Bridging the gap in health disparities

2/14/2018 3:31:24 PM

In honor of Black History Month, the February issue of the ASBMB Today features a number of engaging articles spotlighting work conducted by black scientists in the biomedical sciences and resources to increase participation of minorities in STEM fields. One article that particularly caught my eye is that written by John Arnst on addressing the tangled roots of health disparities. As Arnst defines it, a health disparity “includes any condition disproportionately affecting one racial, ethnic or gender group.” 

This has been an emerging field over the past few decades as researchers and clinicians increasingly recognize that diseases disproportionately affect different populations and a holistic analysis of disease-risk factors (e.g., genetics, stress, income) must be considered. Additionally, research participants and samples need to be representative. Thus, scientists are needed to address health disparities across the science-to-policy pipeline. These roles include coordinating clinical-research projects and analyzing data to identify disparity trends to community outreach and policy development that addresses systematic health inequities. 

Arnst does a magnificent job highlighting the impactful research ongoing at a number of academic research centers of excellence and minority-serving institutions funded by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities. (BTW, you also can check out a recorded interview with Arnst about the article on the ASBMB Pipette and Politics podcast.) 

For this week’s post, I researched a subset of the NIMHD-funded centers listed in the press releases (linked to above) to see if there are any current job openings. Here are a few potential opportunities to check out further. And you can continue researching jobs using the full list of research centers on the NIMHD website.

  • The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Equity at Johns Hopkins University is hiring for several research positions, including research assistants and a program manager, to be located at the East Baltimore Campus. These positions will work on a study focused on reducing disparities and improving outcomes for patients with hypertension. See the job postings for details on qualifications. No application deadlines are provided.  
  • The New York University’s Center for the Study of Asian American Health is seeking a research coordinator to oversee research training, activities and outreach for several initiatives. Minimum qualifications include a bachelor’s degree in a healthcare-related field (also preferred is a clinical research coordinator certification) and two years of relevant experience. No application deadline is provided.  
  • The Center for Health Disparities Research at North Carolina Central University has several positions listed on the human resources website, including a program manager and research scientist. See the job postings for details on qualifications. No application deadlines are provided. These positions have been posted since last year, so I highly suggest contacting the center director to check on the hiring status.  
  • The Center for Health Equity Research at Northern Arizona University recently established the Southwest Health Equity Research Collaborative and will be funding faculty mentors to host postdoctoral researchers. Thus, keep an eye on the center’s and NAU’s human resources websites for upcoming postdoc positions. FYI, there is a posting on the HR site for a postdoctoral scholar to work in CHER but it is quite outdated, so it may be worth an inquiry to check on the status of postdoc hires.  

Weekly jobs roundup. I also did a general search to see what other types of training and career opportunities are out there right now and listed a few interesting ones below. A number of these positions were found via searches on generic job boards and Twitter using keyword combinations of “health and disparity/disparities or equity.” Other keywords to try out may include “minority and/or community health.”   

  • The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is recruiting fellows for a number of interdisciplinary leadership programs to build a culture of health across all communities in the U.S. These include the Health Policy Research Scholars program that funds second-year doctoral students from underrepresented populations and/or disadvantaged backgrounds and across a range of academic disciplines who are interested in promoting health equity. Scholars receive up to four years of stipend support and unique training and mentoring opportunities. The application deadline is March 14.  
  • The Insight Health Data Fellows Program currently is accepting applications from M.D. or Ph.D. graduates from any background who are interested in a career in health data science. Fellows participate in a seven-week postdoctoral training program that is project-based and collaborative. Upon completion of the program, fellows interview with a select set of employers and receive job offers. Fellowship sites are either in Boston or Silicon Valley. The application deadline is March 26.  
  • The global health services company Cigna is looking for a senior healthcare data scientist specializing in health disparities to join its Information Management and Analytics team in Raleigh, N.C. The data scientist will collect and analyze data that will be used to improve health outcomes and increase access to health services for at-risk populations. Preferred qualifications include an advanced degree in statistics, math, biostatistics or epidemiology and five years of data-analytics experience. No application deadline is provided.  
  • The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle is recruiting multiple researchers in model-based geostatistics to work on geospatial analyses that visually identify disparities in health outcomes at the local level. Minimum qualifications include a master’s in computer science, statistics, epidemiology, mathematics or related field (Ph.D. preferred) and relevant programming experience. No application deadline is provided.  
  • The DanaFarber Cancer Institute in Boston is hiring a research scientist to coordinate research efforts and operations within the Center for Cancer Genetics and Prevention and the joint DanaFarber/Harvard Cancer Center’s Cancer Risk and Disparities Program. Minimum qualifications include a master’s degree in biostatistics, epidemiology, public health or medical science (Ph.D. or M.D. preferred) and five years of related experience. No application deadline is provided. (Note: Check out the previous careers post on cancer-research careers for more related resources.)  
  • The Division of Infectious Diseases and Global Public Health within the Department of Medicine at the University of California–San Diego is hiring both a statistician and research project coordinator to assist research in public health and epidemiology, with a focus on HIV, substance abuse and gender-based violence among vulnerable populations. Minimum qualifications include a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field (master’s preferred). The application deadline is Feb. 21 for both positions.  
  • The public-health nonprofit NASTAD in Washington, D.C., is recruiting for a senior manager of health equity. This role involves improving the organization’s capacity to assist health departments with implementation of HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis programs and to further advance its work in social justice and equitable health. Minimum qualifications include a bachelor’s degree and five to seven years of relevant work experience. No application deadline is provided.  

Bonus posting. And if you’re interested in a career in science policy, such as designing health policies that promote equitable healthcare access and funding, then consider joining in on the annual ASBMB Capitol Hill Day. The application deadline is Feb. 26. (You also can check out this past blog post on resolving to a career in science policy for other resources.)

Donna Kridelbaugh is the ASBMB careers blogger. Connect with her on Twitter (@science_mentor) or at her website (


Shooting for a career in cancer research

2/5/2018 5:19:47 PM

This week kicked off with World Cancer Day, an initiative of the Union for International Cancer Control, to raise awareness of the global-health impact of cancer and the push for a united effort in the fight against cancer. Additionally, February is National Cancer Prevention Month, underscoring the need for research focused on both prevention and treatment strategies.  

The ASBMB is continuing the momentum by hosting a webinar on the National Institutes of Health’s Cancer Moonshot initiative this Thursday, Feb. 8, at 3 p.m. Eastern. The webinar will feature Dinah Singer, acting deputy director of the NIH’s National Cancer Institute, who will provide an overview of the initiative and highlight ways that basic researchers can get engaged.  

The Cancer Moonshot initiative, a major research effort to advance cancer therapies and improve cancer prevention and detection methods, was authorized by the federal government in 2016 with enactment of the 21st Century Cures Act, which provides $1.8 billion in funding for the initiative over 7 years. I have signed up for the webinar and plan on asking questions related to research and training opportunities for early-career researchers. If you are interested in a biomedical career in cancer research, I’d suggest registering for this webinar, too. (Note: A recording of the webinar also will be posted on the ASBMB Policy Blotter blog.)  

In lines with this event, this week I want to highlight some resources on how to find career and training opportunities in cancer research. As is a general theme of this careers blog, my focus is on helping you develop a comprehensive job-search strategy, so this post will focus more on resources instead of straight-up job listings. But to note, in researching for this post, I found lots of open positions in the field of cancer research, from basic and clinical research to advocacy and health communications. Jobs also can be found across academia, nonprofit research institutions, cancer-research foundations, professional societies and biomedical/pharmaceutical industries.  

A number of federal government agencies are actively involved in cancer research, host training programs and fund research and training at other institutions. To get started, I looked more into cancer research at the NCI, especially considering its role in leading the Cancer Moonshot initiative. I’ll delve more into other agencies in future posts. The NCI has a lot of work going on with much information to filter through, so I suggest spending some time understanding the structure of the NCI extramural and intramural research programs and what opportunities there are. Here are a few NCI-related resources that may be helpful for you.  

  • The NCI maintains a list of NCI-designated cancer centers that form the core of its ongoing extramural cancer-research efforts. Most of these centers are affiliated with a university medical center but also include nonprofit research institutions. You can use this list to research job openings with each center from the respective career sites.  
  • The NCI also keeps a master list of cancer-training opportunities available and separated out by discipline and career stage. As stated on this webpage, you can submit a resume to be kept on file for six months, in case there’s a fellowship or internship opening that matches your qualifications. This page also includes links to division-specific websites with information on training programs.  
  • One of the NCI intramural research divisions linked to on the aforementioned page is the NCI Center for Cancer Research, which is composed of nearly 250 research and clinical labs at two campuses in the Washington, D.C., metro area. The CCR careers page lists current training and job openings, including postdoctoral fellowships, research faculty and research/clinical support positions.   
  • The Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research in Frederick, Md., is a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the NCI that is dedicated to biomedical research. It is operated by Leidos Biomedical Research, Inc., and this contractor also provides research support for other programs within the NCI’s Center for Cancer Research. Thus, these NCI-associated job openings are posted on the Leidos careers website (this link is filtered for NCI results only). Check out the website for a number of recently posted positions for scientists with degrees from bachelor’s to Ph.D. levels. (Note: some of these positions may be cross-posted on the CCR careers page mentioned above.)  
  • Based on the Leidos careers website, I noticed several open positions associated with the Accelerating Therapeutics for Opportunities in Medicine consortium, a public-private partnership to accelerate drug discovery and created as part of the Cancer Moonshot.  It was founded by pharmaceutical company GSK, Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research and the University of California-San Francisco. Thus, positions are hired through any of these organizations. A full listing of open positions with ATOM are directly posted on its website’s homepage.  
  • One example of a training program at the Frederick National Lab is the Cancer Systems Biology Consortium and Physical Sciences in Oncology Network’s Cancer Summer Research Program for rising junior and senior undergraduate students to perform research with faculty mentors across a choice of 14 different institutions. Applications are due Feb. 16. (And check out the recent ASBMB careers blog post on summertime lab fun with more details on how to find summer undergrad research opportunities through NIH centers and other institutions.)
  • Like other NIH centers, the NCI provides funding to institutions for training programs. One such program is the Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA Institutional Research Training Grant (T32) that supports pre- and postdoctoral researchers. For example, the Cancer Biology and Therapeutics program at the University of California-Irvine is funded by an NCI T32 training grant. Currently, the program has several postdoctoral research positions open. Check out the website for more details. FYI, you also can search the NIH RePORTER tool to find institutions that have been awarded institutional training grants and may be recruiting. (H/t to Minority Postdoc for sharing the UCI postdoc opportunities in a recent newsletter.)  

I also want to point out the large number of professional societies and cancer-research foundations that significantly contribute to the research landscape, by providing career resources (e.g., job boards), research grants and fellowships. I have been searching for a database that lists out these organizations, but still looking for a comprehensive one. I did run across a site called Cancer Index that has a list of U.S.-based cancer organizations, which may be useful for locating potential employers and other career resources. There also is a listing of cancer-related nonprofits and charities on the Great Nonprofits website. (Note: Always be sure to check the validity of organizations from such listings.)  

Here are a few job boards associated with these organizations to add to your search list, plus a few fellowships and awards with upcoming deadlines. Also, be sure to check out other recent ASBMB careers blog posts for a listing of academic job boards and also finding faculty jobs outside academia, such as with the NIH and nonprofit research centers.  

Job Boards

Upcoming fellowship and award opportunities

  • The Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer is accepting applications from early-career and postdoctoral researchers for several sponsored research fellowships that provide $100,000 of support for one or two years, depending on the fellowship. An applicant must be a society member, have an appointment at an academic cancer center and be within four years of having received their degree (see eligibility requirements for types of degrees). The application deadline is Feb. 20.  
  • The Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation is accepting applications for its postdoctoral research fellowship program that supports fellows in any area of cancer research for up to four years. Be sure to review the website for eligibility requirements. The application deadline is March 15.
  • The Michelson Medical Research Foundation and Human Vaccines Project are accepting applications for the Michelson Prizes for Human Immunology and Vaccine Research. Two monetary prizes will be awarded to early-career researchers under the age of 35 for innovative work toward advancing the development of vaccines and immunotherapies. The pre-application deadline is Feb. 12.  (H/t to Rachel Evans who posted this on ASBMB ENGAGE.)

Donna Kridelbaugh is the ASBMB careers blogger. Connect with her on Twitter (@science_mentor) or at her website (


Citizen-science jobs

1/30/2018 12:09:47 PM

Are you interested in a career that integrates both science outreach and research components? If so, you may want to look at opportunities to work in citizen science, which is the ultimate form of public engagement with volunteers engaged as active participants in the scientific research enterprise. And science greatly benefits from these volunteers, by expanding the capacity to collect and analyze huge amounts of data to bringing fresh and diverse perspectives into the research process.

The origins of citizen science date back as far as the turn of the 20th century with projects like the Audubon Christmas Bird Count and traditionally have focused on addressing conservation issues (e.g., testing water quality). But there’s been an explosion in the number of projects that now employ citizen scientists in biomedical research. Some popular web-based projects include Mark2Cure that uses volunteers to mine the biomedical literature for research relevant to rare genetic disorders and EteRNA where volunteers design unique RNA structures for potential use in biomedical applications.

Thus, there’s a need for scientists to coordinate these citizen-science programs, from project design to volunteer training, to ensure the quality of these programs. And with the ease-of-access to technologies (e.g., gene-editing tools), there’s been a rise in citizen bioscience; whereas, independent scientists can now design innovative biomedical solutions in basement laboratories, but research mentors are still needed to provide technical guidance and ensure responsible conduct (i.e., make sure no Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde experiments are going on).   

To help you explore career options, here are some ideas and resources on how to gain more experience in citizen science, stay updated on trends in the field and learn about upcoming job opportunities.  

  • Get involved with citizen-science projects, especially in a role as a volunteer supervisor or other leadership position. You can find projects in your area by searching databases, such as SciStarter and Or consider the feasibility of adding a citizen-science component to your current research or outreach efforts.  
  • Consider joining the Citizen Science Association, which offers a number of useful resources (e.g., journal, blog) to stay connected to the citizen-science community of practitioners and also maintains a job board.  
  • If you already are engaged in citizen science, find opportunities to share your experiences with others and get your name out there. For example, the Narrative Inquiries in Bioethics journal is seeking personal stories about citizen science for an upcoming special issue entitled “When Citizens Do Science: Stories from Labs, Garages, and Beyond.”  
  • The National Institutes of Health and its related centers are involved in many biomedical citizen-science initiatives. For example, I previously wrote about open-science competitions (e.g., NIH-sponsored Antimicrobial Resistance Diagnostic Challenge) that crowdsource science solutions from the public. Here are some additional NIH resources to check out.
    • is a biomedical citizen-science hub sponsored by several research divisions in the National Cancer Institute. The hub was created as an online collaborative space for researchers to share best practices and resources for citizen science. You can sign up for the hub’s newsletter, which includes information on upcoming funding opportunities, jobs and related resources.

    • The NIH is undertaking a massive effort called the All of Us research program (previously known as the Precision Medicine Cohort) to collect lifestyle, health and related data from one million volunteer participants to inform future biomedical studies. Currently, the program is crowdsourcing input on research priorities from the public (due Feb. 23). I also assume there will be associated hirings at program sites as the initiative is set to start collecting data this spring (see job posting below for an example). The website lists the participating institutions.

Weekly jobs roundup

Here are some interesting jobs I found this week related to citizen science. I have to admit that identifying keywords for job searches is a little more difficult because citizen science is called so many different things. For the jobs below, I did some searches on one generic and one academic-specific job board with several keyword combos (i.e., “citizen science”, biomedical + research + volunteers). You also can try searches using some of the following keywords and iterations thereof: citizen bioscience, public science, participatory science, volunteer science, DIY science, biohacking, etc.  

  • The University of Arizona is hiring a program coordinator to oversee operations for the All of Us–Arizona research program and will be located within the Phoenix metro area. Minimum qualifications include a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field and two years of administrative experience. Review of applications began Jan. 8, but the position will be open until filled.  
  • The Museum of Natural History at the University of Michigan is hiring a program development manager to create engaging public programs for the opening of the museum in 2019 at its new location. Minimum qualifications include a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field (master’s degree preferred) and three to five years of formal and/or informal education experience. The job posting has an end date of Feb. 7, but the job may be filled after the minimum posting period of seven days.  
  • The Adler Planetarium in Chicago is looking for a part-time summer instructor for the Citizen Science Ambassadors program to engage high-school students in citizen-science projects. Minimum qualifications are for a STEM undergraduate student (bachelor’s degree preferred) and one year of experience working with teens. No application deadline is provided.  
  • The College of Natural Resources at North Carolina State University has openings for one master’s and one Ph.D. assistantship researching the human dimensions of citizen science to enhance overall capacity and volunteer-recruitment strategies. Interested applicants should refer to the website to initiate the application process by directly contacting the PIs as indicated. Applications received by Jan. 15 received full consideration, but positions will remain open until filled.   
  • Several National Science Foundation-funded Research Experiences for Undergraduates sites are recruiting undergraduate researchers to work this summer on citizen-science initiatives focused on ecological and urban health. These opportunities include the University of Central Florida’s Citizen Science GIS program with an international REU site in Belize (deadline March 2) and the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies’ Baltimore Ecosystem Study REU program (deadline Feb. 12). See the respective websites for application information. 

Author’s note: As an ongoing reminder, consider checking on the hiring status of these positions before applying, as many listings do not include an application deadline. I have included links above to the respective project websites where there is contact and social-media account information provided so as to help you find ways to reach out. 

Bonus job posting. If you are interested in an amazing science-outreach job working with the best professional-science society out there (OK, maybe I’m a little biased), check out this education and public-engagement coordinator position with the ASBMB. If you have any questions about qualifications or the position, you can reach out to ASBMB’s Danielle Snowflack on Twitter or by email. No application deadline is provided. 

Donna Kridelbaugh is the ASBMB careers blogger. Connect with her on Twitter (@science_mentor) or at her website (