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NIH receives key reports on diversity and biomedical workforce

Raising the minimum salary for postdoctoral researchers and capping at six the number of years a graduate student can be funded by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) are among the recommendations of a report that aims to tackle a key challenge for NIH and American biomedical science: an oversupply of young scientists for whom tenure-track jobs are becoming  increasingly difficult to obtain.

The long-awaited draft report from the Biomedical Research Workforce Working Group was presented on 14 June to NIH director Francis Collins and his expert advisory committee. A second draft report, from the Working Group on Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce, was released at the same time. The second report addresses the plight of under-represented minorities in biomedical science, as exemplified in this report in Science last August. It showed that, all other things being equal, an African American scientist remains ten percentage points less likely than a white applicant to be awarded NIH research funding.

Advisory-committee members will provide Collins with feedback on the reports in the coming weeks. Collins promised to report back to the committee at its December, 2012 meeting, telling them which of the reports’ recommendations he is adopting, and how.

A briefer, executive summary of the workforce report is available here. An executive summary of the diversity report can be seen here. Nature will publish a more detailed look at both reports in the coming days.

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