Leaks in the Biomedical Research Faculty Pipeline

January 19, 2018

A new study by Vanderbilt University researchers published in PLOS ONE finds two points of significant loss for underrepresented minorities in the basic biomedical research faculty pipeline: during undergraduate studies and in transition from postdoctoral fellowships to tenure-track faculty positions at medical schools.

The paper, based on data from the National Science Foundation’s Survey of Earned Doctorates and Survey of Doctoral Recipients, among other sources, attributes the first leak to relatively high rates of attrition among underrepresented minorities during their undergraduate training. Reasons for the second leak are less clear, according to the study, but could include climate concerns among underrepresented minorities considering faculty careers. Still, the paper suggests that institutions committed to increasing diversity at the faculty level will “need to focus their attention on the contributing factors to stages where major losses occur.”

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