This project will be a campus-wide effort at UC Irvine to broaden the training of biomedical PhD students and postdoctoral fellows. The NIH Biomedical Research Workforce report concluded that graduate training should no longer focus exclusively on preparing scientists for academic research. Faculty, students and administrators at UC Irvine agree that we must recognize and nurture non-academic career paths for PhD trainees. To accomplish this objective, we propose a program called UCI-GPS (UC Irvine Graduate Professional Success) that will encourage students and postdoctoral fellows to prepare for a variety of career options. The program leadership will include faculty, students, staff, and non-academic partners. The proposal has four Specific Aims: (1) EXPLORE: Increase awareness and interest in science-related careers outside academic research; (2) TRAIN: Improve communication and other skills needed to pursue alternative career paths; (3) EXPERIENCE: Provide hands-on experience through internal and external internships; (4) TRANSITION: Build networks that allow trainees to prepare for and transition to science-related careers. The program will transcend department, program, and school boundaries. Students in ten different PhD programs, and postdoctoral fellows in participating departments, will gain access to a diverse menu of professional development activities. A system of professional development credits will encourage participation in activities, including: Seminars and Workshops: PhD degree holders in various science-related professions will visit campus to give lectures and meet participants; Courses: fee waivers will allow participants to gain access to valuable online courses to develop key skills sought by employers; participation in existing classes that specifically develop oral and written scientific communication skills will be expanded; Networking: quarterly mixers will be established to facilitate professional connections in workforce sectors of interest; a mentoring program will also be established; Internships: qualified trainees will have the opportunity to serve as interns for one month or more in diverse work environments outside the academic research laboratory, with support from graduate fellowship funds. Program activities will focus on developing skills that are not generally acquired during academic research training. We will track outcomes of UCI-GPS trainees and an external evaluator will monitor the program impact. The Principal Investigator and Co-Investigators of the UCI-GPS program have a strong track record of graduate training and mentorship, with complementary expertise in different disciplines and experience in the private sector. Together with other key stakeholders on the UCI campus, the UCI-GPS leadership is committed to increasing the percentage of PhD trainees who make successful transitions to science-related careers. This goal aligns with our industry partners who seek a better-trained biomedical workforce.

Public Health Relevance

The purpose of this proposal is to improve the breadth of training for biomedical research students at the University of California, Irvine. We will achieve this objective through activities that prepare graduate students and postdoctoral fellows for science- related careers. By building skills and networks that are not usually available to biomedical trainees, we will increase the participation of talented scientists in a diverse workforce.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Office of The Director, National Institutes of Health (OD)
NIH Director’s Workforce Innovation Award (DP7)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-CVRS-B (50))
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Labosky, Patricia
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University of California Irvine
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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