The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently announced several changes to programs and policies that impact will impact the pipeline of students entering the biomedical sciences. Among the proposed changes are new training initiatives and an effort to increase workforce diversity.

NIH plans to create a grant program for institutions to develop new approaches to complement traditional research training. One area of potential innovation is preparing young scientists for careers in industry or science policy. The agency will also increase funding for two types of grants that help young researchers start their own labs.

Additionally, NIH will try to reduce the length of graduate student training by encouraging institutions to limit NIH support to five years. All students and postdocs supported by the agency will also be required to have an Individual Development Plan that sets career goals; this move is aimed at getting advisers more engaged in the outcomes of their trainees.

The starting postdoc stipend will be raised by $3,000 and NIH will assess the creation of a policy to improve benefits for postdocs.

To increase minority representation in the biomedical workforce, NIH will spend up to $500 million over a decade on a new initiative that will support undergraduate scholarships and research experiences. The program will support 150 new students each year. The initial sites for the new program will likely be institutions with less than $7.5 million a year in NIH funding and a significant student population with need-based federal support. Participating students will be paired with personnel at research universities and centers where they can get research experience.


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