The average age of first-time (new) principal investigators of research funded by NIH has risen to 42 years for Ph.D. degree holders and 44 years for M.D. and M.D./Ph.D. holders. This trend must be curtailed in order to capture the creativity and innovation of new independent investigators in their early career stages to address the Nation’s health-related research needs.
The National Research Council of the National Academies of Science issued two reports in 2005 about research training and career development with calls for immediate action. NIH will continue to respond to this need to assist and mentor creative young researchers through existing programs. NIH is also developing new initiatives to complement existing efforts to strengthen the pool of qualified health and behavioral science researchers.
NIH will continue to support the Ruth L. Krischstein National Research Service Award Research Training Grants and Fellowships Program. This program provides grant and fellowship funding for individual investigators with or working on a research-related or health-profession doctorate degree. Individual awards promote diversity in health-related research fields across NIH. HHS will use the retention rate of these trainees and fellows as an indicator of its success in improving the pool of qualified researchers. NIH will also support the Pathway to Independence Award Program. This program is an innovative and new opportunity for promising postdoctoral scientists to receive both mentored and independent research support from the same award. NIH will also continue to work with IHS to support the Native American Research Centers for Health to increase the number of AI/AN researchers.
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