An engaged diverse biomedical workforce is essential for the health of the nation. The nation faces unprecedented challenges and opportunities to develop new knowledge that can decrease healthcare disparities and improve the health of individuals. The US is not currently benefitting from the talents of all citizens. Women, under-represented minority (URM) populations, those with disabilities, those who identify as lesbian, gay, or transgender (LGBT), and those from backgrounds disadvantaged by socio-economic status, cultural or language barriers, or rural geography are all under-represented in the biomedical workforce. The talents and skills of these individuals could advance scientific disciplines allowing the nation to achieve our goals related to better health. It is in the compelling interest of the nation to nurture the talents of those currently under-represented in the biomedical workforce. Mentoring has been identified as critical in the recruitment and retention of under-represented populations in the biomedical workforce. Developing an effective national research mentoring network (NRMN) is an innovative approach to increase inclusion and diversity in biomedical research. This proposal reflects collaboration of 40 of the 60 academic health centers in the NIH Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) consortium and also includes multiple partner organizations that represent constituencies often not fully included in the biomedical workforce. In order to achieve a national impact, we will leverage the CTSA consortium institutions through collaboration with national stakeholders including the CTSA Child Health Oversight Committees (CC-CHOC), the Association of Clinical and Translational Science (ACTS), the Research Partnership on Women in Science Careers (RPWSC), the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA), and the Society of Healthcare Professionals with Disabilities (SHPD).
The Specific Aims of this proposal are: 1) Develop a partnership between the CTSA institutions and other stakeholder institutions that will support the organization and governance of a NRMN;2) Assess, categorize, and create an inventory of the existing capacity and resources at all partner institutions to recruit and mentor under-represented populations from undergraduates through junior faculty;3) Develop strategies to adopt and disseminate existing, successful local and small-scale activities and programs for the nation;4) Conduct a gap analysis and develop new mentorship activities, courses, infrastructure, and tools that can fill the gaps identified and support the new NRMN;and 5) Design and create the tools to evaluate and track the outcomes of the NRMN.
The nation faces significant challenges in realizing a diverse biomedical workforce that includes representation from and for all Americans. The talents and skills of the most capable scientists from all population groups would advance scientific disciplines allowing the nation to achieve our goals related to better health. It is in the compelling interest of the nation to nurture the talents of those currently underrepresented in the biomedical workforce through a national research mentoring network.