Grant Writing Course for Postdoctoral Scholars

This course introduces every aspect of grant writing, including selecting funding mechanisms, writing individual grant sections and understanding administrative policies, to postdoctoral scholars. In addition, this course provides each Postdoctoral Scholar with the opportunity to write a grant and have it reviewed through a ‘mock-study section’ with faculty who evaluate trainee applications for the NIH.

Lab Management Course for Postdoctoral Scholars

This course introduces every aspect of laboratory management, including hiring staff, managing start-up budgets, practicing safe laboratory practices, and time management, to Postdoctoral Scholars.

EXPERIENCES Program

Workforce reports show that pre- and post-doctoral trainees need to be informed and educated about careers within and outside traditional academic research to be job-ready in today’s economy.

Postdoctoral Research Day

Each Spring, all Postdoctoral Scholars are invited to participate in ‘Postdoctoral Research Day’ through the oral presentation of their studies’ results. Presentations are judged by UAB faculty members; cash awards are given for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place finishes.

Postdoc Awards

Career Enhancement Award
These competitive awards are available to all Postdoctoral Scholars for collaborative research with other universities, attendance at workshops or courses to learn new skills, or performance of science-related internships.

Travel Awards
These competitive awards are available to all Postdoctoral Scholars and provide funds in support of Postdocs’ travel to scientific meetings outside of UAB for the purpose of giving an oral presentation.

Grant Incentive Award
This award provides a financial incentive designed to encourage scholars to apply for individual fellowships.

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NRMN

The National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) is a nationwide consortium of biomedical professionals and institutions collaborating to provide all trainees across the biomedical, behavioral, clinical and social sciences with evidence-based mentorship and professional development programming.

NRMN’s program models emphasize the benefits and challenges of diversity, inclusivity and culture within mentoring relationships, and more broadly the research workforce. The Goal of the National Research Mentoring Network is to enhance the diversity of the NIH-funded research workforce.

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UAB’s CIRTL Program

MERIT Scholars participate in the CIRTL Program during the 4th year of training (see III.E.4.a). Involvement in CIRTL provides MERIT Scholars with not only certification and teaching credentialing but also networking opportunities for future job placement. This is a clear benefit for the training and advancement of MERIT Scholars that appears to be unique among IRACDA programs.

Principles of Scientific Integrity

Topics covered in GRD 717 include the nature, extent, and causes of fraud in science; UAB policies on fraud; ideals of good science; the responsibilities of authorship and peer review; potential problems raised by the commercialization of research; scientists as public policy advisors; and ethical issues involved in animal experimentation and in clinical trials.

IRB training

MERIT Scholars who will perform research on human subjects will complete an approved training course on human subjects protection and will update their training annually. There are a number of avenues for fulfilling this training requirement, including on-line opportunities and seminars. For example, MERIT Scholars may fulfill this requirement via completion of the web based training program Collaborative IRB Training Initiative (CITI). The CITI Program includes courses in the ‘Protection of Human Research Subjects for Biomedical as well as for Social/Behavioral Research’. Each training module focuses on different aspects of bio-ethics and human subjects research.

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IACUC training

MERIT Scholars who will be involved in research that utilizes animals will complete IACUC training via on-line coursework combined with individualized instruction from IACUC veterinarians. Specifically, IACUC training will review the humane use of animals in research together with related ethical issues. In addition, MERIT Scholars will receive species-specific direction in the appropriate techniques of drug administration, specimen collection, and surgery.

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Partnership with the LADO Consortium

The MERIT Program now partners with the Liberal Arts Diversity Officers consortium (LADO; liberalartsdiversity.org), which promotes diversity, equity and inclusion in higher education. The LADO Consortium provides direct guidance to MERIT Scholars in their 4th year of training regarding available faculty positions at small liberal arts schools across the country. As such, this partnership affords MERIT Scholars a distinct advantage for job placement nation-wide as compared with other IRACDA programs.

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Personal Research Skills Development Plan

At the start of the research training component, each MERIT Scholar formulates a ‘Personal Research Skills Development Plan’ together with his/her research Mentor. The purpose of this plan is to initiate a discussion between the Scholar and Mentor regarding the goals for the research project and the development of research-related professional skills. Throughout the research training, this plan serves as a template for the scholar’s annual review of progress toward the stated research goals. A copy of each MERIT Scholar’s personal research development plan and annual reviews is sent to the Program Director and Evaluator for evaluation.

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Personal Teaching Skills Development Plan

At the start of the teaching training component, each MERIT Scholar devises a ‘Teaching Instruction Plan’ together with the Co-Director for Teaching Instruction (sample plan included in Appendix A2). The purpose of this plan is to determine the scholar’s teaching-related goals and professional skills needed. Upon selection of the MERIT Teaching Mentor (described below), the MERIT Scholar discusses his/her ‘Teaching Instruction Plan’ with the Mentor. Throughout the teaching instruction component, this plan serves as a template for the scholar’s annual review of his/her progress toward the stated teaching goals. A copy of each MERIT Scholar’s ‘Teaching Instruction Plan’ and annual reviews is retained by the Co-Director for Teaching Instruction and Program Evaluator for evaluation.

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Provision of NRMN CAM Training

The Office of Postdoctoral Education will host the National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) Culturally Aware Mentorship (CAM) Training Program during the upcoming 2018 UAB Mentoring Week. In brief, NRMN CAM Training provides opportunities for training that emphasizes the importance of understanding cultural diversity in the context of research training in the biomedical sciences As noted above, the MERIT Program will host the NRMN Culture Awareness Mentorship (CAM) Training Program during UAB’s 2018 Mentoring Week. Because NRMN CAM Training was launched in Spring 2017, the MERIT Program appears to be the only IRACDA program to date to offer such training to its Research Mentors, Scholars and greater Community.

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