Career Office-Alum Collaboration Yields $2.3M Award

A UCSF alum, in partnership with UCSF, has been awarded a $2.3 million NIH Innovative Programs to Enhance Research Training (IPERT) grant, with far reaching potential to advance, expand, and standardize the field of career and professional development for biomedical scientists. The principal investigator, Cynthia Fuhrmann, PhD ‘05, now the assistant dean of career and professional development at UMass Medical School, earned her doctorate at UCSF before working in UCSF’s Office of Career and Professional Development from 2005-2012.

The last several decades have seen tremendous growth in the career development aspects of graduate education at institutions across the country. The goal of this five-year grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences is to reduce the need for graduate education units to reinvent the wheel when they want to expand their career development offerings. 

Conceptually, there are four phases to the project. First, the project team will solicit faculty and staff from around the country to submit educational “models” designed to solve a particular professional challenge for PhD students and postdocs. A model could be a website or tool, resource, program/event or a course. The first solicitation will call for submissions of educational models designed to help trainees explore their career options. Next, several models will be selected by a team of peers, for inclusion in the “Career Exploration Models Collection.” During the third phase, creators of the selected models will be taught to prepare their materials to be adopted by other institutions. The final phase of the program will involve “Train the Trainer” programs where educators from around the country will gather to be introduced to the collection and learn how to deliver and evaluate each model at their home institutions.

While at the Office of Career and Professional Development, Fuhrmann worked with Assistant Vice Chancellor Bill Lindstaedt, MS, now a co-investigator on the grant, which will bring a subaward to UCSF. “We are excited about this project because it will allow many institutions to work together to move the field forward.  As a result, we’ll be helping more students and postdocs nationwide to benefit from carefully curated materials, while enabling newly opened – and often small and under-resourced – career offices to deliver high quality career and professional development materials quickly,” said Lindstaedt.