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Bridging Disciplines in the Brain, Behavioral, and Clinical Sciences 4 Interdisciplinary Training Programs The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change. — Carl Rogers Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. — Helen Keller The goal of scientific training is to provide the skills necessary to ask questions and seek answers to them. Science can move rapidly. Researchers have to be able to maintain a broad base of knowledge in a single discipline and be willing to change direction and pursue advances in other disciplines through collaboration or further training. Research training does not stop when a degree is obtained or a postdoctoral fellowship is over. Throughout a career a scientist continues to learn. For interdisciplinary training, the challenges are greater because the scope is wider. Formal mechanisms can provide opportunities to learn in new disciplines. This chapter explores a variety of mechanisms for training and retraining at different career stages. It is not a comprehensive review, but, rather, a sampling to provide an overview of the possibilities. Many of the approaches described here have already been applied to interdisciplinary efforts. Others could easily be adapted to facilitate interdisciplinary training. To encourage interdisciplinary research, the available mechanisms need to be expanded and enhanced. In reviewing the programs, the committee found that outcome data were sparse. Each training program provides information on the successes of its trainees in grant renewal applications, but a more general assessment of the effectiveness of funding mechanisms was usually absent. Because evidence on the relative merits of various programs was unavailable, the committee members used their professional experience to judge what was likely to be effective in promoting future interdisciplinary research. The problem of assessing outcomes of training programs is addressed further in chapter 5.
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Bridging Disciplines in the Brain, Behavioral, and Clinical Sciences UNDERGRADUATE PROGRAMS Undergraduate education lays the foundation on which all future education is built. Some scientists have expressed a need to broaden the scientific base at the undergraduate level in order to encourage interdisciplinary research.63,79 Traditional majors, focused in a single department, have not encouraged or rewarded interdisciplinary work. The virtue of the traditional approach of requiring narrow expertise is that students begin to feel a sense of mastery and develop a professional identity. However, neither the expertise nor the professional identity is suited for rapid changes in the life sciences. For instance, an undergraduate who majors in molecular biology without exposure to systems physiology might be unprepared to envision many kinds of clinical applications. An alternative is the interdisciplinary undergraduate major, which requires coursework in several traditional departments but still requires expertise in a specific topic. A major in neuroscience, already a popular choice at many colleges, provides an interdisciplinary approach to the complex problem of understanding brain function. Typically, it requires a background in mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology, but it includes specific courses in molecular, cellular, systems, and behavioral neuroscience with instructors in the departments of psychology, biology, and anthropology. A required thesis based on original research in one field of neuroscience ensures that students will develop proficiency in at least one field. Several excellent colleges (for example, Brown, Emory, and Harvard universities) have implemented such programs. The popularity of the Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology Program at Emory University, for example, is demonstrated by the doubling in the number of students each year the last 3 years (T. Insel, personal communication). PREDOCTORAL AND POSTDOCTORAL TRAINING When a student continues into graduate school, the educational focus is usually on learning a field of science in depth and developing the research tools necessary to become an independent investigator. In the past, it was rare for a predoctoral student to be exposed to multiple disciplines. As a postdoctoral fellow, the emphasis is on further development of research skills, training in new techniques, and preparation for a research career. As postdoctoral fellows, trainees are commonly encouraged to broaden their horizons by pursuing research experience in fields that differ from the foci of their dissertations. Formal interdisciplinary training at this stage is more likely, but still not the norm. There are now a multitude of interdisciplinary predoctoral and postdoctoral programs. The committee examined over 100 training programs and the variety of mechanisms they use to promote interdisciplinary research. The programs were identified as interdisciplinary by the funding agency, the committee, Institute of Medicine staff, or themselves. A goal of many of the programs was to
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Bridging Disciplines in the Brain, Behavioral, and Clinical Sciences provide trainees with a broad perspective in a particular problem, such as emotion, sleep, aging, or affective disorders. Most strove to provide trainees with grounding in a particular discipline while encouraging interdisciplinary interactions. Some of the training programs covered both predoctoral students and postdoctoral fellows. Others focused primarily on one or the other. Because the goals for each are different, they are considered separately below. Interdisciplinary Training Mechanisms for Predoctoral Students Most doctoral programs begin with coursework that builds on the undergraduate degree, expanding each trainee's knowledge in fields relevant to the scientific focus and filling in gaps. Nearly all training programs provide trainees with the substantive knowledge and skills necessary to do research. The challenge faced by interdisciplinary programs is to provide a broader, more diverse experience. The goals, in addition to teaching the substance of a field or fields, are to provide the skills necessary to understand other disciplines, and to communicate with those outside one's own field. Students need to learn how to frame research questions and present hypotheses that extend beyond their primary expertise. They need to recognize the contributions that other disciplines can make to their research questions. As suggested by a National Academy committee, graduate students need to acquire a greater versatility by obtaining breadth in their scientific education, by learning to work in interdependent teams, and by developing communication skills with those outside their field.22 To accomplish those goals, the interdisciplinary graduate programs that the committee reviewed (Appendix C) used a variety of approaches, from didactic training to laboratory rotations and networking. Formal coursework is often used to introduce trainees to a broad, multidisciplinary field. Program requirements can include a number of courses that span multiple disciplines but are related to the focus of the program. In addition, many programs offer courses in which the faculty lecture on their fields of expertise and describe current investigations in these fields. Other programs use seminar series to expose students to multiple research topics. And, many training programs attempt to provide students with an overview of the diverse methodological approaches available to address relevant research questions, using formal courses and other processes. Journal clubs are often used to supplement didactic training. In these forums, students learn to think critically about the scientific literature in their own and related disciplines. Some journal clubs encompass more than reviewing a single journal article by encouraging faculty or student presentations that form the basis of discussion. In some programs, the journal clubs meet in an informal atmosphere, such as at a home in the evening. The environment is intended to facilitate discussion and encourage interaction.
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Bridging Disciplines in the Brain, Behavioral, and Clinical Sciences A key component of any training program is the laboratory research effort. Many graduate programs require laboratory rotations in the first couple of years of training. These are designed to expose students to a range of faculty, techniques, and experimental approaches. In many cases, students are offered opportunities to experience quite different aspects of the biomedical and behavioral sciences. Interdisciplinary programs often encourage mentorships of more than one sponsor to ensure input from at least two perspectives. Laboratory meetings are a common component of the educational experience. Some programs formally require attendance at laboratory meetings; some require attendance at meetings in more than one laboratory so that students will continue their exposure to the research questions and methods of more than one discipline. The research skills learned by working in the laboratory are sometimes supplemented by formal coursework. As required by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF), all programs provide some formal training in the responsible conduct of research. In addition, some of the programs reviewed offer training in other career skills, such as preparing grant applications, teaching, writing manuscripts, and reviewing the literature. Research seminar presentations are used by many programs to improve trainees' communication skills. In one program, students are required to prepare a journal article for formal presentation to the other students and faculty. In another, trainees are asked to present a research plan for group discussion. Those approaches not only provide an opportunity to obtain comments on their writing and thinking, but also require them to consider the opportunities and limitations of other approaches. The Research Survival Skills Seminar at the University of Pittsburgh exemplifies some of those approaches.93 In the course of the seminar, students prepare and present a research proposal that is then critiqued by the other students. Through such peer review, the trainees learn firsthand how the system works. Just as important, perhaps, they are exposed to a rigorous evaluation of a wide array of experimental methods. A goal of many of the interdisciplinary programs reviewed is to provide students with a forum in which to interact with experts in relevant fields. Several mechanisms were used to achieve that goal, such as summer courses, symposia, and off-site meetings. In the programs reviewed, the duration of those types of meetings ranges from a single day to several weeks. Common features include presentations by the trainees, presentations by experts from outside the faculty, and scheduling of time for trainees and experts to interact. The gatherings are generally intended to encourage bonding of students with each other and the faculty and to provide students with a network of experts that includes both their contemporaries and more senior scientists (see Box 4-1); this network is expected to provide a resource for interaction, discussion, and collaboration throughout the trainee's lifetime.
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Bridging Disciplines in the Brain, Behavioral, and Clinical Sciences BOX 4-1 Predoctoral Training Consortium in Affective Science, San Francisco Bay Area The Predoctoral Training Consortium in Affective Science* in the San Francisco Bay Area aims to broaden the disciplinary training of predoctoral students while providing exposure to varied approaches to affective science. The program attempts to instill an appreciation and understanding of the theories, methods, and data of many aspects of affective science in an effort to lay the groundwork for better communication among subspecialties, more interdisciplinary collaboration, and a greater interaction between affective science and other fields. Students are selected from the psychology and health sciences programs at four Bay Area universities (the Berkeley, Davis, and San Francisco campuses of the University of California and Stanford University) to participate in a 3-year training sequence leading to the conduct of dissertation research. Training takes place in a year-long seminar at Berkeley and at specialized workshops and an annual workshop. Trainees are closely mentored and monitored throughout. The program focuses on predoctoral students early in their training in the belief that the impact of interdisciplinary training in affective science will be greater than in a postdoctoral program. The program also addresses important needs in the “socialization” of scientists-in-training. First, there is exposure to scientists at various career levels, ranging from relatively new investigators, through scientists at midcareer, to the most senior figures in a given field. That kind of exposure is intended to provide role models who are close in age to the trainees and those who are more senior. Second, the program hopes to develop a sense of “cohort” among the trainees that spans disciplines and approaches and a sense of scientific community in affective science that trainees will carry with them throughout their careers and will impart to their own trainees in the future. Interdisciplinary Training Mechanisms for Postdoctoral Fellows In the 1920s, the Rockefeller Foundation established a fellowship in physical sciences for people who had just completed their doctoral training.4 These early postdoctoral training fellowships recognized that the field of physics had become too complex for a student to prepare for a research career adequately with only graduate school training. The postdoctoral training mechanism has greatly expanded since then. Postdoctoral fellows are developing both technical and professional skills.4,71 Interdisciplinary training at this point might focus less * Affective Science refers to study of the emotions and emotion-related processes.
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Bridging Disciplines in the Brain, Behavioral, and Clinical Sciences on didactic training and more on conducting collaborative research, establishing networks, exploring concepts and approaches of other disciplines, and developing skills in interacting and communicating with people in other fields. Many of the same mechanisms described for graduate students to those ends would also benefit postdoctoral fellows. The committee heard from several program directors that postdoctoral fellows are the glue that holds interdisciplinary efforts together. They are the ones with the time to pursue collaborative research —to bring two or more laboratories together in a research project. Whether projects are initiated by the trainees, or by mentors, all benefit. Trainees obtain experience with multiple perspectives or approaches. By virtue of mentoring trainees who are crossing laboratories, mentors are exposed to and learn about other disciplines. New interests and new insights provide motivation to continue interdisciplinary interaction. Funding Mechanisms for Predoctoral and Postdoctoral Fellows Investigator Awards Graduate students and postdoctoral fellows are often supported on an investigator's grant, whether it is an R01, a P01, or another mechanism (see Appendix D for a table of mechanisms). Training comes primarily with doing—a hands-on effort. If two laboratories are collaborating, it is often the postdoctoral fellow who provides the vector for the interaction. The research-intensive effort can present an excellent opportunity to integrate the efforts of two or more laboratories. Fellowships Some fellowships are awarded directly to individual applicants. If enrolled in a doctoral program (F31) or in an MD/PhD program (F30) or as a graduate of a doctoral program (F32), a trainee can apply individually for a National Research Service Award (NRSA).53 These fellowships provide a stipend for a trainee, tuition remission, and a small sum for miscellaneous expenses. Because trainees are self-supported through the fellowships, it is their prerogative whether to participate in available ancillary training programs. Fellowships for postdoctoral fellows, but not for predoctoral students, carry a payback provision. This obligation is incurred only during the first year of training and can be met by a year of research or teaching or a second year of training. Fellowships, unlike grant support, do not provide employee fringe benefits. Consequently, some used to consider these awards less desirable. Until just recently, the fellowships provided health insurance only for the fellows, not
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Bridging Disciplines in the Brain, Behavioral, and Clinical Sciences for their families. In the government's fiscal year 2000, NIH changed this to provide NRSA fellows with health insurance coverage for families.59 The fellowships, like investigator-funded awards, can be used to support interdisciplinary efforts. A fellow working with a mentor who spans disciplines can be trained across disciplines. Alternatively, multiple mentors can provide interdisciplinary training. In one example reviewed by the committee, the postdoctoral fellow was sponsored by two scientists at two separate, but close, institutions. One mentor used animal models to study the development of a conditioned reflex in the rat; the other focused on the ontogeny of learning in human infants. With guidance from both, the postdoctoral fellow developed a program to look at conditioned reflexes in the two systems and learned to translate the animal findings to human issues. Institutional Awards Some training grants for predoctoral students and postdoctoral fellows are awarded to institutions. NIH uses the NRSA Institutional Training Grant (T32) mechanism; NSF uses the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training (IGERT) mechanism specifically to support interdisciplinary efforts. These awards are oriented toward providing training activities for a cohort of students on a regular basis. In addition to training students, institutional programs enrich institutions and provide a framework for research. NIH T32 Awards. The institutional NRSA (T32) is widely used to support both predoctoral and postdoctoral training (see Box 4-2). This mechanism provides awards in all areas of research training that fall within the NIH mission. Emphasis is placed on the research training of physicians, and special consideration is given to MDs who agree to pursue at least 2 consecutive years of training in biomedical or behavioral research.53 The award requires a strong research program in the proposed field of training, evidence of institutional commitment, a minority recruitment plan, and training in the responsible conduct of research. To address topics of particular interest, NIH puts out program announcements. These are expected to increase training and hence promote future research efforts in the specified area. One such program is the NIH-wide initiative that called for multidisciplinary training on sleep research: “Innovative, multidisciplinary and collaborative training programs with interactive training provided by investigators from different disciplines and with complementary skills are strongly encouraged. ”52 Another example is a recent announcement from the National Institute of Mental Health to encourage translational research through postdoctoral training in intervention trials.43 These T32s are intended to
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Bridging Disciplines in the Brain, Behavioral, and Clinical Sciences increase the number of clinical investigators interested in the treatment, rehabilitation, and prevention of severe mental disorders. To achieve that goal, the announcement requires a minimal commitment of 2 years from the trainees, a focus on training in multisite trials and community health, and training in statistics, bioethics, epidemiology, experimental therapeutics, data interpretation, and other specified fields. BOX 4-2 Interdisciplinary Research Training Program on Aging, University of Iowa An NRSA from the National Institute on Aging was awarded to the University of Iowa in 1991 to establish this training program that currently supports eight predoctoral and eight postdoctoral trainees each year. The program centers on four cores: cardiovascular and pulmonary disease in aging, mechanisms and consequences of aging, degenerative neurological disease and stroke, and social and psychological aspects of aging. The program builds on related programs in research, clinical service, and education. Trainees work closely with sponsors to develop their research and plan other activities to enhance the interdisciplinary experience. Collaboration and multiple sponsorship are common mechanisms that promote interaction and broaden perspectives. The program requires the trainees to participate in monthly seminars on aging and an additional seminar series, journal club, or colloquium. They are also encouraged to attend national conferences related to their research interests. Because the Center for Aging does not grant degrees, students receive their degrees from the participating departments and colleges. The T32 award provides primarily stipends for the trainees. As with the fellowships, some tuition is also covered. Like fellowships, the institutional NRSA does not pay fringe benefits and requires a payback provision for the first 12 months of the award to postdoctoral fellows. Funding is limited to 5 years at the predoctoral level and 3 years at the postdoctoral level. However, justified extensions are available. Among the specified grounds for an extension is the additional training time required by clinicians in postdoctoral programs or people in combined MD/PhD programs.53 One major drawback of these training grants is that the indirect costs for facilities and administrative expenses are limited to 8% of the total direct costs. And, they do not cover the direct costs associated with administration of the program. Curtis et al.11 recently analyzed the costs and benefits of an NRSA program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill that provides doctoral training in public health for clinicians. Taking into account both clinical care and academic activities, the authors calculated that the program imposed a net financial
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Bridging Disciplines in the Brain, Behavioral, and Clinical Sciences burden on the departments. Although they recognize the nonfinancial benefits of having trainees, Curtis et al. noted that additional administrative funds for NRSA faculty would relieve some of the budgetary pressures. Interdisciplinary efforts cost more to administer than single disciplinary programs. Coordination efforts are greater, requiring additional investigator and staff time to organize meetings, integrate administrative input from multiple units, prepare multiple proposals and reports, and so on. Furthermore, telephone, travel, and other costs are greater. The motivation of universities, departments, and faculties to participate in such programs might be limited because of their financial burdens. Consequently, the committee expressed concern about the ability to provide the best of interdisciplinary programs where administrative and support staffs are inadequate. IGERT Awards. In 1998, NSF initiated the agency-wide IGERT Program specifically to encourage interdisciplinary training of scientists, mathematicians, and engineers.67 The program is based on the premise that careers of the future will require multidisciplinary backgrounds. Consequently, IGERT awards require that several disciplines come together to address a defined multidisciplinary research theme. The projects are expected to offer training through exposure to research that spans disciplines, development of communication and teamwork skills, and training experiences relevant to both academic and nonacademic (industry and government) careers. The projects are expected to focus on predoctoral training. However, training of postdoctoral fellows, undergraduates, or master's students can be incorporated if it adds value to the IGERT program. A plan for tracking the achievements of the IGERT program that may include an assessment of the effectiveness of the “multidisciplinary enterprise ” is required by NSF. An IGERT award is for up to $500,000 per year for up to 5 years. The dollar limit includes both direct and indirect costs. Another $200,000 is available during the first year for necessary equipment or research materials to support the training program. Because NSF recognizes that IGERT projects are likely to require substantial administrative support, funds can be used for program administration. The funds are expected to cover the expenses associated with recruitment of students, development of courses and other training activities, and program evaluation. No faculty research or faculty salaries are supported. The funds for administrative support are expected to relieve faculty of some administrative burdens connected with a project, but not relieve them of their responsibility to organize and lead the project and to play active roles in recruitment, teaching, and mentoring of students. IGERT award funds must go primarily toward training activities. In addition to a graduate-student stipend, an IGERT award provides a cost-of-education allowance up to $10,500 per year per student; this allowance covers tuition and fees that include institutionally required health insurance. Consequently, students covered by an IGERT award are ex-
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Bridging Disciplines in the Brain, Behavioral, and Clinical Sciences pected to be exempt from tuition and fees. The institution can claim up to 8% overhead on direct costs minus the equipment and cost-of-education allowances. Foundations. In addition to government initiatives, nonprofit organizations provide funding for predoctoral and postdoctoral training. For example, the Flinn Foundation, in Arizona, supports university-based interdisciplinary research programs.13 The funds are directed toward stipend support, expenses associated with guest lectures and symposia, and other costs. In an effort to build on the successes of research in such fields as cellular and molecular biology, genetics, immunology, and neuroscience to provide new therapies, improved diagnostic methods, and preventive interventions, the foundation funds programs that have a multidisciplinary faculty doing collaborative research on a common theme, or a single organ or disease. Nine interdisciplinary research groups have received grants totaling over $5 million under the foundation's Biomedical Research Initiative. Implementation of Programs Training programs have used the funding mechanisms described above to provide support within departments, across departments in programs, to separate schools within a university, and even across institutions. For example, the doctoral program in Health and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Colorado at Denver is a cross-departmental program in which several departments contribute faculty, overhead, and so on. At Johns Hopkins University (see Box 4-3), the program is incorporated into a department. The School of Social Ecology at the University of California at Irvine was established as an independent school with degree-granting departments, integrated around muitidisciplinary problems. At the University of California Los Angeles, the Brain Research Institute established a training program on sleep (and grants a PhD degree) that allows trainees to do their laboratory work anywhere in the nation and belong to a consortium of universities and laboratories focused on this subject. The options are endless and are subject only to the imagination of the investigators and the constraints imposed by the subject of study (see Box 4-4). Translational Research Training Clinician-scientists are an important resource for interdisciplinary research that seeks to translate from bench to bedside and back. Clinician-scientists from a variety of clinical fields understand the impact of diseases on human functioning and well-being and are in a prime position to ask the appropriate translational questions. The training of clinician-scientists is inherently interdisciplinary. Grounded in both clinical and basic science, the clinician-scientist is well positioned to participate in collaborative efforts that bridge the bench to bedside gap.
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Bridging Disciplines in the Brain, Behavioral, and Clinical Sciences BOX 4-3 Cognitive Science of Language and the Department of Cognitive Sciences: An IGERT Program, The Johns Hopkins University The Johns Hopkins University Department of Cognitive Sciences received funding for an IGERT program in 1999. The program brings together several disciplines to understand the cognitive functions and pathology of language. Research tools for computational and mathematical modeling, neuropsychology of language processing, pathology of language deficits, neuroimaging of brain activity, and grammatical analysis are brought to bear. The program aims to integrate multiple disciplines into a new field of science but to train graduate students who will be competitive in a disciplinary culture. The program offers coursework in several areas of cognitive science, including philosophy of mind, linguistics, computational approaches, neuroscience, and psychology. Departmental courses and seminars are designed to integrate them. The training aims to provide a background that will give students expertise in their primary research subject, but allow them to understand, appreciate, and critically evaluate work in related disciplines. The Department of Cognition grants the degree to predoctoral students. BOX 4-4 Interdisciplinary Training, University of Pittsburgh Over 2 decades, the program at Pittsburgh has grown into an exceptional model of interdisciplinary research and training. Through the years, centers were established on affective disorders, Alzheimer's disease, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, neuroscience of mental disorders, obesity, bipolar disorders, and more. Each center created a site for interdisciplinary research and training. In the context of the centers, collaborations were established across many departments in the University of Pittsburgh Health Center: psychology and psychiatry, medicine, neurobiology, neurology, pathology, pharmacology, and radiology. Other schools in the university were brought in: the Graduate School of Public Health, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the School of Nursing, and the School of Social Work. As part of the MacArthur network, collaborations extended to other institutions throughout the country. The network of research centered in Pittsburgh is now far-reaching.
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Bridging Disciplines in the Brain, Behavioral, and Clinical Sciences NSF partnerships with NIH are relatively few despite the fact that two agencies have complementary missions. NSF supports basic research in the sciences and engineering. Although its mission includes “ advanc[ing] the national health, prosperity, and welfare,” it does not encompass biomedical research.69 The latter is within the scope of NIH, whose goal is “to acquire new knowledge to help prevent, detect, diagnose, and treat disease and disability.”61 Where basic biological research stops, clinically relevant biomedical research picks up. To span the full range of translational research —basic mechanisms through clinical trials—the committee found that collaborative efforts between NSF and NIH should be encouraged. Government–Foundation Collaborations Tobacco Use Research Centers The Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Centers were initially funded through a joint effort of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to create a network of centers focusing on the prevention and treatment of tobacco use. 23 In October 1999, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) formed a partnership with NIH to provide additional support for these centers and complement NCI's and NIDA's existing efforts;50 seven academic institutions, each organized around a unique theme, were funded. The 5-year program is expected to foster unique collaboration among scientists across many disciplines. The public health concerns about tobacco smoking are long-standing interests of both NIH and RWJF. The development of the program stems from a national conference in July 1998 cosponsored by NIDA and RWJF and from recommendations of NCI's Tobacco Research Implementation Group. NIH Interactions with Foundations NIH also collaborates with foundations on a scale that is less grand; cosponsored workshops and symposia are not uncommon. For example, a symposium, “Vaccines for Prevention and Treatment of Autoimmune Diseases” (June 8, 1998), was cosponsored by several NIH institutes and a number of nonfederal organizations. These nonprofit societies included the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation International, the Lupus Foundation of America, the American Autoimmune-Related Diseases Association, the Arthritis Foundation, and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. 77 In addition, the institutes will work with the non-profit societies to fund complementary components of meritorious investigator-initiated projects.25,26
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Bridging Disciplines in the Brain, Behavioral, and Clinical Sciences Opportunities with Private Industry: GOALI The NSF works through many of its programs to strengthen links with industry. The Grant Opportunities for Academic Liaison with Industry (GOALI) program aims to strengthen university-industry partnerships by making funds available to support them.65 Of special interest is providing opportunities for faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and students to gain experience with industrial processes; for industry scientists to bring their perspectives and skills to academe; for interdisciplinary university-industry teams to conduct long-term projects. High-risk, high-gain research that would otherwise not be tackled is encouraged. The initiative seeks to develop innovative collaborative educational programs and the exchange of knowledge between universities and industry. Although industrial partners are not required to match NSF funds, cost-sharing for the collaborative work at industrial sites and universities is encouraged. FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS In the review of training programs, several themes emerged. Interdisciplinary training seeks to create people who can ask new questions, apply a variety of approaches, and seek appropriate collaborative expertise. Training should provide scientists with the tools to understand and use the information from other fields. In addition to teaching the substance of one or more fields, scientific education needs to provide the skills necessary to understand other disciplines and to communicate with those outside one's own field. Postdoctoral fellows are frequently considered to be the “vector” in collaborative research. Through participation in a joint effort of two or more laboratories, the trainee has the opportunity to become knowledgeable about more than one discipline. The mentors also benefit from the interaction and learn more about another field, thereby enhancing their scope as well. Because strong training for predoctoral and postdoctoral students builds on strong research among the faculty, interdisciplinary research should be encouraged for appropriate research problems. Mechanisms to facilitate interdisciplinary efforts should be available at all stages of a career. Special attention needs to be directed toward supporting interdisciplinary efforts of junior faculty who may be discouraged by their vulnerability as they establish their careers and face tenure and promotion decisions. Many mechanisms already exist but should be refined to address the special needs of interdisciplinary research and training. For instance, the institutional training programs do not adequately support administrative costs. The Medical Scientist Training Program is rarely used to support PhDs in the humanities and social sciences. Funding programs to provide clinical training for PhDs are uncommon.
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Bridging Disciplines in the Brain, Behavioral, and Clinical Sciences Partnerships among funding agencies not only allow the coordination of divergent disciplinary perspectives, they also can leverage funds. Partnerships with industry can provide trainees with unique opportunities to explore alternative career paths. The committee reiterates its perspective that interdisciplinary research should not indiscriminately supplant disciplinary efforts. Broad training early in a career and continued training throughout a career can provide the tools to integrate multiple disciplines when required by the research question. The committee makes the following recommendations: Recommendation 3: Scientific education at early career stages should be sufficiently broad to produce graduates who can understand essential components of other disciplines while receiving a solid grounding in one or more fields. Criteria for NIH-supported research training should include both breadth and depth of education. Funding mechanisms to support interdisciplinary training in appropriate fields (as identified in Recommendation 1) should provide additional incentives to the universities and the trainees along the following lines: Through the NIH Medical Scientist Training Program, encourage participating universities to support MD/PhD programs in the social and behavioral, as well as biomedical, sciences. Although existing program language permits such graduate study, training in social and behavioral science (e.g., anthropology, economics, psychology, and sociology) is undertaken infrequently. NIH can highlight the need for such graduates and encourage grantees to recruit them. Promote translational research, an important aspect of interdisciplinary training by: (1) Providing clinical experience in PhD programs. This can range from support for single courses that expose students to human pathophysiology to training programs that require both basic research and clinical experience; (2) Supporting PhD programs and postdoctoral mentored career development awards for physicians, nurses, dentists, social workers, and other clinicians. Create partnerships with the private sector to develop and support interdisciplinary training. Many of today's students will enter private industry to do translational research. Others will go on to careers in teaching, publishing, science policy, science administration, or law. Interdisciplinary perspectives are as important to success in these careers as they are in research. Expand the T32 training grant awards to cover the full direct costs of implementation. This change will provide the resources
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Bridging Disciplines in the Brain, Behavioral, and Clinical Sciences necessary to support the greater expenses encountered in an interdisciplinary training program. Recommendation 4: Funding agencies should establish a grant supplement program to foster interdisciplinary training and research. This would be administratively modeled after the supplements that exist for minorities, people with disabilities, and for people reentering research after a hiatus. Investigators with research grants who have interdisciplinary training opportunities should be able to obtain supplemental funds for qualified candidates through a relatively short application form with expedited review. Successful pilot efforts will provide data to support further applications for career development and research. Recommendation 5: Funding opportunities for interdisciplinary training should be provided for scientists at all stages of their careers. Implement career development programs that encourage junior faculty to engage in interdisciplinary research. Junior faculty need to be successful in the early phases of their research, so they are less likely than senior faculty to pursue interdisciplinary research. Support midcareer investigators in developing expertise needed for interdisciplinary research. These programs should include sabbaticals, career development awards, and university-based, formal courses for faculty development to enhance interdisciplinary and/or translational research. Continue funding for workshops, symposia, and meetings to bring together diverse fields to focus on a particular scientific question. In such an environment, cross training of the investigators and encouragement of collaboration would develop naturally. Support consortia and multi-institutional programs that provide integration of research efforts in multiple disciplines. REFERENCES 1. Acker AL,Freeman JD,Williams DM. 1988.A medical school fellowship program for minority high school students .J Med Educ63:171–175. 2. Alford J. 1998.Lucille Markey Trust ends; study of its work begins.Philanthropy J[Online]. Available: nonprofitnews.org/found/markey0598.htm[accessed 21 Mar 1999]. 3. Arias IM. 1989.Training basic scientists to bridge the gap between basic science and its application to human disease.N Engl J Med321:972–974.
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