Newsletter Article

BRAINS Grant Address Diversity in Neuroscience


Diversity is key to a vibrant and innovative scientific community, but early career scientists from underrepresented populations, including people of color, are leaving the field at record rates and these are much higher than their majority group counterparts. This loss of talent is particularly acute and tragic at the post-Ph.D. stages as both the individual and field have made significant investments in their education and development. Psychology Professor Sheri Mizumori [and her colleagues Drs. Joyce Yen (College of Engineering) and Claire Horner-Devine (College of the Environment)], are strengthening this vulnerable career stage through a new national program called BRAINS (Broadening the Representation of Academic Investigators in NeuroScience ) that received its second five-year grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).

The BRAINS model is unique from other professional development models in many ways. It is the only model that:

  1. Targets early career neuroscientists who are at risk of leaving their career;
  2. Provides an array of professional development tools tailored for each person's individual situation;
  3. Offers continued and multiple forms of guidance across years of career transitions; and,
  4. Is based on social psychology research that identifies critical and unique challenges that importantly determine persistence in the careers of underrepresented scientists.

BRAINS is currently the only model that directly addresses the latter point by providing specific tips, tools, and strategies to overcome the cultural challenges that underrepresented scientists face. Given the strongly positive impact that BRAINS has already had on program participants, and the recently renewed support by NINDS, Dr. Mizumori hopes to identify future strategies and best practices that ensure a diverse scientific workforce for our country.