On October 3, FASEB provided comments to two requests for input solicited by committees of the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine.
In comments to the Committee on the Next Generation Researchers Initiative, FASEB offered feedback on recommendations intended to improve the “successful launch and sustainment of careers among the next generation of researchers in the biomedical and behavioral sciences.” Citing its 2015 consensus report, Sustaining Discovery in Biological and Medical Sciences, the Federation supported proposals to 1) increase the duration of research project grants; 2) promote transparency in training by requiring universities to make available data on programmatic and career outcomes; and 3) shift to a research structure where more work is conducted by staff scientists and less by graduate students and postdocs.
In its response to the Committee on Revitalizing Graduate STEM Education for the 21st Century, FASEB agreed with the Committee’s assessment of core educational elements of PhD training programs. Additionally, FASEB addressed the importance of including instruction on and opportunities for teaching in the training experience, and the utility of a national repository for career and career development information. FASEB concluded by noting that research training is the fundamental purpose of biological and biomedical graduate education, and cautioned against deviating too far from that mission.
The Committee on the Next Generation Researchers Initiative was established at the direction of Congress in the 2016 Appropriations Act to examine policy and programmatic steps that would improve the success and longevity of biological and behavioral researchers as they transition to independent careers. The Committee on Revitalizing Graduate STEM Education was charged with exploring strategies and policies at both the local and federal levels to better meet the education and career preparation needs of today’s master’s and doctoral graduate students. Both committees plan to publish final recommendations in 2018.