NIGMS strongly believes that a diverse workforce benefits the entire scientific enterprise. The Diversity Supplements Program (DSP) provides one mechanism to support this goal by facilitating the recruitment of individuals from diverse backgrounds to pursue scientific careers. NIGMS views the DSP as an opportunity to attract individuals early in the “pipeline” (e.g., high school, undergraduate, post-baccalaureate) to consider research careers. The program also provides an opportunity to support the development of early stage graduate students and postdoctoral fellows as they pursue their scientific careers. NIGMS does not provide support through the DSP to individuals at the investigator level.
The NIGMS DSP implements the objectives of promoting a diverse biomedical workforce in several ways:
- Exposing individuals at early academic stages (e.g., high school, undergraduate and post-baccalaureate) to careers in science and generating excitement about science by providing research experiences.
- Serving as a recruitment tool to attract individuals into an investigator’s lab, particularly when other funds are not available.
- Supporting the initial training and career development of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to prepare them to be competitive for traditional means of support.
At the graduate student and postdoctoral levels, NIGMS emphasizes supporting individuals in the early stages of their training, generally in years 1-3, with an expectation that the individuals will then transition to traditional means of support appropriate for their stage of development. Examples include support through the parent grant, appointment to an institutional training grant or receipt of an individual fellowship. NIGMS believes that support through these mechanisms is in the long-term best interest of the trainee, and demonstrates the commitment of the investigator and institution to the student or fellow. In addition, the program announcement explicitly states that the DSP is not intended to be used to free up funds from the parent grant; therefore a candidate may not be supported by the parent grant at the time of the supplement request.
NIGMS considers active and personalized mentoring on the part of the principal investigator of the parent grant to be an essential component of a competitive diversity supplement application. Mentoring and training plans should identify weaknesses and gaps in the candidate’s training that need to be addressed. When appropriate, co-mentoring approaches also are encouraged.
For additional information on diversity supplements, see the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts, April 6, 2012 (PA-12-149), or contact Dr. Marion Zatz, 301-594-3833.