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PLoS One. 2018 Jan 16;13(1):e0190606. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0190606. eCollection 2018.

Survey of checkpoints along the pathway to diverse biomedical research faculty.

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Office for Biomedical Research Education and Training, School of Medicine, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, United States of America.
Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, School of Medicine, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, United States of America.


There is a persistent shortage of underrepresented minority (URM) faculty who are involved in basic biomedical research at medical schools. We examined the entire training pathway of potential candidates to identify the points of greatest loss. Using a range of recent national data sources, including the National Science Foundation's Survey of Earned Doctorates and Survey of Doctoral Recipients, we analyzed the demographics of the population of interest, specifically those from URM backgrounds with an interest in biomedical sciences. We examined the URM population from high school graduates through undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral training as well as the URM population in basic science tenure track faculty positions at medical schools. We find that URM and non-URM trainees are equally likely to transition into doctoral programs, to receive their doctoral degree, and to secure a postdoctoral position. However, the analysis reveals that the diversions from developing a faculty career are found primarily at two clearly identifiable places, specifically during undergraduate education and in transition from postdoctoral fellowship to tenure track faculty in the basic sciences at medical schools. We suggest focusing additional interventions on these two stages along the educational pathway.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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