Increasing Minorities in Doctoral Degree Programs Meeting

National Human Genome Research Institute

National Institutes of Health
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


Summary of Meeting to Discuss Increased Participation of Underrepresented Minority Groups in Doctoral Degree Programs in Genomics-Relevant Sciences

Ideas/Model Programs
Conclusions
Appendix A

On April 15, 2002, the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) invited representatives from professional and scientific societies to discuss how our organizations could work together to inform the various communities about opportunities in genomics and Ethical, Legal and Social Implications (ELSI) and increase the number of underrepresented minorities pursuing doctoral degrees in scientific disciplines relevant to genomics. The agenda and the list of participating organizations and their representatives are in the appendix.

Dr. Francis Collins, director of NHGRI, began the meeting by highlighting the accomplishments of the Human Genome Project (HGP); the most important of which - the finished sequence of the human genome - is scheduled for completion in the spring of 2003 and that the most exciting research is yet to come. He discussed how this genomic information will help to improve human health in two ways: (1) better diagnostics to facilitate preventive medicine, including pharmacogenomics and (2) the use of gene therapy or gene-based drug therapy to treat or cure diseases.

Collins also addressed the importance of understanding the ELSI issues that are an integral part of the HGP. In order to make all of this happen, Dr. Collins stressed the need to have underrepresented minorities participating as contributing scientists to the effort. This led to his discussion of the NHGRI Action Plan. For this meeting, Dr. Collins focused on two of the five components of the action plan that were the primary purpose for the meeting - research training and partnerships. He stated that in order for NHGRI to accomplish the training goals in the action plan, it will be essential that the number of underrepresented minorities receiving doctoral degrees be increased significantly. In addition to developing our own strategies, it is critical to work collaboratively with our NIH counterparts and with professional and scientific societies who have similar goals. Dr. Collins' presentation has been posted and is available for download. If an alternate version is needed please e-mail the Webmaster and one will be sent to you.

To set the stage for the afternoon discussion, there were scheduled presentations on two programs in the morning - the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the Society for Neuroscience doctoral programs. The Alfred P. Sloan's Minority Ph.D and Feeder Programs [sloan.org] focus on recruiting mentors. The goal of the doctoral program is to increase by 100 per year the number of African-American, Native-American and Hispanic-American students receiving doctoral degrees, mostly in the physical and engineering sciences. The program identifies faculty in whom the foundation has greatest confidence to be able to recruit, mentor and graduate minority doctoral students. The foundation will also consider young faculty who do not have a history of training doctoral students, but who are members of underrepresented minority groups.

In order to qualify for support, the faculty or department has to demonstrate that the student(s) proposed for training will be beyond the historical baseline numbers for the faculty or department. There are currently 55 programs supported at 35 majority and minority serving institutions. The foundation currently supports about 60 students per year with a one-time award of up to $30,000. These funds can be used for any academic purpose. Since the program began, approximately 600 scholars have received foundation support. A companion program is the Sloan Minority Ph.D Feeder Program. This program provides support for students at the undergraduate and master's level; support varies from $15,000 for undergraduate to $22,500 for graduate students and includes funds for a stipend, tuition, books and travel to professional meetings. This is a three-year award. Students are being trained mostly in the physical and engineering sciences at five universities. This presentation was made by Dr. Ted Greenwood, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Ms. Aileen Walter, National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME), and Ms. Saundra Johnson, Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering Science, Inc. (GEM).

The second model presented was the Society for Neuroscience's (SFN) Minority Neuroscience Fellowship Program [sfn.org] that focuses on recruiting students. The goal of the program is to increase the diversity of individuals participating in neuroscience research and teaching programs. Unlike the traditional National Institutes of Health (NIH) training program where the students and mentors are based at the same institution, this is a program in which the students receive support through the SFN and conduct their research at their home institutions. In addition to having their institutional faculty advisor, students are also assigned mentors who are members of the SFN. The mentors are recommended by the training program steering committee and their research interests match that of the students. Mentors are provided with mentoring guidelines and do not compete with the home institution advisor. In many cases, the research of the institutional advisors benefits from this collaboration. Fellows supported by the SFN must submit annual progress reports as well as monthly progress reports to the SFN training director and must meet with the SFN mentor at least once a year; in reality, many talk frequently with their mentors by phone or e-mail. The SFN mentor completes an annual survey of the fellow's progress. Each student's report and mentor's survey are reviewed by the steering committee. The program director stated that mentoring is an important aspect of this program in retaining students and that the large membership of the Society, 25,000 members, provides opportunities to select mentors from a variety of disciplines and institutions. The SFN plays a key role in the administrative and financial aspects of the training program. This is only one of several similar programs funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke (NINDS). This presentation was made by Dr. Joanne Berger-Sweeney from Wellesley College who is the training grant program director and Mr. Greg Willoughby, Society of Neuroscience.

There were presentations from several other societies. The National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME) [nacme.org] provides leadership and support for the national effort to increase the representation of underrepresented minorities in engineering and technology, mathematics and science-based careers. Its mission is accomplished by providing scholarships to undergraduate students, supporting the professional development of students and professionals, developing policy papers, and publicizing various programs. NACME is also responsible for the financial administration of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation's fellowship programs. The mission of Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Science, Inc. (GEM) [was.nd.edu] is to increase the number of underrepresented minorities receiving master's and doctoral degrees in science and engineering. GEM, Inc., does this by having access to a large pool of students from underrepresented minority groups (URM), being able to identify leaders in the field to act as mentors, facilitating networking, and identifying additional sponsors to provide fellowship support.

The afternoon was devoted to discussing ideas about how societies can help to increase the number of underrepresented minority groups involved in genomics research. This is a brief, generic summary of ideas that have worked and ideas worth pursuing.

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Ideas/Model Programs

  1. Enhance Recruitment into Science

    • Gordon-type conference for undergraduate students in which scientists pursuing the most creative and innovative research would be invited to participate.

    • Participation of NHGRI scientists in conferences (lecturing and exhibiting) sponsored by professional organizations whose membership is made up primarily of URM groups.

    • Participation of students in genome-related conferences in which student participants would be matched with mentors would who help them understand the science that is being discussed.

    • Research experiences in research intensive environments.

    • Short courses in genomics for students, such as those taught at the Marine Biological Laboratory.

    • Visiting professorships that bring genome scientists to minority serving institutions

    • Increasing awareness on the part of students about the importance of an undergraduate education and preparing them to take the required tests to enter undergraduate and graduate schools.

    • Scientific meetings targeted specifically to high school and undergraduate students in order to provide them an opportunity to highlight their research activities and learn more about the latest advances in specific areas.

  2. Enhance Retention in Graduate School

    • Scholarships and fellowships to allow students to pursue graduate education and research training full time.

    • Satellite meetings of professional societies that provide graduate students and postdoctoral fellows a forum for presenting research findings, and provide guidance on career development, mentoring, putting on grantsmanship workshops, linking students and junior faculty to resources, etc.

  3. Enhance Teacher Knowledge in Genomics

    • Short courses in genomics for students and faculty at minority serving institutions.

    • Laboratory demonstrations for students and teachers at two-year colleges to supplement their science lectures.

    • Short courses to upgrade the knowledge of teachers in two-year colleges in specific disciplines.

    • Short courses to update the theory and laboratory skills of K-12 teachers.

  4. Enhance Communication at All Levels

    • Effectively communicating with K-12 students and their parents about the importance of higher education and the career paths of various scientific disciplines in order to lower the barrier to pursuing advanced degrees.

    • Taking advantage of annual meetings of professional societies to discuss research findings and what it means to be a scientist with local K-12 students and their teachers and guidance counselors.

    • Encouraging society members to discuss their research with students at local schools and at local and student chapters of national organizations. The NHGRI Education Tool Kit could be a useful tool to disseminate information about the Human Genome Project.

  5. Facilitate Partnerships

    • Societies should link to each other's and to the NHGRI website in order to maximize dissemination of information.

    • Societies should foster the best in their scientific disciplines in research AND teaching. Development of tool kits for teaching would be very useful.

    • Societies should work with undergraduate institutions to improve their curriculum in specific areas and to assist in disseminating this information to other educational institutions.

The participants also had suggestions for mechanisms and for ways to facilitate getting programs started. Among them were fellowships, travel awards, use of infrastructure that has been established to accomplish similar goals by other federal agencies as a means of leveraging NHGRI programs, and partnerships with industry and the federal government. The use of the Internet was encouraged as a way to provide information to a larger number of individuals in a timely manner.

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Conclusions

At the end of the meeting, the participants were encouraged to think of ways that their organizations could work with NHGRI to develop new programs or leverage existing programs that they currently have to help NHGRI meet the goals laid out in the Action Plan. Participants were encouraged to contact staff who would work with them to find ways to support their ideas. Staff also encouraged the participants to disseminate information about the NIH individual predoctoral program [grants1.nih.gov] which provides support for up to five years for minority students who are in Ph.D. or MD/Ph.D training programs. The NHGRI acknowledges that instituting new programs will require additional resources and that NHGRI will seriously consider all good ideas. One of the immediate outcomes of the meeting was a request on the part of the participants for NHGRI to set up a LISTSERV to allow participants to share information. A LISTSERV is currently being established.

The organizations' web addresses are added to facilitate dissemination of information.

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Appendix A

Invitees and Speakers

Alfred P. Sloan Foundation [sloan.org]
Ted Greenwood, Ph.D.
(Participated by phone)
Suite 2550
630 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10111
Phone: (212) 649-1649
Fax: (212) 757-5117
E-mail: greenwood@sloan.org

American Chemical Society [chemistry.org]
Yvonne Curry
1155 16th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: (202) 872-6240
Fax: (202) 776-8003
E-mail: y_curry@acs.org

American Physiological Society [the-aps.org]
Martin Frank, Ph.D.
Executive Director
9650 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, MD 20814-3991
Phone: 301) 530-7118
Fax: (301) 571-8305
E-mail: mfrank@the-aps.org

American Society of Human Genetics [faseb.org]
Joann Boughman, Ph.D.
Executive Vice President
9650 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, MD 20814
Phone: (301) 571-5734
Fax: (301) 530-7079
E-mail: jboughman@genetics.faseb.org

Bernice Morrow, Ph.D
Associate Professor
Department of Molecular Genetics
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
1300 Morris Park Ave.
Bronx, NY 10461
Phone: (718) 430-4274
Fax: (718) 430-8778
E-mail: morrow@aecom.yu.edu

American Society for Cell Biology [ascb.org]
William R. Eckberg, Ph.D.
Professor and Chairman
Department of Biology
Howard University
415 College St., NW
Washington, DC 20059
Phone: (202) 806-6933
Fax: (202) 806-4564
E-mail: weckberg@howard.edu

American Indian Science and Engineering Society [aises.org]
Judy Gobert, Ph.D.
(Participated by phone)
Dean of Math & Science
Salish Kootenal College
Indigenous Math & Science Institute
Salish Kootenai College
P.O. Box 117
Pablo, MT 59855
Phone: (406) 275-4711
Fax: (406) 275-4807
E-mail: judy_gobert@skc.edu

American Society for Microbiology [asm.org/]
Amy Chang
Director, Education Department
1752 N. St. NW
Washington, DC 20006
Phone: (202) 942-9264
Fax: (202) 942-9329
E-mail: achang@asmusa.org

Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology [faseb.org]
Jacquelyn Roberts
Manager, FASEB Career Resources
Room 1312
9650 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, MD 20814-3998
Phone: 301) 530-7022
Fax: (301) 571-0699
E-mail: jroberts@faseb.org

Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Science, Inc. [was.nd.edu]
Saundra Johnson, B.S.
Executive Director
PO Box 537
Notre Dame, IN 46556
Phone: (574) 631-7774
Fax: (574) 287-1486
E-mail: johnson.301@nd.edu

Leadership Alliance [theleadershipalliance.org]
Sara Tortora
Associate Director
Box 1963
Brown University
Providence, RI 02912-1963
Phone: (401) 863-7993
Fax: (401) 863-2244
E-mail: Sara_Tortora@brown.edu

Mathematical Association of America [maa.org]
Thomas W. Rishel, Ph.D.
Associate Executive Director
1529 Eighteenth Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20036
Phone: (202)319-8470
Fax: (202)483-5450
E-mail: trishel@maa.org

National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering [nacme.org]
Aileen Walter
Vice President
Scholar Management
Suite 2212
The Empire State Bldg.
350 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10118-2299
Phone: (212) 279-2626 ext. 241
Fax: (212) 629-5178
E-mail: awalter@nacme.org

National Association of Mathematicians [caam.rice.edu]
Leon Woodson, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Mathematics
Morgan State University
Carnegie Hall, Room 354
Phone: (443) 885-3776
E-mail: woodson@jewel.morgan.edu

Science and Engineering Alliance, Inc. [llnl.gov]
Robert Shepard, Ph.D.
Suite 210
1522 K. Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20005
Phone: (202) 842-0388
Fax: (202) 842-0403
E-mail: shepard@sea2.org

Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science [sacnas.org]
Jerry Beat
Executive Director
PO Box 8526
Santa Cruz, CA 95061-8526
Phone: (831) 459-0170, ext. 225
Fax: (831) 459-0194
E-mail: jerry@sacnas.org

Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics [siam.org]
Terry L. Herdman, Ph.D.
Director Interdisciplinary
Center for Applied Mathematics
Wright House 0531
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, VA 24061
Phone: (540) 231-7667
Fax: (540) 231-7079
E-mail: herdman@icam.vt.edu

Society for Neuroscience [sfn.org]
DiversityinNeuroscience/mnfp/index.html
Joanne Berger-Sweeney, Ph.D.
(Participated by phone)
Associate Professor, Biology
Wellesley College
106 Central Street
Wellesley, MA 02481
Phone: (781) 283-3050
Fax: (781) 283-3642
E-mail: jbergers@wellesley.edu

Greg Willoughby
Chapters and Special Projects Director
Suite 500
11 Dupont Circle, NW
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: (202) 462-6688
Fax: (202) 462-9740
E-mail: greg@sfn.org

Society of Mexican American Engineers and Scientists [maes-natl.org]
Martin Martinez
P.O. Box 6388
Mesa, AZ 85216
Phone: (480) 924-4422
Fax: (480) 924-2922
E-mail: execdir@maes-natl.org

National Institutes of Health Staff

National Human Genome Research Institute
Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D.
Director
Building 31, Room 4B09
31 Center Drive
Bethesda, MD 20892-2152
Phone: (301) 496-0844
Fax: (301) 402-0837
E-mail: fc23a@nih.gov

Lynn Frampton, MPH
Science Program Analyst
Division of Extramural Research
Building 31, Room B2B07
31 Center Drive
Bethesda, MD 20892-2033
Phone: (301) 496-7531
Fax: (301) 480-2770
E-mail: framptoL@mail.nih.gov

Peter Good, Ph.D.
Program Director
Genome Informatics Programs
Division of Extramural Research
Building 31, Room B2B07
31 Center Drive
Bethesda, MD 20892-2033
Phone: (301) 496-7531
Fax: (301) 480-2770
E-mail: goodp@mail.nih.gov

Bettie Graham, Ph.D.
Program Director
Division of Extramural Research
Building 31, Room B2B07
31 Center Drive
Bethesda, MD 20892-2033
Phone: (301) 496-7531
Fax: (301) 480-2770
E-mail: bettie_graham@nih.gov

Alan Guttmacher, M.D.
Senior Clinical Advisor to the Director
Building 31, Room 4B09
31 Center Drive
Bethesda, MD 20892-2152
Phone: (301) 496-0844
Fax: (301) 402-0837
E-mail: guttmach@mail.nih.gov

Linda Hall, B.S.
Grants Management Officer
Division of Extramural Research
Building 31 Room B2B34
31 Center Drive
Bethesda, MD 20892-2031
(301) 435-7859
Fax: (301) 402-1951
E-mail: hall@exchange.nih.gov

Monique Harris, M.A., B.S.
Program Assistant
Office of Policy, Planning and Communications
Building 31, Room 4B09
31 Center Drive
Bethesda, MD 20892-2152
Phone: (301) 402-0955
Fax: (301) 402-0837
E-mail: harrismo@mail.nih.gov

Belinda Jackson, M.S.
Program Analyst
Division of Extramural Research
Building 31, Room B2B07
31 Center Drive
Bethesda, MD 20892-2033
Phone: (301) 496-7531
Fax: (301) 480-2770
E-mail: jacksbel@mail.nih.gov

Elke Jordan, Ph.D.
Deputy Director
Building 31, Room 4B09
31 Center Drive
Bethesda, MD 20892-2152
(301) 496-0844
Fax: (301) 402-0837
E-mail: ej10d@nih.gov

Jeff Schloss, Ph.D.
Program Director
Technology Development Coordination
Division of Extramural Research
Building 31, Room B2B07
31 Center Drive
Bethesda, MD 20892-2033
Phone: (301) 496-7531
Fax: (301) 480-2770
E-mail: schlossj@mail.nih.gov

National Institute of General Medical Sciences

Derrick C. Tabor, Ph.D.
Program Director, Minority Access to Research Careers
Division of Minority Opportunities in Research
Building 45, Room 2AS37B
45 Center Drive
Bethesda, MD 20892-6200
Phone: (301) 594-1554
Fax: (301) 480-2753
E-mail: tabord@nigms.nih.gov

Adolphus Toliver, Ph.D.
Chief, Minority Access to Research
Careers Branch
Division of Minority Opportunities in Research
Building 45, Room 2AS37
45 Center Drive
Bethesda, MD 20892-6200
Phone: (301) 594-3900
Fax: (301) 480-2753
E-mail: tolivera@nigms.nih.gov

Hinda Zlotnik, Ph.D.
Program Director, Minority Access to Research Careers and Acting Chief, Minority Access to Research Careers
Division of Minority Opportunities in Research
Building 45, Room 2AS37
45 Center Drive
Bethesda, MD 20892-6200
Phone: (301) 594-3900
Fax: (301) 480-2753
E-mail: zlotnikh@nigms.nih.gov

National Institute of Mental Health

Walter Goldschmidts, Ph.D
Associate Director, Division
Of Neuroscience and Basic Behavioral Science
Room 7200
6001 Executive Blvd.
Bethesda, MD 20892-9645
Phone: (301) 443-3563
Fax: (301) 443-1731
E-mail: wgoldsch@nih.gov

TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE

Stephanie Reeves-Walker
National Human Genome Research Institute
National Institutes of Health
Building 31, Room B2-B07
31 Center Drive
Bethesda, MD 20892-2033
Phone: (301) 496-7531
Fax: (301) 480-2770
E-mail: walkers@exchange.nih.gov

Steven Robinson
National Human Genome Research Institute
National Institutes of Health
Building 31, Room B2B07
31 Center Drive, MSC 2033
Bethesda, MD 20892
Phone: (301) 496-7531
Fax: (301) 480-2770
E-mail: stevenr@exchange.nih.gov

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Last Reviewed: May 2006