Grant to Support Early-Career Investigators Impacted by the Challenges of the Pandemic

Faculty at BUSM-BMC are national leaders in health research, including having one of the nation’s ~60 Clinical Translational Science Awards. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the caregiving demands too often borne disproportionately by women and people of color, disrupting many people’s research trajectories and increasing risk of attrition from academic medicine. Given the importance of research to BUSM-BMC, leadership acknowledged the substantial challenges faced by caregiving physician scientists during the pandemic, and responded with policies and programs to support balancing productivity with caregiving and to retain our workforce. Early in the pandemic, our Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) offered $5,000 flexible research vouchers to fund staff and supplies for scientists whose productivity had been adversely affected by the pandemic. Voucher recipients described highly meritorious scientific endeavors and most discussed the overwhelming disruptions related to child or elder-care. The CTSI has provided over $110,000 to 25 investigators.

Building upon the success of this voucher program, BUSM has been awarded one of 22 awards to medical schools across the US from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and partnering organizations to support early stage investigators academic faculty engaged in high impact clinical health research who have been impacted by COVID-19-related care-giving responsibilities. This funding is part of the largest US collaborative effort for equity in biomedicine with $12.1 million in grant funding to be distributed to these institutions. This effort will support more than 250 early-career biomedical researchers across the country who have had caregiving responsibilities intensified by the pandemic to accelerate the progress of cultivating, retaining and supporting a diverse research workforce. Ultimately, supporting caregivers supports equity in academic medicine.

Leveraging the awarded support from the DDCF, additional Departments across BUSM have generously committed funding to allow for additional early career researchers to be supported by this mechanism: Family Medicine, Medicine, Neurology, Pediatrics, Radiology, Surgery and Psychiatry. In sum, this award and the generous support from our Departments will allow us to support up to 17 early career clinician scientists who are engaged in high impact clinical research and whose research was disrupted by COVID related caregiving needs.  A call for applications was sent out on Wednesday December 1st. Awardees will receive $40,000 to offset clinical time and/or to hire additional research support staff as well as a CTSI $5000 voucher, and will participate in a longitudinal learning cohort with other participants.

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