT BY JULIA R. FIELDING, M.D. Although the economic and political climate remains chilly for researchers and scientists, it is vital that we increase the number of competent thinkers in preparation for the twenty-first century. I believe that early encouragement of capable students in combination with sound teaching and support from programs such as the National Research Service Awards Act is the route to success. In order to produce competent thinkers by age 18 we need to teach science and mathematics effectively beginning at age 6. Many of us were first encouraged to think independently by an elementary school teacher. It seems that during the next four years there will be more emphasis placed on primary education in the public schools. Hopefully this will translate into more money for books, equipment, and high quality teachers. There is, of course, still no substitute for hard work in mastering basic critical thinking skills, and parents and teachers need to drive that message home. Science should, however, be made attractive by including experimentation, discussion and competition. Many scientific concepts are of real interest to children today including the meteor theory of dinosaur extinction, the building of the space station, and computer generated animation. People who work in scientific fields should be brought to schools to put a human face to less exciting concepts. Team discovery projects, science fairs, and science camps are fun ways to teach scientific methods. Finally, parents and educators must convey to children the joy that comes from mastering difficult tasks. The usefulness of long term goals and community service must be stressed to combat the instant gratification provided by television and other distractions. High school and college are the times when mentoring can be very effective. In my case, the best
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Meeting the Nation’s Needs for Biomedical and Behavioral Scientists: Summary of the 1993 Public Hearing mentors were often the best teachers because of the obvious joy they took in their subjects. It is particularly important to encourage women and minority students to continue with math and science courses. Social gatherings and clubs are useful in disseminating the idea that a career in science is possible for anyone. A directory of available science and math scholarships would be very useful, if such a thing does not already exist. Once committed to a scientific career, trainees are very dependent upon senior staff mentors. A good mentor will critique work, teach new techniques, maintain high ethical standards and encourage a young career. Unfortunately, not all laboratory managers or department heads are perfect, and problems do occur. The National Research Council might consider requiring yearly plans for the training of young scientists to ensure money is being appropriately spent and that educational plans are sound. Another option would be to hold yearly conferences at which trainees would present their work. In this way, young investigators would gain experience in presentation, be critiqued by their peers, make personal connections in the science fields, and gain some prestige at their home universities. At the same time, NRC representatives could assess the quality of work presented and identify problem institutions or individuals. During the past few years, it has become difficult to decipher scientific literature. Everyone seems to be using a different type of statistics and jargon. In the cost and result conscious environment of the next century, this will not be tolerated. Writing and communication skills must be taught so that trainees will be effective in competing for grant money and in getting their work published and understood. This could be accomplished by required courses in college or graduate school and also be included in a national workshop format. With the coming reforms in health care and the planned reductions in funding of basic science research, we must ensure that women professionals are not economic casualties. In my department we have one extra physician than strictly needed to cover for maternity and paternity leaves in addition to scientific meetings and vacations. It is our view that raising children is desirable as well as necessary, and we plan accordingly. It would be terrible to see promising careers derailed because of conflicts between the ever increasing pressure to publish and produce and family needs. Department heads need to be aware of the value of their female colleagues and do their best to support their careers. STATEMENT BY SUSAN A. GERBI, Ph.D. Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the impact of National Research Service Awards (NRSA) on the training needs of our country. This is an area of interest to me, having served on the NIH study section for training grants in Genetics a dozen years ago, and I have been serving as the Program Director of the NIH training grant in Molecular and Cell Biology at Brown University for the past decade. Also, as President of the American Society for Cell Biology, I have an interest in the issue of research and training. It is now many years since I served as a member of your Committee, and I note that the basic questions being addressed never change, and the answers are still somewhat elusive! In the current climate of trimming budgets to reduce the federal deficit, Congress is sure to view the NRSA program in a critical fashion, and the report of your Committee is extremely important for continuation of the NRSA program at current levels. I will confine my remarks to the biological sciences, with emphasis on the subfields of cell and molecular biology with which I am most familiar. Why should the biological sciences be singled out for special federal support of research training, unlike many other disciplines? It is important to attract students into careers in biomedical research as the future manpower for our nation to insure that research advances continue to be made to reduce human disease and reduce the cost of health care. Therefore, this training area is one of national need that deserves special funding, thus setting it apart from other disciplines. Students attracted to this area have the career options of obtaining a Ph.D. and doing research, or obtaining an M.D. for clinical practice. Salaries for medical doctors are much higher than for Ph.D. researchers. Also, there is much greater job security for medical doctors. Given these facts, one would expect the brightest students to go to medical school rather than graduate school, and indeed this is often the
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Meeting the Nation’s Needs for Biomedical and Behavioral Scientists: Summary of the 1993 Public Hearing case. Predoctoral fellowships are bait to try to lure gifted students into a research career. What are the future manpower needs of our country in the biological sciences? For the past few years it has been claimed that there is about a 1:1 correspondence of Ph.D. production and job opportunities. It was anticipated that a wave of retirements of faculty in academia would begin in the 1990s, creating a need for their replacement. With a change in retirement policies on the age for retirement, this wave may begin somewhat later in this decade than projected but I do not think the initial projection will be far off (most faculty whom I know are still choosing to retire at age 65). However, the end of the baby boom reaching college age means that there are fewer applicants. This coupled with the tight economy and reducing federal support for educational institutions (e.g., decreased indirect cost recovery) means that many colleges and universities are reducing the number of faculty slots to be filled. Another career opportunity that has increased dramatically in the past decade is in the biotechnology industry. However, most of these companies are still in the R&D mode, with few products yet marketable. In our lean economy, most of these companies are suffering, as can be seen by their stock values which have plummeted. Thus, the picture is not one of major growth of job opportunities in this area either. Your Committee should acquire statistics to see if my impression of decreased job growth in academia and industry is real. Also you will need to wrestle with the unknown outcome of how this may change if the economy rebounds. The scenario I have painted suggests there is a current Ph.D. overproduction. Indeed, talented postdoctorals at some of our top schools are lined up in a holding pattern, waiting for a good job amid fierce competition. On the other hand, there is enormous promise of exciting applications of biological research in medicine, agriculture, and other areas of our society, and one could argue that the field is ripe for further expansion with unprecedented payoffs for the lives of our citizens. So, we have the dilemma: should we cut back on Ph.D. training, maintain it at current levels, or allow it to grow? Except in industry, research grants are vital to carry out the research for which Ph.D.s have been trained. As you know, it is increasingly difficult to acquire federal funding for research. Where once one out of three individual investigator initiated research grants were funded at NIH, this success rate is now usually below one in five. The situation is even worse at NSF. Congress has been generous in the past in increasing the NIH budget, but inflation, other mechanisms and programs for funding in the portfolio, and increased bureaucracy have reduced the number of new grants being awarded. As we continue to churn out Ph.D.s, the competition for limited grant resources can only become worse. To correct this situation we have argued that the NSF budget should be doubled in the next five years, and there should be a 13% increase in the NIH budget next year (FASEB Consensus Conference on FY 1994 Federal Biomedical Research Funding). With the tight economy of our nation, this is very unlikely to occur. The other route to correct the success rate is to reduce Ph.D. production. However, any suggestion to reduce Ph.D. production should be counterbalanced by the realization that those choosing jobs in industry (biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, etc) do not need to write grants, so will not be competing in the grant pool. Can predoctoral training grants influence the number of Ph.D.s being produced in the biological sciences? After your Committee has debated what the optimal number of Ph.D.s being produced should be, the next question is how to regulate this number. For Ph.D. graduates in biomedical sciences, 15 percent of male and 20 percent of female graduates were at some point supported as predoctoral trainees. This percentage is higher than I would have guessed, but still sufficiently low that it does not significantly alter Ph.D. production. Most students are supported as teaching assistants or research assistants. Universities are under the gun with reductions in indirect cost recovery, and research grants are harder to get and are cut in amount, so there are few alternative sources of funding to pick up the slack if a training grant is lost. If anything, the site of training might shift from the top schools which currently hold training grants to lesser schools, where students are not supported on training grants, thereby compromising the quality of predoctoral training. In the early 1970s, when several schools lost their training grants, there was no marked change in national Ph.D. production, though I suspect that the site of training changed. Indeed, this was true for Brown University where the number of predoctorals entering into our Ph.D.
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Meeting the Nation’s Needs for Biomedical and Behavioral Scientists: Summary of the 1993 Public Hearing program in Molecular and Cell Biology was drastically cut when we lost NIH training support. The optimal number of predoctoral trainees must be determined by arguments other than numbers of Ph.D.s. we need to produce. The argument becomes one of quality rather than quantity (see below). I believe that the current number of 14,020 predoctoral traineeships is about right, since the study section is able to fund most of the deserving applications for institutional training grants. Due to the budget crunch, it could be argued that tuition charged to training grants should be capped in order to maintain the current number of slots, and your Committee may want to debate the pros and cons of this. This situation is to be contrasted to MSTP grants, where several quality programs go unfunded. The pool for M.D./Ph.D. training is sufficient to request a modest increase (e.g., add 250 positions over the next six years to reach a total of 1,000 MSTP trainees; see FASEB Consensus Conference on FY 1994 Funding). However, this program is much more expensive than Ph.D. predoctoral training, and you must examine its cost effectiveness. A less costly route to train M.D.s in research is by individual postdoctoral fellowships, but the debt to be paid off from medical school makes this less attractive. Nonetheless, surprisingly, about half the 5700 individual NRSA postdoctorals are held by M.D.s as compared to Ph.D.s. Your Committee should examine whether the number of individual NRSA postdoctorals is appropriate. As jobs get scarcer, this is an important holding pool for trained manpower to fill future needs. If there are about 2,000 new NRSA postdoctoral fellowships per year, and half or 1,000 go to Ph.D.s, this means that one third of the 3,000 Ph.D.s produced each year succeed in getting an individual NRSA fellowship. You should confirm if this extrapolation is correct. You might examine the thorny issue of whether a cap should be placed on the number of individual NRSA fellows per lab, as it seems like the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Most NRSA fellows are based at only a handful of academic institutions, though one could argue that these prestigious schools have the top quality labs. It would be interesting to compare the institutional distribution of (a) R01 research grants and (b) NRSA individual postdoctoral fellowships to see if they are coincident or not. What is the justification for NRSA predoctoral training grants? Since graduate students are also supported from research grants, why not use this mechanism rather than training grants? What is the advantage of institutional grants over individual fellowships? Usually students are trainees in their first two years of graduate school, when taking courses and research rotations. Training grants afford a flexibility in choice of mentor that would be impossible if students were locked into a particular lab’s research grant in their first year. It is inappropriate to have students take courses when they should be spending their full effort on research for the research grant which supports them, so research grant support is best justified for more advanced graduate students. Institutional training grants are a good example of the sum being greater than the parts: The QUALITY of the entire predoctoral program is improved and nontrainees in that program benefit as well as trainees. In the mid-1980s, Porter Coggeshall of the NAS staff did a study on career outcomes. Trainees did better than nontrainees. Your Committee may want to update this study. Training grants induce an interdisciplinary focus. It is difficult to predict emerging fields, so predoctorals with broad training are best qualified to meet the changing manpower needs of the future. In a few cases, where emerging fields with manpower needs can be identified, it is appropriate to have small programs of more specialized training grants (e.g., biotechnology; structural biology; the interface of chemistry and biology). Training grants provide the leverage that would be impossible on individual research grants to influence programmatic aspects. For example, schools with training grants must provide training on ethical issues. Also, they must be proactive in minority recruitment. Finally, with regard to the specific questions of your March 3rd letter, Challenges we face: Your Committee should verify that the number of U.S. citizens applying to Ph.D. programs in the biological sciences is decreasing. The slack in U.S. applicants has been taken up by foreign applicants of high quality, especially from Korea, China, and most recently from Russia. At
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Meeting the Nation’s Needs for Biomedical and Behavioral Scientists: Summary of the 1993 Public Hearing This problem is deep-rooted in our society and needs to be addressed far before graduate education. Educational problems for minority students appear in middle years (grades 5-8), and there is substantial difficulty making the transition into high school following eighth grade. Even if the transition is successful, it is most likely into an inner city high school where a diluted version of education is provided. In order to compete academically, such students often require remediation in math and english. If such students do complete the baccalaureate, they are not likely to pursue an academic career since role models and guidance are lacking. In response to this dilemma a number of colleges and universities have united in a “Leadership Alliance” to “…improve the status of underrepresented students and faculty at various stages of the educational pipeline.” 1 The program has four goals including: a kindergarten to grade 12 initiative to raise academic standards; a program to increase minority undergraduate applications by encouraging academically oriented programs in primary, middle, and high school; a program to increase graduate school application by supporting continued academic interest during the undergraduate years; and finally, a program to advance and enrich the development of faculty. I am most familiar with the program to increase graduate student applications by a summer research early identification program. This program brings some 40 students to Brown for a ten week summer research “experience.” The students are from predominantly Black schools and participate in a highly structured summer program. I have had such students in the laboratory for the past two years, and one was recently admitted into the Molecular and Cell Biology and Biochemistry Graduate Program at Brown. My understanding is that most of the funding for this program is from private foundations. My point is that, at least for minorities, we don’t need to “reinvent the wheel.” There are successful programs for development of minority scientists which should be encouraged and supported. With regard to assurance of high quality training environments, I believe there are several things which NRSA can provide, including increased funding for seminar programs and research retreats, which would provide relatively inexpensive exposure to real research for the trainees. Furthermore, I think real consideration must be given to limiting the number of trainees per laboratory. I believe the NRSA training programs are vital for the maintenance of high quality research training within our universities. If we do not continue to pay the price for these programs, we will surely suffer the consequences. NOTE 1. For a copy of the Leadership Alliance Prospectus, contact Dr. Shank, Brown University, School of Medicine, Providence, RI, 02912, 401/863-2765. STATEMENT BY JUDSON D. SHERIDAN 4 The University of Missouri-Columbia, a Carnegie Research University, has predoctoral and postdoctoral students holding individual NRSA awards and administers both predoctoral and postdoctoral training grants. We regard these awards as an important source of support for accomplishing our educational mission. These comments both reflect a campus research administration perspective and encapsulate the views of the Principal Investigators of the various training grants on the campus. From our perspective, a discussion of issues relating to the training of young scientists must be framed in the context of overall funding for biomedical and behavioral research. Sufficient resources for the general support of biomedical and behavioral research are important for implementing and sustaining an effective, overall training strategy. Thus, it is important to continue to press the case for increases in federal support for biomedical and behavioral research. Even in the absence of systematically collected data, anecdotal information regarding the impact of the shortfall in resources on the attractiveness of a career in biomedical research is sufficient to raise genuine concern. Perceptions of insufficient resources clearly are discouraging highly capable people from entering research-oriented track and are even causing some who 4 Testimony presented by John McCormick, Department of Organic Chemistry, University of Missouri, who co-authored this statement. Please note that Dr. Sheridan is no longer at the University of Missouri-Columbia and is now Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of Maine. Dr. John McCormick is currently the Interim Vice Provost for Research and Dean of the Graduate School University of Missouri-Columbia.
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Meeting the Nation’s Needs for Biomedical and Behavioral Scientists: Summary of the 1993 Public Hearing already have entered training programs to leave for other career directions. A recommendation logically follows: ensure that training funds are directed to institutions that offer young scientists positive, nurturing environments. These environments should not only have an institutional commitment to supporting research, but also have a strong record of garnering sufficient support from external resources to ensure a focus on and fostering of the intellectual rewards and excitement that derive from involvement in the research enterprise. Another resource issue is important. The stipends provided by the NRSA training program at both the predoctoral and postdoctoral levels are generally insufficient. As a nation, we will attract our “best and brightest” only by offering stipends that show we value a research track as highly as we value other directions that compete for their professional commitment. If limitations imposed by the funds available for these training programs make it impossible to set competitive stipends, then we recommend that these programs be structured to ensure that by some other mechanism, such as private-sector partnerships, the stipends reach competitive levels. Relying on the simplistic solution of institutional cost-sharing and add-on funds is unrealistic. At the very least, the restrictions regarding the use of other federal funds for institutional cost-sharing should be relaxed. Beyond the level of resources available within the training environment, another very important aspect is the existence of a critical mass, with respect to both students and faculty. In some cases, special expertise that is particularly appropriate for a training grant may exist at an institution where critical mass is a concern. In such cases, mechanisms, within the institution or among institutions, should be formalized to ensure interactions among sufficient numbers of students and faculty. Furthermore, the need for training young scientists who have multidisciplinary perspectives leads to the desirability of formalizing arrangements for exposure to related disciplines. For example, formal arrangements could be made for interactions between trainees supported by different grants at an institution and for short-term exchanges of trainees with other institutions. In our view, greater emphasis should be placed on enhancing funding for predoctoral support. The current balance of postdoctoral/predoctoral support has two unfortunate ramifications: (1) there is a relatively large pool of postdoctoral biomedical researchers who move from one temporary appointment to another; and (2) there is a need to more effectively recruit the highest quality students into doctoral programs leading to research careers. There is another significant result from the current balance of postdoctoral/predoctoral support: the paradoxical position of strong emphasis on the recruiting of underrepresented groups into postdoctoral training programs but insufficient numbers of members of those groups in the predoctoral pools from which the postdocs are to be recruited. Thus, shifting the balance of resources split between postdoctoral and predoctoral training programs more toward the latter also will address another issue: bringing more members of underrepresented groups into the biomedical and behavioral research community. An emphasis on predoctoral support will dovetail well with the nation’s need to attract the “best and brightest” into clinically relevant research. One strategy for stimulating interest of our young scientists in clinically relevant problems would be to structure training programs to expose trainees to clinical areas most closely associated with their particular basic science interests. We recommend giving greater attention and resources to M.D./Ph.D. programs as a strategy to attract prospective biomedical scientists into research careers. This may be a particularly useful strategy for addressing the need to recruit women and minorities in biomedical and behavioral research careers. Fellowships for M.D./Ph.D. programs and for post-M.D./Ph.D. programs may be considerably more attractive than those that are limited to graduate and post-graduate training. Direct augmentation of existing individual project grants might also be an effective approach to recruiting members of underrepresented groups into research. On our campus, the National Science Foundation’s “Research Experiences for Undergraduates” program has placed Principal Investigators in the dual roles of recruiters and mentors of young scientists. The personal attention that this approach fosters can “make the difference” that directs a bright student into a career in research. We recommend continuation and even expansion of the recent emphasis on training in professional ethics and scientific conduct. Recent, prolonged efforts to establish uniform guidelines for ethics in research underscore the complexities of establishing codes of behavior. The emergence of a biotechnology-based
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Meeting the Nation’s Needs for Biomedical and Behavioral Scientists: Summary of the 1993 Public Hearing industry and the related potential for profit that can spring from a wide variety of research heighten the need for recognition of real and even potential conflicts of interest. We conclude that training programs today must include structured opportunities for young scientists to explore and debate the underlying principles that should guide the ethical decisions that they will need to make. We recommend building structural linkages between training programs and the private sector, particularly the for-profit private sector. For reasons that relate both to pedagogy and to the need for additional resources, it is important that we find ways to link training programs with the consumers of the educational research enterprise: the pharmaceutical, agricultural, and biotechnology companies that rely both on a source of well-trained scientists and on the research results that are products of the research training environment. The blossoming biomedical/biotechnology industry in particular has created a new segment of the private sector that has a vested interest in training programs: their content and their vitality as well as the quantity of young scientists produced. Thus, they should be willing to participate both in an advisory capacity and in the role of resource provider. There exist good models for linking training with the private sector in disciplines such as engineering and chemistry. Experience in these areas offers opportunities to learn what works and what doesn’t. One suggestion that we find appealing is the establishment of private sector intern programs at various stages in the educational process. Very early in the educational process, such programs could be effective strategy for recruiting young scientists. Targeted correctly, they could assist in the special recruitment efforts directed toward underrepresented groups. Internships at later stages in the training could provide trainees with an important perspective that would not likely be gained within an academic institution, with access to alternative laboratory approaches, and with funds for support that could markedly enhance the overall training experience. At the same time, these programs would offer the for-profit private sector an opportunity to help ensure an adequate supply of appropriately trained scientists and, on an individual basis, a head start on recruiting. Thus, we see adequate incentive from both sides to make this an effective approach. STATEMENT BY HERBERT B. SILBER, Ph.D. I believe that as presently administered, the National Research Service Awards fund some of the best and brightest young people committed to a scientific career. They graduate from outstanding universities and they sit at the top of their class. These students go to major Ph.D. granting universities. They are the cream of the crop. I can support the awarding of additional grants, because these students have the potential to be motivated and successful biomedical researchers. However, other initiatives are necessary to radically increase the numbers of graduate students in the biomedical sciences. The representatives from the major Ph.D.-granting universities will make suggestions about how to improve graduate educational opportunities. My training and interests lie with precollege and undergraduates, especially to reach out to economically disadvantaged and minority students who are not presently reached. I am making suggestions in the following areas. Reach out to minority students at both minority and majority institutions. Get undergraduates involved in undergraduate research to enhance their understanding of what a graduate program will involve. Reach below the college level to encourage students into research as high school students, and even more importantly, we must stop turning off our elementary school teachers to science. The question posed by this group is how to enlarge the numbers of high quality students in the biomedical and behavioral sciences. The students who may be missed are those who have the ability to make successful contributions to science, but because of many factors, often not related to academic ability, will not receive these awards. My favorite student is one who is bright and will be successful, but does not yet know it. I am an NIH Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) Program Director at San Jose State University (SJSU), and most of my MARC students are in this category. I am also a faculty research participant in the NIH Minority Biomedical Research Support Program. These high ability minority students, even those with very high grade points, have not received a lot of
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Meeting the Nation’s Needs for Biomedical and Behavioral Scientists: Summary of the 1993 Public Hearing positive strokes in public school or college. Even in the 1980s and 1990s, some were asked by high school teachers and counselors why they wanted science and mathematics courses, since they would not need them. When they get to SJSU and into the MARC program I can help them get them into good universities with their own financial support. However, many of them do not do well on GRE exams and they can get discouraged. I meet with these students each week to encourage them and help them through their rough spots. However, how many high-ability students, both majority and minority, do we miss because they do not get this attention? How many MARC students received NRC Awards? How many more will go on to be successful scientists? At SJSU we deal with first generation college students, both majority and minority students, who come here because it is affordable. There are many public institutions like ours that have high ability students (our best are as good as those anywhere, we just do not have as many of them as a Stanford, UC Berkeley, or other high quality institution has). Many of these students who could become good scientists will not because they do not know the opportunities that are out there. When I invite successful minority scientists to speak to our MARC students, I have them talk about how they decided to become a scientist. Every speaker has said that a single individual (some majorities, some minorities) noticed them and gave them crucial encouragement. For some of these successful individuals, they did not yet have the highest grades, but their aspirations changed. Perhaps the NRC awards could recognize some of these qualities and do the same. I am not suggesting that some awards be reserved for minority students, but perhaps in judging achievement we look beyond where the students got their degree and we look at what they have achieved. If you want to get an undergraduate into a Ph.D. program, I believe the best way is to get them involved is undergraduate research. I have had continual support for undergraduate research, even though I have never taught in a Ph.D. granting institution. I have been very careful to have both majority and minority students working together. I am funded by minority student grants, but I also have other funds for any students, and my group has a mixture of majority and minority students, both male and female. The students pick their own leaders in the group, and often it is the minority students. Undergraduates have presented talks at national meetings and they have been coauthors on publications. Many of the grants for undergraduate research are small, but highly effective. Perhaps the NRC might want to initiate a program of small grants for undergraduates, either by having the students apply or by having a faculty member/student joint proposal (with a page limit that is reasonable, 5-10 pages, plus CV’s). If the concern would be that only students from the top universities will get these, perhaps one of the criteria for review may be how the project includes minorities and women. We need to reach women and minorities who attend majority institutions. Remember, both NSF and NIH have programs for research grants at non-Ph.D. institutions. The key to my success with undergraduates is to find the talented ones early (freshman/sophomore years) and to get them involved in undergraduate research. It takes a lot of my time early on, and is not productive. However, by the time they are juniors or seniors I have excellent research students. This approach applies to all students, but may be even more important for engaging minority students to think about a scientific career. In my early participation in the MARC program, I was opposed to the MARC requirement that the students go away for a summer after their junior year. I thought it took them away from my research for their most productive summer. However, the students come back with significant maturity, confidence, research ability, and the desire to pursue advanced training. Therefore, I would like to propose new NRC Awards for undergraduate research at any university where undergraduate research is strongly encouraged. I would require that the students go to a Ph.D. granting institution for the summer after their junior year, with the award paying the student’s stipend, travel and living expenses for the summer. The host institution should also receive a small allowance for supplies. Many schools have these programs, especially for minority students (MARC students generally have an easy time getting summer support). It is especially important that these opportunities be made available to minority students at majority institutions, where they often are not encouraged to get involved in undergraduate research. I have run an ACS Project SEED Program for high school students. One of the guidelines is to find students who may not be the best in their class, since the best seem to receive all of the awards. We are encouraged to look for students who will benefit from a summer in a laboratory working on a small research project. I have been on a panel that just awarded three scholarships to graduates of the SEED program, and
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Meeting the Nation’s Needs for Biomedical and Behavioral Scientists: Summary of the 1993 Public Hearing one to two summers of research in a university or government or industrial laboratory made a big difference in their aspirations. Some opted to leave science, but most decided to become scientists. We could have given the scholarships to almost any of the more than 100 applicants. Perhaps the NRC may want to consider some undergraduate scholarships for high potential high school students who have participated in programs at colleges before graduation from high school. The most significant challenge for maintaining an adequate supply of qualified biomedical scientists is to reverse the view that we (the teachers) have managed to communicate a fear of science, coupled with the ability to make science appear difficult and, even worse, dull. This needlessly decimates the pipeline. The elementary school teachers we turn out do not have a strong science program. Since many of our beginning science courses are used to weed out students, they learn to fear science and pass this fear on to their own students. In chemistry, we tend to emphasize theoretical fundamentals in the beginning courses and often do not teach anything about the excitement of doing science. For example, we insist that students memorize “essential facts”, such as quantum numbers, but we rarely get to talk about new and exciting developments, such as MRI, high temperature superconductors, Buckminsterfullerenes, etc. Many of our first year laboratory experiments are “cookbook” and students leave with the wrong attitudes. We often succeed in turning off the future teachers and, in addition, we also turn off those students bright enough to succeed in science. If we can modify our beginning science courses to motivate students to become interested in science, the pipeline problem can be addressed. One way I attempt to do this is to take on freshman science students into my undergraduate research group (and I have had high school students from the American Chemical Society Project SEED (Summer Educational Experience for the Disadvantaged) and high school teachers from the Research Corporation Partners in Science Program). Students who get involved in doing science early often either become scientists or lose their fear of science. Insufficient funds are available to solve all of the problems. There are two fronts that the NRSA program could work on. First, more high school teachers and students should be exposed to science. Either new programs should be initiated, or better yet, find the small successful programs and pool resources to expand the scope. Three programs have already been mentioned in this letter (ACS Project SEED for economically disadvantaged students, Research Corporation Partners in Science, NIGMS MARC). Each is doing a good job, but needs to be expanded to encompass more teachers and students. We do not need to reinvent the wheel, maybe just give it some more grease. If a mechanism could be found just to get more university faculty to interact with elementary, middle school, and high school teachers, we could remove some of the barriers for students to get involved in science. If these awards are to reach out to students at many different kinds of institutions, it is critical that proposal review contain representatives from the minority institutions, urban comprehensive universities, and the well-known private liberal arts colleges, as well as first-rate scientists from prestigious institutions. By opening up the review process, a wider range of students may be recognized. The NRC already helps review special grants for minority students. We need expansion of these programs as well as the extension to other student categories as mentioned in this letter. STATEMENT BY HAROLD SLAVKIN, D.D.S. I am Professor of Craniofacial Molecular Biology at the School of Dentistry of the University of Southern California. I come here today as President of the American Association for Dental Research, representing 4,500 professionals involved in oral health research throughout the United States. Our Association promotes research to improve oral health and also fosters dissemination of scientific advances relevant to oral health. My Association has already submitted a statement to the Committee and has given its views on the four questions raised by your Committee. My remarks today are in addition to our initial statement. I also speak on behalf of the American Association of Dental Schools, which represents all of the dental schools in the United States, as well as advanced education, hospital, and allied dental education programs. It is within these institutions that researchers are trained and the majority of dental research conducted. From the perspective of oral health research needs, we believe that in order to ensure a viable scientific effort in oral, dental, and craniofacial health in the coming decade, we need a sufficient number of
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Meeting the Nation’s Needs for Biomedical and Behavioral Scientists: Summary of the 1993 Public Hearing well-educated and well-trained dental scientists in the most relevant areas of basic and clinical research related to oral, dental, and craniofacial diseases. I have been an independent investigator for 25 years and have served as principal investigator on several NIH-supported training grants in cellular, molecular, and craniofacial biology designed to improve the scientific work force within oral, dental and craniofacial research. My own experience illustrates the wisdom of federally-sponsored research training opportunities specifically for dentists seeking additional education and training to become biomedical research scientists. As a sophomore dental student, I became engaged in biomedical research with anatomy, biochemistry, and oral surgery faculty members and remained involved for the remaining three years of my dental education. My mentors were Lucien Bavetta and Marsh Robinson. I was the first dental student at the University of Southern California ever to pursue post-doctoral training in biomedical research (that was as of 1965). Curiously, at that time our USC School of Dentistry had essentially one NIH-sponsored grant and an academic culture which did not include scientific research; the mandate of the school at that time, like that of so many Schools of Dentistry and Medicine receiving federally-derived capitation funds, was to focus on producing large numbers of clinically-trained practitioners. Biomedical research was not mainstream, nor were the cultural derivatives of inquiry-based, problem-solving learning. Through National Institute of Dental Research (NIDR)-supported training programs, either leading to the Ph.D. in basic or behavioral science, or through post-doctoral training experiences, a small cadre of individuals was educated and trained to provide the core of the American dental research community. The yield from the Federal investment in dental intellectual capital has been remarkable. Dental scientists trained through these mechanisms now populate a number of outstanding Schools of Dentistry and Research Centers in the extramural community and also provide the leadership for the Intramural Research Program of the National Institute of Dental Research. Our current USC School of Dentistry now ranks 9th in the nation in terms of NIDR-supported biomedical research, through the efforts of dental faculty trained through the various predoctoral, post-doctoral, and research career development mechanisms. It became readily apparent--in the 1960s, 1970s, and unfortunately, now--that graduates from most American dental schools require extensive additional education and training after dental school if they are to become competitive within the larger American and international biomedical research communities. The fruits of these fine training programs could subsequently be assessed in terms of trainees gaining academic positions in basic science and clinical science departments, gaining extramural grant support through peer-review processes, publishing their research findings in excellent peer-reviewed scientific journals, and fostering improvements in the scientific culture at increased numbers of dental schools. Graduate dentists with advanced education and training began to publish in major scientific journals (PNAS, J Biol Chem, Immunology, Microbiology, Neurosciences, Developmental Biology, Materials Sciences, Anthropology, Behavioral Sciences, JDR, etc.), and began to serve on the editorial boards of major scientific journals. The wisdom of that time was to create a custom program for graduate dentists to produce a modest number of well-educated and well-trained independent biomedical research scientists who could have a direct impact on the educational and scientific culture of dental education in America. That need of the late 1960s remains today. Whereas a number of American dental schools truly reflect the highest standards in the biomedical sciences, far too many have yet to obtain scientifically-trained manpower sufficient to meet the challenges and opportunities of the 1990s. As a consequence, five American dental schools have been forced to close, the major reason being a deficit in the biomedical research activity of the faculty. The unique need for dental education in this country is a federally-supported mechanism to continue to educate and train graduate dentists for careers in biomedical and behavioral basic and clinical science. However, to achieve a reasonable and continuing number of dental biomedical research scientists is a complex challenge. It is readily apparent to all of us that there is a paucity of historically underrepresented minorities in the biomedical and behavioral research work force. Several variables--such as declining parent involvement, school readiness of the child, the quality of administrators and teachers in K-12 education, declines in federal and state standards for academic performance, the challenges of multicultural diversity as readily apparent in California and other major states, along with increased violence in our urban settings--all reflect significant declines in American secondary education. NSF studies indicate that children can be
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Meeting the Nation’s Needs for Biomedical and Behavioral Scientists: Summary of the 1993 Public Hearing identified as competent for science and mathematics by the fourth grade. Numerous national studies indicate that middle school algebra is often the gatekeeper for who will become college-bound and science- and math-literate. Too few Americans graduate from high school with scientific, mathematics, and cultural literacy. Of course, the pool of individuals who will seek careers in dentistry falls within our national pool of high school graduates who are prepared for college and who possess a science and math background sufficient to pursue careers in biomedical sciences. That pool is diminishing. All health-science-based professions are discovering that home-grown American children are not being nurtured and prepared for careers in biomedical and behavioral science. Our nation is still at risk ten years after the Carnegie Report! Of the high school graduates from American secondary schools, very few are formally prepared. Moreover, of the annual 17 percent of all freshman college students who declare a scienceor math-based major (such as engineering, premed, predent, prepharmacy, chemistry, physics, etc.), nearly one-half of these students change their majors out of science by their second year of college. Therefore, the projected pool of science-and math-prepared undergraduates who could consider pursuit of professional or graduate school education is remarkably small as we ponder who will serve in the American biomedical and behavioral research work force in the 21st Century. Our nation has a challenge that includes both precollege science and math preparation as well as undergraduate university science and math pedagogy. The Committee is encouraged to look at the sequence and scope of the American educational pipeline in order to ensure increased representation of women and minorities in the biomedical and behavioral sciences. We need national “mentor programs” to couple young children, especially females and historically underrepresented minorities, with established biomedical and behavioral research scientists as role models in order to nurture the next generations. Further, we need a national coalition among federal agencies (within the Departments of Labor, Education, Energy, Defense, Health & Human Services, including the NIH and the NSF), the National Academy of Sciences, the private industry sector, and state and local government to analyze “our nation at risk” in terms of early childhood, preschool, K-12, and college learning in the sciences with implications for the pool of future biomedical and behavioral research personnel. Finally, I wish to close my remarks with several specific recommendations essential for our dental research community: First, the number of training opportunities and the research funding levels must be coordinated to provide sufficient stability for developing clinical biomedical and behavioral research scientists capable of addressing the broadened oral health research agenda. Unlike medicine, the NIDR is essentially the only sponsor for dental research training through its NRSA post-doctoral programs. Training efforts must be closely linked to opportunities for research funding, federal and otherwise. Second, because of the broad scope of oral health research, personnel of all types need to be considered and a multidisciplinary approach adopted, with an increased emphasis on clinical research. Third, particular efforts should be made to enhance the stipend levels for individuals seeking careers in clinical research. The current dental degree graduate from an American dental school is often in debt for $55,000, which is 20 percent more than for physicians. We need a process either to forgive student loans for those individuals entering careers in clinical research, or to increase the stipend level sufficient to provide the individual with the means to pay off loans and pursue his/her career development. A National Health Service Program to permit professional school graduates to repay educational loans by serving as post-doctoral fellows or the establishment of a Dental Scientist Training Program (DSTP), analogous to NIH’s current MSTP program is an additional mechanism to be explored for removing financial barriers to research careers. Fourth, NRSA policies should be changed to (a) raise the level of support for investigators, (b) lengthen the time of service (i.e., 3 years for a graduate dentist to earn a Ph.D. is not sufficient), and (c) remove pay-back obstacles. NRSA policies should serve to induce individuals to pursue this career objective and not serve as an obstacle. The most significant challenge we face in maintaining a critical supply of qualified dental research scientists is the ability to break through the financial barriers which inhibit even the most motivated young people to pursue a career in dental research. Fifth, it is important that minorities and women are adequately represented in the research fields. All NRSA training programs should require defined “outreach” programs to the K-12 educational
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Meeting the Nation’s Needs for Biomedical and Behavioral Scientists: Summary of the 1993 Public Hearing community to celebrate science and mathematics and to encourage very young children to begin to focus on careers in science and mathematics, with particular emphasis upon biomedical and behavioral research. Local experiences in Los Angeles between our USC Schools of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, and Pharmacy with the K-12 Los Angeles Unified School District have been extremely rewarding. The creation of a new high school dedicated to careers in the health sciences (Francisco Bravo Medical Magnet) adjacent to a teaching hospital environment provides an outstanding experiment for secondary school recruitment of historically underrepresented minorities into the health sciences at our university. NRSA programs forming partnerships with the NIH-sponsored Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) as well as the NIH Minority Supplement Programs give “value added” opportunities to identify and nurture future scientists from a multicultural society. New coalitions between university-based professionals supported by NIH or NSF funds and K-6 teachers provide additional opportunities to nurture science and mathematics in the next generation. There are several successful models-for example, the efforts of Bruce Alberts, the new director of the National Academy of Sciences, linking the University of California-San Francisco health sciences faculty with elementary school teachers (K-6) from the San Francisco public schools, and our own efforts in Los Angeles to link the USC Health Sciences with 24 inner-city elementary schools through an NSF-sponsored program called “PRAXIS.” Finally, NRSA trainees should be educated and provided with skills for multidisciplinary research, collaborative research, and often research which engages team-based expertise from university, federal, and private industry laboratories. We have every reason to believe that the ideal preparation for the future of biomedical and behavioral research personnel is to equip people with the skills to address changing challenges in a rapidly changing environment. Your Committee has the responsibility to outline the research personnel needed in biomedical and behavioral research, including specific recommendations for certain disciplines including dentistry. My Association would welcome a specific report for oral health personnel and are prepared to work with your Committee to achieve this. The 1985 report was extremely helpful in advising Congress and in planning future manpower requirements. This Committee has been the instrument for long-range investment in the intellectual capital of dental research. Your efforts can continue to provide the essential research work force required for the unique challenges in dental education and oral health research. I urge you to support the continued opportunities for dental graduates to pursue research careers in the biomedical and behavioral sciences. STATEMENT BY ORA A. WEISZ As a very grateful recipient of an NRSA postdoctoral fellowship due to expire this July, I can honestly say that my NRSA has provided me with scientific independence and flexibility, and has greatly enhanced my postdoctoral experience at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. I would like to focus my comments to the Committee towards two questions. “How can we recruit today’s young people, and minorities in particular, to scientific careers?” This must involve a concentrated effort to increase the level of interest in science starting in elementary school. The second question is, “What can the NRSA program do achieve this goal?” Do everything possible to stabilize young researchers in the form of training grants and employment opportunities. I was not lured to basic research by visions of fame or fortune. I love my work and would not willingly trade my profession for another. Furthermore, the hours and working conditions that most of my peers and superiors put up with suggests to me that they must feel the same way. Therefore, I would argue that the critical step in maintaining an adequate supply of investigators is to recruit them early: once these people are hooked, chances are few will leave by choice. The most obvious way to interest children in science is to improve science education. Recruiting youngsters, and especially women and minorities, into science must begin at an early age: no one will elect to take first-year physics in college unless they already have a reason to believe they might like it. Frankly, I was terminally bored in most of my elementary and high school science classes--I pursued a career in research only because both of my parents are scientists. From them, I learned that basic research bore little resemblance to my school experiences. I frequently felt that my elementary school teachers themselves disliked
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Meeting the Nation’s Needs for Biomedical and Behavioral Scientists: Summary of the 1993 Public Hearing teaching science: in retrospect I can only assume that their teachers were much like mine. An increase in the science education budget of public schools, with funds earmarked for experimental supplies and field trips, would help to spark children’s interest in science. Students in metropolitan areas who show an early interest in science should have access to magnet schools which emphasize scientific training. These schools should have well-equipped laboratories, and classes should be taught by teachers who like science. Such schools would undoubtedly provide a healthy return on their investment. Furthermore, bowing to the irrevocable fact that children today are hooked on television, a children’s television show focused on science (with a racially balanced cast) might also help interest youngsters in science. This brings me to the second question: what can the NRSA do to help? The NRSA arrives too late to play a critical role in influencing children directly. However, the NRSA program could sponsor short-term fellowships for science teachers to spend semesters or summers doing research in a laboratory. Equally effective, NRSA fellowships could sponsor scienceoriented undergraduate or graduate students who wish to teach elementary or high school students. Similar types of programs are already being administered by some private scientific organizations. All of these functions should fall under the stated goal of the NRSA Program, which is to “increase the capability of the …NIH…to carry out their responsibility of maintaining a superior national program of research....” The NRSA program could encourage women and minorities interested in science by providing well-paid summer research fellowships for undergraduates. These should include salary, traveling expenses, and a small stipend. In addition, the NRSA might sponsor fellowships in areas peripheral to science, such as science writing and reporting. Recruitment of talented women and minorities to serve as role models in these areas may eventually help to stimulate public interest in science and enhance its status as a profession. Finally, I would like to address a more general issue that the NRSA should tackle. This is the lack of funding for postdocs beyond their third year. It is not unusual now to do a second postdoc before looking for permanent employment. While one could argue that these researchers no longer need funds for “training”, the loss of independence that comes with the termination of an NRSA is demoralizing. An NRSA program to fund senior postdocs would reinforce the government’s commitment to support new recruits and would be much welcomed by those of us who have already chosen basic research as a profession. STATEMENT BY MIYUKI YAMAGUCHI I am a graduate student in biochemistry. Despite many obstacles, I have chosen science as a career and as of yet, I do not regret this decision. But unlike myself, I have seen many of my fellow students not only shun this career path, but science in general. Their perception of science is often limited to poorly taught high school level courses and the images portrayed by the media. When I talk of science to friends and family, I often observe blank stares, wandering eyes, and an abrupt change of conversation to sports or the weather. My friends outside of science not only have no understanding of what I do, but often refuse to listen, claiming to have no interest in science. Their lack of background is understandable, but their adamant refusal of and complete mental block to science comes as a shock. This perception continues and pervades the decision of many college students to not pursue a science career, with the end result being an overall decrease of well-qualified candidates applying to graduate schools. The few who do choose science as a career often pursue this as a path by default, being left with no alternative after medical school rejections or for lack of any other potential career. This underappreciation and misunderstanding of science in general is beginning to hinder not only the research in this country, but also major issues outside of science, such as health care and the environment. I fear that this trend generated by my peers may vastly affect the quality of research in this country and, furthermore, deepen the general public’s ignorance of science. I feel that it is our responsibility as researchers today to reverse this direction so that the scientific potential of this country is neither wasted nor ignored. From my own observations, I believe that there are four basic reasons why bright young people are discouraged from science today: inadequate early education in science limited financial reward from a career in science lack of research funding the image of science as being boring, incomprehensible and/or “not cool”
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Meeting the Nation’s Needs for Biomedical and Behavioral Scientists: Summary of the 1993 Public Hearing Unfortunately, I alone cannot reform an entire national education system or provide the financial resources for salaries and funding in research. Yet I, as an individual, am willing and capable of sharing my experiences with others, with the message that science can be interesting, challenging, and just plain “fun”, in hopes of altering the future perception of science and expanding science education beyond the classroom. But addressing this problem at the college and graduate school level is futile, for the mindsets and perceptions of most students are firmly set at this age. The problems are deep-rooted and stem from early in the education process. Thus the main focus of our attention should be towards the education of the children, for they are a huge undeveloped intellectual resource, which has continually been ignored in this country. From my experience, education in science has often been limited by outdated textbooks and poorly informed teachers. As a result, early in the classroom experience, the perception of science as being incomprehensible and dull is born and is further perpetuated by the media later in adulthood. As we all know, science is not the memorization of random facts, but an approach to solving problems. It is this active participation in science along with an appreciation of the subject and its impact on life that makes science truly fascinating. Unfortunately, many young people today never connect their studies in the classroom to application in the real world. I am a perfect example of this. Pursuing a Ph.D. never crossed my mind until my first biochemistry class where I learned that a disease can be linked to a non-functioning enzyme. This was a turning point in my life, giving me future direction for my career, but unfortunately that moment was late in my education. In my opinion, the understanding of science and its relevance to the natural world about us is the major link absent in the education of our children. I believe that students like myself are able to bridge this gap between theory and application, and present it at a level which a young student can appreciate. I propose that graduate students and fellows be granted the opportunity to supplement early science education, by sharing their knowledge, experience, and activities with young students. Most children have the natural intuition and curiosity required for science. In order for these traits to surface, they need to be stimulated and motivated by interesting information from the viewpoint of a child, presented by enthusiastic teachers who can adequately show them how this information can be used in the world around them. This presentation of information should be at various levels from basic theory to application to career opportunities, so in the end children can eventually realize what types of academic courses are required for pursuing a particular career. In order for this to be successful, a coordinated effort among the local education systems, academia, and industry is necessary. The teachers should lay the initial foundation of information for the children. The graduate student or fellow can then further develop that information, such that the child can learn to apply or relate the ideas of his/her own environment. Industry and academia should provide interesting careers in the real world. Thus, the main role of the graduate student/postdoctoral fellow would be: to bring new information typically unavailable to young students and present it at a level that the child can understand and appreciate demonstrate the application and relevance of this new information to the child’s environment show the potential and power of science, and its past and possible future impacts on society update the teachers’ education of science, so that they have a thorough understanding of the basics and an awareness of recent relevant findings Unfortunately, no matter how interesting the topic, a one-day presentation of science is not sufficient in developing the potential of young students. Two other factors are equally, if not more, important: an active participation in science, where the learned information is applied the intellectual activity and active participation must develop over time, such that the self-esteem and self-confidence of the child in science is nurtured There are various methods of incorporating these factors into early education. One is through the formation of science clubs, with the help and guidance of not only graduate students and post-doctoral fellows, but the scientists and researchers in industry. Another is through summer science programs, where kids can actively participate without the burden of other school
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Meeting the Nation’s Needs for Biomedical and Behavioral Scientists: Summary of the 1993 Public Hearing activities. Many programs have already been created, echoing the problems and potential solutions presented here. I believe that these programs can greatly benefit from the experience, knowledge, and enthusiasm of graduate students and fellows. This type of effort requires very little financial support and may be as simple as directing attention to opportunities in these types of programs on the first day of a graduate student’s career. With more effort and energy, new programs can be created through the graduate student community to generate interest in and awareness of science among young people. These factors mentioned above are especially crucial to those of disadvantaged and/or minority backgrounds. Recruitment of minorities should not necessarily be at the graduate school level, where larger stipends are often used as a tool to attract candidates to a very small minority applicant pool. Throwing money at a fully-developed problem is not always the best solution. Considering the above factors, along with encouragement and guidance in early education, should allow students of all backgrounds to realize their own potential for science and later for becoming qualified researchers. Programs targeted and designed for particular backgrounds and/or disadvantages would more effectively attack the root of the problem involving recruitment of minorities and women. The observations and advice I have offered here are based on my own limited perceptions of my environment. I have no statistics to verify my observations. But I have noted too many instances where my peers have displayed a lack of appreciation of science and research, such that it has instilled a growing fear in me that the future research potential may be at stake in this country. This ignorance of science cannot be tolerated if it interferes with a child’s desire to learn. Along these terms, improving education is crucial, but as a graduate student, I have limited power in influencing the policy of science education in this country. I would like to take action on this problem, for I strongly support science and research, not because it is my future career, but because I believe it is the backbone for the advancement of a society. This fear and ignorance of science should be eradicated for it is equivalent to the fear of understanding our natural world. There is too much this world offers to teach us to allow this fear to inhibit the future directions of our society.
Representative terms from entire chapter: