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Seeking Public Input: Career Staff Scientists

As part of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the NIDCD supported a promising supplement program for Career Staff Scientists (CSS). The intent of the supplement initiative was to pilot a new career option that would allow highly trained PhD (and/or equivalent degree) scientists whose strengths and skill sets endow them to be valuable team scientists in lieu of becoming Principal Investigators (PIs), to remain in the academic research environment. Considerable federal dollars have been spent training doctoral level scientists for careers in research with the premise that a large majority of the individuals will secure tenure-track faculty positions as independently funded investigators at research-intensive universities. This model assumes: 1) there are sufficient academic faculty slots available, and 2) every highly trained individual will choose a faculty research career. These assumptions are simply not valid for a sizeable cadre of scientists with diverse, highly technical skills. When the academic tenure-track model is not chosen or attained by these individuals as their career paths, we risk losing the knowledge and experience of highly trained scientists, most of whom acquired their training through federal support. The piloting of a non-ARRA, non-supplement CSS initiative would allow retention of these individuals in the academic research environment and capitalize on the investment made by the Nation towards their knowledge and expertise.

The NIDCD is requesting feedback from the extramural scientific community regarding the potential value and feasibility of a CSS program. The NIDCD will consider all comments submitted. You may give your name and affiliation or remain anonymous. To promote dialogue, all comments found relevant by the NIDCD will be posted on our Web site. All comments will be posted anonymously.You may also send us your comments by email.

Below are points to consider when you provide your feedback:

  • Is there a need for a CSS position? If so, who would be the ideal candidate and what metrics should be used to establish competitive criteria (CSS support is proposed as an independent position for the team scientist and not to serve as bridge funding for an established investigator)?
  • How can the CSS position be configured so as not to be perceived as an “entitlement,” but rather to confer independence/autonomy and a stable support base to the candidate?
  • Should CSS individuals be allowed to write for federal research grants and, if so, then what would be the justification for continued CSS support?
  • Were CSS awardees not expected to/or allowed to secure independent research funding, which funding approach best protects the individual and provides the most reliable base of funding: applications submitted by an individual PI, a core, a department, or other? Should the position be transferrable/portable if the “staff scientist” changes institutions?
  • Should applications be peer-reviewed and, if so, what would be the review criteria?
  • Should there be cost-sharing with the institution/department? How many CSS awards should be awarded by the NIDCD, and how many different CSS applications should be allowed from a given institution?
  • What should be the duration of the funded position? What evaluative criteria should be used in determining re-appointment?

Please provide your comments in the box below.






  

Alternatively, please submit comments to email CSSRFI@nidcd.nih.gov


Comments Received


If you have any questions regarding this announcement, please contact:

Nancy L. Freeman, Ph.D.
Division of Scientific Programs
NIDCD/NIH
Executive Plaza South-400C
6120 Executive Blvd. MSC-7180
Bethesda, MD 20892-7180
Phone: 301-402-3458
Fax: 301- 402-6251

 

Bracie Watson, Ph.D.
Division of Scientific Programs
NIDCD/NIH
Executive Plaza South-400
6120 Executive Blvd. MSC-7180
Bethesda, MD 20892-7180
Phone: 301-402-3458
Fax: 301-402-6251