In order to solve the most challenging public health issues, the scientific community needs creative and diverse scientific solutions. As innovation is enhanced when a diverse set of investigators examine a scientific problem, retention of highly skilled scientists from underrepresented groups is critical. Neuroscience assistant professors and postdoctoral scholars from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds, including racial and ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, and people from disadvantaged backgrounds, face three major challenges in their career development. First, comprehensive professional development at these career stages is often overlooked, leaving early career neuroscientists underserved and lacking skills critical for advancement to tenure. Second, people from underrepresented backgrounds are often at higher risk of leaving science due to inequitable access to peer networks, mentors, and advice on how to succeed in faculty careers. Third, they may lack role models for exposure to potential career paths. To fill these gaps, we propose to create BRAINS: Broadening the Representation of Academic Investigators in NeuroSciences, a national program to accelerate and improve the career advancement of neuroscience postdoctoral researchers and assistant professors from underrepresented groups. The BRAINS program creates unique, life- transforming experiences for 50 neuroscientists. BRAINS participants will become more dedicated to their scientific career, better able to direct their careers, and more likely to achieve success in academic neuroscience. The BRAINS program goal is to increase engagement and retention of academic early-career neuroscientists from underrepresented groups by reducing isolation;providing tips, tools, and skills development to prepare for tenure track success;and increasing career self-efficacy. This goal will be met via three synergistic BRAINS activities: A) National Symposia;B) facilitated Peer Mentoring Circles;and C) Invent Your Career teams. The synergism among all these components will: 1. Increase the diversity of neuroscience faculty by providing mentoring, training and skills to under- represented postdoctoral scholars and assistant professors in the neurosciences so they have increased access to resources, feelings of preparedness, and sense of community and connectivity. 2. Reduce isolation of neuroscience postdoctoral scholars and assistant professors from underrepresented groups through the establishment of long-standing peer networks and informal mentoring relationships. 3. Increase career self-efficacy so postdoctoral scholars and assistant professors from underrepresented groups in the neurosciences will have more productive and satisfying careers.
In order to solve the most challenging public health issues, the scientific community needs creative and diverse scientific solutions. As innovation is enhanced when a diverse set of investigators examine a scientific problem, retention of highly skilled scientists from underrepresented groups is critical. The BRAINS project will increase the diversity of neuroscience investigators by providing professional development to neuroscience assistant professors and postdoctoral scholars from underrepresented backgrounds, which will increase their likelihood of achieving success in academic neuroscience and prepare them to be the future leaders in the field.
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