National Research Mentoring Network Phase II

During the second phase of the Diversity Program Consortium (DPC) National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) initiative, researchers are continuing to develop mentoring and networking opportunities for biomedical researchers from diverse backgrounds, including those from underrepresented groups, from the undergraduate level through early career faculty. To broaden the number of innovative strategies explored and increase the likelihood of impact, sustainability, and dissemination, NRMN Phase II will be organized as a consortium of independent research projects, with a Coordination Center and a Resource Center.

The NRMN Coordination Center (RFA-RM-18-003, PI: Christine E. Pfund, the University of Wisconsin-Madison) will play two main roles in NRMN Phase II. One of the Center’s responsibilities is to coordinate the early stages of data collection from the 11 NRMN Science of Mentoring interventions and provide feedback to on the data collected from the interventions to maximize the research benefit of activities. The Center’s second primary responsibility is promoting synergies between the NRMN consortium and the DPC’s Center for Coordination and Evaluation (CEC), for the long-term collection and storage of data.

The NRMN Resource Center (RFA-RM-18-002, PI: Jamboor K. Vishwanatha, the University of North Texas Health Science Center) provides a web-based mentoring tool to facilitate mentor-mentee engagement and networking. During Phase II, the Center will refine the existing MyNRMN application and other services offered through the NRMNet website. This Center also oversees management of the NRMN website, reports on outputs from NRMN components and will create a platform for publicly available mentoring resources and tools.

There are 11 unique research projects that make up the Science of Mentoring, Networking, and Navigating Career Transition Points (RFA-RM-18-004) segment of NRMN Phase II. Using robust experimental designs, the projects are intended to expand the scientific scope of the NRMN initiative by exploring a variety of evidence-based mentoring and networking approaches to advance careers of individuals from diverse backgrounds, including those from underrepresented groups in the biomedical research workforce.

The 11 projects are based at institutions across the United States, and each will collect data as part of the Consortium-wide Evaluation Plan:

Boosting Mentor Effectiveness in Training of Research Scientists (MENTORS) Using Social Cognitive Career Theory to Support Entry of Women & Minorities into Physician-Scientist Careers

  • PIs: Vineet Arora and Rachel Wolfson (m-PI), the University of Chicago
  • This intervention will use a randomized trial to test the effectiveness of virtual mentor training on women and minority medical student persistence in research careers during the required scholarly concentration programs at eight medical schools that participate in the Scholarly Concentrations Collaborative. The intervention aims to address the lack of gender and racial diversity in the physician scientist workforce.

Impact of Culturally Aware Mentoring Interventions on Research Mentors and Graduate Training Programs

  • PI: Angela Byars-Winston, the University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • This intervention aims to train 600 faculty mentors in culturally aware mentoring practices to facilitate the academic success of doctoral students in biomedical disciplines and will include research on outcomes for individual faculty mentors and factors for organizational change in departmental culture.

Building a Diverse Biomedical Workforce Through Communication Across Difference

  • PI: Carrie A. Cameron, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
  • This research project will test the effects of an intervention on communicating across various dimensions of difference in dyads of SURP and their Ph.D. or postdoctoral junior mentors (summer supervisors). The investigators will conduct novel communication workshops at 4 U54 cancer centers. The dyad partners will complete pre, post, and follow-up surveys and their long-term career outcomes will be followed for the duration of the funding period. The goal is to investigate whether improved 1-on-1 trust and comfort level in these relationships improve career commitment and performance for both dyad partners.

Studying Inclusive Mentor Networks to Diversify the Biomedical Workforce

  • PIs: Mica Beth Estrada, the University of California, San Francisco; Paul Hernandez, University of Texas A&M; Nichole Broderick, University of Connecticut; Jo Handlesman, University of Wisconsin.
  • This is a scalable, social inclusion intervention that will be administered to hundreds of faculty and thousands of undergraduate students, as an add-on to the Tiny Earth program, to inform the field of mentorship science and enhance future mentorship programs that aim to broaden participation in the STEM fields. The study uses a theory-driven, longitudinal experimental design, to determine when, how, and for whom this social inclusion intervention improves faculty and student mentorship, professional networks, and integration into biomedical career pathways.

Peer group mentoring for racially underrepresented early career biomedical researchers: Identifying the unique influence of psychosocial support on personal gains and objective career outcomes

  • PIs: Susan S. Girdler, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Friederike Jayes, Duke University
  • This study will examine the benefits of adding psychosocial, peer group assisted mentoring on topics including microaggressions and the imposter syndrome, to typical skills-based mentoring for underrepresented biomedical postdoctoral or junior faculty researchers.

Intersection of Social Capital, Mentorship and Networking on Persistence, Engagement and Science Identity

  • PI: Manoj K. Mishra, Alabama State University
  • This study, which relies on a mixed experimental design with random selection and assignment of participants to Active Intervention (test) and Control Intervention (control) groups, will focus on freshmen undergraduates at three historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs: Alabama State University, Tuskegee University, and Savannah State University) in the South. The HBCUs are geographically distributed with different individual- and neighborhood-level socioeconomic factors. Using a random, controlled experimental design, the researchers will look at the persistence of underrepresented first-year students. The overall goals of this proposal are to test:
    1. the effects of pre-existing social and contextual factors on participation of undergraduate students from diverse backgrounds in biomedical workforce
    2. test whether mentoring/networking intervention, mainly in freshmen and sophomore years, influence the persistence, engagement, and development of science identity of students from diverse backgrounds.
      Based on historical data and background, the researchers hypothesize that the preexisting social and contextual capital factors among diverse students mediates the persistence, engagement and overall success rate of students as an individual and as a group. This hypothesis will be tested in three aims and the expected outcome of the interventions is increased persistence, engagement and science identity of the test group resulting in the successful transition to the next career stage

A Randomized Controlled Study to Test the Effectiveness of Development Network Coaching in the Career Advancement of Diverse Early Stage Investigators

  • PI: Elizabeth O. Ofili, Morehouse School of Medicine
  • This randomized, controlled study will test a structured grant writing plus developmental network coaching intervention for early stage investigators, compared to grant writing coaching alone.

Enhanced Grant Writing Coaching Intervention for a Diverse Biomedical Workforce

  • PI: Kolawole S. Okuyemi, the University of Utah
  • This intervention will build on the investigator’s previous NRMN-funded research and provide grant writing skills training to underrepresented junior investigators to enhance their productivity and independence, looking at coaching dosage and engagement.
  • The project has two major aims including:
    • Aim 1: Determine the effectiveness of a new, enhanced coaching intervention on proposal submission and funding rates when varying coaching dose (regular vs. extended), and mode of engaging local mentors (unstructured vs. structured). The investigators will enroll 288 trainee/mentor dyads randomized to 1 of 4 arms:
      • Arm 1 = Regular + Unstructured;
      • Arm 2 = Regular + Structured;
      • Arm 3 = Extended + Unstructured;
      • Arm 4 = Extended + Structured
      While one might expect extended coaching to lead to more successful funding, this has not been empirically tested, and the investigators propose that they may find that a ceiling effect is achieved during the first round of intensive intervention. Another untested but potentially important variable is whether and how to leverage the expertise of local mentors to augment the coaching intervention’s impact.
    • Aim 2: Identify individual (person), coaching group, and institution factors that predict submission, resubmission, and funding of proposals. The investigators will use these data to interpret and contextualize Aim 1 results, leading to a mechanistic understanding of the intervention’s effects and creation of guidelines for its replication.
  • This project will establish the effectiveness of the coaching intervention including the modifiable contributions of dose/duration and local mentoring context. It will also yield new insights into the types of individuals, and their institutional setting, who are likely to benefit. The intervention being testing is highly scalable within and between institutions.

Career Advancement and Culture Change in Biomedical Research: Group Peer Mentoring Outcomes and Mechanisms

  • PI: Linda Pololi, Brandeis University
  • The researchers hypothesize that group peer mentoring conducted in a humanistic, inspiring and relational environment, offers great potential for enhancing career success among medical scientists, including underrepresented group members and women. In this study, the researchers will implement a group peer mentoring intervention for mid-career physician-scientists and Ph.D. scientists engaged in biomedical research in U.S. medical schools and teaching hospitals. By conducting a randomized controlled trial of group peer mentoring, they will gather data on the efficacy of their novel mentoring model. Goals of the mentoring intervention are increased faculty vitality and career advancement, enhanced cultural awareness and appreciation of difference and diversity, more use of key mentoring practices, and achievement of personal goals. A second study objective is to understand the mechanisms by which effective mentoring achieves its goals.

Building Up a Diverse Pipeline for the Biomedical Research Workforce

  • PI: Doris M. Rubio and Audrey Murrell, the University of Pittsburgh, and Natalia Morone, Boston University
  • This is an intervention that aims to build the psychological capital of underrepresented postdocs and junior faculty, and it includes the use of a near-peer model/ mentor for recruitment. The PIs hypothesize that the intervention will improve the Psychological Capital of underrepresented trainees by increasing their hope, efficacy, resilience, and optimism. These skills have repeatedly been shown to impact attitudes and performance. The experiment will be conducted in a cluster randomized controlled trial to test the intervention with 26 academic institutions. Near-peer mentors at the treatment sites will receive career coaching and mentor training so that they can deliver the intervention more effectively. The PIs will follow participants for two years to study the impact of the intervention. They will also study the factors that contribute to the participants success by engaging in qualitative research using participant interviews. Finally, when the trial is concluded, the intervention will be disseminated to the waitlist controls as well as other institutions for a broad dissemination.

Effectiveness of Innovative Research Mentor Interventions among Underrepresented Minority Faculty in the Southwest

  • PI: Akshay Sood, the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center
  • There are two subprojects included in this intervention study that look at mentoring training approaches and inter-institutional mentoring support networks.

To read about NRMN Phase I, see RFA-RM-13-017 and visit the NRMN Phase I webpage. For more information about the NRMN initiative, contact Dr. Michael Sesma, Dr. Patrick Brown, Dr. Edgardo Falcón-Morales, Dr. Shakira Nelson, or Dr. Laurie Stepanek​​.