The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology has won an almost $1.27 million five-year grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) to develop and execute a program that will support scientists from diverse backgrounds as they prepare for and launch their careers as independent faculty members.
The NIGMS's new Maximizing Opportunities for Scientific and Academic Independent Careers, or MOSAIC, program seeks to leverage the infrastructure, programming and expertise of professional organizations to help diversify the professoriate. The NIGMS will fund work by three scientific societies, including the ASBMB, and cover the participating MOSAIC K99/R00 scholars' salaries and research costs.
The ASBMB will make its existing professional development, mentoring and networking activities available to the MOSAIC participants and establish new ones for them.
Barbara Gordon, the ASBMB's executive director, will serve as the principal investigator. "The ASBMB has a long history of supporting underrepresented scientists. I am very pleased that we have received this grant, as it will allow us to take our support to a new level," she said.
The first year of the ASBMB program will focus on network building and science communication. The participating scholars will, for example, take the society's online science communication course to develop their public-speaking skills. In the second year, the scholars will be invited to speak at the society's annual meeting and will complete training on such things as scientific rigor and reproducibility and data management.
The MOSAIC scholars will take part in the society's grant-writing workshop in the third year of the program. (The workshop has a track record of success: At last count, 85% of participants received grants within three years of completing the workshop.)
In the final years of the ASBMB program, the MOSAIC scholars will be new professors. The society will offer a variety of specialized training opportunities for those interested in, for example, the peer-review process, science communication, and pedagogical and mentoring best practices. Each cohort and participant will have its own coach who has undergone training so that they will be able to help the scholars navigate issues relating to gender, race and culture.
Ruma Banerjee of the University of Michigan, the society's MOSAIC co-investigator, said the society also will work on systemic issues within universities and research centers.
"To achieve what has been an elusive goal of diversification, it is imperative that we assess and address the restrictions that continue to challenge inclusive participation and help perpetuate a demographic imbalance. We will introduce new programming to engage administrators at the MOSAIC scholars' home institutions in discussions on barriers to sustainable change and evidence-based approaches to improving outcomes," she said.
For more information about the ASBMB MOSAIC program, visit http://www.asbmb.org/diversity/MOSAIC.