Mentoring's moment

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Science  02 Sep 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6303, pp. 980-982
DOI: 10.1126/science.353.6303.980

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Diversity advocates have long believed that mentoring holds the key to increasing minority participation in U.S. science. But the National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN), part of a 10-year, half-billion-dollar initiative launched in 2014 by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to enhance the diversity of the biomedical workforce, has gotten off to a rocky start. Even before it was publicly announced, divisions within the diversity community prompted NIH officials to take the unusual step of adding to its leadership team a scientist who had been part of a group that lost out in the competition to create the network. And earlier this year, the principal investigator for the multisite network resigned after continuing conflicts with NIH officials over the initiative's direction. NIH officials admit that 4 decades' worth of programs aimed at removing obstacles to participation by underrepresented groups haven't moved the needle very much. And NRMN's supporters are worried that NIH may also end the network prematurely if it falls short of some short-term, quantitative goals.