Report of the Working Group on Minority
Recruitment into Institutional NRSA Training Programs (1993)
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
NHLBI WORKING GROUP ON MINORITY RECRUITMENT
Early in 1993, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
(NHLBI) convened a Working Group on Minority Recruitment. The purpose of the
Working Group was to:
Examine issues related to research training and the
recruitment of minorities into biomedical science, focusing on barriers and
avenues to the recruitment of minority individuals into research training
Develop recommendations for the NHLBI on approaches to improve
the recruitment of minority individuals into research training programs and
facilitate communication between training programs and minority individuals.
MINORITY RECRUITMENT LEVELS
The Working Group in their deliberations determined that 3
distinct levels of recruitment need to be considered in making recommendations
regarding minority recruitment into the National Institutes of Health (NIH)
National Research Service Award (NRSA) training programs. The 3 levels are:
1) Predoctoral Recruitment,
2) Ph.D. Postdoctoral
3) M.D. Postdoctoral Recruitment
The problems in recruiting underrepresented minority individuals
into these 3 levels are varied and distinct.
Issues affecting the recruitment of minority students into
graduate programs include the number of minority students in the science pool,
difficulties associated with recruiting minority students to large research
institutions, and the involvement of minority institutions in encouraging
minority students to pursue careers in the biomedical and behavioral sciences.
There was consensus among the Working Group that the development of
partnerships between minority institutions and research training centers would
be invaluable to increasing the number of minority students entering graduate
science programs and receiving graduate degrees in the sciences. The Working
Group identified several other strategies to attract minority undergraduate
students to science and to prepare them to successfully enter graduate
Require institutional NRSA training grant programs to
develop a partnership program with at least one minority institution.
Allow institutional NRSA training programs to appoint
undergraduate minority students to short-term training positions.
Have the NHLBI provide up to 6 years of supplemental
support, for stipend and tuition support for M.D./Ph.D. students, to
institutional NRSA training programs that recruit minority medical students
into a combined degree program.
Require institutional NRSA training grant programs to
develop alliances with their undergraduate science departments to help identify
and recruit minority students within the institution into the training grant
Ph.D. Postdoctoral Training Recruitment
Data from the National Science Foundation indicates that fewer
than 200 minority individuals receive Ph.D. degrees in the life sciences each
year. Given this small pool it may not be possible to increase the number of
minority Ph.D. postdoctoral trainees in NHLBI institutional NRSA research
training grants. The number of minority individuals receiving Ph.D.s in the
life sciences emphasizes the importance of increasing the number of minority
students entering graduate science programs.
Have NHLBI develop a central registry of minority students
due to receive doctoral degrees.
Have institutions develop prematriculation programs for
graduate students similar to the programs available for undergraduate students
planning to pursue careers in medicine.
M.D. Postdoctoral Trainee Recruitment
One problem concerning the recruitment of minority individuals
into training programs is related to the way M.D. fellows are recruited. Most
training programs recruit M.D. trainees from within their institution's
residency or subspecialty training programs. As a result, the training program
is dependent on the diversity of their institution's clinical training programs
for recruiting minority M.D. postdoctoral trainees. Additionally, there are
other barriers which mitigate against minority M.D. recipients pursuing
research careers. However, the Working Group did identify approaches that
should be employed to attract minority M.D. recipients to NRSA training
Develop an NIH/NHLBI program directed at recruiting
minority medical students in their second year of medical school into a
combined M.D./Ph.D. program. It would be similar to the NIGMS Medical Scientist
Training Program (MSTP) but offer individuals fellowships or allow
institutional NRSA training grants to add positions and funds to support such
trainees. Such a program should include a loan repayment provision to minimize
medical school costs that may have already been incurred.
Enhance minority medical student recruitment by offering
the opportunity to enter combined residency postdoctural programs with the
support for the research portion coming from the NHLBI. Such commitments would
be available as supplements to existing institutional NRSA training
In addition to issues associated with recruitment at various
educational levels, the Working Group considered the types of institutional
commitments necessary for successful recruitment of minority individuals onto
NHLBI institutional NRSA research training programs. Commitments are required
from the individual NRSA training grant director, the sponsoring institution,
the NIH/NHLBI, and minority institutions.
Training Grant Sponsoring Institution
The Working Group concluded that the current minority
recruitment plans for T32 applications should contain a more defined commitment
from sponsoring institutions to recruiting minorities. The Working Group
identified resources that should be at sponsoring institutions to facilitate
minority recruitment and retention.
Develop a coordinated minority recruitment plan at the
applicant institution that includes the directors of all institutional NRSA
training grant programs.
Develop university and community resources for social
support of minority students coming from different cultures.
Identify an individual(s) within the sponsoring institution
who is responsible for counseling applicants about resources available to them
from the NHLBI, the sponsoring institution, and other sources.
Compile statistics of minority student enrollment in
appropriate training levels (predoctoral, Ph.D. postdoctoral, M.D.
postdoctoral, or M.D./Ph.D. programs) at the sponsoring institution to monitor
the success of the minority recruitment effort.
Require sponsoring institutions involved in medical student
education to develop programs to encourage minority medical students to
consider research careers.
Individual Institutional NRSA Training Grant Programs
The personal involvement of the institutional NRSA training
grant director and faculty of the institutional NRSA training grant program in
minority recruitment is the most important ingredient needed to improve the
access of minority students to careers in biomedical research. Efforts should
be made to encourage the personal involvement of these individuals.
Require institutional NRSA training grant program directors
at the same sponsoring institution to coordinate their recruitment
The role of NIH/NHLBI is to require institutional NRSA training
grant programs to develop a minority recruitment plan. The Working Group
concluded that the NIH/NHLBI should actively assist the institutional NRSA
training grants in their minority recruitment efforts by developing,
organizing, and disseminating information. The NIH/NHLBI effort might include
development and distribution of brochures, compilation of information on
minority science students, and communication of information on research
training and career development opportunities.
Develop and distribute an NHLBI brochure highlighting
minority research opportunities and describing the various institutional NRSA
training programs supported by the NHLBI.
Work with minority institutions to identify academic
advisors who counsel students majoring in biomedical science areas, and provide
opportunities for them to meet with institutional NRSA training grant directors
to learn about their programs and serve as contacts for coordinating
Develop an NHLBI-sponsored training program for minority
student advisors to make them aware of the research training and career
development opportunities available for minority students.
Support the development of an NHLBI syllabus/course on what
research/science is about that could be utilized by minority institutions to
introduce students to careers in biomedical and behavioral science.
Develop a list of minority institutions and those with
significant minority student populations. The list could include MARC and MBRS
programs currently supported by the NIH. The list would be provided on a
regular basis to institutional NRSA training programs.
Represent the institutional NRSA training grant programs at
appropriate national minority meetings.
The term "minority institution" should be broadened to include
not only those schools with large numbers of minority students, currently
defined as 50 percent or more of the total student enrollment, but also schools
with a large minority population independent of the total student population.
Any policy statements or recommendations should consider what might be done to
improve the activities of these institutions in advising and directing minority
students to the resources necessary to develop careers in biomedical research.
The definition of Minority Institution, with regard to the
NIH minority recruitment policy, should be revised to include schools with a
large minority student population.