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NIH moves to broaden research training

The National Institutes of Health has launched an initiative to expand its existing research training programs for various research-related careers.

The new training awards, dubbed the Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training (BEST) program, will be piloted through the NIH Common Fund. They will support the development of new and innovative methods for preparing graduate students for the full breadth of research and research-related careers in the biomedical, behavioral, social, or clinical sciences. “Especially in challenging financial times, it is important to not only prepare trainees for a diverse set of career outcomes, but to leverage existing resources and enlist additional support from the potential beneficiaries of NIH-supported training—the employers of PhD scientists,” stated Sally Rockey, who directs NIH’s Office of Extramural Research, in an 8 March blog post. Rockey explained that applicant research institutions can choose from various approaches, such as initiating mutually beneficial collaborations with business, public policy or economics programs at universities. Another option is to propose developing partnerships beyond academia and engaging industry or not-for-profit organisations, she said. As many as 15 BEST awards will be made in fiscal year 2013 to support the program and administrative needs of research institutions during the initial stages of the program’s development. The goal is for these institutions to create self-sustaining programs in collaboration with external support. NIH plans to review applications to the BEST funding opportunity this summer. Letters of intent are due in April, and applications are due in May.

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