Cover Image

PAPERBACK
$35.50



View/Hide Left Panel

The Lucille P. Markey Charitable Trust Scholars Program

Krystyna R. Isaacs


In response to a request by the Lucille P.Markey Charitable Trust, the National Research Council of the National Academies, through the Board on Higher Education and Workforce, is conducting an evaluation of the Markey Trust’s grant programs in the biomedical sciences. During an interval of 15 years, the Markey Trust spent over $500 million on four programs in the basic biomedical sciences to support the education and research of graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, junior faculty, and senior researchers. This paper describes one of those programs, the Markey Scholars Program. This evaluation addresses two questions: “Were these funds well spent?” and “What can others in the biomedical and philanthropic communities learn from the programs of the Markey Trust, both as an approach to funding biomedical research and as a model of philanthropy?”

The Lucille P. Markey Charitable Trust Scholars Program was one of the original “bridge funding” programs and set the gold standard for programs that followed, such as the Burroughs Wellcome Trust Career Awards in Biomedical Sciences and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s (HHMI) Physician-Scientist Program. The term “bridge” is used because the Markey Scholars Program provided funds to bridge the critical transition period from a postdoctoral or medical fellow to an independent investigator at an academic institution or medical center. Additional detailed information on how the scholars program was developed and organized is forthcoming in a National Academy of Sciences report. The critical features of this award are outlined below:



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 1
Enhancing Philanthropy’s Support of Biomedical Scientists: Proceedings of a Workshop on Evaluation The Lucille P. Markey Charitable Trust Scholars Program Krystyna R. Isaacs In response to a request by the Lucille P.Markey Charitable Trust, the National Research Council of the National Academies, through the Board on Higher Education and Workforce, is conducting an evaluation of the Markey Trust’s grant programs in the biomedical sciences. During an interval of 15 years, the Markey Trust spent over $500 million on four programs in the basic biomedical sciences to support the education and research of graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, junior faculty, and senior researchers. This paper describes one of those programs, the Markey Scholars Program. This evaluation addresses two questions: “Were these funds well spent?” and “What can others in the biomedical and philanthropic communities learn from the programs of the Markey Trust, both as an approach to funding biomedical research and as a model of philanthropy?” The Lucille P. Markey Charitable Trust Scholars Program was one of the original “bridge funding” programs and set the gold standard for programs that followed, such as the Burroughs Wellcome Trust Career Awards in Biomedical Sciences and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s (HHMI) Physician-Scientist Program. The term “bridge” is used because the Markey Scholars Program provided funds to bridge the critical transition period from a postdoctoral or medical fellow to an independent investigator at an academic institution or medical center. Additional detailed information on how the scholars program was developed and organized is forthcoming in a National Academy of Sciences report. The critical features of this award are outlined below:

OCR for page 1
Enhancing Philanthropy’s Support of Biomedical Scientists: Proceedings of a Workshop on Evaluation Institutions nominated candidates for review by the Markey Selection Committee. Funding supported salary, supply, travel, and equipment. The award guaranteed approximately 75 percent protected time for research for M.D.s and M.D.-Ph.D.s. Funding bridged the postdoctorate and faculty positions for up to seven years with one to three years at the postdoctoral/fellow level and five years at the junior faculty level. Funding for stipends increased gradually during the grant period. Laboratory funds tapered toward the end of the grant period. Scholars attended one Markey-sponsored scientific meeting each year. Funding was portable through the faculty years. EVALUATION METHODOLOGY This report reviews the progress and status of the Markey scholars approximately 10 years after they assumed their initial faculty positions. The Markey Trust funded 113 scholars in seven cycles from 1985 through 1991. A combination of curriculum vitae (CV) analyses, citation data from the ISI Science Citation Index, publicly available information from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) CRISP database, and one-on-one phone interviews was used to assess the current status of the Markey scholars. All but two scholars were interviewed for this study. The Markey scholars were compared to two different groups: Comparison Group 1, which consisted of individuals who had applied in the same year as the scholars and who were judged by the selection committee to be highly ranked but were not selected in the final review, and Comparison Group 2, which consisted of individuals who did not make it to the final review stage. The discussion here is limited to outcomes for the scholars. A subsequent report will analyze outcomes both for scholars and comparison groups. It is hoped that this paper will serve the dual purposes of (1) helping to establish benchmarks for establishing a successful academic scientist career and (2) demonstrating how it is possible to evaluate career outcomes through a variety of measures. CV ANALYSIS Current Position Approximately 10 years after obtaining faculty status, the scholars were contacted by e-mail, phone, or letter and requested to submit a

OCR for page 1
Enhancing Philanthropy’s Support of Biomedical Scientists: Proceedings of a Workshop on Evaluation “long” CV, the type of CV that is usually submitted at the time of tenure review. The CVs proved to be a rich source of information. The relative ranking tables from the National Research Council’s research doctorate programs were used to determine the top-tier institutions by combining the 10 highest-ranking programs in cell and developmental biology, biochemistry and molecular biology, neuroscience, and molecular and general genetics. A total of 14 programs were identified as being at top-tier institutions. Ten years after assuming their initial faculty positions, most scholars, 86 percent, held positions at academic institutions or research institutes, 60 percent of which were at top-tier institutions; 10 percent of scholars are in for-profit institutions; 2 percent (n = 2) of scholars are in government; and 2 percent have other interests (patent law and stay-at-home parent). Promotion All scholars have been promoted into senior positions. Of those in academia, 48 were full professors, 43 were associate professors, five were members, and two were directors. In addition, 18 were HHMI investigators (associate or full). The average time to tenure was 5.5 years. Of those in the private, government or nonprofit sectors, three were unit directors in industry, four were vice presidents in industry, four were presidents in industry, and two were in NIH science administration. Publications The total number of scholarly articles published approximately 14 years after receiving the award ranged from a low of 10 to a high of 221, with an average of 50. This interval includes the scholar’s time as a postdoctoral while on Markey funding Citation Analysis The number of citations of articles produced by the scholars ranged from a low of 350 to a high of 26,000, with an average of 3,500. By comparison, the citation index rate of faculty with research doctorates in the life sciences at the top-tier research institutions was approximately 800. Funding Analysis Only NIH award data were examined because of the lack of consistent reporting on CVs of nongovernment awards. The NIH CRISP data-

OCR for page 1
Enhancing Philanthropy’s Support of Biomedical Scientists: Proceedings of a Workshop on Evaluation base was used to determine the number of NIH grants over a 14-year period, with a specific interest in the number of R01 grants, which are designated for independent investigators. For those scholars who have remained in academia, since the time of their award, the average number of NIH grants is 3.6, the average number of R01 grants is 2.0, and the average time to initial R01 is four years. This suggests that, given the nine-month minimum waiting period required after the initial submission of an R01 grant, the typical Markey scholar submitted his or her first R01 application within two to three years of arriving at a junior faculty position. Ethnographic Interviews Because it is not possible to determine the critical decision points or the thought processes that lead up to the career decisions of Markey scholars from analyzing CVs or a grants database, 35- to 45-minute phone interviews were conducted with each of the scholars, approximately 10 years after they received the Markey award. The topics in the survey instrument specifically probed the scholars’ decision-making process over the past 10 years. Nomination Process Two-thirds of the scholars remembered being nominated by their mentors or research advisors. About one-quarter found out about the award through the postdoctoral grapevine or posted notices. The remaining scholars did not remember how they learned about the existence of the award. All candidates had to go through an internal review process, as only four nominations per institution (later increased to six) were permitted each year. Sense of Independence Approximately 60 percent of the scholars considered themselves already independent in terms of devising their own experiments prior to starting their postdoctoral or fellow positions. The remaining 40 percent thought that their sense of independence developed during this period. As seen in Table 1, it appears that the self-report on independence was dependent on the scholar’s final degree, as Ph.D.s reported being more independent than either M.D.s or M.D.-Ph.D.s.

OCR for page 1
Enhancing Philanthropy’s Support of Biomedical Scientists: Proceedings of a Workshop on Evaluation TABLE 1 Percentage of Markey Scholars’ Sense of Independence by Degree Degree Sense of Independence Already Independent Independence Developed Don’t Remember M.D. 40 60 0 M.D.-Ph.D. 53 40 7 Ph.D. 68 30 2 Issues of Flexibility When queried about the additional year in postdoctoral study requirement, 51 percent of respondents thought this was a good idea, and another 41 percent said it had no impact on their future plans. An additional 6 percent thought the extra year was a burden and petitioned the Markey committee to remove this requirement (which was done after the third class). Those who thought the additional year was a good idea said the extra year gave them time to finish experiments, time to collect sufficient pilot data to be competitive for NIH awards, and time to conduct a job search. A number of scholars volunteered that the award gave dual-scientific-career couples time to get “in sync” with differing career stages and allowed for more flexibility when it came to looking for jobs for two people. Very few scholars commented that they had changed their research direction after receiving the award, but many mentioned that the award (and the time that came with it) gave them the confidence to pursue “riskier” lines of research. Factors Influencing the Selection of the First Faculty Position The scholars were queried as to what factors they considered in selecting their initial professional academic appointments. These included quality of science in the department—71 percent; family issues (e.g., dual-career issues)—35 percent; geography and job location—25 percent; familiarity with the institution—24 percent; and quality of graduate students—13 percent. Factors influencing the scholars’ decisions at this point included a spouse’s job requirements, quality of graduate student population, re-

OCR for page 1
Enhancing Philanthropy’s Support of Biomedical Scientists: Proceedings of a Workshop on Evaluation search interests, reputation of the department, and cost of living for a specific geographical region. Many of the scholars reported that they were invited to apply for positions by members of the Markey Scholars Committee or by individuals who were speakers at the Markey scholars annual meetings. Moreover, many scholars were able to consider and weigh multiple opportunities. Nearly all of the scholars were offered substantial start-up packages. However, start-up packages for those who stayed at their fellowships or postdoctoral institutions were significantly less than those who moved to new institutions. Some scholars reported uncomfortable negotiations with their future department chairs, who tried to reduce packages due to Markey funds. An analysis of the decision to select their first faculty positions revealed that individuals with Ph.D.s were far more likely to change institutions after the completion of their training period than those who had either an M.D. or M.D.-Ph.D. degree (see Table 2). Scholars with M.D.s and M.D.-Ph.D.s tended to stay at the same institution where they completed their fellowships, unlike Ph.D.s who mostly changed institutions. M.D.s and M.D.-Ph.D.s, in turn, were more likely to move after achieving associate professor status. Originally, it was thought that M.D.s stayed because of difficulties of juggling a clinical practice and a research laboratory, but when queried, it turned out that many of the clinical scholars had decided to pursue a basic science research path rather than a dual research/clinical career prior to accepting the faculty position. When M.D.s or M.D.-Ph.D.s were asked why they opted to stay at their fellowship institutions despite the discrepancy in start-up funds, several clinical scholars said the deciding factor was that they were “intertwined” in a support system for their research at the fellowship institution that would be difficult to replicate at a new institution. TABLE 2 Percentage of Markey Scholars Who Change Institutions After Completing Postdoctoral, by Degree Degree Remained at Postdoc Institution Changed Institution M.D. 63 37 M.D.-Ph.D. 53 47 Ph.D. 15 85

OCR for page 1
Enhancing Philanthropy’s Support of Biomedical Scientists: Proceedings of a Workshop on Evaluation Departmental Expectations Generally, any committee responsibilities the scholars had were equivalent to those of other junior faculty members without their own sources of support. Many scholars mentioned that they wanted to be active members of their departments, so they volunteered for committee work. The key then was to know “when to say yes” and not to overburden oneself. Some clinical scholars needed Markey Trust committee members to “remind” department chairs of their commitment to give scholars 75 percent protected time for research. Impact of the Markey Award on Subsequent Funding This was a difficult question for the scholars to comment on. The majority of the scholars considered the Markey award as having a positive influence on their subsequent funding efforts. But as one scholar said, “I never saw it mentioned on a pink sheet,” meaning this isn’t the sort of information provided on an NIH grant review statement, so he really had no insight into how the award affected his NIH funding. The scholars frequently commented that having the Markey award meant they could get sufficient pilot data to submit a strong R01 proposal. The award gave them time to do their experiments and establish their independence prior to submitting their first NIH grant proposal. Several scholars felt that the award gave them a “stamp of approval,” especially after the Markey scholars award became better known. Teaching and Mentoring Over 70 percent of the scholars reported less than a 10 percent time commitment to didactic teaching in the initial years of their faculty appointments. As the scholars climbed the academic career ladder, they experienced more administrative responsibilities and increased teaching loads. However, even 10 years after assuming their faculty positions, the teaching responsibilities were not a significant portion of the scholars’ workloads. Scholars estimated that their mentoring or attending duties averaged no more than 25 to 30 percent of their work effort. Laboratory Structure and Trainee Outcomes The majority of the scholars preferred smaller rather than larger laboratories (see Table 3). Many M.D.s or M.D.-Ph.D.s with clinical loads had a lab manager or senior research associate managing the labs while they were on attending duties and so forth. Several M.D.s commented that it

OCR for page 1
Enhancing Philanthropy’s Support of Biomedical Scientists: Proceedings of a Workshop on Evaluation TABLE 3 Number of Laboratory Personnel in Scholars Labs, by Degree Degree No. of Laboratory Personnel 5 and Under 6 to 10 11 and Over Total M.D. 8 2 7 17 M.D.-Ph.D. 2 16 7 25 Ph.D. 3 30 19 52 Total 13 48 33 94 was difficult to get good graduate students if they were in medical departments. The scholars’ trainees (graduate students, fellows and postdoctorals) have gone into a variety of careers: academic, biotech, industry, and “other.” The scholars as a whole did not appear biased against non-academic career options; several scholars mentioned that they just want trainees “to be as happy as I am!” Networking The scholars repeatedly mentioned what a wonderful experience attending the annual meeting had been. The energy and enthusiasm were infectious, and scholars from the early classes (first, second, and third) frequently noted what they called the “cocktail party effect.” That is, access to speakers and committee members at meals and social events was a critical component to their subsequent success. At the annual Markey meetings, scholars got to know people on review committees for other foundations and NIH review panels (speakers, invited guests, etc.) Several scholars also noted that having a name associated with a face or project was a real boon in terms of getting subsequent proposals to stand out and, of course, for job hunting, as mentioned previously. While scientific collaborations were few among the Markey scholars (primarily it seems due to the diverse nature of the science covered), several scholars noted that they felt comfortable calling or e-mailing another scholar for information on a technique or to invite another scholar to a speaker series. Commercial Interests In interviews with the early classes, several scholars mentioned starting their own businesses or other commercial interests. Starting with Class

OCR for page 1
Enhancing Philanthropy’s Support of Biomedical Scientists: Proceedings of a Workshop on Evaluation 3, a question was added to the survey instrument to assess how prevalent this observation was in reality. Over half of the scholars reported licenses or patents, starting a business, or consulting for profit. These percentages are probably an “underreporting” of the incidence of commercial involvement, as individuals in Classes 1 and 2 were not specifically asked this question. Many of the clinical scholars had paid consultancies with pharmaceutical companies in the area of drug discovery. It was of special interest to note that in all the categories queried, female scholars had fewer reports of commercial interests than did male scholars. Whether this was due to a lack of interest, or a lack of opportunity, or a combination of both was beyond the scope of this investigation. Impact of Medical Training on Research Programs At the time they assumed their initial faculty positions, 95 percent of M.D.s and 60 percent of M.D.-Ph.D.s had active medical licenses. At the time of the interview, 10 years later, only 50 percent of the M.D.s and 44 percent of M.D.-Ph.D.s had kept their licenses current. When queried about whether they participated in translational research—operationally defined as taking findings from bench side to bedside and/or engaging in research requiring internal review board approvals—only about 35 percent of all scholars responded affirmatively. Finally, for many of the M.D.s and M.D.-Ph.D.s, their participation in clinical trials was limited to providing advice on design and analysis. Few actually participated in actively clinical trials, citing the daunting amount of paperwork. Concluding Observations by the Scholars At the conclusion of the interview, scholars were asked how they would improve the program if it were offered again. It was difficult to get the scholars to offer constructive criticism, as many thought the program was ideal as designed. However, when pressed, they made the following suggestions: Have a more formal mentoring system. Provide counsel during job negotiations (especially with start-up packages). Encourage collaborations by providing seed grants. Continue to invite scholars who move to industry, biotech, or HHMI to the annual meetings. Several recurring themes emerged from the final comments made by the scholars:

OCR for page 1
Enhancing Philanthropy’s Support of Biomedical Scientists: Proceedings of a Workshop on Evaluation They loved that the Markey Trust had faith in them. The scholars frequently stated that they thought the committee was focused on helping them achieve their personal and research-oriented goals. That is, they felt that the committee was determined to help them succeed as individuals, rather than worrying about whether a particular project was followed through to completion. In hindsight they appreciated the lack of bureaucracy imposed by the Markey Trust and the flexibility produced by this trust in the scholars. Scholars appreciated the fact that changing directions on their projects or even changing institutions was not a major obstacle tied to time-consuming paperwork. Even for academic superstars, the supportive atmosphere was highly appreciated, and several scholars mentioned that the “pat on the back” they received at the meetings meant more than the funds. The intellectual stimulation provided by the scientific meetings, even though much of it was outside the scholars’ own area of expertise, was invigorating and prepared them for a more broad-minded approach to science. The following comment made during one interview is representative of the appreciation the Scholars felt for this award. The thing I always appreciated about the Markey Trust was that, once you had made it through the selection process, the Trustees always rooted for you no matter what. The whole philosophy of the program was to find people who they thought had a good potential and fund them.