BOX 1-1 The National Research Service Award Act of 1974 (P.L. 93-348)


Sec. 102.

  1. Congress finds and declares that—

    1. the success and continued viability of the Federal biomedical and behavioral research effort depends on the availability of excellent scientists and a network of institutions of excellence capable of producing superior research personnel;

    2. direct support of the training of scientists for careers in biomedical and behavioral research is an appropriate and necessary role for the Federal Government; and

    3. graduate research assistance programs should be the key elements in the training programs of the institutes of the National Institutes of Health and the Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration.

  2. It is the purpose of this title to increase the capability of the institutes of the National Institutes of Health and the Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration to carry out their responsibility of maintaining a superior national program of research into the physical and mental disease and impairments of man ...


Sec. 472. (a) ... (3) Effective July 1, 1975, National Research Service Awards may be made for research or research training in only those subject areas for which, as determined under section 473, there is a need for personnel ...


Previous NRC reports have provided guidance to NIH and the Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health Administration (ADAMHA) relative to the appropriate size and composition of the NRSA program. Recommendations have been made on the number of research training positions to be supported, and these recommendations have been used by NIH and ADAMHA staff during the budget formulation and by the U.S. Congress during the appropriations process (NIH, 1992). Once again the agency requested that NRC estimate the future demand for researchers, estimate the current supply, and, using estimates of the future demand and knowledge of the current balance between supply and demand, make recommendations on the appropriate size of the NRSA program.

In addition to these core activities, NIH also requested assistance in assessing the effectiveness of the NRSA program by gathering and analyzing information on such issues as the adequacy of current stipends to attract talented individuals into research careers in the biomedical and behavioral sciences. Furthermore, the agency directed NRC to review the mathematical projection models of supply and demand used by previous NRC study committees and to establish their adequacy in addressing “national needs” issues in the 1990s. In response to this request, the committee developed a five-part study plan.


Definition of the Study Population

The first step in undertaking this study was to develop a list of fields that were understood to define each of six broad areas of training. The definition of the study population is critical to the success of this analytic effort because the field taxonomy (see Appendix B) establishes the categories for data analysis. Thus, the basic biomedical sciences are understood to include biochemistry, molecular biology, and the like, whereas the behavioral sciences include psychology, sociology, anthropology, and speech and hearing sciences. Field matching was then made possible among data bases maintained by NIH, the National Science Foundation, NRC, the Association of American Medical Colleges, and American Association of Colleges of Nursing, among others.

Field matching in the clinical sciences proved more difficult. As we embarked on the study, representatives of the dental research community indicated to us that they considered their field code too restrictive, not accurately reflecting the diverse nature of their research base. The committee, through its staff representatives, conducted extensive consultative sessions with staff of the National Institute for Dental Research (NIDR), and from these sessions the concept of “oral health research” emerged. A workshop was organized to assess the market for oral health research personnel and the results were incorporated in the committee's

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