American Society of Hematology

NIH Examines Biomedical Research Workforce Issues

Published on: September 15, 2011

The Advisory Committee to the NIH Director (ACD) has established a working group to examine the future of the biomedical research workforce in the U.S. The group is currently gathering information from various sources including the extramural community, in order to eventually develop a model for a sustainable, diverse, and productive U.S. biomedical research workforce using appropriate expertise from NIH and external sources. The model will help inform decisions about how to train the optimal number of people for the appropriate types of positions that will advance science and promote health.

The working group has released a request for information (RFI) that asks the scientific community to comment on the following issues:

  • The balance between supply, including the number of domestic and foreign trained PhDs and post-docs, and demand (i.e., post-training career opportunities).
  • Characteristics of PhD training in biomedical research, including issues such as:
    • The length of the PhD training period,
    • Recommendations for changes to the PhD curriculum, and 
    • Training for multiple career paths (including bench and non-bench science).
  • Characteristics of clinician-research training including issues such as:
    • The balance between MDs and MD/PhDs,
    • Career development of clinician-researchers, and
    • Recommendations for changes to the curricula for training clinician-researchers.
  • Length of post-doctoral training.
  • The ratio of PhD students and postdoctoral fellows on training grants to those supported by research grants.
  • Possibilities for professional/staff scientist positions and the level of training required for such positions (e.g., PhD or MSc degrees).
  • Issues related to the attractiveness of biomedical research careers (e.g., salary, working conditions, availability of research funding).
  • The effect of changes in NIH policies on investigators, grantee institutions and the broader research enterprise.

ASH is planning to submit comments in response to this RFI and is currently soliciting feedback from the membership on this issue. ASH members who have considered these workforce issues are strongly encouraged to contact ASH Senior Manager for Scientific Affairs Ulyana Desiderio, PhD at or 202-776-0544.

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