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SUPPLEMENT 1 HI STOFICAL OVERVIEW This report is concerned with national needs for high- quali~y research personnel in the biomedical and behavioral sciences, with federal and other programs for research training, and with program adjustments necessary to continue providing a cadre of research scientists to meet the future health needs of this country. Research training programs must serve the fields with which such scientists are related. This report endeavors to address these relationships. Historically, federal interest and involvement in biomedical and behavioral research increased dramatically after World War II, in large measure as a result of the demonstration during this war of the immediate beneficial impact of wel1-organized basic and clinical research. The introduction of penicill in into the treatment of infectious diseases was a striking example. It became clear that expansion of the country' s research efforts was in the broad rational interest because of its potential for improving human health and we' fare. Congress concluded that substantial federal funding was justified because of the unique importance of health for all Americans. A major national commitment was therefore made to support investigation in the biomedical and behavioral sciences in order to improve the health and wellbeing of all citizens. The enormous growth in federal research support that ensued during the two,decades following the war led to the need for a corresponding commitment to the training of adequate numbers of qualified research personnel. Initially, the needed scientists were either attracted from other fields or trained through the limited existing postdoctoral support. It was clear, however, that predoctoral support of graduate students would be needed in order to assure a continuing increase in the supply of high- quality researchers in these developing sciences. Hence, training grant and fellowship support in the beginning was directed primarily at augmenting the capability of the educational system to supply additional researchers while also seeking to improve the quality of their training. This system, with the support of federal funding, rapidly developed to the point where it now provides an adequate supply of re search personnel equipped to carry out the national research effort in many of the biomedical and behaviors 1 f iel ds. In view o f the recent le s sen ing rate o f f e dera ~ investment in biomedical and behavioral research, both the executive and legis1 ative branche ~ of government increasingly have sought to determine the level and kinds of 195

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research training support that are needed to meet national health needs. Recognizing the responsibility of the federal government to assess these needs while maintaining its vital role in supporting excellence in research training, Congress passed the NRSA Act of 1974. This had as one of its primary objectives the continued evaluation of the nation's needs for biomedical and behavioral research personnel. The Act directed the Secretary of the HEW to commission such a study by the HAS, which accepted the task and in early 1975 established the present Committee. The charge given to the Committee under the Act is a formidab~ e one, covering a wide range of issues that over many years and in many ways have been addressed by the Cong He s s, the e xe cut ive branch, and va riou s pro f e s s tonal organizations. In previous attempts to study national health research manpower issues, investigators have stated, and indeed, emphasized, the complexity and difficulty of the task {Hational Board on Graduate Education, 1974~. In its feasibility study (February 1975), an NRC committee pointed out the complexities of the charge and, in concurrence with the Congressional intent, indicated that a long-term ccntinuing study would be needed to deal with these issues satisfactory y. In the Act t the Committee is specifically required to: (11 establish (a} the nation's overall need for biomedical and behavioral research - personnel, (b) the subject areas in which such personnel are needed and the number of personnel needed in each area, and (c) the kinds and extent of training which should be provided f or such personne 1 ; 2 ~ a s s es s the current training pro grams available for the training of biomedical and behavioral research personnel, including those supported by the NIH and the ADAMHA as well as by other sources; (3) identify the kinds of research positions available to and held by individuals completing such training; (4} determine to the extent feasible whether, without NTH and ADAMHA research training support, other programs could provide training to an adequate number of individuals to meet the nation's needs established under item ~ above; and i96

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(5) determine what modifications in current NIH, ADAMHA, and other available training programs are necessary to meet these needs. In its 1975 report (NRC, 1975c), published only 4 months after the feasibility study, the Committee began to address the issues listed above. It divided the overall areas of biomedical and behavioral research into four fields: basic biomedical sciences, clinical sciences, behavioral sciences, and health services research. However, because of the complexity of the issues being addressed and the short time available to collect and review data, the Committee stated in that report that it did not have a sufficiently firm basis upon which to recommend major changes or adjustments within ongoing training support programs. The Committee concluded, therefore, that until it could review and evaluate both the existing data and the individual viewpoints and judgments of its own members, and those of its advisory panels and other constituents of the research training community, it would be best to maintain unchanged the mechanisms, categories, and support levels of federal funding of research training programs in each of the four aggregate fields identified above. Thus, while recommending no changes, the Committee responded to the first two mandates of the Act. With regard to the third task specified in the Act, that of identifying the kinds of research positions available to personnel who complete such research training, the 1975 report presented a brief summary of the employment activities of former NIH trainees and fellows. For these data the Committee drew upon the results of a prior study by another NRC committee of the impact of NIH training programs on the career patterns of bioscientists (NRC, 1976b} . Chapter IV of the 1975 report addressed the Act's fourth mandate of whether NIH and ADAMBA support of research training is required to meet the nation's needs for research personnel. This was done by examining data collected by the National Science Foundation on other federal and nonfederal programs supporting graduate science students. The impressions gained at that time from this preliminary analysis, although informative, were not conclusive and thus the issue requires further study. These analytical tasks, though initiated last year, are still basic to the Committees charge of assessing the national needs for biomedical and behavioral research personnel. Thus they constitute a core of continuing studies that the Committee will reexamine each year as new data are produced and as new developments take place in the research environment. 197

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FOOTNOTE 1. See supplement 2 for relevant sections of the NBSA Act of 1974. 198