[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 19-Sep-2013
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Contact: Edmond Byrnes
edmond.byrnes@nih.gov
301-451-6869
NIH/Office of the Director

NIH announces awards to strengthen the biomedical research workforce

BEST awards encourage innovative approaches to address workforce challenges

The National Institutes of Health is making available approximately $3.7 million for awards to enhance training opportunities for graduate students and postdoctoral scholars to prepare them for careers in the biomedical research workforce that could take them outside of conventional academic research.

The first set of NIH Director's Broadening Experience in Scientific Training (BEST) awards are supported through the NIH Common Fund's Strengthening the Biomedical Research Workforce program.

"NIH recognizes that there are many ways in which biomedical Ph.D. graduates can meaningfully contribute to the biomedical research enterprise," said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. "The future of biomedical research depends upon a sustainable and robust workforce, in which talented, well-trained scientists are best prepared to make significant contributions in academia, industry, government, business, and other venues."

"The NIH Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD) Biomedical Workforce Task Force analyzed the state of the biomedical workforce, and found that many trainees are pursuing research and research-related careers outside of the traditional academic path that serves as the current model for training," said Sally Rockey, Ph.D., Deputy Director for Extramural Research. "The BEST awards are intended to expose trainees to the multitude of career paths that utilize their Ph.D. training."

BEST awards will support bold and innovative approaches to increase student and trainee exposure to multiple research and research-related career options. These new approaches could include coursework, rotations, workshops and hands-on training experiences, or other forms of exposure. Each BEST awardee will be required to evaluate whether or not these novel approaches are successful, share lessons learned with the other BEST awardees, and work with other BEST awardees to share information about successful approaches with the biomedical research training community.

"BEST awards are an opportunity to transform the way in which biomedical Ph.D. students and postdoctoral scholars are trained," said James Anderson, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives, which oversees the NIH Common Fund. "These awards will allow trainees to understand the many career options available to them within biomedical research and should therefore make biomedical research training more appealing, enabling us to retain our best talent. Wide dissemination of the approaches that are being developed will result in a nation-wide impact."

These awards will be for up to $250,000 in direct costs per year for up to five years, pending availability of funds. A call for applications for the second round of BEST awardees is anticipated in late 2013. Details for this upcoming funding opportunity will be available on the Strengthening the Biomedical Research Workforce website and in the NIH Guide.

The first recipients of the NIH BEST awards are:

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More information on these awards can be found on http://commonfund.nih.gov/workforce/fundedresearch.aspx.

The NIH Common Fund encourages collaboration and supports a series of exceptionally high-impact, trans-NIH programs. Common Fund programs are designed to pursue major opportunities and gaps in biomedical research that no single NIH Institute or Center could tackle alone, but that the agency as a whole can address to make the biggest impact possible on the progress of medical research. Additional information about the NIH Common Fund can be found at http://commonfund.nih.gov.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit http://www.nih.gov.



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