In August, the National Institute of General Medical Sciences requested feedback from the scientific community on the potential impacts of changing the funding vehicle for some of the institute’s undergraduate and predoctoral diversity programs. The institute is seeking to support a broader swath of students by moving its undergrad diversity programs, which use the research education code (R25), to training grants (T32 or T34). Training grants allow grantees to extend tuition support to undergraduate students, which is not possible with the R25 funding vehicle.
Specifically, the NIGMS requested input on the following:
- potential impact of changing R25 programs to T grants,
- advantages or disadvantages of consolidating undergraduate and predoctoral diversity programs into a single program,
- strategies to increase synergy across cohorts, and
- recommendations for how NIGMS can better support underrepresented groups.
The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology provided feedback. In it, the society endorsed the effort to support a broader group of talented students through tuition assistance for undergraduates. The ASBMB, however, pointed out that a single, unified NIGMS-funded undergraduate and predoctoral diversity program may miss the mark by assuming that institutional roles and missions of all minority-serving institutions are the same.
We suggest scaffolding across programs to facilitate sharing of best practices and foster a more effective transition by underrepresented minorities into graduate programs.
We also recommend that funded institutions consider creating research-coordination offices to better track programs and facilitate communication and resource sharing.
The ASBMB supports efforts at the NIGMS and elsewhere to create a more diverse and inclusive biomedical research enterprise. While there is no one right answer, continuing to evaluate and adapt program policies and strategies to ensure that we are developing the most diverse and technically able workforce is extremely important.
We welcome the opportunity to continue to engage with the NIGMS and the National Institutes of Health in these efforts and will continue to push for policies that positively impact the diversity of the research workforce moving forward.
You can read ASBMB’s full response here.