AGA expands workforce and research diversity work with NIH grant

Bethesda, MD (Sept. 11, 2018) – Building on a longstanding commitment to developing diversity in the biomedical science research workforce, AGA is pleased to announce the funding of a new initiative, the AGA FORWARD PROGRAM: Fostering Opportunities Resulting in Workforce and Research Diversity, supported by NIH (1R25DK118761-01). The program supports the career entry and development for underrepresented minority physician scientists in gastroenterology.

The field of gastroenterology has faced many challenges over the past decade in recruiting women and individuals from underrepresented minorities. Indeed, as of 2007, only 3.2 percent of gastroenterology fellows were African American and 8.5 percent were Hispanic. The numbers did not fare much better for women, with only 16 percent of female GI fellows, despite 47 percent of U.S. medical students being women. However, AGA has begun to tackle this lack of diversity through a number of programs and now, the FORWARD Program.

“We have designed a program to assure that all participants gain a very solid sense of the realities and needed skills to pursue a satisfying career in research and will provide support to help participants achieve their goals,” said project director Byron Cryer, MD, associate dean for the Office of Faculty Diversity & Development, UT Southwestern Medical Center.

By providing training and mentoring, AGA expects to provide concrete skills to promote underrepresented minorities in the pursuit of successful careers as physician-scientists.

The program focuses on three aims:

1. Providing training for skill development in research careers. We will provide training in research development, writing scientific manuscripts, grant writing and management of research groups.

2. Providing skill development in leadership. We will adapt our highly successful curricula for leadership development to include general leadership development, executive coaching and opportunities for leadership experience within AGA.

3. Providing active mentoring. Employing a diversity management plan focused on active mentoring approaches, AGA will use both one-on-one and network mentoring approaches to provide opportunities for broad support and sponsorship.

The program will be available to two 10-person cohorts over the five years of the grant. Details on how to apply to the program will be released [this fall]. AGA chair Sheila E. Crowe, MD, FRCPC, FACP, FACG, AGAF, serves as principal investigator. Dr. Cryer is project director working with key personnel Juanita Merchant, MD, PhD, and Jesus Rivera-Nieves, MD, AGAF. This team brings decades of experience in leadership development, program management and successful mentoring of early career physician-scientists in developing research careers.

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