The NICHD Pediatric Scientist Development Program (PSDP) was first established in 1986 due to concerns in the field that trainees were not well enough trained in molecular biology to compete successfully for NIH grants. The PSDP has met this challenge, with 175 PSDP graduates having attained an increase in quantity and quality of grant applications over the past three decades. Many of the PSDP scholars who have been trained to date have gone on to become department chairs, division directors, fellowship directors, and other leaders in academic pediatrics.
To stay current, however, PSDP scholars must now master the techniques of the ‘omics’ revolution, the microbiome, systems biology, bioinformatics, and glycoscience. These goals will be attained through support of K-12 Institutional Career Development awards that place trainees with mentors at leading laboratories all over the country, where trainees experience a formative research experience in basic science applicable to children’s diseases. Each scholar receives two or three years of 100% protected laboratory time without clinical responsibilities. Graduates of the program point to this protected time as the most important component of the PSDP.
Pediatric Growth and Nutrition Branch
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