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The National Institutes of Health (NIH) funds training programs to increase the numbers and skills of scientists who obtain NIH research grants, but few programs have been rigorously evaluated. The sizeable recent NIH investment in developing programs to increase the diversity of the NIH-funded workforce, implemented through the Diversity Program Consortium (DPC), is unusual in that it also funds a Consortium-wide evaluation plan, which spans the activities of the 10 BUilding Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD) awardees and the National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN). The purpose of this article is to describe the evaluation design and innovations of the BUILD Program on students, faculty, and institutions of the 10 primarily undergraduate BUILD sites.
National reports call for improving America?s leadership in scientific research, accelerating degree attainments, and diversifying the scientific workforce to foster innovation. However, slow progress and persistent disparities across growing U.S. populations are evident on key science workforce indicators, from degree attainment to career achievements. The purpose of this article is to provide a conceptual basis and overview of a national effort funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that advances inclusive science practice and systemic change. We introduce the context, features, and rationale that drive practice and evaluation in the Diversity Program Consortium (DPC) approach, which is an experimental program to implement and evaluate evidence-based and novel practices to expand and diversify the biomedical workforce.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded Diversity Program Consortium (DPC) includes a Coordination and Evaluation Center (CEC) to conduct a longitudinal evaluation of the two signature, national NIH initiatives - the Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD) and the National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) programs - designed to promote diversity in the NIH-funded biomedical, behavioral, clinical, and social sciences research workforce. Evaluation is central to understanding the impact of the consortium activities. This article reviews the role and function of the CEC and the collaborative processes and achievements critical to establishing empirical evidence regarding the efficacy of federally-funded, quasi-experimental interventions across multiple sites. The integrated DPC evaluation is particularly significant because it is a collaboratively developed Consortium Wide Evaluation Plan and the first hypothesis-driven, large-scale systemic national longitudinal evaluation of training programs in the history of NIH/National Institute of General Medical Sciences.
The NIH-funded National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) aims to increase the representation and success of underrepresented groups (URGs) in biomedical research by enhancing the training and career development of individuals from diverse backgrounds, communities, and cultures. The national scope of NRMN, its wide array of innovative programs in mentor and mentee matching and training across the career spectrum, requires a collaborative evaluation strategy that addresses both internal and external evaluation needs. Due to the variety of programs implemented for each target group, the NRMN program is responsible for its own process and short-term outcome evaluations and the national Coordination and Evaluation Center (CEC) is responsible for assessing the medium and long-term effectiveness of the implemented strategies and program sustainability. Using a collaborative, utilization-focused evaluation framework, both internal NRMN evaluators and the CEC are working to translate findings into information that can be used to make both short term and long-term decisions about the efficacy and reach of the NRMN model. This important information can then inform efforts to institutionalize the current programs and potentially replicate them elsewhere.