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Medical Research

Fund to Retain Clinical Scientists

Purpose

The Fund to Retain Clinical Scientists aims to help sustain research productivity of physician scientists when faced with periods of family caregiving responsibilities and to raise awareness about the importance of added research assistance for caregivers as a retention mechanism. 

The COVID-19 Fund to Retain Clinical Scientists is a one-time, collaborative funding opportunity that builds on the promising outcomes of the original Fund to Retain Clinical Scientists program to accelerate transformative action toward sustainable institutional solutions.

 

History & Rationale

The Fund to Retain Clinical Scientists was first launched in 2015 to 1) scale institutional-level “extra hands” programs designed to help researchers maintain productivity in the face of significant transitory time commitments related to family caregiving, and 2) conduct a national-level prospective experiment to assess the impact of these programs on faculty retention and institutional culture. Over 40% of young physicians with fulltime faculty appointments at academic medical schools leave academics within 10 years.[1] The reason behind this attrition is complex and multi-dimensional, but one factor is that early faculty members, particularly women, face substantial family caregiving responsibilities such as childcare and eldercare.

A cohort of U.S. medical schools was identified in an open, peer-reviewed competition to administer flexible research funds to eligible faculty from 2015-2023 and to participate in an independent evaluation of this intervention. Click here for descriptions of each participating institution.

Early findings of the national Fund to Retain Clinical Scientists indicate that by providing supplemental research funding to physician scientists at the time of a caregiving crisis, these grants: 1) advance clinical research in an inclusive but not gender-neutral way,[2]  2) enable recipients to repurpose their time so their research can continue,[3]  and 3) validate rather than reinforce stigma around caregiving in clinical research.[4]

The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the pressures on research faculty’s time and on their ability to balance family caregiving and research responsibilities—particularly for women and scientists who are Black, Indigenous or people of color conducting biomedical research.[5] Given these circumstances, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the American Heart Association, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, Rita Allen Foundation and Walder Foundation came together in 2021 to offer a one-time COVID-19 Fund to Retain Clinical Scientists funding opportunity that builds on the promising outcomes of the original Fund to Retain Clinical Scientists Program to accelerate transformative action toward sustainable institutional solutions. 

The COVID-19 Fund to Retain Clinical Scientists program offers grants of $550,000 over two years to recognize exemplary efforts at U.S. medical schools to strengthen policies, practices and processes to better support the research productivity and retention of early-career faculty with family caregiving responsibilities. Grants supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation through this program continue our focus on early-career physician scientists, a workforce ripe to benefit from institutional action and proximate to the public health concerns that are front and center during the pandemic. Grants provided by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundations’ partners in this collaborative grant program will enable expansion of this grant mechanism to the broader biomedical research faculty at U.S. medical schools. 

Institutions identified through an open, peer-reviewed competition to receive COVID-19 Fund to Retain Clinical Scientists will be announced in the Fall of 2021. We do not foresee offering additional grants under this program in the near future.


[1] Association of American Medical Colleges. Available at: https://www.aamc.org/download/67968/data/aibvol8no4.pdf