Training Modules for Enhancing Biomedical Research Workforce Training (R25)

This program is intended to enable and encourage the scientific community to create and disseminate training modules that will effectively contribute to the advancement of the biomedical research workforce. NIGMS intends to fund training modules in distinct subject areas that are currently relevant to biomedical scientists. The subject topics are described through “Notices of Special Interest (NOSI)” found in the “Related Notices” section of the notice of funding opportunity PAR-24-040.

The NOSI NOT-GM-24-007​​ describes the five topic areas for the 2024 receipt date. Applicants must focus on one of the topics below and may address only one topic per application.

  1. Improving Mental Health and Well-Being through Organizational Change: Navigating the biomedical research training pathway can be overwhelming and lead to stress, anxiety, and self-doubt. Research organizations are in a position to establish programs that support the mental and physical well-being of the biomedical research workforce. The U.S. Surgeon General’s Framework for Workplace Mental Health and Well-Being, intended to spark organizational dialogue and change in the workplace, establishes five essential components to help re-imagine workplaces as engines of well-being including: 1) protection from harm, 2) connection and community, 3) life-work harmony, 4) mattering at work, and 5) opportunity for growth. NIGMS encourages applications for the development and implementation of training modules that will effectively address one or more of these five essential components at different organizational levels, such as departments, divisions, offices, and laboratories and may span multiple career stages, from students to organizational leadership.
  2. Addressing Structural Barriers and Discrimination: The scientific community has an increasing appreciation for the need to address the impacts of structural barriers and discrimination across career stages in the biomedical research enterprise. Applications are encouraged for the development and implementation of modules focused on addressing structural barriers and discrimination to reduce disparities in recruitment, retention, and success of trainees and other researchers, and to promote access, inclusion, equity, and accessibility in the biomedical research environment. Modules should focus on how to create research training environments optimized for productive learning and research - free from harassment, intimidation, and discrimination - where all participants feel safe and are treated in a respectful and supportive manner. Applications must specify the skills and knowledge that will be gained by the participants and how the module will help the participants address the structures and ways of thinking that are barriers to success.
  3. Promoting Laboratory Safety in Research Environments: NIGMS will support the development of training modules that will help catalyze a strong culture of responsibility and obligation to maintain high standards for physical, chemical, and biological safety in research training environments. Specifically, environments in which physical, chemical, and biological safety is prioritized, and the core values and behaviors of leadership and the research and training communities emphasize safety over competing goals. Applications must specify the skills and knowledge that will be gained by the participants and how it will help the participants address physical, chemical, and biological safety in the research environment.
  4. Strengthening Rigor, Reproducibility, and Transparency of Biomedical Research Techniques: Principles of rigorous biomedical research are cross-cutting concepts, processes, and practices that promote rigorous, transparent, and robust scientific experiments. These principles apply across a wide variety of scientific disciplines, techniques, and approaches. NIH defines scientific rigor as “the strict application of the scientific method to ensure robust and unbiased experimental design, methodology, analysis, interpretation and reporting of results". The proposed module should develop content that promotes rigorous, reproducible, and transparent execution of biomedical research techniques relevant to the NIGMS mission. For example, various forms of microscopy, mass spectrometry, immunodetection, genetic sequencing, cell culture, computational methods or tools, high throughput techniques, behavioral testing of non-human research organisms. Approaches to proper controls, sample size, statistical analyses, transparent reporting, among others, associated with each method should be discussed.
  5. Enhancing Program Evaluation Capacity: NIGMS encourages applications on the development of evaluation capacity at organizations with biomedical research training programs. The proposed modules should inform program directors and administrators about effective and practical approaches to evaluate biomedical research training programs. The modules are expected to be developed with input from a range of experts (for example, social scientists, statisticians, education professionals).

Modules can take many different formats and approaches. In general, NIGMS will support modules that:

  • Create educational activities with a primary focus on either (1) courses for skills development or (2) curriculum or methods development.
  • Assess the current training needs of the intended audience, specifying the skills and knowledge that will be gained by the audience and how the module will enhance the biomedical research workforce.
  • Fill a gap in the existing educational resources and ensure the content is relevant and broadly useful for audiences that include biomedical researchers at one or more professional levels including students, postdoctoral scientists, staff scientists, clinical researchers, research faculty, etc.
  • Result in meaningful, sustained change in the biomedical research workforce and cover material not typically included as part of the current institutional coursework.
  • Are timely, informative, engaging, easily accessible, and free to the biomedical research community.

Because of the complex nature of these topics, expert(s) in the subject areas are highly encouraged to be part of the investigator team. Members of the PD/PI team may hold a professional role other than professor or research faculty.

Finally, applicants should note that this funding opportunity is not intended to support stipends or salaries of trainees or participants in organizational training programs. However, individuals serving as training module development participants may receive compensation for giving feedback on the content. The funding is intended to create educational modules to be used in biomedical research environments, not to provide financial support to institutional training programs.

For the benefit of the scientific community, the training module end products are posted on the NIGMS website as they become available. For examples, see previously funded initiatives to enhance data rigor and reproducibility.

For more information about this program, read the Answers to Frequently Asked Questions or contact Kalynda Gonzales Stokes and Edgardo Falcon-Morales.