Washington Update

NIGMS Advisory Council Discussions Highlight Educational Resources

By: Yvette Seger
Thursday, September 14, 2023
During its recent meeting, the Advisory Council for the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) heard highlights of recent endeavors to further STEM education and professional development across career stages. In his Director’s Report, Jon Lorsch, PhD, highlighted resources targeted to K–12 students and educators, including the STEM Teaching Resources Portal, which provides free, easy-to-access materials to engage students in health science, and the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH’s) partnership with the interactive quiz application, Kahoot! NIGMS also provides a searchable collection of photos, illustrations, and videos resulting from its funded work for science teachers and enthusiasts.

A signature program to enhance diversity in the academic biomedical research workforce, Maximizing Opportunities for Scientific and Academic Independent Careers (MOSAIC) continues to meet and exceed expectations. By the end of fiscal year 2023, the program will have supported over 130 individual researchers transitioning from a postdoctoral fellowship to an independent appointment through the K99/R00 mechanism, with career development support provided to annual cohorts hosted by professional organizations or scientific societies. Since its launch in 2020, approximately one-third of MOSAIC scholars have accepted or started faculty appointments.

Council members also heard the outcomes of the evaluation of the NIGMS Institutional Development Award (IDeA) Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) program, which sought to assess the program’s effectiveness toward meeting its objectives, whether the program format is appropriate for the desired outcomes, and identify aspects of the program that could be optimized, improved, or strengthened. Established in 2001, the INBRE program seeks to develop statewide research networks and infrastructure to develop faculty research expertise and provide research opportunities for students in IDeA states. Through examination of metrics, including subsequent NIH funding, available laboratory space, faculty publications, and degrees conferred, the INBRE program was determined to be effective at achieving its objectives. The evaluation working group did offer several recommendations for consideration, including metrics to assess the program’s contributions to diversifying the biomedical workforce, student engagement, and ways INBRE affected research culture and partner institutions.