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Recruiting Trainees for a Global Health Research Workforce: The National Institutes of Health Fogarty International Clinical Research Scholars Program Selection Process

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  • Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health, Departments of Medicine, Biostatistics, and Pediatrics, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee; Fogarty International Clinical Research Scholars and Fellows Support Center at Vanderbilt, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee; Stony Brook University School of Medicine, Stony Brook, New York; Fogarty International Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland

Between 2004 and 2012, the National Institutes of Health Fogarty International Clinical Research Scholars (FICRS) Program provided 1-year mentored research training at low- and middle-income country sites for American and international health science doctoral students. We describe the centralized application process, US applicant characteristics, and predictors of selection/enrollment. FICRS received 1,084 applicants representing many health professions and biomedical disciplines at 132 US academic institutions; 219 students from 72 institutions were accepted and enrolled. Medical/osteopathic students comprised 88.9% of applicants and 85.8% of enrollees. Applicants from institutions with higher applicant numbers were two times as likely to be selected. In 2012, FICRS was decentralized among 20 institutions in five consortia (Global Health Fellows), with autonomous selection processes that emphasize post-doctoral trainees. If academia, government, or charitable foundations offer future opportunities to health professions students for international research, the FICRS experience predicts that they can attract substantial numbers of motivated trainees from diverse backgrounds.

Author Notes

* Address correspondence to Douglas C. Heimburger, Vanderbilt University Institute for Global Health, 2525 West End Avenue, Suite 750, Nashville, TN 37203. E-mail: douglas.heimburger@vanderbilt.edu

Authors' addresses: Douglas C. Heimburger, Tokesha L. Warner, Catherine Lem Carothers, Meridith Blevins, and Sten H. Vermund, Vanderbilt University Institute for Global Health, Departments of Medicine, Biostatistics, and Pediatrics, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TN, E-mails: douglas.heimburger@vanderbilt.edu, tokesha.warner@vanderbilt.edu, catherine.lem@vanderbilt.edu, meridith.blevins@vanderbilt.edu, and sten.vermund@vanderbilt.edu. Yolanda Thomas and Aron Primack, Fogarty International Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, E-mails: ythomas@ficrsconsultant.com and aprimack@rcn.com. Pierce Gardner, Stony Brook University School of Medicine, Stony Brook, NY, E-mail: gardnep@mail.nih.gov.

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