In an era of increasingly competitive biomedical funding as well as recognized needs for bolder efforts to facilitate inclusion of disparate perspectives in 21st century discoveries that impact human health, the importance of successful grant-seeking skills and behaviors is clear. Recent findings of underrepresentation of minority scientists in award of biomedical research grants underscore the importance of this skill set for faculty at institutions with significant enrollments of underrepresented students. Similarly, the role of research project funding as a pipeline for student development as next-generation researchers places even greater importance on the need for skills training in research mentoring. To address these two integrated needs, the University of Kentucky (UK) proposes Interactive Mentoring to Enhance Research Skills (IMERS) as a workshop series to provide interactive grant-writing training for faculty cohorts from minority-serving institutions (MSIs) across the United States. The IMERS training in NIH-focused grantsmanship will be coupled with professional development on research education mentoring for participating faculty. The program, based on a well- established, long-running conference grant program, directly addresses issues of diversity in biomedical research. The proposed expansion to a research education program reflects two new priorities: a new professional development intervention to train participants in skills and strategies to effectively mentor students in research and direct engagement of a research-active program faculty to serve in mentor and outreach roles. IMERS will continue a grantsmanship training model that incorporates guided writing, participatory training, and active learning. The core event is a three-day grant-writing workshop to be held on the UK campus for two different faculty cohorts (25 participants per event) each year. Off-site regional or institution-specific events provide opportunities for complementary outreach and a continuum of mentored support.
Specific aims are to: 1) engage participants in hands-on, active-learning style grant-writing training for selected faculty poised to submit NIH proposals ranging from developmental/exploratory to R01s; 2) to provide targeted training in effective laboratory-based research training and mentorship strategies; and 3) to provide mentored post- workshop proposal development support from a broad community of funded research mentors and research development professionals. The proposed PI-centered IPERT provides an integrated model of skills development, mentoring, and outreach that collectively feature guided proposal development support using participants' own developing research narratives. In addition, the mentoring components span initial hands-on mentoring during group workshop sessions, proposal-specific one-on-one consultations with mentors, and subsequent post-workshop support. Expected outcomes are to facilitate individual faculty skills development in research and research education for faculty from MSIs with limited research development resources.
Diversity in the biomedical workforce is essential to the ability to enlist the power of divergent perspectives to generate discovery-driven innovations in biomedical research. The proposed program is designed to facilitate the success of researchers at minority-serving institutions in competing for extramural funding and in implementing effective mentored research education activities for their students, thereby exerting a substantial impact on the health and well-being of our citizens.