The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) convened a workshop on October 1 and 2, 2018 to investigate short-term research training programs in heart, lung, blood, and sleep disorders for clinicians and PhDs. A multidisciplinary working group met to address the following objectives:
Historically, NHLBI has supported a number of short-term research training programs ranging in duration from several days up to six months. An objective of many of these programs is to increase the diversity of the biomedical workforce. To this end, NHLBI funds research education project grants and other mechanisms that address the cultural, professional, and scientific challenges faced by individuals from socio-economic and racial-ethnic groups that are under-represented in the health-related sciences and those with disabilities. Other programs support skills development as exemplified by the six-week NHLBI Summer Institute for Research Education in Biostatistics, and by NHLBI’s contribution to The US Ten Day Seminar on the Epidemiology and Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease.
The accelerating pace of scientific knowledge and new methodologies presents great opportunities, but has brought new challenges to researchers in maintaining their skills and productivity and in progressing in their careers. These challenges are amplified by the continually changing administrative and fiscal constraints faced by academic and research institutions, and by sociocultural factors particularly for individuals from under-represented groups and women. This workshop initiated a discussion about how short-term training programs might be used to meet such challenges in a way that employs best practices, avoids pitfalls, and can be evaluated in a meaningful way.
After a brief review of the workshop objectives and the short-term training programs supported by NHLBI, there were informational presentations by working group experts that addressed: 1) Current Challenges a) in maintaining a sufficient number of physician-scientists, b) for women researchers and those from diverse backgrounds to advance in their careers, and c) in training health professionals in the conduct of late translational and implementation science research; and 2) Web-based Approaches of E-Learning and Personalized Learning.
A discussion-focused format followed with 13 short presentations by working group members in the following general categories:
Each presenter had expertise in one of these categories and was asked to describe briefly a short-term training course in that area, either from experience or from a vision that he or she had, to fulfill relevant and critical objectives. To stimulate subsequent discussion, the presenter was tasked with identifying effective strategies, strategies to avoid, innovative or emerging resources, and valuable partnerships. This format then stimulated 10 to 20 minute discussions by the whole group and laid the groundwork for several hours at the end of the workshop to develop recommendations. There was a consensus that the wide variety of expertise within the group enriched the conversation and that more frequent opportunities for individuals interested in research training to share ideas would be valuable in the future.
In developing its recommendations, the working group was encouraged to think “out of the box”. The result was an impressive list of ideas that will require additional effort to identify priorities for potential future action. Overriding principles were that all short-term training programs should be highly focused, of great interest to the prospective trainees, and designed both to accelerate the dissemination of new knowledge and to enhance the participants’ enthusiasm for the research enterprise. Specific recommendations were made in five areas:
The working group plans to prepare a manuscript for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.