Maintaining a Neural Network: Transforming Mentorship Workshop

April 25 - 26, 2022

This workshop was held to discuss mentorship in neuroscience training, identify opportunities to enhance mentoring relationships, and share successful approaches for effective mentoring to strengthen the recruitment, training, and retention of neuroscience trainees in the biomedical workforce. It is a follow-up to three previous workshops: one in 2016 to identify successful approaches to recruit, train, and retain diverse individuals in the neuroscience workforce, a second in 2017 to discuss the issues, misconceptions, and barriers that currently exist in neuroscience graduate admissions programs with regard to diverse trainees, and a third in 2019 to discuss issues on institutional change and transparency in pursuit of enhancing the diversity of the neuroscience workforce.

The 2022 workshop goals were: 1) building alliances between individuals who are actively engaged in promoting neuroscience workforce diversity, trainees and mentors; 2) identifying opportunities and sharing successful approaches for more effective mentoring to strengthen the recruitment, training, and retention of neuroscience trainees; 3) fostering dialogue and collaborations around institutional approaches to interventions that create a welcoming, scholarly environment for trainees; and 4) providing information and resources to administrators of neuroscience R25 and T32 training programs to strengthen their training environments and better meet the professional goals of their trainees. The attendees were neuroscience graduate program directors, directors of neuroscience research education programs, and experts in rigorous science training, diversity, inclusion, and mentorship.

Download the Program Booklet(pdf, 8472 KB)

Read the full Meeting Summary(pdf, 782 KB)

Agenda and Resources

DAY 1: April 25, 2022

Time Event Resources

12:00-12:10 pm

Walter Koroshetz, MD
Director, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)

12:10-12:20 pm

Meeting Goals
Michelle Jones-London, PhD
Chief, Office of Programs to Enhance Neuroscience Workforce Diversity (OPEN), NINDS

Stephen Korn, PhD
Director, Office of Training and Workforce Development (OTWD), NINDS

12:20-1:00 pm Featured Lecture: The Science of Effective Mentorship in STEMM
Maria Dahlberg, MS
Acting Director, Board on Higher Education and Workforce The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

Presentation Slides - Dahlberg(pdf, 568 KB)

The Science of Effective Mentorship in STEMM - 2019 NASEM Report

1:00-2:00 pm

Panel 1: Mentoring Philosophy of Landis Awardees

Moderator: Stephen Korn, PhD, NINDS OTWD
Discussants: Robert Froemke, PhD, NYU Grossman School of Medicine
Alexandra Nelson, MD, PhD, University of California, San Francisco
Emily Plowman, PhD, University of Florida
Matthew Rasband, PhD, Baylor College of Medicine

Discussion Questions:

  • For your Landis Award, you had to write a philosophy of mentoring statement. As you thought about what you were going to write, what did you think were the 2-3 most important messages you wanted to get across?
  • You have all had diverse research environments, whether it relates to including URMs and majority populations, foreign trainees and US citizens, men and women and/or trainees at different career stages. Does your mentorship approach change with trainees from different backgrounds, perspectives, or career stages, or have you found a fundamental approach that works well for all trainees?
  • For trainees with little exposure to, or experience with, the variety of high level, high productivity, high expectation research environments, and the variety of mentorship approaches among faculty, what advice would you give to them about how to go about looking for and choosing an institution/department/mentor?
  • For trainees with limited research experience, what would your minimal expectations be for a trainee to join your research environment and how do you both start them off at their incoming experience level (which will vary with each trainee) and ultimately bring them to a point where they’ve completed a project and gained skills and knowledge that would propel them into an outstanding next opportunity in their path towards a career?
  • Do you ask/value/consider what your mentees expect from you? Do you do this before accepting a mentee into your lab or wait until after?
NINDS Landis Award for Outstanding Mentorship by an NINDS Investigator
2:00-2:30 pm Lunch Break  
2:30-3:15 pm

Panel 2: Novel Forms of Mentorship for Undergraduate and Graduate Students

Moderator: Marguerite Matthews, PhD, NINDS OPEN
Discussants: Allison Augustus-Wallace, PhD, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center
Dawn Bowers, PhD, University of Florida
Kathleen Maguire-Zeiss, PhD, Georgetown University
Robert Meisel, PhD, University of Minnesota

Discussion Questions:

  • Can you elaborate on how to build and maintain a strong peer mentoring program? How do you maintain motivation for students to remain engaged and actively participate?
  • How has the utilization of different mentoring structures shifted during the pandemic? What were some lessons learned (e.g., What worked? What didn’t work?). Do you anticipate that changes that occurred during the pandemic will continue as life returns to pre-pandemic norms, have you discovered new approaches that are actually beneficial regardless of interactive structure or will you go back to pre-pandemic approaches?
  • What are effective mentoring strategies to help set up undergraduate students to successfully transition into graduate programs?
  • What types of training, if any, are required for mentors and mentees participating in mentorship programs (e.g., cross-level, near-to-peer, peer-to-peer mentoring)? How do you ensure that all participants are culturally competent and prepared to support mentees in their identities and aid in their training?
  • In your opinion, what’s the best approach to train undergrad and graduate students effectively? What do you think they need the most?


3:15-4:00 pm

Panel 3: Successful Practices for Mentoring Postdoctoral Fellows and Junior Faculty

Moderator: Michelle Jones-London, PhD, NINDS OPEN
Discussants: Kathleen Rodgers, PhD, University of Arizona
Michael Robinson, PhD, University of Pennsylvania
Thomas Schwarz, PhD, Harvard Medical School
JoAnn Trejo, PhD, University of California, San Diego

Discussion Questions:

  • What are effective strategies to help connect postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty to a diverse set of mentors, inside and outside their institutions, to meet their research and professional development needs?
  • How do you keep mentors accountable within your programs? If a mentor is disengaged or problematic, what action is taken to remedy the situation by the program and/or the institution and protect the mentee?
  • What are effective mentoring methods to create a positive support system for postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty to help retain and advance them in their biomedical research careers, particularly for those from underrepresented populations?
  • What is, in your opinion, the best approach to help/guide your postdocs in their transition to their next career stage?
  • We hear a lot from postdoctoral trainees “my mentor says that I’m not ready yet” when they think they are. As a mentor, how do you determine when your postdoctoral trainees are ready? Do you set goals from the beginning, or do you go with the flow?


4:00-4:15 pm Break  
4:15-5:15 pm Training Session: Supporting Emotional Well-being in Trainees
Facilitator: Sharon Milgram, PhD
Director, Office of Intramural Training and Education (OITE), NIH
Presentation Slides - Milgram(pdf, 1212 KB)
5:15-5:30 pm Day One Wrap-up and ADJOURN  


DAY 2: April 26, 2022

Time Event Resources
1:00-1:10 pm

Welcome and Introduction of Activity
Michelle Jones-London, PhD, Chief, OPEN, NINDS
Stephen Korn, PhD, Director, OTWD, NINDS

1:10-4:45 pm

Training Session: Building a Culture of Mentorship in Your Training Program
Facilitators: Janet Branchaw, PhD, Faculty Leader, Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research (CIMER)
Christine Pfund, PhD, Director, CIMER

Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research (CIMER)

4:45-5:00 pm

Report Out, Concluding Remarks, and ADJOURN