Promoting the transition to independent scientist: A national career development program
Academic Medical Centers
The loss of new investigators from academic science places the future of biomedical science at risk. Failure to obtain independent funding contributes significantly to attrition from the academic career path. In this article, the authors describe the Advanced Research Institute (ARI) in Geriatric Mental Health, a national program based at Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University that matches new investigators with mentors to help them make a successful transition to independence. The program is multidisciplinary, and its faculty and participants (the latter known as "scholars") span the spectrum of translation, interventions, and services research. ARI helps scholars overcome three barriers to independence through the development of grant-preparation and time-management skills and consultation with statistical and other experts. The authors analyze the record of federal grant funding among the first four cohorts of ARI scholars (2004-2007, n = 42). As of January 2010, 45.2% of these scholars had achieved R01 funding and 69.1% had obtained National Institutes of Health grants (not including career development or small grants). The 24 scholars who had National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) mentored career development (mentored K) awards were 2.36 times (P = .048) more likely than the other 380 recipients of NIMH mentored K awards during the same period (2001-2005) to achieve R01 funding. Based on objective outcomes, ARI offers an effective model for stemming attrition of new investigators from the academic career path that is generalizable to other fields and promotes innovative, translational science.