ASN Partners with Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program to Create ASN-AMFDP Award

In February 2015, ASN announced the creation of the American Society of Nephrology–Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program (ASN-AMFDP) Award. Through a partnership with the Harold Amos Faculty Development Program (Amos Scholars), this initiative will support the research and career development of a kidney research scholar and future health care leader, and extend ASN’s commitment to advancing diversity and inclusion.

The Amos Scholars program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) began in 1983 and is now one of the foundation’s longest running programs. The program was renamed in January 2004 to honor Harold Amos, PhD, the first African American to chair a department at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Amos recruited and mentored minority and disadvantaged students and faculty throughout his career.

The Amos Scholars Program is designed to increase the number of historically disadvantaged faculty who achieve senior rank in academic medicine and dentistry and to foster the development of succeeding classes of such physicians and dentists. Many of the 250 alumni of the Amos Scholars Program are full professors, chairs of departments, leaders of institutes within the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and individuals widely known for valuable contributions to biomedical research, health services research, clinical investigation, and leadership in the medical profession.

More than three-quarters of Harold Amos scholars remain in academic medicine, including 57 professors, 76 associate professors, and 56 assistant professors. Three alumni are directors at the NIH, and 10 have been elected to the Institute of Medicine.

Out of the 250 scholars, 23 have focused on kidney care. Griffin P. Rogers, MD, the director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) is a former Amos Scholar. Many of these scholars have gained influence far beyond nephrology. Placing kidney experts in key leadership positions in medicine and science is vital to supporting and building the profession over time. “ASN is honored to partner with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to support the Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program, an outstanding initiative that has greatly enriched medicine and science,” said ASN President Jonathan Himmelfarb, MD, FASN.

Ties to ASN’s mission

ASN’s participation in the Amos Program was initiated by a recommendation from ASN’s Diversity and Inclusion Work Group. The Work Group evaluated the program’s history, the impressive achievements of Amos Scholars and the involvement of Amos Scholars in mentoring others from groups underrepresented in medicine.

The Work Group and ASN Council recognize that advancing diversity and inclusion is essential to mitigating disparities in kidney medicine. Many Amos Scholars are engaged in research that has advanced knowledge related to disparities in care and access to care.

“Promoting diversity and inclusiveness to enhance nephrology and improve patient care is key to ASN’s mission,” Dr. Himmelfarb noted. The ASN-AMFDP program will increase diversity among future leaders in nephrology, promoting the innovation, creativity, and sensitivity that will advance health for all people living with kidney disease.”

The ASN-AMFDP program is one of several recommendations of the Diversity and Inclusion Work Group approved by ASN Council. These include support of participants at the NIDDK Network of Minority Health Research Investigators meeting, exhibiting at the Student National Medical Association Annual Meeting, developing an online curriculum for nephrology mentors and mentees, and hosting an event at Kidney Week focused on promoting sponsorship and networking opportunities for underrepresented students, trainees, and young professionals.

The Amos Scholars Program

Amos Scholars are individuals committed to pursuing an academic career, serving as a role model for students and faculty from historically disadvantaged backgrounds, as well as improving the health status of underserved populations and/or furthering the understanding and elimination of health disparities.

Each scholar receives an annual stipend of up to $75,000, complemented by a $30,000 annual grant toward support of research activities. Each scholar studies and conducts research in association with a senior faculty member located at an academic medical center or dental school noted for the training of young faculty. The application process for the award cycle for nephrology closed on March 18, 2015.

The excellent and influential core of mentors on RWJF National Advisory Committee, with many years of experience in medicine, academia, and industry provide counseling, career advice, and have helped many scholars navigate the promotion process and challenging institutional situations. This helps scholars position themselves as mentors. Amos scholars also receive media training, including skill building around presenting scientific data and conducting interviews, which are highly valuable and marketable skills.