NHGRI's Research Training and Career Development: Genome Science to Genomic Medicine

May 6, 2014
The fast-paced nature of genomics provides seemingly endless opportunities to pursue exciting research. While invigorating, this presents challenges when it comes to ensuring the presence of a strong pool of future researchers and providing genomics expertise to individuals at different points in their scientific careers. Providing genomics training is thus an important component of NHGRI's mission. How does NHGRI's Extramural Research Program prioritize its training efforts? How do we ensure that the appropriate expertise is available to the researchers who will solve complex genomic problems and bring genomics to medical care? 

For many years, NHGRI has supported training programs in basic genome science and computational biology, areas that were essential to the completion of the Human Genome Project and the genomics efforts that immediately followed. To keep pace with our expanding genomic research interests, we outlined broad expectations for training in NHGRI's 2011 strategic plan, "Charting a course for genomic medicine from base pairs to bedside." So, after a number of planning discussions, NHGRI has designed ways to address these needs, even in the face of constrained budgets.

At a strategic planning workshop for training, held in April 2013, there was broad support for NHGRI to continue its training efforts in basic genome science, with particular emphasis on bioinformatics, biostatistics, and the quantitative and computational sciences. There was also considerable interest in seeing an expansion in the training and mentored career development programs, so as to encompass genomic medicine. The workshop recommended four initiatives that would work synergistically to create such a complete extramural training portfolio for NHGRI. Our recent Program Announcements (outlined below) describe the specific programs that we have designed to modernize that portfolio.

The first is a program to train graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in genomics; the second is a postdoctoral program to train those with doctoral and/or medical degrees in genomic medicine; the third is an individual mentored career development program for those with a doctoral degree and/or medical degree to cross-train in another discipline relevant to genomics; and the fourth is an individual mentored career development program in genomic medicine for those with a medical degree or M.D.-Ph.D. These four programs are further detailed below: 

Through these programs, NHGRI hopes to bring cross-training opportunities to individuals at different career levels and to support the training of investigators working in both basic genome science and genomic medicine. Creating leaders in both of these research areas is essential to realizing the full potential of genomics, and this new suite of programs promises to move us closer to that realization. For more information about NHGRI's extramural training programs, see genome.gov/10000950 

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Posted: June 3, 2014