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Information on Postdoctoral Training for Grant Applications

This document is being provided to UTHealth Houston faculty to assist in the preparation of the guidelines regarding Postdoctoral Research Fellow (PRF) research training mentoring and training as released in the PROPOSAL and AWARD POLICIES and PROCEDURES GUIDE, issued October 2008, and Effective January 5, 2009 (NSF 09-1 OMB Control Number: 3145?0058). These specific changes are prepared in a Summary Statement by the NSF.

Specifically stated in the Guide is the following: “Examples of mentoring activities include, but are not limited to: career counseling; training in preparation of grant proposals, publications and presentations; guidance on ways to improve teaching and mentoring skills; guidance on how to effectively collaborate with researchers from diverse backgrounds and disciplinary areas; and training in responsible professional practice.”

The NSF expects each PI to tailor a mentoring plan that best suits his/her laboratory and/or research center. Thus, we are avoiding boilerplate templates by offering general information and suggestions.

General Suggestions:

To assist in documenting the on-going training/ mentoring postdoctoral fellows are offered if they participate in the Program. PI’s should state the following:
• Their mentoring methods and resources including, but not limited to, the frequency of meetings with postdoctoral fellows to discuss research results, career goals, and advancement strategies in the scientific community.
• The opportunities the postdoctoral fellows have to present their research, network outside of their institution, and travel and participate in scientific meetings.

Description of the UTHSC-H Postdoctoral Certificate Training Program/Postdoctoral Workshops and Seminars

The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston offers postdoctoral researchers a formal training program. Classes meet once a week for the duration of the Fall and Spring academic semesters. The program includes, but is not limited to:
• Career Development: These classes include career options, leadership and management skills, work /life balance, and other topics related to obtaining and sustaining a professional career in science.
• Responsible Conduct in Research: These classes cover topics on research misconduct, data management, intellectual property, publication practices, and animal and human subject welfare.
• Communication Skills: Participants learn presentation skills, cultural linguistics, media relations and they give a lay presentation that is videotaped in the UTH studio and reviewed by the UTH media team.
• Teaching Skills: The UTH Medical School Office of Education provides training in curriculum development, teaching methods, learner assessment, and preparing a Teaching Philosophy statement.
• Elective courses – Participants are eligible to take courses in any of the six UTH schools.

Outside of the Certificate Program, there is a six-week Grantsmanship Workshop for Postdoctoral Research Fellows, as well as monthly seminars on a variety of scientific and career development topics.

An Individual Development Plan (IDP) is a document that aids an individual to (1) develop career objectives based upon an assessment of his/her interests, skills, and values, and (2) achieve career objectives. An IDP also serves as a communication tool between PRFs and their supervisors and/or other mentors and advisors to help define career goals and provide training.

HOOP Policy 122 states “The faculty mentor is responsible for providing an annual review of the PRF’s training progress and direction.” The annual review form for UTH PRF’s is formatted as an IDP which meets the NIH expectation as described in their policy below.

NIH progress reports using the Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) must include a report on the use of IDPs in Section B. Accomplishments, Question B.4. Actual IDPs should not be included. Instead, grantees will report on whether they use IDPs for all the graduate students and postdoctoral researchers included in Section D. list of Participants. The use of IDPs, as well as the manner in which IDPs are used, is expected to be determined by the awardee institution, but the RPPR will include a brief description of how and whether IDPs are used to help manage the career development of students and postdocs associated with that award. A similar response is required for all T, F, K, R25, R13, D43, and other awards or award components designed to provide training and professional development opportunities for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers.

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