Investing in the Future: National Institute of General Medical Sciences Strategic Plan for Biomedical and Behavioral Research Training 2011
The NIGMS Vision for Biomedical and Behavioral Research Training
NIGMS plays a significant role in biomedical and behavioral research training funded by the Federal Government, supporting nearly half of all NIH-sponsored predoctoral students in training programs at colleges, universities and medical centers across the country. In addition, as noted earlier in this plan, NIGMS supports the majority of its trainees on research project grants, or R01s. Because training is a core element of the NIGMS mission, the Institute takes very seriously its leadership role in encouraging practices and approaches that prepare trainees for research as well as a range of other valuable and productive scientific careers.
NIGMS recognizes that fostering fundamental change to achieve this goal can be challenging. It is also clear that the needs and opportunities presented in this plan cannot be fully addressed or pursued by NIGMS alone. Indeed, implementing many of the objectives will require a healthy, active partnership among all stakeholders engaged in highquality research training.
The NIGMS Strategic Plan for Biomedical and Behavioral Research Training results from extensive stakeholder input combined with a careful and thoughtful analysis of NIGMS core values and activities. The key themes listed below constitute our vision for the future of research training; specific actions related to each theme appear in the next section.
- Research training is a responsibility shared by NIH, academic institutions, faculty and trainees.
- Research training focuses on student development, not simply selection of talent.
- Breadth and flexibility enable research training to keep pace with the opportunities and demands of contemporary science and provide the foundation for a variety of scientific career paths.
- Diversity is an indispensable component or research training excellence, and it must be advanced across the entire research enterprise.
NIGMS and Research Training
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NIGMS is one of 27 NIH institutes and centers. The Institute's mission is focused primarily on basic research and research training. The majority of the NIGMS budget14 funds individual research project grants, mainly R01 grants, with approximately 10 percent15 of the NIGMS budget funding research training programs16 and individual fellowships for predoctoral and postdoctoral trainees.
Although NIGMS is considered NIH's "training institute" by virtue of the number, breadth and forwardthinking features of its training programs, the Institute readily acknowledges that the bulk of NIGMS- and NIH-supported graduate students and postdoctoral scholars receive support from research grants throughout at least part of their training. Notably, R01-supported training support has risen substantially in the past few decades (Figure 1), and this trend is expected to continue.
NIGMS-sponsored training covers a wide spectrum of topical areas relevant to the Institute's mission. However, and in contrast to the philosophy and practice of various categorical NIH institutes, NIGMS-funded training aims to provide broad-based skills and approaches applicable to a range of different fields and careers.
The NIGMS training investment continues to set a high standard for research training as it relates to research skills and the acquisition of career-related knowledge. The Institute recognizes the broader effects of its institutional training grants and other research training policies for their impact on many students and faculty beyond those supported by NIGMS training programs.
The recruitment and retention of researchers who collectively bring diversity to the pool of NIH-funded scientists has been a long-supported activity at NIH, and a mission-specific endeavor at NIGMS. Diversity programs began at NIH in 1972. This emphasis grew, and now NIGMS hosts and manages a range of programs in this area.