College of Medicine receives grant to advance research productivity and retention of early-career faculty impacted by COVID-19
The work of the physician-scientist is integral to scientific discovery and progress. They translate what they learn in the lab into clinical trials that can lead to better treatment and patient outcomes. The pandemic increased pressure on bioscience researchers. At work, they faced closed labs and hiring freezes of support staff. At home, they faced increased child care responsibilities and homeschooling duties.
This resulted in up to a 40% reduction in time devoted to research. Fifty-eight percent of female faculty surveyed by the National Academies reported facing increased childcare demands, and most reported that they were shouldering the majority of the school responsibilities.
In an effort to keep the important work of researchers on track, while supporting their burgeoning responsibilities at home, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation — in concert with the American Heart Association, the Burroughs Welcome Fund, the John Templeton Foundation, the Rita Allen Foundation, and the Walder Foundation — has donated $550,000 each to The Ohio State University College of Medicine and 21 other medical schools across the country. The Ohio State College of Medicine was selected from a pool of 54 medical schools because the academic institution is an important leader in the broader effort to build an equitable and inclusive physician-scientist workforce. These grants will be used to fund retention and supportive programs for early-career faculty members impacted by the pandemic.
Ginny Bumgardner, MD, PhD, FACS, professor of Surgery, associate dean for Physician Scientist Education and Training at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, says the grant tailors assistance to faculty experiencing an unexpected increase in family caregiving responsibilities to avoid an interruption in their research momentum.
“This is a very unique type of support that is aimed at holistically intervening to avoid a derailment of physician scientist careers impacted by COVID-19 and other such stressors,” says Dr. Bumgardner. “It allows us to offer direct support for increased research protected time, technical assistance and access to research core services to facilitate research engagement.”
Eligible candidates for this support include assistant professors (and those at the associate professor rank for less than 12 months) with clinical responsibilities and 40% or higher protected time for research efforts.
As the impacts of the coronavirus have disproportionately affected women, people of color and those with other marginalized identities with a variety of needs, the importance of a truly personalized faculty support program cannot be overstated. This, coupled with the varied nature of the coronavirus pandemic’s impact, means individual support will vary on a case-to-case basis and could also include technical writing support, education and resiliency training, stress-reduction resources and other burden-reducing tools.
Dr. Bumgardner further explains that early-career faculty are crucial to the continued progress in scientific research at Ohio State. She says the next generation of physician scientists hold many unique perspectives, ideas and data that will drive and influence research for years to come.
The College of Medicine’s new strategic plan establishes priorities and strategies around expanding diversity, equity and inclusion and the cultivation, retention and support of a diverse workforce. This is accomplished by “manifesting a culture where people feel valued, have the opportunity to thrive and excel, care for themselves and each other, and celebrate all forms of diversity.”
This message is further emphasized by Carol R. Bradford, MD, MS, FACS, dean of The Ohio State University College of Medicine.
“Recent research has shown that women faculty, especially those with other underrepresented identities, experienced increased caregiving needs during the pandemic,” says Dr. Bradford. “This grant has the potential to support and retain a diverse group of physician scientists and emphasizes our focus on initiatives to provide family-focused support.”
About the COVID-19 Fund to Retain Clinical Scientists
Building on the promising outcomes of the Doris Duke Fund to Retain Clinical Scientists program, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, American Heart Association, Burroughs Wellcome Fund, John Templeton Foundation, Rita Allen Foundation and Walder Foundation are together providing $12.1 million in grants to 22 medical schools and affiliated hospitals that are evolving to strengthen policies, practices, and processes to support the research productivity of early-career faculty with family caregiving responsibilities. Through the COVID-19 Fund to Retain Clinical Scientists, more than 250 early-career biomedical researchers experiencing a surge in caregiving responsibilities due to COVID-19 will receive support to keep their important research on track while directly tending to the needs of their families.
Across the entire workforce, the pandemic has both elevated the visibility of and directly exacerbated the caregiving demands too often borne disproportionately by women and people of color. The stark effects of COVID-19 on caregivers in biomedicine also present an urgent opportunity for the biomedical sciences to better support faculty experiencing periods of caregiving crisis and remove systemic barriers to their advancement. Together, this collaborative of funders believes that this is a key moment to accelerate long needed culture change for academia to become more inclusive of scientists with family caregiving needs.
About the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
The mission of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) is to improve the quality of people’s lives through grants supporting the performing arts, environmental conservation, child well-being and medical research, and through preservation of the cultural and environmental legacy of Doris Duke’s properties. DDCF’s mission, grantmaking programs, museums and centers are guided by Doris Duke’s will and operated through five related philanthropies: the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, the Duke Farms Foundation, the Doris Duke Foundation and the Doris Duke Management Foundation. Together, the Doris Duke philanthropies support the well-being of people and the planet for a more creative, equitable and sustainable future. Through DDCF’s Medical Research Program, the foundation supports clinical research that advances the translation of biomedical discoveries into new preventions, diagnoses and treatments for human diseases. Learn more at www.ddcf.org.