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Mr. Stokes. How much of a training component is inherent in MBRS grants? Are students employed on MBRS grants eligible to apply for MARC fellowships?
Dr. Kirschstein, While student participation on MBRS grants is not supported under the rubric of National Research Service Awards and, thus, does not represent formal training per se, the service of MBRS students as research assistants, whether at the undergraduate or graduate level, certainly serves a training function. The students learn first-hand the scientific method and the tools and discipline of research, and they acquire an appreciation of what it takes to become a research scientist. With the announcement in February of the NIGMS Predoctoral Fellowship Awards for Minority Students, those students who have been employed on MBRS research projects will now be eligible for fellowship support to pursue graduate work leading to the Ph.D. or combined M.D.-Ph.D. degree.
Mr. Stokes, Doctor, can you tell the committee how the MARC and MBRS Programs complement each other? Are there gaps that nei. ther of the programs address that would help achieve the goal of increasing the number of minority researchers?
Dr. Kirschstein. The MARC Program supports only research training, while the MBRS Program supports research projects and other efforts to increase the research capabilities of institutions with significant enrollment of minorities. Because of their dif. fering support mechanisms and approaches, the activities of these two programs do indeed complement one another. For example, an institution might have talented faculty members who want to conduct research projects, on which some students might be employed, but the institution might not be positioned to mount a formal research training program. Such an institution can seek funding from the MBRS Program. Other schools might wish to emphasize developing a strong curriculum in the sciences relevant to medicine and to chal. lenge honors students to take more rigorous coursework for science majors. Such schools might seek funding through the MARC Program. At still other institutions, both faculty research and a science honors program might suit the schools' interests and capabilities. It is in these cases that both an MBRS and a MARC grant might be sought. Indeed, in 44 schools there are both MARC and MBRS Programs. Thus, each Program offers unique avenues for minorities and the colleges or universities they attend to work toward a common goal of increasing the number of minorities engaged in biomedical research.
However, the Institute, and indeed NIH as well, must respond to changing conditions in our attempts to draw more minority students into biomedical research. For example, demographics and other factors have affected the distribution of minority students in U.S. institutions of higher education. Thus, it was essential to recog. nize the need to offer predoctoral fellowships to minorities seeking the Ph.D. or M.D.-Ph.D. degree no matter from which undergraduate school they graduated. Other opportunities exist as well, which NIGMS, the Associate Director for Minority Programs, NIH, and others are recognizing. We hope that we will be able to enhance
existing programs and develop new ones so that we have a comprehensive, multifaceted strategy for achieving the goal you cited.
Mr. Stokes. I understand that there is a proposal being considered that would consolidate the administration of MARC and MBRS Programs. What assurances can you give to the Committee that this will not diminish program resources and funding for the two important and distinct programs?
Dr. Kirschstein. The Institute and I are committed, as we have been for many years, to the growth and excellence of our programs focused on minorities. Our record regarding the programs under our stewardship shows that we have taken these efforts seri. ously and worked hard to expand them and to make them of the highest quality so that they are worthy of increased resources. When Dr. Wyngaarden, the Director of NIH, decided to transfer the MBRS Program to NIGMS, long the home of the MARC Program, he did so in an effort "to enhance the success of the individual programs by improving planning and coordination, reducing program duplication, and developing mechanisms to improve the interrelationship of the various programs. Clustering of the programs was seen as a means to give minority research and training higher visibility.” In establishing the Minority Opportunities in Research (MORE) Programs Branch to oversee all of the activities of the NIGMS directed toward minorities, we intend to strengthen our efforts, look for new opportuni. ties to support minorities eager to pursue biomedical research careers, and maximize and expand resources for these efforts. The function statement of the new branch explains this and reaffirms the separate and distinct missions of the existing MARC and MBRS Programs, both of which will remain intact under the new MORE Programs Branch "umbrella,"
Mr. Stokes. Would this proposal actually enhance or increase funding availability?
Dr. Kirschstein. A primary reason for creating the MORE Programs Branch is to maximize and expand resources for our efforts to increase the number of minorities engaged in biomedical research. The responsibility of the Director of the Branch to develop comprehensive plans for a multifaceted effort should make it possible for us to request and justify appropriate federal funds. In addition, we hope the Branch's leaders will seek and institute arrangements with professional societies, industry, academia, and others for their financial support of complementary efforts. The visibility and leadership implicit in the creation of the MORE Programs Branch should give added stature and energy to these efforts.
Mr. Stokes. What evidence does the Institute have that the MARC and MBRS Programs substantively increase the number of minori. ties in research?
Dr. Kirschstein. The Minority Biomedical Research Support (MBRS) Program awards grants to approximately 98 colleges and universities with a significant minority enrollment. In FY 1990, these awards provided funds to support the research efforts of 757 faculty members working on 681 projects. Over 1,000 undergraduate and 454 graduate students participated in those projects as research assist. ants. Since the Program's inception in 1972, approximately 17,500
students have held such positions on MBRS-supported projects. Preliminary reports on about half of the 17,000 student participants to date indicate that 1,406 have completed the M.S. degree, approximately 200 are currently candidates for the Ph.D., and about 400 have completed the Ph.D. Over 900 have received other professional degrees. We are beginning to gather more data on these participants including information regarding those currently doing postdoctoral research training, and the number in academic faculty positions.
The Minority Access to Research Careers Program (MARC) supports Honors Undergraduate Research Training at 60 institutions with significant enrollments of minority students. In 1990 this Program had 278 graduates, bringing the total number of graduates since 1978 to over 1,725. Preliminary reports indicate that approximately 75 percent of these graduates have gone on to either graduate or professional schools. A second mechanism to support the continued research training of MARC graduates is the MARC Predoctoral Fellowship. Since its establishment in 1981, 147 such fellowships have been awarded. MARC Faculty Fellowships also support either Ph.D. training or advanced postdoctoral training for faculty from MARC institutions. Since 1972, 228 faculty members have received support under these programs. Thus, the MBRS and MARC Programs provide a network of support for research opportunities for minority undergraduates, predoctoral fellows, and faculty at institutions with significant minority enrollments, facilitating their biomedical research careers.
MINORITIES ON RESEARCH TRAINING GRANTS
Mr. Stokes. What is the percentage of minority predoctoral students currently funded on training grants (excluding MARC/MBRS)?
Dr. Kirschstein. The National Institutes of Health has been unable to secure approval from the Office of Management and Budget to collect information regarding minority status on the official appointment forms on which trainees' participation is documented. Thus, NIGMS and all other institutes and centers must now rely on the summary descriptions of the minority recruitment efforts and the achievements of the institutions applying for such training grants, as well as on anecdotal information gathered on site visits to applicant institutions. Since 1986, all institutions applying for training grants have been required to supply this information in their applications. Convincing evidence of positive efforts to recruit minorities is a prerequisite for making training grant awards. However, NIGMS, like the rest of NIH, must rely on the information each institution chooses to provide, rather than on a more systematic and consistent set of data that might otherwise be required of applicant institutions.
Independently, NIGMS has received some information about minority participation on its Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) grants, which indicates that four percent of the appointed trainees are minorities, with another two percent participating in the MSTP Program but receiving financial support, if needed, from other sources.
Mr. Stokes. Is the Institute doing anything to encourage majority institutions to diversify the students they support by increasing minority participation?
Dr. Kirschstein. NIGMS has long encouraged institutions receiving research training grants from the Institute to increase the participation of minorities in those programs. For instance, in recent years, we have sent the directors of each of our predoctoral research training programs a list of all of the program directors of our Honors Undergraduate Research Training Programs sponsored by the Minority Access to Research Careers Program, and vice versa. More recently, when we first announced the new Predoctoral Fellowships for Minority Students, we sent the training grant program directors, graduate school deans, and institutional contacts for minority affairs a notice about the new program.
We believe that this new program will be an important tool for research intensive institutions to use as part of their strategy to recruit and retain graduate student trainees who graduate from the MARC HURT Program, or who have been supported by the MBRS Program or have received their undergraduate training elsewhere. We also encourage representatives from training programs to attend the annual NIGMS Minority Programs Sym. posium. In fact, one of the major features of the annual Symposium is the opportunity for representatives from training programs at research intensive institutions to attend so that they can meet both MARC HURT and MBRS students who might be looking for an appropriate graduate training program.
In addition, as I mentioned above, since 1986, NIGMS and indeed all institutes at NIH have required institutions applying for training grant support to document in their applications their recruitment efforts regarding minorities, as well as their achievements. These are assessed by the peer review groups, examined by the National Advisory General Medical Sciences Council, and factored into decisions about whether to fund each training grant.
Mr. Stokes. Which majority institutions have demonstrated a consistent good track record in their ability to recruit, assign, and eventually graduate minority students from their training grantfunded programs?
Dr. Kirschstein. Because, as previously explained, the Institute has not been able to systematically gather data on the recruitment and successful training outcomes of minorities on the research training grants we fund, it is difficult to develop a list that would be grounded in solid information. From anecdotal evidence, there certainly appear to be quite a few "majority” institutions across the country whose positive interactions with our MARC and MBRS Programs over the years point toward their having recruited and trained a number of minority students in their predoctoral programs. However, there are undoubtedly other institutions which rely on more direct interactions with students (or their undergraduate institutions) to recruit minority students into their graduate programs. Those institutions should also be on the type of list you requested, but would probably be omitted since we might not be as familiar with their accomplishments in training minorities.
Mr. Stokes. What will be the impact of the newly established (portable) National Research Service Award Predoctoral Fellowships for Minority Students on institutions which have previously failed, in the past, to support minority students?
Dr. Kirschstein. Since these newly established predoctoral fellowships will be awarded to individual minority students so that they may pursue either the Ph.D. or the M.D.-Ph.D. degree in any graduate program into which they have been accepted, all graduate schools may participate in this training effort, regardless of their past record in recruiting minorities. We believe that the promise of those students who successfully compete for these predoctoral fellowships and the caliber of their work in graduate school will inspire the institutions at which they are seeking advanced degrees to work harder to recruit other talented minority students into their graduate programs.
We have been pleased with the large number of inquiries we have received from majority institutions concerning this new predoctoral fellowship program.
INSTITUTIONS SEEKING TO PARTICIPATE IN MINORITY PROGRAMS
Mr. Stokes. Has the Institute noted any increase in the number of institutions seeking eligibility to MARC/MBRS Programs?
Dr. Kirschstein. The trends regarding the number of institutions seeking to participate in the MARC and MBRS Programs are some what different, reflecting the unique missions and eligibility requirements of each program. With regard to the MARC Program, the