In the proposed renewal of the Neuroscience Scholars Program (NSP), the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) will build on the program?s history of enhancing career development and professional networking opportunities for graduate and postdoctoral neuroscience researchers from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups and individuals with disabilities (underrepresented neuroscience researchers, or UNRs). The 2019-2024 NSP will pursue three specific aims intended to achieve a diverse neuroscience workforce thriving in research and leadership positions: (1) provide intensive networking, mentoring, and career-building activities to at least 84 NSP Fellows by retaining successful programmatic elements while deepening mentoring, networking, and leadership-building activities; (2) round out current career-enhancing activities for up to 350 NSP Associates to include in-person and online professional development programming as well as new opportunities to travel to the SfN Annual Meeting; and (3) engage NSP Alumni as leaders and mentors in the NSP and broader neuroscience community to support their continued career trajectory and long-term professional success in neuroscience. SfN will continue NSP?s key strategies of providing mentoring, financial support, and social integration and community-building opportunities but will deepen the NSP experience for both Fellows and Associates by emphasizing leadership-building and lifelong mentoring in multiple ways. The renewal period will provide opportunities for NSP Fellows, Associates, and Alumni to lead NSP webinars and online discussions, serve as NSP class advisors and mentors, and organize a new biennial mid-year NSP Conference. These NSP activities seek to build the assets of knowledge, skills, and experience of underrepresented neuroscience researchers to optimally facilitate their progress and transition to more advanced research, education, and training activities. Since 1982, over 900 graduate students and postdoctoral UNRs have completed the NSP and become part of the career-long community of NSP Alumni. Evaluation studies consistently show that NSP Alumni continue along successful career trajectories, attain senior leadership positions in academia and industry, publish actively in peer-reviewed journals, attract grant funding for their research programs, serve as visible role models, and by their example and mentorship, influence the next generation of UNRs to contribute their diverse perspectives to furthering excellence in the field of neuroscience.
A diverse, well-trained neuroscience workforce is instrumental to making new discoveries about how the brain works and to finding innovative ways to prevent and treat neurological illnesses affecting nearly 100 million Americans and costing $800 billion annually (Gooch et al., 2017). Diversity in the neuroscience workforce also ensures that discoveries apply to a broader spectrum of the U.S. population as involvement of researchers from underrepresented groups has significantly increased attention to and research on health disparities and otherwise-neglected issues specific to women?s health and those of diverse populations (Tabak, 2012). By supporting diverse neuroscientists at various career stages, the Neuroscience Scholars Program (NSP) fosters and grows a diverse neuroscience workforce that will efficiently address a breadth of difficult research questions and adopt a range of approaches that may not be imagined by a group with homogeneous backgrounds and training.