Despite many years of discussion, research, and efforts to promote change, a great disparity remains between the presence of black, Hispanic, Native American, and other underrepresented minority (URM) faculty at US research universities and their representation in the American population. This reality is no less true in te neurosciences than in other disciplines. Moreover, URMs who do achieve faculty status appear to achieve traditional measures of success at a lower rate than do their majority counterparts. Although data on publications and funding rates appear to be lacking, there is a striking absence of URMs in visible positions of prominence as full professors or chairs at research universities and as symposia speakers, journal editors, or societal officers. We believe that these two problems are related - that if those URMs who are faculty become more successful in regard to those measures, this in turn will stimulate an influx of other URMs into faculty ranks. Our evaluation of available programs in the United States strongly indicates that there are limited opportunities to adequately assist early career URM faculty in overcoming these difficulties, and it is this problem that we seek to address through the establishment of a nationa Early Career Institute (ECI) to promote the advancement of junior faculty members in the neurosciences at research universities. Defining success for such faculty in terms of quality and quantity of manuscripts published and research grant proposals submitted, scored, and funded, we propose to establish an ECI based on the following hypothesis: The success of early career URM faculty members in neuroscience can be increased substantially by an intensive individualized educational program focused on (1) exposure to cutting edge research in basic neuroscience, (2) increased background on the neurobiology of disease, (3) instruction in professional skills and the responsible conduct of research (RCR), (4) development of an expanded network, and (5) frequent mentoring by established faculty. To test this hypothesis we wish to establish a national Early Career Institute (ECI) to advance the development of URM faculty. We will begin by identifying 10 URM faculty members in the neuroscience each year who are early in their career and have great promise for success. We will then develop individualized career development programs for each participant selected and together the participant and mentoring team will develop a career development plan. To facilitate that plan we will establish a one- year educational program consisting of (a) workshops, (b) mentored attendance at professional scientific meetings, (c) assistance in the expansion of their network, and (d) a listserv to promote communication among the participants. The impact of our efforts will be carefully evaluated and the results disseminated at meetings and in published articles. We believe that this approach will have a significant impact on the success of early career URM faculty in the neurosciences and will also serve as a model for programs in many other areas of academia.
The number of African Americans, Hispanic Americans, American Indians, and Pacific Islanders who are neuroscientists is much lower than would be expected based on their representation in the U.S. population. We will establish a national program that will promote the advancement of these underrepresented minorities who are junior faculty members in neuroscience. The program will involve a series of workshops and mentoring over several years with instruction and mentoring in neuroscience research, professional development, and ethics provided by a large number of nationally recognized faculty members.