Will more studies of biomedical training and careers create change in graduate education?

Across the biomedical research community, people agree that something is seriously wrong with the academic labor market. Thousands of Ph.D. holders unable to obtain faculty jobs search for other opportunities despite lack of training for nonacademic employment, while many faculty investigators struggle, often futilely, to win funding amid intense competition.

But if jobs and funding opportunities are lacking, reports on the ills of the biomedical enterprise most certainly are not. The already-groaning shelf of studies, analyses, proposals, and recommendations penned over recent decades present strikingly similar conclusions and suggestions from an array of highly credentialed committees, boards, and blue-ribbon commissions. Nonetheless, in January, two ad hoc committees of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine kicked off projects to add to this literature. But readers familiar with those previous documents—and with the community’s apparent lack of enthusiasm for following the many earnest plans for reform offered therein—may share my skepticism that the newly commissioned reports are more likely than their numerous authoritative predecessors to spur systemic change.

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