Department of Medicine Professor Angela Byars-Winston, PhD, recently participated in her first meeting as a member of the Advisory Council for the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), one of the 27 centers and institutes in the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Composed of 18 leaders in the biological and medical sciences, education, health care, and public affairs, the council performs second-level peer review of research and training grant applications—helping determine which medical research gets funding. The NIGMS has a total portfolio of over $2.9 billion and the largest training grant portfolio of all of NIH. The council also offers advice and recommendations on policy and program development—all roles with which Byars-Winston is very familiar.
“I have been a grantee from NIGMS for nearly a decade and a leader of two of their initiatives in the Division of Training Workforce and Diversity, so I have a good working relationship with NIGMS,” she said.
Trained as a counseling psychologist, Byars-Winston’s research focuses on cultural influences on academic and career development, especially for women and individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups in the sciences, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM) fields. She was principal investigator (PI) on an NIH R01 grant to study research training interventions for mentors of ethnically diverse mentees in the biological sciences and co-led another R01 grant to investigate and intervene on research mentors’ awareness of cultural diversity as it related to their mentoring activities. She was a co-investigator on the National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) Phase 1 grant from NIH in the Mentor Training Core and is currently PI in the NRMN Phase 2 leading the Culturally Aware Mentorship initiative—all experiences that will undoubtedly influence her contributions to the council.
“My expertise in social science theories that explain academic and career development and research mentorship gives me a unique perspective on how training and mentorship grants might be implemented to be most effective in the talent development and retention of students and faculty in STEMM fields. I also have a grasp on empirically supported ways to advance diversity and equity transformation goals within institutions like research training environments in academia,” she said.
Byars-Winston’s nomination to the NIGMS advisory council came after nearly a year of vetting, background checks and formally being appointed as a “special government employee.” Still, when she received the official invitation to serve on the council from US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, she said she was “absolutely thrilled. I will keep it (the letter) in the same place as I have my signed letter from President Obama for a previous White House recognition.”
In 2011, Byars-Winston was selected by the White House as a Champion of Change for her research efforts to diversify science fields. It’s one of many accolades she has received throughout her career, and she looks forward to bringing her unique expertise to the council.
“What interests me most in serving on this Council is the opportunity to provide input on funding priorities and advocate for grants and programs that advance inclusive excellence in the biomedical sciences.”
Byars-Winston serves as director of research and evaluation in the UW Center for Women’s Health Research, associate director of the Collaborative Center for Health Equity, and faculty lead in the Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research. She will serve a two-year term on the NIGMS advisory council, which runs until December 2024.
To learn more about the NIGMS, click here.