Training in Education and Critical Research Skills (TEACRS) is funded by the IRACDA initiative of NIGMS and is designed to train the academic biomedical research and education leaders of the future. Trainees who are accepted into this program can select faculty mentors working in biomedically related areas from any department at Tufts University. Thus our program offers opportunities in areas as diverse as biomedical engineering, chemistry, nutrition and traditional biomedical disciplines. By providing high quality research experiences, coupled with career development skills, this program prepares the most talented young scientists for academic careers.
TEACRS trainees complete our program ready to manage a successful research program, teach and balance the multi-faceted demands inherent in a career as an academic scientist. Trainees spend about 75% of their time in research and 25% of their time is devoted to teaching and career development activities.
Our nation needs university faculty that are prepared to meet the multiple challenges faced by young Assistant Professors pursuing their first independent position. The Association of American Medical Colleges reported in 2009 that about one-third of full-time medical school faculty are 55 years of age or older. Although mandatory retirement is no longer in force, the passage of time, coupled with population increases, will naturally lead to an increased need for faculty in biomedical science. As noted in an article in Nature in 2005 (435, 850-851), adjusting to the demands of setting up and managing a productive research lab, obtaining grant funding, developing and presenting the class material that is required in an academic position, and participating in the everyday life of an academic at a university is extremely challenging.
Current postdoctoral training at most institutions focuses largely on providing young scientists with research tools and a body of research sufficient to launch an independent career. Career satisfaction and retention of talented Assistant Professors is vital for maintaining excellence in research and for training the next generation of scientists. There is also a need to provide engaging and up-to-date courses in biomedical science at undergraduate institutions with a high enrollment of underrepresented minorities. To address these shortfalls, TEACRS fellows are trained in additional career skills such as grant writing, scientific presentation skills, mentoring, and teaching. Opportunities for direct teaching experience in the classroom will be available at three local partner institutions with high minority enrollment. In addition, trainees benefit from a well-organized research advising system.