Increasing the diversity of the biomedical workforce requires that faculty mentors of underrepresented (UR) trainees are proficient in grantsmanship and mentoring in order to: a) demonstrate cultural competencies to adequately support UR trainees, engage them in rigorous research training, and prepare them for entry to graduate programs, and b) support career development of faculty, including UR faculty, where advancement and transition for research faculty is measured by their ability to obtain external funding support. However, mastering these complex skills is time-consuming and faculty need specialized training to gain proficiency. The conventional, status quo approach for most faculty training is ?low-touch,? one-time workshops. The proposed study aims to generate new knowledge on the outcomes and benefits of an intensive, sustained training model approach (high touch) through a multi-site HBCU experiment. The study design builds on evidence?based best practices, including the University of North Texas Health Science Center (UNTHSC) National Research Mentoring Network Steps Toward Academic Research (NRMN-STAR) Program, and includes 2 innovative aspects: 1) it includes a controlled randomized research study to test the efficacy of sustained vs. one time interventions (high vs. low touch), and 2) along with grantsmanship which has been studied in the STAR program, it includes mentoring training. The study is a partnership between three Historically Black Colleges/Universities (HBCUs) - Savannah State University (lead), Albany State University, and Alabama State University ? each of which has large numbers of UR faculty and students who can benefit from new training approaches to increase their faculty and students? contributions to the biomedical scientific community. The 3?year training experiment will engage 3 cohorts of faculty participants (18/cohort for a total study population of 54), drawn from all full-time faculty at the partners who are interested in pursuing biomedical/behavioral research. All disciplines will be invited to apply to support a diversity of disciplines participating in biomedical/behavioral research, including interdisciplinary and community-based research. The study will be a mixed experimental design with random selection and assignment of participants. Each cohort will engage in a 12 month training experiment, with the low touch group receiving an introductory 2 day workshop and a follow-up webinar, and the high touch group receiving the introductory workshop and additional workshops/webinars and monthly coaching from peer coaches. Both groups will be eligible to apply for pilot project funding. The goal over the 12 month experiment is for faculty to prepare a research proposal which can be submitted to NIH in the next funding cycle. Pre-/Post survey data on faculty efficacy will be gathered for each cohort, and following the end of the experiment, faculty productivity for grant submissions, awards, student mentoring, and peer coaching will be monitored, and outcomes compared for the high and low touch groups against a comparison group of all faculty at each site. We expect that study research findings and outcomes will lead to a predictive model that can be translated to persistence and career development of faculty at other HBCUs and majority institutions.

Public Health Relevance

Strengthening faculty training in grantsmanship and mentoring is essential to increasing the diversity of the biomedical/behavioral research workforce. Savannah State University, Alabama State University, and Albany State University, all HBCUs, submit this proposed DPC Phase II research project to investigate the impacts of one-time vs. sustained interventions for faculty training in grantsmanship and mentoring on faculty self- efficacy, research productivity and career development, and mentoring and preparation of underrepresented (UR) groups for research careers. The research project will add to the knowledge base on how the targeted interventions will strengthen faculty research/grant-writing/mentoring capabilities and productivity and thereby lead to the sustained production of more UR scientists, which is necessary to support NIH?s mission to improve the public health.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Research Project--Cooperative Agreements (U01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZGM1)
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Falcon-Morales, Edgardo
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Savannah State University
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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