This proposal will sustain and expand a novel coaching-based intervention to promote research careers initiated with an NIH Director's ARRA Funded Pathfinder Award to Promote Diversity in the Scientific Workforce in 2010. Called the Academy for Future Science Faculty, it has been created starting from social science theories and models (identity, cultural capital, Communities of Practice and Social Cognitive Career Theory) that provide explanations for why historically underrepresented groups (URM) have been so slow to achieve expected prevalence in faculty ranks. The Academy has brought 160 biomedical PhD students together with 16 Coaches, from throughout the U.S., to test an intervention to promote interest in and persistence toward academic careers. Coaches are biomedical faculty with demonstrated expertise in mentoring specially trained to take on an explicit coaching role within the Academy. The study employs many unique elements, including a purposeful equal representation by men and women, and both URM and non- URM groups in the Academy. As a stratified, randomized controlled trial, it will have the power to determine the true impact of the Academy. Over the past 2 years, the Academy has been established and early results indicate it is having much of the intended impact already. The research and intervention in this proposal would sustain what the Pathfinder award started, and expand it in a unique partnership with 3 scientific Societies by:
Aim 1 - Continuing to support and study the impact of the initial phase of the Academy, and, going forward, virtual meetings of the full Academy communities and the coaching groups.
Aim 2 - Develop a system to foster in-person meetings among Academy students and Coaches at scientific and other meetings using social media-based tools.
Aim 3 - Develop a Coaching Institute for biomedical faculty to acquire extra expertise to serve as expert Coaches for students or postdoctoral fellows, especially those from underrepresented groups.
Aim 4 - Work with 3 scientific Societies to pilot Coaching Institutes for 5-10 faculty (in each of two years) who would then become Coaches for groups of 6-8 PhD students and postdocs attending society meetings (impacting 240-360 students and/or postdocs). Despite high levels of financial and personal effort over the past several decades, the biomedical workforce continues to lack the diversity of individuals needed. The proposed novel research and interventions have the potential to significantly address the core issues that are negatively impacting the success and expression of the full potentials of many young scientists. The expansion proposed is theoretically sound and operationally tested, as well as financially feasible. Furthermore, it situates the coaching of the Academies within scientific disciplines to enable important opportunities scientific networking.

Public Health Relevance

To continue and enhance the prominence of the U.S. in biomedical research, we must find ways to identify, develop and employ the talents of a broader spectrum of our population. The proposed model represents a substantial shift in thinking and approach, and challenges conventional assumptions and practices. However, we believe it could finally achieve a breakthrough in the efforts to diversify the biomedical workforce. It also could be applied to many disciplines and talent pools because it is a generalized model that more systematically approaches development of human talents starting from well-developed social science theories and models.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Research Project (R01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZGM1)
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Sesma, Michael A
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Northwestern University at Chicago
Internal Medicine/Medicine
Schools of Medicine
United States
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