APA Responds to NIH Call for Comments on Research Training

APA experts are helping shape a strategic plan on research training for the NIH’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences.

By Pat Kobor

The American Psychological Association recently submitted comments to the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to help inform the development of a strategic plan on research training.  NIGMS is widely considered to be the “training institute” at NIH, by virtue of the number and breadth of its programs, which include Ruth Kirschstein National Research Service Awards.

APA’s comments were informed by thoughtful contributions from the APA Board of Scientific Affairs and the APA Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs.

The comments (PDF, 43.9KB) were submitted to NIGMS at its website in response to specific questions, in a feedback process that is increasingly common at NIH.  Strict word limits require commenters to set priorities and carefully edit their responses.  This process makes it easier for NIH staff to gather and make sense of hundreds of comments.

The questions posed by NIGMS were:

  1. What constitutes "success" in biomedical research training from the perspectives of an individual trainee, an institution, and society?

  2. What can NIGMS do to encourage an optimal balance of breadth and depth in research training?

  3. What can NIGMS do to encourage an appropriate balance between research productivity and successful outcomes for the mentor’s trainees?

  4. What can NIGMS do through its training programs to promote and encourage greater diversity in the biomedical research workforce?

  5. Recognizing that students have different career goals and interests, should NIGMS encourage greater flexibility in training, and if so, how?

  6. What should NIGMS do to ensure that institutions monitor, measure, and continuously improve the quality of their training efforts?

“APA’s comments provided productive, constructive suggestions,” said Howard Kurtzman, APA’s Deputy Executive Director for Science.  “APA’s members have a great deal of training and mentoring expertise that NIGMS is glad to tap in to.”

Along with receiving advice about research training via its website, NIGMS will hold a webinar on June 11 and four meetings across the country.  As PSA goes to press, the remaining meetings are: San Francisco, CA (May 12), Chicago, IL (May 25), and Atlanta, GA (June 4). The strategic plan will be drafted in late summer, 2010, and finalized before the end of 2010.

Pat Kobor is Senior Science Policy Analyst in the APA Science Government Relations Office. She advocates for psychological research at the National Institutes of Health.