The pandemic unequally impacted scientific productivity. Bioscience scientists & those with dependents decreased time spent on research upwards of 40%. A National Academies’ survey of women faculty found that, due to COVID-19, 58% of respondents (n=763) faced childcare or eldercare demands, and most were shouldering a majority of school and childcare responsibilities. Researchers of color may be disproportionately impacted, too. Near-term decrease in research productivity threatens to result in loss of talent and future scientific discoveries. Before the pandemic, physician scientists’ balance of clinical, research, & family caregiving was a known challenge to retention in research. The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) offered an institutional grant mechanism called the Fund to Retain Clinical Scientists (FRCS) to extend the research capacity of medical scientists experiencing a surge in family caregiving responsibilities. In 2015, 10 institutions received grants nationally & a prospective, independent evaluation documented the supplements enabled recipients, who are mostly women, to advance important clinical research & repurpose their time. At the institutional level, the grants help validate & support family caregiving. Wider societal reevaluation—prompted by COVID-19—of how support for caregiving should figure as a more prominent and & essential feature of an inclusive economy presents a key opportunity to support academic leaders promoting change in favor of scientists with family caregiving responsibilities. A COVID-19 FRCS grant competition seeks to identify, document, and reward exemplary efforts to support scientists with family caregiving responsibilities at US medical schools. This $10 million joint effort led by DDCF would support approximately 18 institutions through the COVID-19 Fund to Retain Clinical Scientists. At its launch, partners included American Heart Association, Burroughs Wellcome Fund, Rita Allen Foundation, and Walder Foundation.
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