Washington Update

FASEB Advocates for Broader Inclusion in NRSA Fellowship Program

By: Grace Steward
Thursday, November 10, 2022
On November 2, FASEB sent comments to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Center for Scientific Review (CSR) Advisory Council in response to the final recommendations presented by its Fellowship Review Working Group. In those comments, FASEB thanked the working group for their efforts to broaden the background of NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) fellowship awardees. FASEB also put forth considerations to augment the working group's recommendations.

The response largely supported revisions to fellowship evaluation criteria and application supplements that deemphasized the prestige of the institution and sponsor. Instead, the newly proposed criteria focused on the applicants' merits in the context of their background and growth opportunities. In the spirit of the recommendations, FASEB suggested reference letter eligibility be expanded to include input from mentors outside of a strict research context, which will better serve applicants who have previously been perceived as lacking the necessary research experience to become an excellent scientists. Additionally, FASEB urged CSR to include mechanisms for addressing the gaps in mentorship experience for early-career sponsors compared to their senior colleagues, which will be important to mitigate sponsor prestige.

FASEB also voiced strong support for the proposed honorable mention function that can bolster early-career scientists and continued calls for career goals outside of academia to be welcomed under this fellowship awards. Underscored throughout the response are calls for clear and specific guidance to community members for each proposed change. FASEB looks forward to implementing these recommendations, as they will be key to producing the diverse and innovative biomedical research workforce necessary to tackle the challenges of tomorrow.