AMS response to the Next Generation Researchers Initiative

In response to a request from the US National Academy of Sciences, the Academy produced a paper providing a UK snapshot of efforts by the research community to aid the transition to independent research careers for biomedical researchers. The Academy's paper was published in May 2018. 

The Next Generation Researchers Initiative was developed in response to a request from the US Congress to consider the barriers facing the next generation of researchers, and what changes in policy might be needed to address these. Led by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, a joint committee examined evidence-based programmes and policies that create more opportunities, incentives, and pathways for successful transitions to independent research careers, as well as factors that influence the stability and sustainability of the early stages of independent research careers.

The Academy of Medical Sciences was asked in July 2017 to provide a paper that provided a UK perspective on the programmes offering support for early career researchers in developing independent research careers. This was provided to the Committee in September 2017, alongside international perspectives from the European Union, Canada, China, and Singapore. 

The UK's historically diverse funding ecosystem in the UK has successfully stimulated world-leading biomedical research and fostered the growth of a talented research base. The UK has benefitted from strategic government investment over the past two decades, an extremely well-resourced charities sector, and an enlightened industrial base that recognises the importance of external collaboration. Above all, the research culture that has evolved over centuries enables the UK to punch above its weight in terms of academic excellence.

Our paper provides a snapshot of the approach in the UK, drawing on examples provided by a number of research funders consulted in the time available. We highlight examples of how multiple funders are providing complementary schemes to enable outstanding young investigators to transition to independence - such as the Academy's Springboard grant scheme. Whilst progress has been made, there is scope for funders to improve long-term data collection on the biomedical workforce and the impact of their investments to make informed decisions. Finally, there is a need for funders to continue to regularly take a strategic view across the funding landscape to identify imbalances in the training portfolio and the provision of support for early career investigators.

 

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