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Cornell University


Monday, April 11, 2016
Catalyzing the Modernization of Graduate Education

Avery August presents a poster at the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) Symposium on Catalyzing the Modernization of Graduate Education, entitled "Integrating career development and graduate training at Cornell University: A BEST example."


It is increasingly being recognized that a small proportion of current biomedical graduate students and postdoctoral trainees will find careers as academic scientists. This has emphasized the need to provide trainees with the opportunities to understand the full spectrum of their career options. The Cornell BEST program was developed in response to this shift in the education landscape. Leveraging the integrated nature of Cornell graduate education, where graduate training occurs in a cross college and interdisciplinary nature, Cornell BEST has developed programs that integrate career development with graduate and postdoctoral training. 

The approach focused on three overarching themes:

Faculty engagement to ensure that career development is viewed as a part of rigorous graduate training; Flexibility, with no requirements, as much or as little time as trainees have to devote, and allowances or trainees to suggest their own ideas for career exploration; and Experiential opportunities to apply what they learn, and customized to fit their need. This approach has led to the development of modules that expose trainees to Science Policy, Entrepreneurship and Science Communication. The effectiveness of the approaches was evaluated using trainee and faculty surveys, leading to changes in approach, the elimination of some options, and the reorienting of programming to leverage available resources, identify gaps, and coordinate with other units to fill perceived gaps. (Supported by NIH grant DP7 OD018425).

NIGMS Symposium on Catalyzing the Modernization of Graduate Education Overview 

Read the Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (GEN) article covering the meeting purpose (by Senior News Editor Alex Philippidis)

by Kenneth Gibbs and Jessica Faupel-Badger
Co-chairs, NIGMS Symposium on Catalyzing the Modernization of Graduate Education

* > 150 traveled from across the country to participate in person
* > 300 views of the videocast in real time
* > 700 tweets on the day of the meeting (with #modernPhD becoming the #4 trending topic on twitter!)

All of this says that there is a lot of energy around the topic, and NIGMS plans to continue to play a positive role in promoting change. 

* A brief recap of the meeting will be posted on our Feedback Loop blog, after the initial post from institute leadership calling for the modernization of graduate education
* See the recording of the day
* View the participant list
* The abstract book for the 32 posters presented (Cornell is #8)
* speaker slides will be posted with their permission

We welcome any feedback from you regarding the meeting—what worked well, and what we might consider changing for future efforts. 

NIGMS plans to continue to play a constructive role in facilitating change in the community.  This includes two current funding opportunities in the form of administrative supplements to T32 grants to promote research curriculum development, and career curriculum development, as well as writing a new, NIGMS-specific predoctoral T32 funding announcement later this year.  Stay tuned for more!

Kenneth D. Gibbs, Jr., PhD, MPH

Program Analyst, Office of Program Planning, Analysis and Evaluation, National Institute of General Medical Sciences
45 Center Drive, Room 2AS25E, Bethesda, MD 20892
T: 301-594-3901, F: 301-451-4328, C: 240-274-9090
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