Retention of highly skilled scientists from diverse and underrepresented groups is critical for creating the diverse leadership necessary for innovation in neuroscience. Unfortunately, individuals from underrepresented groups often have higher turnover rates due to a greater sense of isolation and inequitable access to networks, mentors, and key resources that affect career success. Neuroscience postdoctoral researchers and assistant professors from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds (including racial and ethnic minorities and people with disabilities) are not immune to these issues. BRAINS: Broadening the Representation of Academic Investigators in NeuroScience adopts novel approaches to diversify neuroscience such that career advancement and retention of post-Ph.D., early-career neuroscientists from underrepresented groups (URGs: racial and ethnic minorities and persons with disabilities) are increased. BRAINS explicitly seeks to plug the neuroscience early career leaky pipeline by offering a novel professional development program that addresses factors known to impact persistence and career decisions of individuals from URGs in science. Such factors include one's sense of belonging and self-efficacy, the belief in one's ability to perform particular behaviors to produce a specific outcome. BRAINS intentionally targets talented neuroscientists considered at risk for leaving science and academia due to lack of professional support and career self-efficacy. BRAINS has already significantly impacted the career self-efficacy, career satisfaction, and sense of belonging of 56 participants. BRAINS will next enhance the breadth and depth of its impact by tripling the number of neuroscientists participating in the program, and by introducing formal cross- cohort activities that deepen the program's influence on participants' career advancement. Specifically, BRAINS' increased impact on the leaky pipeline will occur by 1. Expanding the longitudinal evaluation of all prior BRAINS participants and non-selected applicants, and growing the program by adding two new cohorts of BRAINS Fellows. 2. Foster additional synergistic networks, career skills, and the leadership potential of BRAINS Fellows through new cross-cohort activities. 3. Broadening BRAINS' reach amongst early-career neuroscientists from URGs by introducing a BRAINS Affiliates Program.

Public Health Relevance

In order to solve the most challenging public health issues and address health disparities and inequalities, the scientific community needs creative scientific solutions and a diverse set of investigators to contribute to these solutions. As retention of highly skilled scientists from underrepresented groups (URGs) is critical to this effort, BRAINS explicitly seeks to plug the leaky pipeline of career advancement in the neurosciences by offering a novel professional development program that addresses knows factors which impact persistence and career decisions of individuals from URGs in science. The BRAINS project targets assistant professors and postdoctoral scholars from underrepresented backgrounds and aims to increase their likelihood of achieving success in academic neuroscience and prepare them to be the future leaders in the field.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Education Projects (R25)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZNS1)
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Jones, Michelle
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University of Washington
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United States
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Yen, Joyce W; Horner-Devine, M Claire; Margherio, Cara et al. (2017) The BRAINS Program: Transforming Career Development to Advance Diversity and Equity in Neuroscience. Neuron 94:426-430
Margherio, Cara; Horner-Devine, M Claire; Mizumori, Sheri J Y et al. (2016) Learning to Thrive: Building Diverse Scientists' Access to Community and Resources through the BRAINS Program. CBE Life Sci Educ 15: